Monday, October 28, 2013

I completed another round of maintenance chemo Thursday bringing me to 32 infusions, and one step  closer to being at "no chemo status". For those who are new to this journey I began chemo in January 2013, and will continue through April 2014. I think back to when my oncologist told me they were recommending sixteen months of chemo, and remembering I  had to position my hand so my mouth did not hang open the entire consultation. All I kept think was " sixteen months? Are you kidding me?". Sixteen months seemed like a lifetime especially when we are talking in terms of poison and its' side effects.
My beautiful mom, a Breast Cancer survivor herself,
always helps pass out Care Packs. We both learned
Thursday that T. Teal must invest in a cart.
 Care Packs are heavy!

 I have become  familiar with the chemotherapy center and processes; befriending those who are treating patients and others battling, supporting, and surviving the effects of Cancer. I've come to realize my battle is no comparison to the fight and endurance other survivors have courageously displayed. Thursday was a reminder of this reality; I met new friends who inspire me, reconnected with others who amaze me, and interacted with many who don't realize just how strong they are.

A fighter battling Ovarian Cancer for 7 years, and currently
undergoing treatment for her third recurrence. She lost her husband before
finding out about her second recurrence, and is a single mom. She's
a fighter, and inspiration to many. 
 I am so proud of the work Tenaciously Teal (T. Teal)  is doing  to connect and encourage those battling Cancer.  Thursday we went to a new chemo infusion center, and one reserved for those who don't have medical insurance. As one patient told me I am blessed to receive my chemo treatment at "The Taj Mahal", and  Thursday I saw firsthand the disparity existing in Cancer treatment. The chemo center we visited was cramped and seemed desolate. There were no windows, no fish tanks to find Nemo, it lacked tables with puzzles, magazines, hats, or bracelets, and no volunteers were making rounds pushing calories from a snack cart where the  snacks never change. In the chemo room we visited Thursday there was only  joy, courage, and smiles shining throughout a room that normally feels dark.
I wish I knew more of this kind man's story. I only know is his face lit up
 when we gave him a Care Pack, and he was extremely thankful!

 We also visited the hospital floor where I recovered from a major Cancer surgery in December 2012. At first the affects of being back on the same floor, and recalling the trauma I underwent was overwhelming, but quickly I learned I had come to where I was needed this day. After checking in at the front desk, one nurse told me to make sure I visited room 770. As I continued down the hall I realized we were quickly approaching  room 770, the same room I occupied for over a week. I knew immediately it was my room, because it backed up to the "pretty room". A room I learned despite how pretty it was it was a room you didn't want to visit. Through crying and screaming I learned it was not a room reserved for upgrades, but one created out of respect for those who had fought courageously.

A loving Cancer caregiver and I in front of the room
 I once fought in, and where a fight against
Leukemia continues.
With a knot in my throat, and a heavy heart, realizing someone again was occupying the pretty room, I knocked on the door to room 770. A young woman answered the door, and I quickly realized we shared a heavy heart. I gave her two Care Packs, one for her, and one for her young son, who battles Leukemia. Her son was receiving inpatient chemo infusions, and he was obviously very sick.

His eyes were rolled back with what seemed no ability to focus, and he was gaunt from the ailing and sickness that comes with chemo. I backed out of the room, giving a fighter his privacy, and told his mother that a lot of prayer had occurred in this same room just 10 months before when I laid there in a similar hospital bed. She broke down in tears, and she, my mom, and myself,  had opportunity to join hands and pray. Room 770 once again housed a moment where a little hope was restored, but this time in the lives of a different mother and Cancer fighter.

I continue to be blessed with what God is doing through the support of T. Teal! Thank you, to all those who are supporting this mission to spread hope and joy to those battling Cancer.
My husband Benjamin and I waiting to receive my chemo,
 and what appears to be gum on the bottom of my show :)
My turn for chemo after handing out Care Packs
Email me at
or Facebook Tenaciously Teal

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Til Death do Us Part

5 years of marriage, and 8 years of
togetherness. Here's to hoping for many more!
I was still suffering from the affects of my second surgery to rid my body of  Ovarian Cancer, which had deeply rooted itself  throughout my life, when I heard the sweetest words. The words were not new, they had been heard before, and they were definitely not glamorous.  The voice was familiar but infused with a new inflection of concern.

A concerned tone was certainly not new since my Stage 4 Cancer diagnosis, as I had heard it many times when those I loved grappled with the realization of how things change in an instant. It's the concern that comes natural when faced with the fragility of life, and realization no one is promised a chance to love those we care about least not here on Earth.

The voice I heard as I struggled to lay there was deep and handsomely gruff. As I heard this voice for maybe the millionth time it was in this moment I came to the full insight of just how lucky I was. I had not realized just how lucky I would become as I heard the voice first say " I love you" and exchange the vows "I DO", and " In sickness and in health" .

Those commonly exchanged words,  often said casually and with the hope that LOVE will be enough. They're the type of words said with anticipation that there will be no testing of  "poorer" , and God forbid" sickness"!

Hope and Love were not enough  to avoid sickness in MY marriage, and most would consider my husband and I to be unlucky to face such a trial. There was a time where I would whole-heartedly agree  we'd been dealt a forbidden "card", but recently I've pondered if we are actually luckier than most. Through it all maybe we have become more aware of what we have to lose?

The customary 1st dance 
Going back to the night I heard that familiar voice, things were looking better or as I heard him say, "we are coming out of the woods, but for awhile it was touch and go". My dearest friend from high school asked  " What can I do?", and the  voice replied, "When her belly hurts mint tea seems to help with the nausea, and  she needs a straw to drink it with. Oh and one more thing she likes tea best with this much honey,  and at night I give her a shot in the stomach at least for the next 30 days. She also needs a couple doses of Mira Lax and a Senna everyday, and I get up with her about every three hours to stay ahead of the pain. Don't worry if you need to do something different she'll let you know!"

Benjamin and I on graduation day. Two days after a chemo infusion.
He always said he'd cry if I graduated with my Masters from OU!
God blessed me with a husband that not only knew what I needed as I faced an uphill battle with Cancer, but also stepped up in times of trouble. And certainly when I wasn't so easy to love. Through Cancer I've learned that love is more than just words or a feeling. Love is defined through perseverance in times of trouble allowing for the opportunity to achieve deeper feelings that infuse our actions and reactions with love and kindness!  It is not through richer, or  better, or in health that we learn what it truly means to love and be loved. Instead,  it is through trials that insistently test our strength and determination that we come out feeling like we have the love movies are based on!

Benjamin and I the day before I graduated with my Masters in
Social Work, and more than  half a year through a rigorous Cancer battle!

I am so blessed that  Benjamin committed to me in marriage 5 years ago on 10/11/08, and has loved me  as we battled Cancer together. My hope is that we all know what it is to love and be loved!