Embracing Each And Every Day The Good, The Bad And The Unexpected

I can’t believe how quickly time seems to be passing by.  It is already the end of February and here in New England it almost feels like we haven’t even had winter.  Usually by this time we are all feeling pretty housebound and desperate for warm days, sunny skies, and to be able to see the ground beneath the several feet of snow.  But this winter we have been blessed with days in fifties and no snow on the ground at all.  OK, not such good news for skiing and my love of snowshoeing.  But the fact that I have been able to run outside all winter and that we have not had to shovel or snow blow the driveway……. I am loving it!

Up until a couple of weeks ago, my training for the Boston Marathon had going really well.  I had been really sticking to a training program which involves following a nice running program averaging about several 4-6 mile runs a week and then a nice long run once a week.  Also hitting the gym for some weight training.  I have also been really committed to learning all I can about fueling during my runs so that I do not end up in the medical tent this marathon.  Much to my surprise it has really made a difference in the way I feel during my runs, as well as my recovery.  As I was saying, I really had been feeling great and was gearing up for my long runs coming up in the next several weeks.

Well, as things seem to go, just as I was feeling great I hit a few brick walls.  When I was out in California I experienced some “womanly issues”.  This was a quite surprise to me. as my doctor had confirmed to me that I was post-menopausal. My menopause was drug-induced thanks to a shot of Lupron before my stem cell transplant.  Last spring/ summer I had the joy of experiencing some major hot flashes and all the other lovely things that come along with menopause.  I really had it in my mind that I was now past all that.  But to my surprise out in California all that came to a halt.  I called my doctor right away and she confirmed with me that I would need to go for an ultrasounds as soon as I got home from my trip.    So that is what I did.  Like most tests, it took several days to get the results.  When I did get the results,  the phone call went something like this……” Can you talk?  We found a few concerns with your ultrasound.  ”  Oh crap, here we go again.  Apparently I had a thickening Endometrian wall and Hydronephrosis (blockage of the kidney).  What the hell was that?  The nurse explained vaguely that there appeared to be a blockage of my kidney and that we would have to schedule a CT Scan and I would need to see a OBGyn Specialist for another ultrasound and perhaps a procedure.

I got off the phone and just wanted to cry.  What did all this mean?  Does this have anything to do with all the chemicals I continue to push in my body to keep my Myeloma quiet; ie: Revlimid and all the risks of secondary cancers associated with it?  Mike was away on business but I knew I had to tell him.  I caught him while he was driving.  He pulled over and began looking all this stuff up.  We did as we have been told by doctors many times not to do….we googled.  Together we read that  these two conditions exist, the thickening of the Endometrian Wall and Hydronephrosis  in stage 3 cervical cancer.  Really?  Come on!!!!!  This cannot be happening!!!   Mike did his best to calm me down, but I could hear in his voice his concern.  He offered to fly home early, but I told him there was no reason.  We had to wait until I had the additional tests to really find out what was going on.  We promised each other we would try to remain calm and not freak out.  What ever the situation was, we would deal with it, just as we had done before.

I was fortunate enough to get a CT Scan right the very same week.  Mike was home and took me.  We both were scared with so many thought running through our heads.  We both felt like we were paralyzed.  We had no focus on anything but worrying.  The next day we went to see the OBGyn Specialist.  When we arrived at the doctor’s office we were escorted to her office.  We were told she wanted to speak with us first.  Oh brother.  In the past, sitting with the doctor has not usually meant good news.  She could see the concern in both of us.  Mike and I sat down and squeezed each other’s hands.  At this point we just wanted to know what we were dealing with, what ever it was.  Just tell us!  Well, immediately addressed all our concerns.  And then quickly dismissed all that we had been so worried about.  She explained that she was going to do another ultrasound and take a sample of the Endometrium wall to rule out any abnormalities.  Cervical cancer was not a concern at all.  Damn WebMd!  And we know better!  Ugh!

So in to the ultrasound room I went.  Everything looked good to her, in fact very good.  In fact most young women would LOVE to see what she saw on the screen.   Yup I was a spring chicken again!  She saw follicles, lots of follicles!  I was ovulating!  Really?  Heck even in my twenties I had trouble with that.  In fact Mike and I had to go through Invitro-fertilization to have our four beautiful babies.  And now I was ovulating?  It was as if we reversed the clock!  My Endometrium wall was thin as it should be and everything looked great.  She still did take a sample (ouch!) just to confirm that all was OK.  I guess Mike and the kids are going to have to be prepared to ride the hormone roller coaster with me.  And on the bright side when I do go through Menopause again, at least I’ll know what to expect!

As soon as we walked out of her office, I received a call from my other doctor’s office with my CT Scan results.  Everything looked normal. The kidney looked fine.  There were no blockages and no concerns. Ok so went from thinking I was dying to now being a fertile young thing with a great looking functioning kidney!  What the heck!  What a roller coaster ride.  Mike and I fell into each others arms and let out a few tears.  He looked it me and said OK, can we now go out for coffee and make some travel plans this year?

So lesson learned….. Stay off WebMD.  Yeah like I’ll do that the next time.  Probably not!  We are our worst enemies.

So I got back to my running last week and in fact Suzi and I did 16 miles last Friday.  It was a beautiful February day.  It hit almost 50 degrees during our run!  I had been battling a cough on and on but other than that, I felt great.  I was pumped to pass the 16 mile mark and I was looking forward to hitting 20 the following week.  But as things go, I once again hit a wall.  Saturday I woke up feeling worn out and coughing more.  By Sunday morning I had the chills and a very high fever.  So off to the emergency center we went.  They did a chest x-ray.  Although my lungs looked OK, they treated me for pneumonia and gave me a shot ( a booster to jump start things) , and inhaler and prescription for antibiotics.   So this meant a week without running.  I focused on eating well and getting some much needed rest.  Thursday was treatment day at the hospital.  Usually the nurse starts off my appointments with asking if I had any hospital visits, scans, x-rays since my last visit.  This time I had to answer yes to all those questions thanks to my eventful last few weeks.  Thankfully all my blood work came back normal.  I slept during my 3 hours in the Infusion Room.  After a bag of fluids and my Zometa infusion I was free to go home!

This morning I finally felt like I was getting some energy back and my cough has finally for the most part gone away.  Mike, Flower and I went for a very slow 3.2 mile jog.  It felt so great to move again.  I took it very slow.  I know it is going to take some time to get back to where I was. I am hoping to get a few 3-5 mile runs in Florida and hopefully in a couple weeks I’ll tackle that 20 miler.  The Boston Marathon is only 7 weeks away.  I just keep reminding myself that I am better prepared for this one.  I am not trying to break any records.  I just want to feel good running it and have fun and to avoid the med tent so that I can celebrate at the finish line!  It is going to feel so good running with the MMRF Power Team!  Please visit my link to my fundraising page http://www.active.com/donate/2012mmrfBoston/JDreyer8.  I have a big goal of raising $5000 and I’m hoping to get there.  Anyone who would like to honor a loved one who is fighting a cancer battle or has lost their fight, I would be be so honored to wear their name on my running shirt.  With your donation I will honor your loved one as I run the many miles to the finish line.

So like seemed to get back to hectic normal.  It seems like the kids are getting busier and busier and therefore  I am getting busier and busier.  Having four very active kids all the same ages in different after school activities doesn’t leave much time to be lazy.  Between karate, baseball camp, piano, gymnastics team, basketball, ski club, and drama practice and homework, the endless piles of laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning and keeping up with my running it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day.  But busy is good. Busy equals normal!  And normal is nice for a change.  After my little health scare Mike and I decided we are longer going to put things off.  We need to embrace these healthy days!  So we decided to start filling up our calendar.  Next week, I am taking the kids to Ft. Myers, FL to visit my parents for a week.  We are so excited!  My parents are counting down the hours until we get there.  In April we are planning a surprise trip (details soon!)  And recently Mike was awarded with Salesman of the Year!  I am so proud of him!  He is so dedicated to his job and it is wonderful that he has been recognized for all of his incredible efforts.  In the past 3 years he has been the top salesman of the year.  And to think they have been the most stressful years here at home.  As part of his recognition, he has been awarded an all expense paid trip for two to Bali, Indonesia!!!!!!  Yup all the way across the world to Bali!!  My parents are coming to stay with our kids and we are going to have a second honeymoon in Bali!!!  We just confirmed our trip and made our reservations to go on an Elephant Safari (I get to ride on an elephant) and to swim with Dolphins!!  I still cannot believe we are doing this.  Before cancer I don’t think we would ever get on a plane together and leave our kids behind and fly across the world for a week.  But there is no way we are passing this up!  This will be a trip of a lifetime! Not to mention my parents are very excited to spend the week with the kids and Flower!  So between all the traveling and baseball season, it is going to be a very busy spring.

This past week a couple of my dear friends have lost their mothers to cancer.  My friend Shayna’s mother  lost her courageous fight after years battling esophageal cancer.  She was an incredible strong woman who lived a full life and kept an amazing attitude despite her many years fighting this terrible disease.  Also, my friend Leslie lost her mother very quickly after a recent diagnosis of Leukemia.  My heart and prayers are with them during this very sad difficult time.  At my friend Leslie’s mom’s funeral service the minister said alarming message in his sermon.  He told us that at each funeral we are reminded that we are closer to being “in the box” than outside “the box”.  I could see around me that everyone was shocked as I was at his statement.  In fact at the cemetery my friend Melissa and I talked about how we thought his message was very morbid.  I still do think he could have stated it more appropriately but I think I am understanding his message more.  Every day is truly a gift.  We really don’t know when we wake up in the morning if today will be our last day.  So every day should be embraced.  We don’t know when our time will be “to be in the box”.  I still can’t believe he put it that way.

Barbara, a high school friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer.   She is just beginning her battle.  Every time I hear of a new person diagnosed my heart aches for them.  Just knowing firsthand the fear that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.  As I read her CaringBridge updates tears roll down my face.  I feel like I am holding on to each update waiting for more positive news.  My prayers and thoughts are with Barbara as they begin this roller coaster ride.

 Recently at dinner Mike and I had a talk with the kids.  We said a prayer for our friends who lost their mothers.  We talked about how blessed we feel that I was doing so well.  In keeping it “real” we also talked about the fact that we should embrace all these healthy days that are a gift.  Our kids know that I may likely relapse at some point and that is why I stay on maintenance medication.  They asked what we would do when the cancer comes back.  We explained that we would fight that much harder this time and that together as a family we would get through it.  My beautiful sensitive Sarah broke down in tears and cried.  She told me that she can never lose me because she wouldn’t know how to live without me.  My beautiful baby.  I am so truly blessed in so many ways.

I hope you all enjoy the weekend ahead.  Ours will be busy as usual.  The kids have ski club tonight.  I will be going to support my friend Shayna celebrate her beautiful mother’s life and mourn her loss.  Tomorrow between flag football, birthday parties and play dates I’ll be heading to the salon hoping my stylist can do something with this crazy hair!  The kids begin their February Vacation after today so it will be time to pull out the shorts and flip flops for sunny Florida!

Embrace today and Enjoy!