"Let's kick cancer's booty and take some names."
LORD, after this suffering, let it be said that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, make my Savior clear to all those around me. Because of my suffering and willing perseverance, cause others to be encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
(Phillippians 1:12-14)

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chemo #2: Fight or Flight

You know what they say about defense mechanisms, right? Most people either have fight or flight as theirs. God has been gently showing me over the years that mine tends to be flight, but He would rather me fight.

I didn't voice it much during the time, mostly because I didn't want to get on this blog and talk about God and His strength and all my blessings and then whine when something went wrong, but the 1st week of chemo was AWFUL!

OK.....looking back it wasn't THAT bad, but when I'm in the heat of the battle, my tendency is to flee the scene. Quickly. I can remember as a child, I would be working on a homework problem or I'd ask my daddy to fix something for me and when it got tough I'd say, "Oh, just forget it." I can't tell you how many he'd look at me and say, "Baby, you give up too easy." (I love that my daddy STILL calls me baby!)

And he was right. I do tend to give up too easy. I believe that's why God, at times, keeps me on a short leash. He tends to make some things in my life very difficult because He's teaching me to fight instead of flee, and to lean on Him.

During the 1st few days after chemo, I suffered a sinus infection, a double ear infection, acid reflux like no one has ever had before (ok.....not really, but it was painful!) and I thought I had a bladder infection. The antibiotics they gave me had their own, really gross side effects, which I am choosing not to disclose. :) The anti-nausea drugs they gave me made me very dizzy, which made me nauseated. Go figure. And I was only taking them as a precaution. I never felt nauseated once!

By day 5 after chemo, I was ready to call Dr. Yardley and tell her she would not be seeing me again.

I seriously had visions of them trying to nearly kill me to heal me. Chemo messes with your head a little. Or maybe it was just Satan trying to weasel his way into the mix. Either way, I was not happy during that 1st week.

Chemo #2 has gone a LOT better......so far. I had one of the best conversations with Dr. Yardley I've ever had. She spent a lot of time with me, asking me questions and answering mine. She seemed very concerned about the acid reflux and even lowered the dosage on one of my chemo drugs which can cause acid reflux. She added an extra dose of Prilosec each day for the 1st week after chemo and also added another prescription (which I call glorified Maalox) to take the 1st week. She also changed one of my anti-nausea drugs. She said for most people it makes them sleepy and sedated. But for a few select people (that would be me) it makes them a little hyper and doesn't combat the nausea.

We decided I would be her problem child right now. (My words, not hers).

We had a really good visit. Possibly because she also told me 3 things, which were music to my ears: 1) the nausea will not get worse. I was taking the nausea drugs as a precaution, but I'm not doing that this go around. She said typically, however nauseous you are the 1st treatment is what you'll experience the rest of the time. I could've kissed her! And I wasn't nauseous (until I took the anti nausea drug, which she changed. Confused yet?) 2) "Your numbers and blood work are phenomenal. On paper it doesn't look like you've had chemo". 3) "You will become more tired, but right now, you look great. You are wearing the chemo well".

So I walked out a little happier and a lot more relaxed.

I went straight to the chemo room. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. I told y'all last time, Barbara the bread lady comes on Wednesdays. I seriously think that's one of the reasons it's so crowded. (This week she had banana bread, chocolate chip banana bread and zucchini bread, which I picked. YUMMY!) But because it's so crowded and I believe because she changed one of my dosages of chemo drugs, they had to enter it in the computer and it just took longer. Plus it was just packed. I was 6th in line but those 5 people ahead of me could've been newbies (or probies as Tony on NCIS calls them). When you're new, they have to get you to sign some paperwork and give you a welcome packet and go over all the drugs and side effects. It just takes awhile. So I sat and talked and waited. 2 1/2 hours later, they finally got to me. It really did fly by for me (but you might want to ask Scott and Angie if it flew by for them). By the time I was finally done with all the IV bags and syringes of drugs, it was 4:00. I had arrived that morning at 7:45. It was a LONG day. We're gonna seriously have to find the pizza delivery guys number.

I felt fine when I left, other than being extremely hungry. We went to the Macaroni Grill afterward and once I got some food in me, I felt human again. My sweet friend, Pam, fixed dinner for us, which we will eat tonight: pot roast with potatoes and carrots, rolls, cinnamon fried apples, frozen fruit salad (pink stuff as I call it) and for added comfort: banana bread. Y'all need to be friends with Pam. She's a great person and a great cook!

Today I have felt really good, other than I didn't sleep last night. I went to bed at 9:30 and fell asleep, only to wake up wide awake at 12:45. I never did go back to sleep. I didn't even doze for a few minutes. I'm pretty sure it's the steroids they give you before the chemo drugs. It stays in your system for a day or two, then it will go away. It's 3:37 in the afternoon and I'm not that sleepy. Just a little tired.

So I'm going into this next 3 weeks not quite as scared. I've lost my hair, I've not been nauseated, I'm armed to the tooth with acid reflux meds and my sinus and ear infections are pretty much gone. Unless a new side effect occurs, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Now y'all know I have to leave you with a bible verse. My niece, Jennifer, wrote on my wall on Facebook yesterday and said this: "You are 'wearing the chemo well' because of your faith and the power of prayer. It's time to use our weapons that God gave us to get through stuff like this." And she's exactly right. One of my favorite quotes is from John Eldridge. If you've never picked up one of his books, I'd suggest you start with Waking the Dead. This quote is long, but please read the whole thing. It's great: "Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war? You've got to be kidding me! We gave up the hymn not so much for musical fashion but because we felt ridiculous singing it. We don't sing it 'cause it ain't true! We have acquiesced. We have surrendered without a fight. We've exchanged that great hymn for a subtle but telling substitute, a song that is currently being taught to thousands of children in Sunday school each week, which goes something like this: 'I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. I may never fly o'er the enemy but I'm in the Lord's ar-my. Yes sir!'......There is no battle and there is no war and there is no Enemy and your life is not at stake and you are not desperately needed this very hour....but you're in the Lord's army. Doing WHAT, may I ask?"

He's right. We have acquiesced. We have given up without a fight. But we're in the Lord's army.

OK.....so with God consistently teaching me to fight, here's the verse I found very comforting. King David must've struggled with this a little bit too, even though he was a man after God's own heart and eventually, was a great warrior. Psalm 144: 1-2, 5-7 reads, "Praise be to the Lord my rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge. Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains so they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot Your arrows and rout them. Reach down Your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me!" I love that he starts out saying, "You train MY hands and MY fingers." But then toward the end it's almost as if he's saying, "But God....why don't you just come on down here and fight this battle for me. I can just fight by you or maybe I'll just go to my fortress. C'mon God....deliver me and rescue me (translation: get me outta here!)" I love that David was so easy to understand because he sounds a lot like us, doesn't he? You've gotta love somebody who's honest enough with God to say, "I love you and I want to be close to you and I need you but can we just skip this lesson God? And by the way......I've got a bone to pick with you." And they just lay it all out there. And really, isn't that what God wants from us? A relationship and not just a religion? You might as well tell Him what's on your mind. He knows it anyway. It's not like you're gonna surprise Him with some information He didn't already know. Plus when you confess it, and I mean confess it ALL, it gets it out of your system and makes room for His healing and His love and His Spirit to just flow through you. And you might just sleep a little bit better and walk through your day a little bit lighter and a whole lot closer to our loving God. Amen?

Everybody have a great rest of the week and weekend and get out and enjoy what I call "the most wonderful time of the year". -

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Candy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Hair Day

There's nothing better than a good hair day. Amen? I saw a sign the other day that read, "The higher the hair, the closer to God." :) Isn't that just precious? A good southern woman must've come up with that.

My hair is neither good nor high these days. In fact, it's gone. The chemo will do that to ya.

Dr. Yardley told me when I began seeing her that between days 10 and 14 my hair would begin to fall out. And what hair I had left at the 2nd chemo date, would be gone soon after. Days 10, 11, and 12 showed no signs of my hair falling out. But day 13 was a different story. It was this past Tuesday.

I was getting ready for work and taking one last look in the mirror before I left. I noticed a couple of hairs out of place right behind my ear. I tried to put them back in place but they came out into my hand. I gasped and said to myself, "It's starting." That was a dark day for me. I was depressed the rest of the day. I prayed and asked God to help me not cry at work. By the time I got home, I was getting on my own nerves, whining about it and struggling between letting it all out in a good cry and sucking it up and being strong. I got in the shower Tuesday night and half expected all my hair to come out when the water hit it. It didn't. But I decided then to have my good cry.

I woke Wednesday morning and felt much better about things. Yes, it was still falling out, but I was dealing with it better. Thursday rolled around and I had the top down on my car. I could just see me riding down the street, top down, wind in my hair, and my hair coming out in clumps, blowing back onto the cars behind me. "Honey! Was that a bird we just hit?" I cracked myself up just thinking about it. Friday I went to breakfast with a friend and did a little shopping. I noticed that my scalp was getting sore. Even lying my head on the pillow at night hurt. By Friday night, I'd decided that my hair had to go. By this time I was able to pull out large clumps of it and it was extremely thin.

Saturday morning I had some errands to run. And when I got home, it was time to shave my head. I sat in the chair and cried. It was a gradual process, using guards on the clippers from largest to smallest. My hair is now about 1/4" long. And even though I hated losing my hair, I don't regret shaving it. I have some pretty large bald spots on it.

The woman I met at my first chemo treatment who has brain cancer, Darlene, told me to get a satin pillow case. I went to Walmart looking for one last night but couldn't find one. Instead, I bought a slip. ha! I slid it over my pillow and it worked beautifully. When you are used to having hair, then all of a sudden you don't, a regular pillow case can pull your hair and it feels like you're raking your head through sand. The satin makes it easier to move your head around while you're sleeping.

I went to the Predators game last night and wore a hat and headscarf. I did the same thing at church this morning. The compliments I received were overwhelming.

So, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hair day..........God turned it into a blessing. As usual.

I'll tell ya......it sure does make it easier to get ready in the morning when you don't have to do your hair!

The hair thing was my rock bottom so far. And as far as I'm concerned, I can only go up from here. And I have nothing but thanks and praise in my heart tonight.

Everybody have a great week! -

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anybody Else Need Some Pala?

In my attempt at keeping myself occupied yesterday, I was looking back at some old notes I'd made from a bible study I participated in several years ago.

I was trying to keep occupied because I've been suffering the last 2 days with acid reflux and heartburn. I have prided myself over the years because I've never suffered from either of these. I didn't even know what it felt like. So you can imagine my surprise and dismay when I started feeling the symptoms. It felt like someone had poured acid down my espoghus (which, basically, had happened if you think about it). It also felt as if someone was sitting on my chest. Someone asked me if I felt as though I were having a heart attack. Thankfully, no. I didn't jump to that conclusion. However, it was extremely painful. Still is. But I'm dealing with it. After all, that's part of the fight, right? And thank you so much for all the suggestions regarding how to deal with it. Some of them, though, I ain't tryin'. There's no way I'm mixing vinegar with water and drinking it.

Anywho, as I was trying to hold off a panic attack at the thought of going through 5 more chemo treatments, while also trying to get some relief from the horrible pain (I never claimed to be a STRONG fighter....I'm a WHIMP!), I was looking over my notes and came across something interesting.

In the book of Joshua, Joshua has been given the task of leading the children of Israel across the Jordon River, to possess the promised land. I find it interesting that Joshua sent spies to "look over the land". In other words, we gotta see what we're up against.

In Joshua 3:5, Joshua tells the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." Consecrate is one of those words I grew up hearing, and always nodded my head in agreement to it ("Yes, Lord!") but never really knew what it meant. The King James Version reads "Sanctify yourselves." That's not much clearer. So, to the Lifeway.com online bible I go. Turns out it means to be set apart, dedicate, devote, prepare. It also means to be tabooed. Really? That doesn't sound so good. However, cancer is a taboo in some circles, and going through chemo sets me apart from most of the crowds I run with, so I figure I'm good, right? :)

The thing that stuck out to me yesterday, though, was the phrase "amazing things." I could use some amazement about right now. I'm not talking about being a "wonder junkie". I realize that not every day can be a mountain top experience. But I could use a little amazement. So I looked up the phrase "amazing things" and it's translated in the Hebrew as pala (paw-law'). It means wondrous, marvelous, be extraordinary, to be difficult to understand. But my favorite meaning is "to be beyond one's power; to do an extraordinary or hard or difficult thing."

Right now, I could stand to be "beyond my power." I would love to do an "extraordinary or hard or difficult thing".

Chemo is hard. A lot harder than I ever dreamed. (I DID say I was a whimp!). And then I realized that the Word does not say I (how come you can't type much of an emphasis on the word I?) will do those amazing things. It says the LORD will do amazing things. Just for kicks and grins I looked up the word LORD in this verse. It means Jehovah. It means "the existing one". It also says it's the "proper name of the one true God."

Did your Momma ever call you by your proper name? I remember one time when my Momma called me Candace Joyce Ward. I knew she meant business and although I'm certain I gave her a large share of headaches, I'm pretty sure I never ever did whatever I did to get her to use that name with me again.

God, using His proper name, Jehovah, is going to do amazing things in my life. Hallelujah! I could use some pala. How about you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chemo #1, Day 3

Hello! Just wanted to update you on my progress through this first chemo treatment.

Today has been a little weird, but still not bad. I've been more tired.

I have 3 anti-nausea medications. At first I was told to take them around the clock for 48 hours. Then I was told I could take them as needed. It was a little confusing.

Emend is the 1st one I take and it was yesterday and today, in the morning. It's a 24 drug, only taken 1 time a day.

The 2nd is Zofran, which you take every 8 hours. The 3rd is Compazine, which you take every 6 hours. They all block different receptors that make you nauseated. The problem is the Zofran and Companzine both say they can make you dizzy or drowsy. It almost makes you feel worse than the chemo.

I had dinner with some friends tonight who are in the medical field. They both said Companzine can be very hard on a body. They said it is mostly given as a last resort for nausea. I think for the next treatment I'll only take the Emend and only take the other 2 if I need them. They cause my tongue to feel a little swollen too and make my mouth dry. But the worst is they make me feel like I've either had a 50 gallon drum of caffeine, or like my blood sugar has plummeted.

So....lesson learned. We'll see how the next treatment goes.

Day 10 is the day when my immune system is supposed to really drop. Thankfully, that's a Saturday. I'll mostly stay in that weekend. I'd hate to get sick, and I'd feel horrible if I made someone else sick too. A weekend mostly inside won't be too bad. I'll put my fall decorations up and do some fall cleaning.

My hair should also start falling out in about a week. That will be a tearful day, but as my friend Lyn said last night, it's the start of getting better. It will only fall out once and then it starts growing back. And as my friend Maria said, just think how many hair styles I get to try while it's growing back out. Plus I have lots of cute (well........I think they're cute) hats and headscarves and bandanas to wear while I'm bald. ha!

I have 2 other folks I'd like you to say a prayer for: 1) Darlene. I met her during chemo and she's coming to Nashville from Virginia Beach to get a trial drug once every 3 weeks. She has breast cancer that has spread to her liver and her brain. This round of drugs is her 5th round of chemo drugs. She seems to be in very good spirits and she's a fighter. 2) John and Gayle Barrett (I think that's the last name). John is a cousin of my friend, Lyn. He was just diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread throughout his body. He is just starting this journey. Please lift them both up in prayer to God, who works miracles every day.

Love and hugs to all! -

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chemotherapy #1, Day 2

Hey everybody!

So far, so good. I'm feeling much better from the muscle aches. I went back to TN Oncology this morning for the Neulasta shot. It burned a little bit but was over with quickly. They said I could have muscle and joint aches from it, but they would go away in a few days. It hasn't hit me yet, so I'm keeping high hopes that it won't be bad at all.

On the car front, I got 2 estimates this morning. Turns out there are 2 collision repair shops within walking distance from my office. I got the estimates and called the other driver. After she picked herself up off the floor (it costs HOW much??) she said she would call her insurance company. She called me back and said they would be contacting me and would pay for the damage and a rental car for me. She asked me if I worked at the Atrium (where the Sarah Cannon is located) and I told her no, that I was having chemo. She felt horrible. I hated to add insult to her injury. I actually felt a little sorry for her. She said it was her 3rd claim in a month. I'm choosing to believe those things just happen sometimes and said a prayer for her. I would certainly hate to be in her shoes (especially when she told her husband about it!)

Thank you, again, for the calls, text messages, cards, facebook messages, and for asking Scott how I am every single time you see him. He's been a real trooper.

Love and hugs and more posts later! -

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chemotherapy #1

I hope everyone is having a good week.

My first chemo treatment was this morning. I gotta tell ya, I was a little nervous (but I think I put on a good front!). Things went really well. I sincerely hope I would be saying that if things hadn't gone so well. But let's focus on the positive.....

I arrived at TN Oncology 10 minutes late. Traffic was horrible. It took us an hour to get there. I figured they've, at times, kept me waiting longer than that so I didn't feel so bad about it. :)

I was called back to the lab and had blood drawn. I actually let them draw it out of my arm this time instead of the port because 1) I was scared the port wouldn't work and 2) they would've had to send me back to a room first, draw blood, wait on lab results, and THEN see Dr. Yardley. Allowing them to draw blood through the vein in my arm would get the ball rolling quicker. Afterward, I was taken to a room.

One of the research nurses came in and we talked for a few minutes. Then Dr. Yardley's physician assistant came in and talked to me. I never did see Dr. Yardley. I'm not sure how I feel about that at the moment. I really didn't have anything to say to her and I guess she didn't have anything to say to me either since we went through it all 2 weeks ago. Trisha (the assistant) talked to me a little bit about the medications I would take home. I have 3 anti-nausea drugs: 1) Emend (2 pills, 1 each morning on Thur and Fri) 2) Compazine to be taken every 6 hours as needed and 3) Zofran to be taken every 8 hours as needed. They all block different nausea receptors and can all be taken together. As Dr. Yardley told me on my first visit, it's easier to prevent nausea than to go in an rescue me after I get sick.

The other drug is Levaquin, an anti-biotic. It's to have on hand in case I develop any kind of infection. Most of the time, as luck would have it, those things happen at 2am on a Saturday morning when there is no one in the clinic; just an on call doctor who may or may not know my history and exact circumstances. Anywho, the anti-biotic will already be in my hands should I need it.

I was taken to the chemo treatment room and found a seat in the corner. My favorite place. :)
A few minutes later they came by and had me sign a consent form for the relaxing drug, which they told me was the Benedryl. They brought over some supplies and I held by breath. This was the moment we'd been waiting for.

I asked the nurse if she had the long needle. She said it was 1". That didn't sound very long to me. She said they had a 1 1/2" and she used that. Then she said, "Oh. You could've used the 1". It should be plenty long. This longer one is sticking out some." I would rather be safe than sorry, so I think I'll stick with the 1 1/2". The port worked beautifully. I didn't know whether to jump up and dance or cry. I felt a lot more relaxed at that point. Plus, my friend Karri Tucker recommended a numbing cream called Emla Cream. It worked great! I hardly felt the needle go in at all.

I was given a steroid and an anti nausea drug. It took roughly 20 minutes for it to finish dripping. I was then given the Benedryl. It was a fairly small bag, but it was potent. Almost immediately I felt the room start to spin a little and got a little sleepy. But I was having a conversation at the time and just kept right on going. (Insert women-who-never-shut-up-joke here) I felt like lying back and sleeping a little, but really, I wanted to stay awake. I wanted to see what they were gonna do next.

After the Benedryl, they gave me a red drug but not in a drip bag. It was in a very large syringe. Kelly, the nurse, sat with me and gave it to me by hand, pushing it in very slowly and making certain she was getting a blood return. She said they do it that way because they have to make absolutely certain they are getting this drug in the vein. The blood return shows her that the vein is being accessed. So they watch it very closely and administer it by hand. Once that was completed, she gave me more anti-nausea medication and then the final 2 chemo drugs. One went in very slowly because it can cause a bad reaction. They wanted to make sure I was going to tolerate it well. I did, and after half of it was gone, they sped up the drip. That one bag took almost an hour. The final drug took roughly 30 minutes and then I was given a saline solution and heparin to clean out the port and prevent blood clots. I was there for about 6 hours but it flew by.

They unhooked me and sent me on my way. I will go back tomorrow for a shot of Neulasta. It helps to boost my immune system and shorten the time that it's down. My next appointment is Wednesday, Sept 29th. I had originally thought my appointments would be on Tuesdays because they told me it was less crowded. But today it wasn't as bad as 2 weeks ago on a Tuesday. Also, Kelly told me today that the last several Tuesdays have been very busy. During chemo, a very nice lady named Barbara came by with a basket of homemade breads. Today she had banana, strawberry and chocolate chip banana. And it was VERY good. Now THAT is a ministry I can get behind! :) OK, OK.......I'm coming clean. I'm switching to Wednesdays because Barbara comes ONLY on Wednesdays. Who wants to go with me now? :)

Tonight I'm feeling so much better than I thought I would. Why is it you only hear about the horror stories? (Dr. Cooper told me once that people always want to have a better story at family reunions, so they embellish as much as possible. Isn't that interesting?) My legs are a little sore, sort of like I have the flu. But it's not bad. And I'm a little sleepy. I took a short nap this afternoon, and am hoping to sleep through the night. I'm going to take a long, hot bath to help relax the muscles and probably take some Advil or Aleve.

The worse news of the day? Someone hit my car in the parking lot. They did, however, leave me a note with their name and phone number. I called and she apologized, saying they would definitely take care of the damage. She also told me that her car had been totaled. I screeched, "In THIS accident?" She said no, it had been totaled a couple of weeks ago and she hit mine using a rental car. I'm thinking at this point she's either hit a run of really bad luck, or she's one of those horrible drivers who applies mascara while barreling down the interstate, changing the radio station and driving with her knees. She MIGHT be the reason I believe everyone should have to re-test for their driver's license every 5 or 1o years. But God is faithful. I'm expecting this all to be taken care of in the next few days and it will go better in real life than in my imagination. Romans 1 tells us that the people of Paul's day knew God, but did not glorify Him as God or give thanks to Him and became vain in their imaginations. I love the New American Standard version. It says they "became futile in their speculations." I seem to always expect the worst. Futile. Speculations. Praise God that He is working on me still.

I will keep everyone posted the next several days on how I'm feeling. Some of the side effects won't hit me for a few days. As each chemo treatment comes along, things will get progressively worse. It just takes it out of you. This first treatment will be a measuring stick of how well I will do with the next 5 treatments. It's round 1 of a 6 round fight. And yes, I did have my cancer butt kicking shoes on today. I wore brown hi heels and what I call my Wonder Woman bracelet for good measure. I'm sure they helped but truth be told, God is the reason things went so well today. C'mon......I've got to give credit where credit is due.

Just for fun I got a shirt that reads "My oncologist is better than your oncologist" and a button to put on my work bulletin board that states "I'm fighting cancer......what are YOUR superpowers?" I put it next to the button that states, "If the shoe fits....buy it!" I work with all men and they just need a little reminder sometimes that I'm a girl, not one of them, and that I'm not their secretary. I do NOT make coffee or copies, except for my boss. He signs my paychecks! Sorry fellas.

Have a great rest of the week! Love and hugs! -





Friday, September 3, 2010

Follow Up Port Surgery

Hello! I completely forgot to post about the follow up surgery!

I talked to Dr. Cooper on the phone on Wednesday after the 1st attempt at chemo. He explained that during the port surgery everything was working fine. But according to the x-rays, the port, had indeed, moved. I scheduled the "port revision" for Friday, August 27th.

This was my 5th surgery in 3 1/2 months. I realized on the way to the hospital that I've had to go through almost everything twice. I had 2 tumors, 2 needle biopsies, 2 lumpectomies, and now, 2 port surgeries. I sure hope to get off this merry-go-round soon. I'm getting dizzy.

Because this was my 5th surgery it was FREE! Just kidding!
Because this was my 5th surgery, I knew exactly what to expect. The nurse even joked that I could get myself ready, insert my own IV, and tell them what to do next. They have all been very sweet to me at the hospital. The nurses are just great over there.

However, on this trip, I was a little nervous. I had talked to Ashley, Dr. Cooper's surgery scheduler, and she explained that I would not be fully under anesthesia this time. They would do something called a Local Mac (sp?). It would be like a twilight sleep, where I still wouldn't remember anything, but not fully asleep. I could just see me being able to hear things. When I'm having surgery, I want to be OUT!

I got to pre-op and DeeDee, my favorite 'pain pusher', talked to me about the anesthesia. She said they would do the local mac and then if I wanted to be put under more, she would do it. Then she asked, "What do YOU want?" I told her I wanted to be out as much as possible. She laughed and said, "We are on the same page. I'm putting you under." Whew! I just love her.

So, a few minutes later, I was off in the best sleep ever. I don't dream during surgery and I don't remember a thing. To some people, that's not good. They like to be in control or they don't trust the doctors and nurses and they want to be as awake as possible. Not me. Nuh-uh. Kill me and bring me back to life. I don't want to feel, see, hear or even smell anything. I even get the laughing gas at my dental cleanings! Does that tell you anything?

Surgery was over in no time, and when I went to recovery, a very nice nurse named Christy was tending to me. That is, when she wasn't helping several other patients who are moaning and crying and throwing up. That place was full of SICK people! :) She was very sweet and asked this question: "Do you mind if I ask you how you found out you had cancer? Did you find the lump?" We went on to talk about it and I told her it was by the grace of God that I was doing as well as I am. She agreed and I could tell she was a little scared. She was going through something similar, but still in the very beginning stages of it. God was giving her a story to tell. Let me tell you something.......giving a testimony under the influence of anesthesia is a WEIRD feeling! :)

I went back to my room and was told that everything was put back in place and that the port was working beautifully. Dr. Cooper told me before surgery that he wanted to check the port site before I started chemo. Monday morning I scheduled my follow up visit with him for Wednesday, Sept 1.

On Wednesday I arrived at Dr. Cooper's office with a full tray of cake truffles made by my friend, Heather Roberson from The Little Sugar Shoppe. I'm tellin' ya....those truffles melt in your mouth. If I was a chef on the Food Network and was on that show The Best Thing I Ever Ate", the wedding cake truffles would be my choice. I deserve a medal for getting that tray there with 40 truffles and not 35 or 36. It was my parting gift (let's HOPE my parting gift!) to Dr. Cooper and his staff. They are the best.

After we talked truffles, Dr. Cooper looked at the incision and explained how the port is attached and actually works. I love his explanations. He gives me information in corn-bread language (as the old preacher at Hendersonville used to say). He explained that if you go out in your front yard and take the cover off the main water line, you'll see a large pipe that water is flowing through. He then said to imagine dragging your garden hose (he must not be from around here. We call 'em hosepipes here in TN) and then drill a hole in the main pipe, just large enough for the hose. Insert the hose into the main water line and there you have something that works just like a port. They keep pushing that tube from the port into the vein and it can float around in there. What happened to me was, at some point, I coughed or sneezed or something along those lines, and when that happens, pressure builds up in the veins. When that happens, it pushes on the port line and it can back up. It didn't come out of the vein. It just moved to a smaller off-shoot of the larger vein. That is what the radiologist saw on x-ray and recommended that it be repaired.

So, for now, everything is back in place. I'm trying not to sneeze or cough too hard (huh?). I distinctly remember lying in bed around 3:30 one morning a few days after my 1st port surgery. I was on my right side and I used my left arm (the port side) to pull up the covers. You know how sometimes the covers get stuck around the corner of the bed and you have to yank them? That's what I did and I vividly remember thinking "Oww! That hurt!" It felt like I'd pulled a muscle all across my chest. I feel sure that's when the port moved.

I feel more at peace this go-around. Thank you so much for the prayers. Please continue to pray that the next chemo attempt will go smoothly. It's scheduled for Wednesday, Sept 8th.

Everyone have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend! -