Days of Chemotherapy

person holding laboratory flask
Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on

-Dr. Wang and the entire staff in the Cancer Center at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Missouri is wonderful.  Everyone is patient and acommodating and at the time I was volunteering in the infusion lab.  Watching those people progress, regress and smile all the way, made a believer of me. Faith was the answer. Everyone had some belief of a Power working in their lives.

Care and compassion and lots of smiles!

There is a lot that goes on with chemotherapy that we would soon learn. First the consultation, then the surgery to place the port for the infusion because he has very small veins. At last, the same day the surgeon placed the port, it was down to chemotherapy for the first infusion.

The cancer drug is not ready until a blood test is done to make sure all the blood numbers are good.  When that is approved, the chemo will be made. The excessive cost of the drugs prohibits the making of them until it is a GO.  Next he and I would sit for a hour of infusion, but he loves crosswords and he always amused himself.  Yes, he would rather have been playing golf, but he accepted what he needed to do and all went well. He would tell me throughout his time of treatment that life is too short to be overly concerned with things that can’t be changed.  Did he wear out the Serenity Prayer…

Still playing golf about 3 times a week, he did need a nap in the afternoon.  That was no big deal. I was estatic that he felt so well.  A few bumps in the road–a nasty little rash and losing a little hair but not all.  Pretty good I’d say.

There would be chemo once a week for 3 weeks, then off a week.  That schedule continues for 6 months and I will tell you that every 3 months there was another cat scan and another CA 19-9 test done by blood draw.  That is a cancer marker that will show cancer and not to be relied upon as a total indicator but is used with other diagnostic tests to show progress of the cancer.

Radiation began but for only 2 sessions.  A newly found report from the surgery in St. Louis indicated the extent to which the cancer had already metastasized even before the beginning of Chemo.  Reports got mixed up somehow and now the radiologist spelled out the problem with continuing to radiate the tumor in the pancreas. If those little growths found during surgery developed, they could not be radiated if he received a full treatment.  Just so much radiation is tolerated in one area.

The first CA 19-9 had a reading of 238 and at one point during the second 3-month session it lowered to below 50.  At the end of the 6 months of chemo, the doctor sent my husband on a three month Chemo Holiday!IMG_1095(1)

He he is with his two daughters in Destin, Florida in December 2018 just 9 months after diagnosis of Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer non- resectable. Looking really good and enjoying life.

When that 3- month holiday was over, Dr. Wang told him to take another 3 months off. This was exciting and the tumor seemed to be minutely smaller. Hooray!

In February 2019, the scan now showed a spot on the spleen. Oops…something new and the CA 19-9 was at 1248 and that was a terrible hop up. What was the next step in this whole process?

Day 1…Tumor Can’t Be Removed

While the doctor explained the situation to me, my mind tried to open up to understand every word he was saying.  He drew little pictures which I now know I misunderstood (he is the surgeon and I am the stunned wife with only Dr. Google to rely upon). We both were doing our best and I just wanted to see my husband but was assured it would be a little while as he was waking up in recovery.  Were these all the answers to my questions about his disease? Never, but it would have to be enough for now.

What seemed like forever came to an end and I went up to the floor of this modern hospital and glanced out the windows when the elevator doors opened.  The storm during the night had rattled the nearby hotel we had booked, but now the day looked bright and sunny.  I was trying to hold on to the faith I profess and knew that God would make all things right when I surrendered to whatever His will might be.  So the sunshine was a pleasant answer from Him–everything would happen as it was supposed to happen.

I saw my husband lying in a bed with tubes running here and there–the nose tube was the one that looked the most uncomfortable and it would be there for a while the nurse reassured me. It’s purpose was to drain out the mucus I guess. The catheter was  collecting the urine and that bag was hanging on the far side of the bed. Better there than to be visible from the door and hall. At least there could be a little dignity for the patient that way. All this may seem pretty graphic for some of you, but that’s the way it is when a person is recovering from surgery. The room was huge and the bathroom was well stocked with toiletries and towels.  (It was for my use as well and I would appreciate it for the night to come.)  It would not be shower time for a while for this patient, but the nurses would let him know. Just sponging off for a few days would have to be okay for him.

The tubes running here and there were signs that he had just had major surgery, but the smile he managed told me he was fine. Faith and acceptance is his mantra.

That night was a nightmare with nurses running in an out, but I was happy to be at his side just because.

Whatever that doctor said to him in the first few days was lost in the fog of leftover anesthetic and I tried to remember everything I could.  He is tough, but the most important thing to remember these days has been his handicap and most recent golf score…don’t ask him because he will deny that’s true.  Maybe he doesn’t need to analyze every single word like I do because he accepts what God has in store is God’s business.  What faith!

Where did I go? Part 1

Yes, it’s been a while since I have posted anything for the readers, and I’m going to fall on an excuse.

In April of 2018 my husband was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  He was scheduled for surgery and we went to St. Louis from our home at Lake of the Ozarks and he entered the operating room in anticipation that the tumor would be removed. The doctor explained how long the operation would take, and I understood that. There is a board in the surgery waiting area that tell which stage the surgery is in and I knew the surgery, including the exploratory part, would take a total of 4 hours.  I was given a buzzer like the ones in restaurants and would be notified when there were updates by checking the surgery board in the surgery waiting room.

I sat down to have my first cup of coffee and began thinking about my husband and what he would have to do to recover from this surgery. Probably no golf for a week or two and he would probably have a little pain from the surgery just because the docs poked around. He’s a tough guy and even though his golf is the be all and end all of a day, he’d survive. He would be glad to have the cancer under control.

My buzzer sounded. The board displayed the completion of the first part…the exploratory part of the operation. This was indicative the surgery would proceed to the tumor removal because the surgeons had located it. Three hours to go and hopeful and praying for the surgeons.

My sister had arrived by now after her half hour drive from Granite City to Missouri Baptist Hospital in Creve Coeur.  I began explaining all that I knew thus far and we sipped fresh coffee provided by the volunteers. We were in for a long day and we planned to have lunch on the main level where a great little bistro-like area provides snacks, sandwiches and soft drinks.

Out of nowhere my buzzer sounded and I went to look at the board.  “SURGERY COMPLETED” was listed next to my husband’s patient number and I didn’t know whether to feel hopeful or scared. What happened with the tumor and why finish 2 hours early.  The doctor was on his way down to speak with me.

Someone is Living Rent-free

In my head and sitting at the table (uninvited) at meals with me, some unkind person is invading my space! It’s fair to say I have a resentment and I am letting this person take hold of my every thought and action. It is a sad state of affairs and I am ashamed that it has come to this point.

Deep down, I don’t really care what this person thinks or says but I can’t get over wanting to hear some form of apology for how I’ve been snubbed. Yes, that is stupid and narrow-minded and expecting one hell of a lot from another human being. I know we can’t all be aware of how important my feelings are! That is the baby in me…the selfish little child that refuses to let the world exist for its own self and not just for my benefit.

Sadly, I have learned to keep score. I have slipped back into old behavior that announces I am good and you have a lot to live up to. It is always a contest with me and no matter how much you do, it’s never enough!  The balance sheet must be in my favor or you lose points.

I am very sorry to admit these sins..I am ashamed. I pray but God only gives me more challenges.  That’s the point, but I miss the message every time. All the second chances go unheeded and so I have to go through the pain of self-hatred each time I fall into my old habits of resentments.

Someone told me once that Life is tough…so get a helmet.  I need to accept those challenges and give up the resentments. Those free loaders that live in my mind are there because I let them stay there and keep repeating how they have been unkind to poor me.  They should know better?? No, I should let them do whatever they need to do and I should forgive, ignore and be grateful that I understand that I am not the center of anyone’s universe but my own.

Life can be easier when I let go and invite God to remove the root of my resentments. Finding peace is a journey that takes discipline and right living.  There is literally no room for hateful attitudes and self-centered behavior or thinking.

Today at least I recognize that pain as the resentment begins and if I want, I can work on overcoming it. How? Well, maybe with some loving thoughts about the person, I can find some peace of mind. Surely there is something good in each of us! I just need to look harder for the good and stop focusing on the bad.

active activity adventure backpack
Finding something good in everyone.


All People are Created Equal?

This is what we are told…all men and women are created equal.

Then we begin to question why does the kid in the the slums do drugs and why does the kid in the suburbs go to private school! How can that be equal birthrights? What about the kid exposed to horrible disease in a third world county compared with the little royal prince whose world is pure paradise!

Does each human being born in this world have the same right to live a good life and enjoy peace and serenity?  This theory may have to be taken deeper than the words themselves, deep into a spiritual world where each individual has that right to live beyond the material world and find joy and wholeness in a world protected by God (Whoever or Whatever that Higher Spirit may be).

It is essential to remember that people do have a choice to choose the path that feels full and secure. Yes, some have no guidance from uncaring parents. This often creates a vicious cycle and it is kept in motion by a sickness that is extremely difficult to break. The equality we are given at birth means there is an answer to the problem of this whirlwind cycle. Among the trapped individuals, this Special Power has sprinkled helpers into the world to give a helping hand to those who want to break the cycle.

The equality given as a birthright means everyone has the right to choose to break the cycle. All men are created with the ability to choose the right path, to live abundantly with peace of mind and to help his fellow man.

Those people born to wealth and abundant love sometimes choose a path of selfishness.  Why? Not everyone wants to live along a path that requires gratitude and giving back so they attempt to get more and more just for their own use. It is the choice they make. They might believe they are not equal to others but far better than their fellow man. There are some of these  people around…they have misunderstood what the promise of equality means.

Believe in equality and stay on your path by sharing your joy. Choose the right path and claim your birthright.

people walking on street during night time
find your path

I Know My IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not a pretty picture!


Everyone is different and those delicious veggies may not be on your side.  Sometimes too much fiber is the worse things you can consume for your irritable bowel syndrome and yet so often the answer  people receive about their tummy problems is to increase their intake of fiber.

Fiber is not the right solution for all of us.  I am not a doctor, but I know my body and my IBS!

person carrying basket of vegetables   For me, I have to eat balanced meals and small ones at that. I have to eat vegetables…preferably cooked and avoid the cauliflower and broccoli family along with brussel sprouts because they cause a lot of gas.

Sweets are out unless I partake in very small quantities.  The high fructose corn syrup is a real problem and I have read about what sugar does in the stomach.  If I want to bloat, all I need to do is lean on the sweets.

What about fruits??

Trial and error…Sometimes if the peel of the fruit is removed, it eliminates the problem.  Peel peaches and apples.  Experiment with fresh fruit and remember good quality canned fruit is always in season.  The trial and error period is a beneficial way to set your diet limitations.

Sure, there is more to it, but let’s start with this.  Conquer your food habits and then you can work on stress and some other healthy lifestyles.  Remember your IBS will be with you forever.  Take it easy!


In Other words…

Learning to live with the irritable bowel is a daily challenge. Your doctor might give you Bentyl or another RX that can calm your digestive system and help ease the cramping.  It is a gut antispasmodic drug. The real challenge is learning to give up foods that cause your distress. Learning to keep a food diary is a pain but so is the effects of improper food consumption.  So there you have it.  Paint a better picture for yourself and eliminate hours in the bathroom or curled up on the sofa.


beautiful blur fashion female
Paint a better picture for yourself….

Can I Fire My Doctor! Doctors are supposed to help us heal. WHO KNOWS YOU BETTER? Ask yourself why you need to see the doctor. Are you having a specific problem with a specific area of your body or is this just an annual wellness visit? Many of us check in occasionally with minor aches and pains and our doctors usually know us well enough to take an interest in our problems and give us some sound advice on how to handle the problems. Some doctors want to order many expensive lab tests and cover all the bases. Some doctors will reassure patients of the reality of using such tests in each case. Maybe fear of missing something crosses the mind of the insecure doc or he thinks you want those tests. One way or another, you may be the one driving the fear into him. You may be older and consumed by constant pain which is somewhat normal as patients progress towards old age. Joints and bones do have a tendency to show wear especially if those joints have had a rough go in youth, but often repair or replacement is called for and often those surgeries are excellent options. Doctors are supposed to help us heal… and to lend an ear. Compassion is a must for doctors and it goes a long way in our healing process. Medical knowledge is only part of their job. Younger patients will not allow themselves time to get sick and older patients love the extra attention, but what about the doctor who ignores your symptoms too often and offers no relief or suggestions for coping with real pain. What is the doctor himself is so overwhelmed with patient overload that he actually falls asleep while talking with you. (This is a real case scenario. Bored or just tired. Dozing off is really unacceptable.) Get acquainted visits can be crucial in learning more about your new doctor. He wants to know everything about you, but does he realize you want to know about him too? From real life, here is a story about a get acquainted visit. This 68-year-old woman was scheduled to see her new doctor to get acquainted but one day before the visit, she fell off the kitchen counter top and onto the ceramic tile floor flat on her back and cracked her head and rib cage. It took her breath away. No blood and she was finally able to stand up. She was sore for that day around her ribs and upper hip but knew she would see the new doctor in one day. As the doctor greeted her, she told him the tale of falling, which he ignored. He continued with gathering information and her history as she struggled to sit up straight. Her ribs hurt and she was in pain. After 30 minutes he finally addressed her problem and belittled her explanation of where she was hurt. To answer the question: Can I fire my doctor? Yes, by all means you can…good luck!

Dancing with Your Disease

No matter what is the matter, there are answers.  Some are not what you want to hear, but nonetheless, they are out there! And research is being done around the clock to bring more answers!

There is a quote in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that says in part “…are you willing to go to any length…” and this means in search of an answer for a solution to the disease of alcoholism.  It doesn’t say for a cure, it only means for a solution for today.

Some diseases are incurable, inoperable and totally unmanageable without the help of some medications.  Let me be clear…some diseases bring about major and unbearable pain, but when the patient is willing to learn as much as possible about the disease she or he will hold the winning hand.  Knowledge is power and that is the reason so much information is given to the cancer patient about the specific cancer being treated.  Hopefully the patient will go to any length to learn what to do to become stronger in fighting the cancer and following good health practices.

Migraine sufferers shouldn’t give up.  There are so many different treatments to follow and much information to consider.  Learning and researching is far more engaging than just letting the world go by as you suffer in your incapacitated state. Overwhelmed by pain and suffering accomplishes nothing more than defeat and being proactive is a much more healthy way of dealing with pain.

Even when a cold hits you square in the sinuses, it is better to do all the symptomatic treatments to help ease the pain.  There is no cure…avoid situations when you can and this means setting boundaries around those who are coughing, sneezing and blowing!  Wash your own hands and use sanitizer and clean the mouth piece of that office phone and other equipment your co workers touch.  If you are sick…STAY HOME.  Temperatures indicate illness.

Diseases can range from life threatening to life disrupting.  Cancer threatens lives, IBS disrupts lives. IBS is different for every sufferer.  Learn to live with it! Sad but true, it is not going anywhere and you can’t trick it.  Go to any length to learn your dietary and lifestyle limits.  You can’t cheat because IBS keeps track!  It is very cunning.  Bless those days of harmony when all is well.

Some diseases are discovered too late.  COPD is one everyone wished they had known about when they were young.  When it’s too late for the sufferer, he or she may want to become a spokesperson for that disease. Grandchildren are lucky to have written materials and support from family members who will guide them in avoiding the pitfalls of COPD.

Alzheimer’s has many clinical trials and hopes to find a cure soon. If you have lost a love one from this disease, you have been robbed and so was the patient.  What can be done now?

Some diseases are just your legacy, passed down through the generations and until there are cures, research will continue.  Be active, please, in any research program you can.  Contribute your time, your family profile, and volunteer to help in any way you are able. Dancing with your disease may help someone live a disease free life…it may be you grandchild!