Four AC Chemo completed! With my support team of my daughter, Jaclyn and my niece, Brook with me!
I feel so blessed. My father did not handle chemo well. At 75 years, the medicine that was to help him fight Mantle Cell Lymphoma wretched havoc through his body. I know his “cocktail” of chemo was different from mine, but I could not help remembering his experience as I entered this cancer journey in March.
Dad had episodes where he passed out after chemo, it was really scary. The medicine finally tore through his intestines causing so much pain for him; he chose hospice and no more treatment. I will always remember that February day in the Naples Hospital, after hours and hours in the ER, when he said, “I’ve had such a wonderful life, but I can’t take the pain, chemo is not working for me.” My niece, Michelle and then my brother, Don visited to help and heard similar words. Don moved him into hospice. Dad was done with the pain; he was ready to go home. But none of us were ready to hear those words.
Reflecting on those months, I can now understand how he could make that decision, but in February 2007, all I wanted was for Dad to fight. Flashback to October 2006, Dad was a healthy, three times a week golfer, who exercised every day and was an active artist. Enthusiastically involved at the Art League, painting beautiful watercolors and easily lifting marble pieces to work on a sculpture. As my family was visiting at Thanksgiving, Dad was having trouble taking deep breaths. I took him to the urgent care clinic, which discovered fluid in the lungs. In December I flew with my parents to MD Anderson to confirm the diagnosis and a treatment plan. After a month in Texas, Dad and Mom wanted the comforts of home again, so Don flew them home to Bonita Springs.
Our family experienced many heartaches; but so many blessings during this time. My siblings and I, there are six of us, took turns visiting and helping where we could. My Dad once said how super it was to spend time individually with each of us, he had not done that for years. My Dad always saw the blessings and positive in everything. I never really thought about it, but since we all had families, visits were always as a family and the one-on-one time does get limited. I loved our talks and spending time with my Mom and Dad alone, as I am sure my siblings did also. My niece and nephew, Michelle and Jim who were the only grandchildren at the time out of college and working, even used their vacation days to take days and spend with their grandparents. It was a hard time, filled with sad and happy memories.
The true heavenly blessing came in the end. My father was first and foremost about family. His children and grandchildren was his biggest pride, then his friends, followed by his many accomplishments through the Chicagoland as an architect/builder. From February 16th to Easter, April 15th, every member of our family was able to visit Dad. He saw and said his good-bye to six children, two daughter in-laws, three son-in-laws, and thirteen grandchildren. It was a beautiful testament to the life he led that everyone within a short time was able to get to Florida. Then on April 17th God came to take him home. And he was ready.
I miss him everyday…everyday. And when I was diagnosed, I would not help but remember his journey. But his journey is not my journey and I am so blessed to have completed the hardest part of my treatment. This AC was the one that closely reminded me of Dad’s treatment.
Most importantly, I feel his presence with me, in between his heavenly golf games of course, giving me strength for the journey.
My chemo is different, thank the Lord! The AC chemo has the most side effects of my treatment plan and is the hardest on my body, but I need to get through this next week and move forward to Taxol/Herceptin, Radiation and then Herceptin only. AC is called by many the red devil because it is a toxic red medicine. But I read on a cancer blog that she thinks of it as a miracle, like how the blood of Christ cleans us and it is cleaning her body of cancer cells…that’s so much more a beautiful positive image! I chose to focus on His great sacrifice for us all!
So…the sleepless nights begin. I don’t know if it is the medicine or my mind, but the 6 days following AC chemo are sleepless nights for me. As is true for tonight, five hours and I am wide awake.
I try meditating, praying, reading, warm milk, and cool wash cloths covering my eyes to my forehead to relax me, but nothing is successful. I lay with my mind racing and nowhere to go. So I get out of bed and am totally awake. It’s 3:15 am.
Taking so many drugs for nausea, pain and high blood pressure, I find I am not a big fan of more pills…sleeping pills. I prefer to trust that the Lord will give me the rest I need. But maybe, like my episode with the pain meds in May, I need to believe that the Lord provided the medical community the ability to create sleeping pills for situations like this. J
But now I am at a crossroads, it’s 4:00 am and if I take the sleeping pills I will sleep through the morning. I don’t want to do that, Brook’s here and even though I don’t have much energy I want to enjoy her company! She’s the best, yesterday after chemo both her and Jaclyn jumped into my bed and talked and watched old Friends episodes, had some munchies (don’t tell Kevin we ate in the bed, we cleaned it up) and laughed. It was exactly what I needed as my energy was sapped. I think they have surprise crafts planned for today and tomorrow, they won’t tell me any more than we need to go to JoAnn Fabrics.
After my Neulasta shot tomorrow, they will gather their supplies and begin! I can’t wait to see what they have planned and so looking forward to the weekend with Brook!
Well, another blessing in the sleepless nights is the time I am able to spend before the house awakes; reflecting on the Mass Daily readings, completing my prayers and reading the Bread of Life.
“Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus.” 1 Peter 1:2 (MSG)
Grace embraced through the healing powers of AC, Christ love, the strength of my Dad and the love of the wonderful support of family and friends, especially Jaclyn and Brook this week!