Sunday, August 29, 2010

Resilient Hummingbirds

Female ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), Eastern USA
Ah, the last vestiges of summer! I am looking at a week vacation bounded by two three day weekends from radiation and enjoying every minute of it! The weather has been cool enough to spend a large part of every day on our deck. Whether it's the dry weather, the very awesome DrySnap we had put under the deck, or David's close mowing of the lawn -or maybe a combination of all three - I don't know but the mosquitos have been leaving us alone this year even at sunset when they have previously been at their worst.

The hummingbirds, on the other hand, have been everywhere! These little birds are amazing and beautiful. They hover right in front of us as if to say "thank you for the tasty nectar" as they make their way between the brightly colored flowers in pots on the deck and the feeders that David has been keeping filled with fresh sugar water. We delight in watching them play, chase and dive bomb each other to get the best spots on the feeder. We can pick out their unique chatter as they buzz around now and even see them in the trees when we look closely enough. They can live up to 12 years they say even with their long migrating treks to and from Mexico every year. They stock up on goodies now and hit the road soon for warmer climates south - resilience extraordinaire!

Speaking of resilience, I am well over my halfway point with radiation treatment now. I am keeping a calendar of appointments on the fridge and delight in crossing each day off with a big red X when I complete one. There are more Xes than not now and that means it will all be over before we know it. Monday they will do one more CT scan to make sure things are still all good with the mapping. The seroma caused by the surgery will hopefully have shrunk and they will be better able to target the site for the 5 boost treatments they will do just to the old tumor site at the end of the treatment schedule.

We are celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary and the 9th year since our first date began this month. This week we will spend a few decadent nights at Blantyre Castle in Lenox mid week and see Crosby Stills and Nash at Tanglewood.

We are so lucky to live in the amazing upper Hudson Valley. We have been devouring as much of the local summer bounty as we can get our hands on - like fresh farm eggs from chickens we know at Kinderhook Farm, deliciously ripened heirloom tomatoes in all sorts of wonderful colors, blueberries and peaches as sweet as chocolate, super sweet corn from Love Apple Farm, and all kinds of other fabulous veggies freshly picked from local farms like Hawthorne Valley Farm. Our good friend and Uplevel Coach Christine Kane has recently posted a great article on 22 Ways to Squeeze Every Last Drop out of Summer Before it Ends.

What will you be doing to take advantage of the last morsels of summer?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One third full

Glass of Red Wine
Today was 11 out of 33 radiation treatments. I am one third of the way through! And yes, I am celebrating that!

Until now I haven't really had any noticeable side effects but it's definitely starting to take it's toll. I realized that I can't drive up and down to NYC twice a week and have any energy left over for anything the work I am driving down there to do for instance. I have to drive because the train schedule is not conducive to making a 3:15 appt (the last one of the day.) So mother nature is once again banging me over the head to tell me to slow down. To work from home more, prioritize things and go down once a week instead of twice a week until this is all over.

It's forcing me to ask for help too, something I have not typically been very good at. For my early morning appointments I ask David to drive me up and back. I am going to bed by 9pm these days too and taking a nap or two during the day when I can so he's doing most of the household stuff too. Thank god for a strong support network!!

So I am counting my blessings that things are rolling right along and keeping focused on that my treatment glass is 1/3 full! And I am doing as much as I can to make sure I am treating my body as well as I can as it's being barraged with radiation. I am taking probiotics, calcium, magnesium, fish oil and flax oil and doing my Qigong cancer fighting energy exercises. I have started drinking a barley grass cocktail every day, am eating healthy, using my new living water sticks and getting regular massages. I have connected with a holistic doctor at St Peters and hope to start some acupuncture soon as well. During every treatment I think about those radiation beams as a healing light coming directly from heaven through the machine to me. The tiredness is not unlike what you feel after a day at the beach. Nothing that a little extra sleep won't fix.

Before you know it, it will be Sept 20th when I'm done with all this!

Thanks for walking this journey with me. I can feel you all right here beside me!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Radiation routine and Silk Road Ensemble

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 19:  Cellist Yo-Yo Ma rehearses for the presidential inauguration on January 19, 2009 in Washington, DC. On January 20, 2009 U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama will be sworn in as the nation�s 44th president.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Day 4 of 33 treatments. Mostly the appointments are fast - after parking my car with the complimentary valet, I go straight back to radiation bypassing the main waiting room, get a locker for my stuff, change into my Jillie's gown, put my stuff in the locker, and before I sit down they call me in for treatment. I lie back, put my arms up over my head, they do some minor adjustments to line me up on the table using the tattoos, and they throw out a few numbers to make sure the settings are all correct. Then Raphael and Christine step out of the room, the machine moves from one side to the other making a soft buzzing sound, and it's all over in 2 minutes. I get dressed and hit the road.

Mondays I meet with the nurse and Dr. Gasson to check in on any side effects and my overall well being. So far nothing much - just a faint pink color starting to appear. They sent me off with some 100% aloe and aquaphore samples to use in between treatments. Nothing else is allowed except a good washing with unscented Dove bar soap.

Having the weekend off from treatments was nice. Saturday David, Islay bear and I explored Windham up in the Catskills. We stopped at some scenic view spots and took in the glory of the Hudson Valley.

We met up with some of our neighbors and went to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on Sunday night to hear the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma. What a wonderful experience! Talk about expanding one's musical horizons - most of this music has been around since ancient times and they use some ancient instruments as well - the sheng and bawu mouth organ was the most different looking but we also loved the gaita (Galician bagpipes), pipa and conch shell horn - and we got to experience it in this ultra modern setting at Tanglewood.

Many of pieces they do are commissioned works pulling together all these different sounds and genres. One of the quotes from the program really struck me - "we can better address our differences if we appreciate our commonalities." This sentiment applies to just about every situation but the commonality last night was the music - the same sounds heard by people around the world for hundreds of years and we were hearing it right then played by people from around the world. And an art director like Yo-Yo Ma with a vision to bring it all together. Really wonderful!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A healing light

What a trip! The radiation machine is like a big robot moving about you as they guide it from the other room. The laser beams are lined up by the "tattoos" they mapped me with during the simulation last week. Today they just took xrays to make sure the depth and the alignment is right. Tomorrow the radiation begins. Each treatment only takes a few minutes.

One of my friends suggested that during each treatment I can meditate on it as God's energy being laser focused right where it needs to be to heal the area. I like that image!

Although the science of it all is rather astounding. Dave, the intern was there again as this is another teaching hospital. He's in from Syracuse University where he says the other students are jealous of his time at St. Peter's. It's apparently one of the top places in the nation for state of the art radiology technology. I don't know how they used to do it but I guess there must have been a lot of manual manipulation of the machines, not unlike a mammogram. Everything here is all automatic so that the beams will go exactly in the same place every day for six weeks.

They'll do another simulation halfway through to make sure things are still lining up properly. I am not supposed to lose (or gain) weight to keep things right where they were on date of the simulation.

The only thing I'm supposed to put on the area is 100% aloe vera to minimize any irritation. My wonderful husband David brought a small tiny aloe plant into my life when he moved in with me in 2002. This plant has grown huge, has had babies, and is now in two very large pots in the window in our bathroom as you can see. I was trying to figure out what on earth I'd do with them .... well now we've got just the healing job for them! Once again, no coincidence.

Nor was my sighting of the great blue heron that flew over my car on my drive up from the city today. Mom's with me. Always with me. Letting me know in wonderful ways.