Friday, May 29, 2009

Tutu Bad for Cancer

My dear friends and family,

My apologies to anyone who has already received an email about this. I am sure I don't have the email addresses for everyone who checks in on this blog, so here goes.....

I am here again to ask for a hand up and a hand out. My wonderful friend, Stacy Louise has organized a Team Backus for the 2009 American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. It will be held here in Lawrence on June 12 starting at 7pm and ending June 13 at 7am.

The teams are usually comprised of 20-24 people who agree to raise $100 each for the American Cancer Society’s research to cure cancer. And then they have to have a team member on the walking course (here in Lawrence at SWJHS’s track) for that twelve hour period of time.

I have always received great support financially and more importantly emotionally from so many people in my community here in Lawrence, in St. Louis and beyond. I hope you can find it in your hearts to help again by sending in a small donation. Imagine if only 20 of you sent $5.00 how easily $100 could add up.

Our team quickly morphed from Team Backus to ‘Tutu Bad for Cancer.’ Because we are a bunch of 'last minute lucys' we are still assembling our tutus and I can’t share a picture with you (until after the event) you will have to use your imagination to see the 20 odd grown men and women (and some teenagers!) who have agreed to wear a tutu while walking around a track for an hour because number one, they can and number two, I think they love me a lot! I love them a lot too and am still humbled by their love and steadfastness.

My story is as familiar as any other cancer patient and so I will only say that I know that one of the reasons I am still alive today is because of the brave women who came before me and tried one or another of the cancer drugs researchers found to fight ovarian cancer. Much of this research is done with the support of the American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer has not yet the cache of breast cancer (or the great marketing and branding) and we patients rely on people like you to help in ways like this to find a cure.

Please send your checks, money orders, (made out to Relay for Life) anything you can to me, earmarked for the Relay for Life event and I will pass it all on to the American Cancer Society. (email me separately for address!) It’s a good thing to do, it’ll make you feel better, and it will put a smile on my face. Those smiles are medically proven to help me survive. (I don’t know if that is true, but it sounds good and I am going to make it work for me.)

Thanks for taking the time to read this, you might help save someone’s life or at least give them hope for one more day and in the end that’s all we really can count on, isn’t it?

By the way, I’m doing well, still recovering and getting stronger. I’ve had minor setbacks, but nothing to really hold me back. My current treatment plan is the best so far and I am responding well. I have great hope for our future.

Many hugs and much love,

Friday, May 22, 2009

My positive mantra

You cannot receive your chemo treatments if your ANC (Absolute Neutrofil Count) is below 1.5. Yesterday my count was 1.3. My white blood count is just a smidge too low. So no doxil this week, maybe next. I am feeling a little down about this but am trying to use the number 51 as my positive mantra.

It also helps to stay positive when good things happen for your children. Madeline was awarded the Mustang Female Citizenship Award last night at the 9th Grade Recognition Ceremony. She was recognized by her peers as someone who "respects the individuality of their fellow students, looks for the 'good' in people, strives to achieve in school and extracurricular activities, speaks positively of others and cooperates with peers and teachers." Can you tell how proud I am? It says a lot to me about her mental health. We have had a rough couple of years here and yet she has remained true to herself and is doing pretty damn well. I sure love her.

Happy Memorial Day weekend. May all your memories be good ones.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CA125 news

I had my monthly CA125 test on Monday and the results are stunning - to me. My CA125 is down to 51. I can't remember when it was this low before. I am, of course, riding high. Who wouldn't be? But I am also feeling a bit cautious. I will probably always feel this way. But I really like the sound of fifty-one. And I am going to ride that wave for the next four weeks - until the next test.
Keep that positive energy and the prayers flowing my way. It's working....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Back on the Wheel

Last night after dinner, Richie and I jumped on the tandem, Charlie got on his bike and we rode downtown. Charlie and Madeline switched places, she finished with ballet, and he on to Tae Kwon Do. We wheeled over to the Percolater for a loose gathering of individuals playing on the working bike sculptures our friend Eric has created for the annual Art Tougeau parade. It was one of the first moments since January that I felt myself bursting with energy.

I am sure the Vitamin C from earlier in the day helped, but the energy and excitement in the air was palpable. It really is Spring and the days I looked forward to way back in January are finally here.

This weekend will be a busy one. Madeline is performing in the end of the year Gala for her dance program with performances tonight, and three times tomorrow. There is a 'paint your car' party complete with the William Tell Overture (performed with car horns) tonight on the roof of the parking garage. Tomorrow is the official parade and after party. Charlie is busy with plans with friends and Saturday night will find us either in bed early or at a friend's housewarming. Sunday is a birthday celebration. The fun never ends.

Life never ends. You can step off the wheel for a while. You can watch it from afar. I prefer to be right in the messy middle of it, my hands and eyes and feet busy participating, but I will listen to my body and stop when I need to, rest and then start again.

On the cancer front, I am feeling strong, addicted to the VitC. I see the oncologist on Monday, will have blood drawn to see if I am ready for chemo (and another CA125.) Then on Thursday I will have the actual chemo. Madeline will go with me on Thursday. This gives us a chance to spend some much need time together. She can get some road time in for her learners permit. She can also see the VitC and chemo infusions and see just how innocuous the procedure is.

A year ago I was 'in remission', waiting for my baby girl to come home from Poland and feeling hopeful. Well, I have active cancer again, my babies are home, but I am more hopeful than ever. Life is good.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms I know. This includes those doggie mamas, too.

Thanks to my mom for teaching me how to be a mother. Thanks to my sisters and sisters-in-law and all the women in my life who have taught me about love, patience and forgiveness and important things like where to find the best shoes!

I am blessed to have two wonderful children. They wish they had more siblings which I take as a compliment. I have never wanted anything more in my life than to be a mother and if I were to die tomorrow, I would be satisfied I had experienced motherhood.

My wish for my children is for them to be happy in their lives. I don't care if they are rich or poor, tall or short, skinny or fat, as long as they feel happy when they wake up each day. My illness has taught me the importance of the the little things, of slowing down and appreciating individual moments of the day. In spite of the chaos of the past two years, I am happier now than I ever was before. And I credit Richie, Madeline and Charlie with that. They have taught me what is really important in life. I am loved and I am capable of love. Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You know that friend you see infrequently? The one that always repeats the same information, the one who always complains or won’t quite read the signal that you can’t listen anymore, you need to go? Guess what? IT’S ME!!! I have decided I have ‘run-on of the mouth.’

I am so sick of listening to my cancer story. I am tired of hearing my voice saying the same thing over and over. I am tired of repeating my story. Can you imagine? It only took me two years to get here. I am a slow learner, like a dog at a bone.

Here’s the latest? Have I told you this before? I’m sorry. I seem to have blinders on. In March my CA125 was at 611. Eight VitC treatments later, many donuts denied, many pills (prescribed, of course) later my CA125 dropped to 91. It was like winning the lottery. It was winning the lottery. Something, maybe everything is working. I feel wonderful, overjoyed, even slightly self righteous about what a ‘good’ life I am living.

But I am tired of feeling like I am not living. Isn’t that a funny thing to say?

I don’t feel engaged with life, with the world outside of my comfortable four walls. I want my world to become bigger. The truth is that healing is not just about visits to the doctor, pharmacist, psychiatrist and infusion center. Healing is also about engaging in everyday conversation. It’s about talking with friends and strangers. It is in waking up to face the day with the challenge of the working world. I am not lonely. I am not depressed or sad. But I am tired of my own company and my own voice. Recently I applied for a job with the local library. Unfortunately for me, the scheduled phone interview came on the day I found out I had a bladder infection and a 104 degree temp. I soldiered on with the interview, but I probably sounded like an individual with a 104 degree temp. I can’t really remember because I was a little out of my head that morning. I am even considering responding to an ad for a customer service phone rep with the (gulp!) local media conglomerate. The truth is I am really good at customer service. I know how to talk to people who are usually anxious about something or need something (who else calls those help lines, anyway?) And I am especially good over the phone. Those whom I have worked with in retail and food service will remember my very unremarkable skills in those industries.

So, get ready world. Here I come again! I am so thankful for all the help, the notes, the gifts, the meals. We really needed all of you these last two years and I feel blessed to have our family and friends take such good care of us. I am glad to be feeling this way. It feels right to want to reengage with the world again. I am ready to ‘be’ something again. I know I am good at fighting ovarian cancer, and this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask how we are doing or how I am feeling. But when I tell you something you already know, let me know and we’ll move on to more important things!

Happy Spring everyone. I believe it is finally here.
Much love,