Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fun Photos for All from my Web Cam...Unecessary CloseUps All!!

Mom and me
I say there ol' chap....me and emily


Jenny, Esquire and me


Kathryn and Abby...where is that Tatum?



My Other Family.....me, Mike and Mike's mom, Iris Morton
The Newton Connection



Me and Uncle Jerald


Jerald drove us up on Friday morning. We had such a good time. Thank you for doing the driving and making the trip up so enjoyable. Love you both, kathryn

Monday: The Rockies Wednesday: The Recliner

Yes, I sat by the window in my wheel chair overlooking a wide expanse of the Rocky Mountains. Is there anything better? Ok, I'm an ocean girl...so the Pacific or Atlantic would work too...but it was incredibly beautiful. Snow capped mountains and the sun shine creating it's perfect magic on those peaks.....fine.
I was back in the driver's seat today. The neupogen did it's work. I'm home with my fanny pack of 5-FU. I'll go back for chemo on Tuesdays. I'm glad, I love my friends there. Two days prior to chemo, I will go in for shots of neupogen. One on Sunday morning, one on Monday morning. Then chemo. Then Dr. Clark and I will discuss how things are going. Jenny I so appreciate how you talked to me how to get through to this extremely brilliant oncologist. I owe you. Cannot afford you, but so owe you. Thank you.
Just very tired which goes with the territory.
So thankful for the feast of family and friends prior to this round. It is like running through one of those Kansas wheatfields. Pure love, pure light, breeze in my hair and God bouncing off of every golden grain of wheat. Home: yes, Martha, it's a good, good thing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mama Said, Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This

No chemo for this ol' gal today. My counts were too low. They were low at mid treatment, so this isn't a surprise...however, I do like keeping my schedule. It's not about keeping schedules, it's about doing things right. However....
I had my shot of neupogen (build up those white cells) and will go back in the morning to see if I can have chemo tomorrow.
As of this moment - I'm in bed. My trip to Kansas/Oklahoma was such a lift. Now I will take advantage of this time to sleep. (and no, traveling didn't cause this, it's just what part of this process).
Continue to pray I can stay on my drugs as they stand right now.
Many funny stories this week-end. Everyone I encounter says, "oh, is it getting colder outside?" One person told me he 'went to the "Y" (and I assumed he was a swimmer) and his ears hurt as he left the "Y" and then wondered if that was why I was wearing ear muffs. I told him no I took a drug that made me very cold. I did toss in he might try some ear plugs. May as well be a diagnostician while I was waiting to pay for my food.
I was in the Denver airport and decided to eat a bagel. I saw her take it from the cooler. I asked her if she would mind heating it for me as I could not eat it cold. She had a toaster and heated it for me. I asked for two little rounds of cream cheese. When I picked them up, they were cool. I thought, I'll put them in my front jean pockets to "heat them up a bit". I went back and sat down....and suddenly, I had these cold circles penetrating my hip bones....which went straight down my legs and to my butt. It was 40 degrees in Denver and the cool air was coming in from all of the open areas to the planes. I was muttering all the while, you idiot, what were you thinking?? Putting cold Philadelphia cream cheese packages in your pockets?!?
That's it for now. Good night for the day. : )
love to you all and again, your prayers are such an amazing and powerful gift. Never think for a moment your prayers as you are "going along" are missed by Him.
Psalm 56.
kathryn

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So Grateful

Chuck walked 3 times today. He may still be making loops around the nurses station, who knows?
My dear "old" friend, Mike, drove me back to Oklahoma City this afternoon. A million thanks - for the talk and the laughter.
Leaving Kansas Medical Center, reminded me of the way Garrison Keillor described an evening good bye in Lake Wobegon. Good bye hugs in Chuck's room, good bye hugs in the hall, good bye hugs in the waiting room, good bye hugs at the front door of the hospital. I like that...reminds me of Kansas good bye's.
Though it was a very serious time for Chuck and his family, we had a wonderful time catching up, ministering to one another through talk and laughter. I think of the silent prayers said through out the halls and in Chuck's room. I know his daughter's prayed over him before his surgery - and I think of all of the prayers that were offered on his behalf because of each one of you. We thank you...we are humbled and grateful as we are each day.
Chuck was to be moved to a regular room tonight. I'm not sure if that happened or not, as they had to wait for an opening.
My heart if full and overflowing. To see my family and dear family friends is better than any medication. My hugometer is full and overflowing; I can wade it in for months to come.
For Chuck, it was something he will ponder for a long time. One minute you are fine - the next someone is cutting open your sternum, designing pathways in your heart created from a vein from his very own leg. All of these unanswered questions he's had about his health: answered. Amen.
As for me, I'll be traveling home tomorrow. Round 4 is Tuesday and I will finish my novella...the wedding story sometime this week.
We celebrated 32 years on April 24, Saturday. Jim was home chasing around two dogs and I was in Kansas with my family. That's sounds like a normal wedding anniversary for us. We will make it to The Grove....no matter the date. I love you, Jim. Thank you for allowing me to come and for all that you for me every single day.
Thank you to each one of you.
"He knows the way that I take." Job 23:10.
love to all, kathryn
Tatum, I know you are so glad to see your mommy again. I know there were many hugs at that home as well. : )

Thursday, April 22, 2010

and then came one more thing.......

Chuck Parker will undergo heart by-pass surgery at Kansas Medical Center, Andover KS at 7:30am, Friday, April 23. We all solicit your prayers for him and for his wife, Patty, their children, Jenny, Bethanna, Abby and Emily as well as for his surgeon, nurses and technicians. I'm a big one to pray very hard for the anesthesiologist. Our lives rest in their hands. I appreciate your support for our family. My mother has been hit hard with two of her children being ill. We are tough and know God is in the midst of us. We do not ever have to wonder around in the dark.
"He will do this." Ps. 37:5. May God bless your lives today.
love you kathryn
Yes, I am in Okla City tonight. My uncle, Jerald Parker, will drive me to Wichita tomorrow and pick me up on Monday for my return flight to Abq. Yes, I am fine. I am at the end of my chemo cycle and am taking precautions (you want to see me in my mask and hot pink ear muffs?) I look "smashing"!! really. I am fine. Will be just fine. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Wedding; No Wedding Planners Necessary

"It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense." Mark Twain

Laverne's Wedding Parlor. A bungalow, right across the street from the county courthouse. A small white house with a front porch and a sign. "Weddings Performed Here". I'm sorry I do not have a photograph for that would tell the entire story.
We walked in to find Laverne removing hair curlers from her head. Not just any curlers, the vintage curlers. Small metal rods with little pink rubber bumpers on the ends. Each curler taken down left a small ringlet of hair. She made sure each ringlet stayed in it's place. At this rate, I wondered when we WOULD get married? We were told to go over to the health department, "catty corner" to the courthouse, across the square. Well, who doesn't love a little blood work?" Off we run to get our blood tests. Thankfully, it was painless and we left with out certificates. We passed. Back to Laverne's. Now we must go to the courthouse and get our licence. If you are wondering, yes, it looked exactly like the Normal Rockwell print. Getting The License. Jim and I looking over the VERY tall counter and people (all of them looked as though they had been there since first Roosevelt administration) scurrying around getting our paperwork in order. Suddenly, paperwork was in hand. Back to Laverne's. Tben! without any warning -a very short Baptist minister walks in - fresh as a daisy, crisp and clean, stepped toward us (remember we have not slept all night and are in that zone of s l o w; please do not speak loudly or too quickly). He missed that clue. Rather loudly he asks, as he is rubbing his hands together. "How long you'll known each other; 6 months, 6 weeks, 6 days...I don't want to know. Praise the Lord!" We didn't speak. I did have on a rather full dress, one that dropped straight down and was rather full. I didn't think about it at the time - only later did I realize the need for such questioning! "Let's get this going." Laverne and another woman were standing in what would be the dining room. I was looking inside this very dusty, old glass case, the kind that would be in an old drug store or gun shop. There were items to rent for weddings: a plastic bouquet, a garter, and for $1.75 you could get a polaroid picture. We were flat out broke. Toothbrushes took most of our cash. (and all that coffee and Jim's cigarettes took most of our cash...and we had to have money to drive back to Broken Arrow!) We decided we would just get married "clean". Nothing to hold or hand on to. The little Baptist rent a minister was so excited. "Praise the Lord, let's get moving". So on blood red carpet we stood...saying our vows; making sincere promises and just hoping the law wasn't looking for us yet. "The ring". We both nodded very lightly in the negative. Mr. Praise the Lord leaned over to Jim and said to "get the little lady a ring"..he said he would. We had one to exchange in the backseat of the car. Praise the Lord, we were glad he didn't know about THAT ring. Just like that, we were married. Praise the Lord, he said. I do not remember Laverne and my other bridesmaid shedding a tear. We just had to sign the license and pay our $15.00 and get back to Broken Arrow. Again, it was a picture perfect day outside the brothel/funeral home/wedding chapel. All of that flocked wallpaper and red carpet plus heavy drapes did not indicate what kind of day awaited us outdoors. Thankfully, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and there wasn't a police care in sight. Made it.
Mr. Praise the Lord walked us to the car. As Jim was getting into his side of the car, the little minister said, "tell her that you love her". Jim, that Navy guy who follows orders well said, "I love you.". He is standing next to my side of the car. He ordered me to do the same..."tell him that you love him." Silence. I was not in the Navy. Again he spoke the same words...only this time with a little more emphasis and feeling, "TELL him that you LOVE him." Uncomfortable silence. How could he have known my lecture about "when I love you I will tell you, but not a moment before" speech. With all seriousness oozing out of this man he once again said, very slowly, very emphatically, "TELL HIM THAT YOUUUUUUU LOOOVVVVEEE HIMMMM." I thought if I do not say something, we will be here all day long. I quickly turned to Jim and said, "i love you", said thanks, jumped into the car and said I do NOT love you and off we went, heading to Broken Arrow. I have to tell you, to this day, almost 32 years later, that was the most normal thing I had done in years. However@! we started thinking about how to tell people. And who would could tell to "break the ice". This was a very small town, news travels faster than the Concord ever did. ah! Naomi Cox. She knew us, she loved us, she was the first choice. We rolled into their business parking lot, walked into the shop. Naomi walked out from behind a back wall...her jaw was slammed to the ground. This woman is rarely without a word. Nothing. Just wide open mouth as she made wide circles around us. Shaking her head, never speaking. We left there knowing full well the entire town must know by now.
Drove into my parent's driveway and walked into the kitchen. Though it was a beautiful spring day, my mom was sitting in the kitchen, not a light on in the house. My mom. Kleenex in her hand and was in full Cheryl/Mom mode. She had her hand clutching her shirt, clutching it to her neck. We walked into the kitchen. "sniff, sniff". Hi mom. "You've gone and married that Jim Stephens. Yes, I konw. He's divorced, did he tell you that? ah, yeah, I'm aware of that. All the while Jim is leaning against the kitchen counter. Mom is speaking about him as if he was not there. The phone rings (thank goodness!) It was my dad. He spoke briefly to my mom. Then "sniff, sniff". The phone rang (just like a good play, the interuption to ease the tension). Mom answered and turned to Jim, "he (my dad) wants to talk to you." "Yes, ok, uh huh, un huh, uh huh. good bye." I asked what my dad said. He said, "you will get under my skin." Ok. I didn't know if that was a bad thing or not. I turned to my mom and said, as she was still sniffling, "for the first time in a long time I am happy. There is nothing to cry about. I am getting some things so we can leave for Virginia Beach." Mom, who never says the word "s-e-x" follows me into my bedroom while I'm tossing things into a bag. I'm standing in the closest and she is standing next to me, still with kleenex in hand and makes one comment "never tell him no" and walked out. Later, I told Jim what she said. His reply, "I really like your mom." I grabbed library books that would be due while we were gone. Next: The jewelry store. Gotta mind Rev. Praise The Lord, we are going to get the little lady a ring.
We walk in, no one else is there. It is the requisite small town jewelry store. Cases in the front and a little glassed in area where the jeweler did his repair work. Jim pulled out the "other" ring and asked if he could exchange this ring for two plain gold bands. He saw the size on the other ring and pulled out the same size for me. My fingers are not Cinderella sized. He then looked at Jim and motioned him back to the little area behind the glass. Jim walked with him. He looked at Jim, with all seriousness, and said, "this obviously is not the same girl." No,she's not." They came back out, found some wide gold bands and we made an even exchange.
Next...Jim's mom's house. By this time, it was almost 1pm. She was heading back to work. As we were pulling in, she was getting ready to get into her care. In the driveway we were met by, "O! you crazy kids, you crazy kids..shaking her head back and forth, you crazy kids." Thankfully, she HAD to get back to work or I guess we would have heard an entire day of 'o! you crazy kids.' Pause here for a moment. My mom is still making hash out of her kleenex and trying to accept this is a "happy day" - still clutching her shirt up to her chin, wondering what else will happen to her daughter. Jim's mom is muttering 'you crazy kids'. It was a wonderful day; really.
We slept quickly. Jim still had to get to VA Beach. I still had to turn in my library books. About 3:30, Jeff burst into our room, where we were dead asleep, saying "I always knew you wanted to marry a Stephens, and now you've gone and done it". 16 year olds have such a way, dont' they? At 5pm, I heard Doris coming in from work. I sleepily headed out to the kitchen and was sitting at the bar in the kitchen. In blasts my sister in law - you know, the same one who wondered if I knew Jim was home on leave. Both of them were carrying bags of groceries - all the while, their mouths are running full speed. "you know he could have married anyone (for protection of the innocent, I will make up names, there is no need to cause any more shock after 32 yrs). Yeah, he could have married Marybell or Susie or Mildred; Karen said, yeah or he could have married Millicent or Toni, but no, he married HER. Doris tossed me a present. I said thank you. I opened it to find a beautiful, long robe. I took my box and my robe and headed back to the bedroom. I walked into the bedroom and said, I think it's time we head out for Virginia Beach. Things are a little weird in the kitchen. I grabbed my things as Jim was packing up his shaving bag. We said a little good bye and headed for the library. I still find that funny. Why I ever thought about library books on the day of my wedding is beyond me. But I hated to think of having to pay a fine when we had so little money.
Between all of these events, we made various phone calls to family and friends. I don't remember all of the people I phoned; however, I remember my sister being very distraught and my friend, Ruthie, speechless...waiting on a customer in her little antique shop in Snyder Ok. Beyond that, I really have no recall. Since that time, I've heard some stories about our day, but they remain a nice blur. After alll, we were happy and ready to head out for Virginia Beach for avery nice honeymoon, right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The honeymoon. The honeymoon story just fits right into our "perfect plan". That should be the last installment. Thanks for following along. Hopefully, I will get to that tomorrow.
It's early for me today...so I am feeling pretty good. Friday is coming and that's usually a return to my ol' self. Thanks for joining me. This has been more fun than I originally thought. You bored yet?
love to you all,
Kathryn

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Third Treatment Report

We can never see the sunrise by looking toward the west. Japanese Proverb


Cumulative. No one is kidding. I never thought they were. Fevers, fatigue, nausea -- all part of this little chemo world. However! during the good moments, I've managed to plant some flower seeds in my garden bed, just outside the den. I love zinnias. We have a west exposure and zinnias love the heat. I hope they will grow as "tall as an elephant's eye" this year so I can enjoy them as I am in the den. My time will be rather limited to mornings in the backyard. I have to be very careful in the sun; I'm hypersensitive to sunlight with these particular drugs.
I believe I am going to just have to insist on a prescription to "summer over on the coast of Maine". I know just the house on the hill - just across the street from the Atlanta Ocean. Just the right amount of morning fog to make it all mysterious and interesting and just enough sun to make the flowers grow. I once met a lady in an antique shop on "the coast of Maine". She had just finished chemotherapy. Her hair was shaved close. When she turned around, she had Team USA shaved into her hair, dyed in red, white and blue. It was the year of the Olympics. I loved her spirit - not only for the Olympics, but for LIFE.
Just wanted to let you know I'm still in the fight. I'm no Pollyanna here. Statistics do not relate to each person individually. I am not a statistic; I am a person. Three treatments down, nine to go. I feel I'm doing very well. I know things could be much worse. I am grateful to God they are not.
I have a new but good friend who is going in for neck surgery tomorrow morning, 7am. Her name is Donna. She has been very supportive and loving not only to me, but also to my family. Please pray for her surgeons. This is delicate surgery. Wonder of wonders, she will come home on Tuesday. She's great fun and came over to my house for pajama day - leopard pajamas, robe and house shoes! That is support...and we are blessed to find support from our dearest friends and family. We thank you. And now, it's time to hit the sheets.
Love to all, kathryn

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Now, Back To Our Program

Like any journey, there are always switchbacks and side roads to be taken. I will be doing a bit of that this morning. My hands are bothering me this morning; this is to your advantage, I will write as long as they agreeable. And now, part 2 of our story.....

Prior to the stop at Lutheran Hill, we were driving around the parts of Broken Arrow we still recognized. We had to "drag Main"...which took us back to our years in high school. I remember the first time I could drive alone. I asked my mom if I could drive to the store to get some bread. The grocery store was a "stone's throw" from our house. She said ok. ah HA! I will get the bread and drag main. My first time. What I didn't know, she could see the blue Ford Fairlane from our kitchen window! My parents put up with a lot. It was my first burst of freedom - wow, that felt so good. We both had our stories of dragging main - when gas was .25/gal.

We drove to Camino Villa, the local trailer park. It was still there. Ground Zero for tornado's. As we drove over the bridge, Jim was talking about his future plans in the Navy. I listened well...I kept thinking as he told me what he hoped to achieve, this was on that list. Dreams, past achievements not an ounce of boasting. Just the plan. hmmm. Then he asked me if I wanted a soda. It was midnight or after, a coke sounded good. As we sat at the traffic light across the street from the 7-11, he casually said, we should just get married. He went in for sodas. As he got back into that little, yellow Honda, I said Ok. He looked at me, very puzzled, asking, "Ok, what?"? Ok, we can get married. From past conversations and a brief engagement to someone else, friends told me about how we could go to Miama - there was no 3 day waiting period for a license. Miami??? you are saying? Miami, Oklahoma. Home of Laverne's Wedding parlor. I cannot even tell you the amount of back peddling Jim went into. hmm., stammer, stutter. Pause. "Well, you see, I'm engaged to someone else - she lives in Virginia Beach and I just bought a ring for her. It's sitting in the backseat." I then asked him if he loved her. Pause. I said I'll tell her. He said, rather emphatically, I WILL tell her. Ok. Off to Luthern Hill. Now for the more intense conversations....God, what would we want to do with Him? Go back to church - faithfully....no matter what, God would remain the center of our lives. (I find this interesting...as we neither one had a personal relationship with God. We did have a good foundation to start from. Again, nothing like a plan. Jim said, No divorce - ever. He couldn't face that ever again. Deal. He had just set up an account to pay off debt from his last marriage. He was going to live in a barracks in Washington DC. He would only bring home $100/month. Would I go to work? Sure, I have always worked. Deal. Children? Sure. Deal. Then I started my little tirade. "I do not love you; I will NOT tell you I love you until I do, am I clear, do you understand? yes. Ok. Now. Do we get my clothes and leave from here to Miami, then on to Norfolk? We drove to my parent's home and did about 6 circles at the corner right before you drove into my parent's driveway. I had decided my parents must be "used to me being home" and if I went inside, I would need to stay inside. Away we drove Miami - about a 2 hour drive (long time ago...may be closer or farther away than this). We went to Laverne's. Just as friends had said, it was a little old house located directly across from the town square and the county courthouse. We took a flashlight and went to the front door. There was a little piece of paper covered in saran wrap. It said "call this number". We found a pay phone and Laverne answered. She said I open at 8am and hung up. We found a truck stop open. We walked in and found our booth. Jim ordered coffee and opened another pack of cigarettes. You must remember, he went into the Navy in 1967 and cigarettes were issued to them; right there in their ditty bag. 17cents a pack. This was before anyone really discussed the dangers of cigarettes, but wouldn't the nasty cough and phlegm be a clue? Maybe not. There a many long, lonely nights with a coffee mug in hand - something had to be in the other hand to make the hours pass.
I knew my dad got up very early to go to his job in Tulsa. I said, I have to call my dad and tell him where I am - they will be missing me. I went over and called home. "Daddy, this is Kathryn." Yes...where are you? I am in Miami....Oklahoma. Why are you there? I just got married. TO WHOM? Jim Stephens. click. I went back to the booth and said, we have to go home, I just killed my dad. Let's go now! Jim, the calm one (or so it appeared at that moment) said, NO, we've come all the way to Miami to get married and we are getting married. Sit down. A few moments later, he said, well before your parents call my mom, I'd better call her. Mom, this is Jim. I'm in Miami, OK and just got married. My favorite line of the morning, "to who?" Jim had had a date to play tennis that night, I'm not sure she knew about the VA Beach girl he had a ring for in the back of his car), but she DID know he was supposed to take me home at 10pm. He said, to Kathryn Jordan. "oh you crazy kids." click.
(ok, you are figuring this out...we lied, we knew if we said we are GETTING married, someone would send out the paddy wagons...so we fibbed and drank even more coffee.
About 7:45, I asked if we could find some toothbrushes somewhere. We drove back to the town square area and sure enough, there was an old drug store on the corner. We bought a small tube of toothpaste and 2 toothbrushes and headed over to Laverne's.
Please stay tuned for the 3rd and hopefully, final part of our story. This is only the beginning - it does get better.
And for my assistant editor in chief....my chemo went well yesterday. It took much longer. The neuropathy is still very present this morning. These things take time to work themselves out. I am feeling ok - but I can see that I'm beginning to go through my bi weekly chameleon phase. My skin goes from yellow, to gray, to green. I do watch what I wear!! Some colors do not go well with the green/yellow phase. My hands are the most troubling aspect, but I will stay on my drugs and see how I do. Dr. Clark is very attentive. The fatigue will probably set in this afternoon. We are seeing Molly's cardiologist today to see about her passing out/orthostatic hypotention. Passing out is not cool.
This remembrance has been fun. Stay tuned...and write often. Your comments so warm my heart and soul. love you kathryn

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors.....

Molly shot some photos of us at the park before I started chemo. Since I'm telling our story, I'll post this now...my brain is slowing down and I'll forget if I don't do it. Gee, how did we get so old? Coco looks pretty good. She's 6 years old. That plays to her advantage.
One of my co editors wrote today suggesting an "Infomercial". So here it goes.
I met with Dr. Clark on Tuesday. We both had the same questions. So here are the answers to date:
My blook work is "ok" for mid treatment. Another CBC (complete blood count) on Tuesday BEFORE my next treatment. (praying it will be up and ready for Round 3). Neuropathy: it's severe. It's altered my life quite a bit. I wear gloves 85 percent of the time. (hard to go to the restroom with gloves on...but that's another story). Dr. C is adding an infusion of calcium/magnesium to my cocktail. He also ordered a small reduction in the 5-FU to help counter the neuropathy. I will have some, it's just part of the deal here. I'm fine with that. It's an excellent drug for stage III colon cancer. It kills those nasty cancer cells, so I'm all for it. I am also taking an oral drug, Gabapentin, I like to say this drug....for I can actually pronounce it. Very safe drug, however, it will take some time to work as it is supposed to. For now, it's pink earmuffs, yes, indoor and outdoors. My ears are so cold they feel as though they will shatter. I wear gloves, a sweatshirt, tshirt and jeans and always house shoes and socks. When I go out I look much like a homeless person. Coat, heavy scarf, gloves, etc etc. Most strangers are OVERLY kind to me. Smiling broadly, while taking a giant step backward...thinking please don't hurt me : ) I know this look - I've been on Central many times as well as on the streets in Washington DC. They make me smile. My appetite is down some. I eat weird food. As I said I do not tolerate sweets, but love pancakes and french toast. Something that is hard to figure out. And since this is a colon cancer blog and an infomercial, I finally started using the bathroom again (#2) on April 1st. February 4 was my last "normal" bowel movement. We so take for granted these most basic elements in our lives. The chemo drugs are altering that somewhat; I'm adjusting. A side note: Dr. Clark said if things do not resolve or get worse, we would find another drug for my cocktail. I'm not quite ready to jump ship. Oxilaplatin is challenging, I'm no martyr, but I know the specifics and appreciate how it works. For now, we make small changes and believe me (wouldn't someone say that on an infomercial) I am being well cared for. Please pray constantly for Dr. Clark, for his safety and for all that he does for so many. We still have the greatest healthcare system in the world. People come here from all over the world for help. My daughter has been cared for in the most incredible ways. My hat is off to all of the doctors, nurse, technicians and people who do all of the nasty cleanup work! You are amazing people and I thank you! This concludes this Infomercial. Tomorrow, we will return to our episode. I'm in the game and ready to play. This team is going to WIN; I've even got white tennis shoes...that should prove something : )
Love you all!! kathryn

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Taking A Break From Cancer....Please Join ME!

Memories are wonderful, destructive, chilling, but most of all they are heartwarming. Remember. Remember Jesus Christ. God called the Israelites to "remember and share this with your children."
Since this is my journey through quite an interesting maze....I am going to Remember for a couple of posts. If it goes to three - so be it. It's my journal.
It's 3:35am. I came in the kitchen and made french toast and am waiting for a hot cup of tea. A little Yorkshire Gold.
So this post will be a look back. I'm in the mood to remember and to write what I remember. Memories are exactly that. A brain in recall mode. As the song writer wrote,' a misty, water colored' thing . This is what I remember and you will remember my story in a different way. That's what makes this so much fun.
As I was laying in my bed wondering if I was going to go back to sleep, I thought about quilts. How loved they are. Quilts created by grandmothers, great grandmothers. Lovingly, painstakingly thought over. Pieced with fabric out of their stash, stitched by hand. I have a quilt on my dining room table, pieced and quilted by my mom, grandmother, aunts and many women from Newton, Kansas. That quilt was on a quilt rack in our home - a daily reminder of my mother's story. Dresses made for her girls and for herself adorn that quilt. What a wonderful thing to look at as I pass through my dining room today.
Today's quilts are lovely...however, there is something about the those quilts of old. They are stories. I have a quilt that was made my my great grandmother's family coming across the plains of Tennessee,Arkansas to what then, Oklahoma Territory. The Land Race was on. Imagine making a quilt in the back of a covered wagon, heading out to the Wild West. Remember.
I have two quilts made as wedding gifts for me and my first husband. The one made by my grandmother was well loved and used and is now too fragile to use. I love it. It's from her hands to my heart. That gift of love is still with me to this day. The other quilt lays on the end of my bed. Well loved, tattered and torn around the edges, roughly repaired by a novice - me. It keeps me warm in more ways than I can tell you. Remember.
Matthew Ford, "Bruce Hornsby & the Range" is playing in the background. You and Jo Ann bought it for me during a trip you all made to DC. Remember.
Now I will go back a few more years. As you read along, you will see why it's so important. This may take a while. Again, I'm writing for me and for Jim...if you wish, take a stroll down memory lane with me.
A gorgeous spring morning broke on April 23, 1978, The Village/Oklahoma City, OK. A Sunday. I do not recall that familiar electric guilt pang I usually experienced when I attend church. This particular weekend, I had returned to Okla City to pick up the last of my things and visit with a dear friend. She had baked Greek Easter Cookies. There was also a roast cooking on the stove. I ate roast and cookies for breakfast. Thinking - pondering an unknown future.
A month earlier, I finished my job in Oklahoma City. It was past time to move on. Three weeks earlier, I had moved back to Broken Arrow to live with my parents. I was worn out, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Like my grandmother's quilt. I was threadbare and needing a little tender loving care; I needed some new stitches crafted artfully around my heart.
D. came home from church. We were sitting in her backyard, enjoying the day and visiting. Being 25, I usually had all answers I needed for my life. During the past 3 yrs, my answers had led me down a lot of back alleys, leading to many dead ends. "What will I now?" Her reply, "you will go home, you will attend your parent's church and you will let them love you." period. Clarity and most importantly - a plan. I grabbed my things, hugged her good-bye putting Oklahoma City in my rearview mirror.
I wheeled in as my parents were backing out of the driveway "just a moment, I'll go with you (to church)." I threw on the only dress I owned and went to evening worship. D. was right. This was "the plan". I threw my hat into the ring. During that period of time, though I did not pray, I wrote a list of character traits that were important to me --- "in case" there was anyone 'out there' for me. I tossed it in a box under my bed, never giving it another thought.
After worship, Jim's sister in law, mentioned that Jim was home on leave (Navy). Jim...I had met him twice. Once when I was 16; he was married, sitting next to his wife, holding a baby in his lap. (hi Dain, i love you). The second time, Oct 1975; Bob Stephens, their dad, died unexpectedly. I had driven to Broken Arrow for his funeral. Jack, Jim and I sat in the backyard of his parent's home shooting the breeze; escaping the crowds of people inside. Speed forward 3 years. Sorry, sometimes you have to step way back to move forward
...so now we are speeding forward
Jim. Hi, remember me? Yeah, I remember you. Me. Stepping on his feet, several times. Making small talk. His mom came over and asked me if I would like to come over for sandwiches. Very Sunday night. D. might me right. Sure. Love to. We piled into his mom's car, I visited with Doris. Jim. Man of few words. (remember)
Out came all of the sandwich equipment. Only those who have been to the Stephens's home fully understand what is involved in "having a sandwich". Salads, desserts, lunch meat, homemade pimento cheese, every kind of chip on the market, several kinds of dips, carrot and celery sticks plus all kinds of drinks.
That Sunday night, the debut of "Dallas". Remember? We decided to tune in. The worst soap opera on television; we were hooked, well at least Doris and I were! Jeff came in from a date, said hello and headed to bed. Jim stood up and said I need to leave by 5am. I can take you home.
We got into his little tennis shoe sized car. A 1977 Honda; banana yellow. Cool car. A warm evening and suddenly we were talking and for a place to drink coffee. Remember Winchell's Donuts? Well, it was the only place in town that was still open. I do not recall the cofffee or if we ordered a donut. I do remember Jim sharing photos of Dain he kept in his wallet. Before we walked inside, he grabbed an evelope of larger photos he kept in his car. Jim was sharing his story. We got back in the car and drove through the streets of our old hometown. A small, tumbleweed, dust blown town had grown into a large bedroom community to Tulsa. We only recognized things from our past. Remembering....sitting in a banana yellow Honda on "Luthern Hill"....sharing the past - stories of our lives...both of us talking, sometimes talking only to ourselves....both of us knowing we had come to a turning point. We had our watershed moments. It was now time for a change. At this point in time, the unspoken question that literally burned in our souls...what path and how? Remembering brought back memories that were so heartbreakingly painful; there wasn't much to laugh about. Our memories were spilling into our present life; we were drowing in our past and could not turn around and face a future. Both stuck in the muddle of life.
My dad always said, as we walked out the door, "remember who you are." At that moment, I was remembering who I was. Though there were some wonderful memories, most were just bittersweet. Jim would agree.
Since I reminded you of the opening night of "Dallas"....please stay tuned...the next episode is coming...
...all alone in the moonlight....
Remembering times with each of you,
Lovingly, Kathryn

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The In Between Appointments

Tomorrow is blood work day. I will also see my oncologist, Dr. Clark. The neuropathy has been fairly intense. We'll have a "sit down" and see if there is something that will ease this somewhat. It is part of the "cold chemical". I am rather weary of wearing pink and/or black ear muffs. I ordered some "ear bags" - they aren't quite as obtrusive.
Blood work is the big game stuff. The team is working hard all season - then it's time for the championship games. Neutrophils. Platelets. WBC. RBC. Many others. Everything rests on the blood work, that little team that keeps on playing and playing, week in/week out. This team is of critical importance to me. Since I'm shooting from 'outside the paint' (for those of us who lived and breathe March Madness), I am keeping my eye on that board. Every two weeks, I know the goal and I shoot! (actually, they draw.)
Giving God all of the glory. For he never misses the goal.
Love to you all.
Kathryn
I've had Molly's dog, Scout, come for the past two afternoons. She keeps Coco on the run. It's a lot of catch and a great deal of running out in the backyard. Great fun. They keep me laughing. Meanwhile, Molly can finish up her projects for her classes. It helps both of us.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tomorrow Really Will Be Better!

A wonderful Easter Sunday. Perfect weather -- a rare occasion for Easter Sunday in Abq; really anywhere along the I-40 corridor. It can either be 70 degrees and gorgeous; or snowing with high winds, temps in the teens. All of us along the the "nations main street" are usually prepared; coats, gloves and sleeveless dresses.
Round 2. I know when my nurses say "Chemo is cumulative" they are trying to instill this into our brains. My first treatment was pretty easy; my blood work - very good. This time around, not horrible; just worse than Round 1.
I decided to head the nausea off at the pass on Thursday morning. 10mg of Compazine. Add to that the fatigue that hits after 3 days of chemo --- a crazy person. Riding in the car was like a trip from Alice in Wonderland. Everything was so heightened and too intense. It felt like Jim was jerking the car from side to side - every time he braked, whoa! Riding The Zipper or some other amusement park ride had nothing on me that day.
I had decided to "treat" myself to a haircut AFTER getting unplugged. By the time I arrived, I was so sleepy. She could have done major damage to my hair. Sleepy client/scissors/hairdresser - those who know me well know I've had some pretty bad days with hairdressers. She was kind and fortunately, I didn't fall asleep and drool.
After I got home, I fell into bed and slept the rest of the day away. Such a deep sleep. Friday I was met with nausea and very intense neuropathy. My jaws and my hands - the pins & needles feeling was overwhelming. It was not relegated to just "cold things"....it was just "on" all of the time.
Friday, I saw a commercial on tv. Someone was making homemade fried chicken. O! that just sounded so good. I asked Jim to go to the grocery for chicken and fresh fruit. I learned you CAN prepare chicken with rubber gloves and tongs. It was never touched by my fingers. It looked so good. I set some aside, as is prescribed by "those who know about food smells and such". I was able to eat 3 small bites. Food smells - very overwhelming. (I did manage to eat a full piece of chicken the next day - I have to say, it was as good as I had hoped it would be).
Saturday - more of the same. It was movie day.
Dear friends stopped by for a few moments Saturday night. It was good to see them and visit for a bit. So thankful for their friendship and the ease with which we can share and visit. Laughter IS the best medicine.
Today, I was able to go to worship. So many wonderful hugs...the "cheering on" - the good wishes and words of encouragement and prayers that are prayed on my/our behalf. Who needs Easter eggs? I got the sweetest gift of all!!
The best part, Molly met us for worship this morning. Kate (8 mos old) was sitting in front of us. After a momentary cry, she fell fast asleep. Molly took two good photos of her -- sound asleep on her mother's shoulder. Precious. When she woke, she was very intrigued by the man sitting to her mother's right. Who could not love that child - that wrinkled nose and smile!!? No one I know. By the close of service, I believe she was calling for her yaw yaw (Grandpa). Sorry, I do not know how to spell "yaw yaw"...help me out.
To my dear family at Montgomery - thank you for your hugs and your love for me and for my family. You brought tears to my eyes.
Annie & Roman - how wonderful to see you again. Rick and Jana....you are our family. David and Peggy....so good to worship with you again.
Mom - so glad your weekend ended on such an up "note" : )
To my family and dear friends across this country; many thanks for your ongoing support, prayers, emails and notes. We've all been through difficult times and you know what Love and Prayers mean in your own lives. We pray for you as well.
Because He Lives - We can face tomorrow....He Holds the Future....Because He Lives!
Tonight you may wonder how I am? Feeling good. My green thumbs are itching.....it is "time to get back to the garden". Now, how to pace myself during gardening season. I'll have to figure that out too.
Much love,
Kathryn