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Showing posts from November, 2020

6 Things to Say (or Not) to a Friend With Cancer

6 Things to Say (or Not) to a Friend in Need Kate Bowler was just 35 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Here, she shares the words that actually make a difference to someone having a rough time, from her book   Everything Happens for a Reason . 1. "I'd love to bring you a meal this week. Can I email you about it?" Oh, thank goodness. I am starving, but mostly I can never figure out something to tell people that I need, even if I need it. But really, bring me anything. Chocolate. A potted plant. A set of weird erasers. I remember the first gift I got that wasn't about cancer, and I was so happy I cried. Send me funny emails filled with YouTube clips to watch during chemotherapy. Do something that suits your talents. But most important,  bring me presents! 2. "You are a beautiful person." Unless you are used to speaking in a creepy windowless-van kind of voice, comments like these go a long way. Tell your friend something about his or her life t

8 things you shouldn't say to someone with cancer...

This is e xtracted from Kate Bowler,  ' Everything Happens for a Reason (and other lies I've loved)', published by  SPCK   Absolutely never say this to people experiencing terrible times: a short list 1.  'Well, at least . . .' Whoa. Hold up there. Were you about to make a comparison? At least it's not . . . what? Stage V cancer? Don't minimize. 2.  'In my long life, I've learned that . . .' Geez. Do you want a medal? I get it! You lived forever. Well, some people are worried that they won't, or that things are so hard they won't want to. So ease up on the life lessons. Life is a privilege, not a reward. 3. ‘ It's going to get better. I promise.' Well, fairy godmother, that's going to be a tough row to hoe when things go badly. 4.  'God needed an angel.' This one takes the cake because (a) it makes God look sadistic and needy and (b) angels are, according to Christian tradition, created from scratch. Not dead people lo

Thanks no thanks Oxaliplatin

I LOVE fall and winter. I love the cold. I love bundling up and needing layers. But this year cold weather is not my favorite because of one of my chemotherapy drugs, O xaliplatin. Oxaliplatin has a  particularly unusual side effect.... neurotoxicity exacerbated by cold temperatures.   It hits during the infusion. One minute I can take a drink of cold water, the next minute if I try it’s like swallowing glass. It is so incredibly painful.  In fact for me, even room temp liquids are too cold the first few days which is why I’m getting extra hydration before chemotherapy now.  It usually lessens or goes away completely between treatments, but as the number of cycles increases, the numbness and tingling ordinarily takes longer to dissipate.  That’s   where I’m at now. I am 10 days out from infusion and it’s bad.  The oral sensitivity goes away in about 5-7 days. BUT for the hands and the feet.... it’s not going away.  And it doesn't stop with the hands and feet. It can set off spasms

The Gift of Vulnerability

Sometimes I wonder if I’m sharing too much. But I look back over my years of writing and ever since I miscarried in 2009 I’ve been transparent. I’ve shared everything from losing a baby, to life in ministry, twin pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting, foster care and now cancer. It helps me process yes- but I have found that being vulnerable with my story has made space for others to own their story as well. I’ve had countless messages of people expressing their thanks for my willingness to share personal things because it made them feel less alone, or more encouraged or like they could get through what they are facing.  Sometimes I panic after a post and delete it. Sometimes I don’t get the same engagement and I think- maybe I overdid it? Sometimes I know the stories that others are facing but remain quiet and wonder if I should too. But what I’m learning is the more vulnerable and authentic I allow myself to be, the more work God seems to be doing on my heart. Laying open my soul in on

The Flow of a Chemo Round

After 5 rounds down I pretty much have the flow down, although there are always some surprises that can pop up it’s helpful to know what’s coming for the most part. Tuesday: Chemo Day- exhaustion beyond belief Wednesday & Thursday- tired but decent (pump removal Thursday) Friday- Pretty   good Saturday- Some Saturdays have been eh, a few have been super this round. Sunday & Monday- The worst days Tuesday- Can start to feel my body crawling back Wednesday- Nearly there... Thursday- A switch flips! I feel human again!  Then I have Thursday- Tuesday before I start it  all again. Side Effects? Nausea  Bloody nose Plugged ears Loss of taste for a few days before of steroid Inability to sleep Stuffy nose from steroid GI issues (enough said) Cold sensitivity which makes it nearly impossible to stay hydrated until I can drink room temp drinks  Can’t touch things from fridge or freezer or wash hands with cold water Dry skin Thinning hair Exhaustion  Lack of energy  Dry Mout

A Quick Thank You

My Mom suggested I count all the people who have shown up for our family during this time after a rough evening last night. I lost count with just the people I know personally, this doesn’t even include the friends of friends and friends of my family that I don’t even know. Those listening to a friends radio station in the UK who have reached out on my blog, the people who I haven’t heard from in so long but have shown up and *stayed* past the lookey-loo phase. I am so so thankful for you all. It makes the sting of those who have disappeared in this time less painful.  Thank you. Thank you for your support and love- The Bowen Family is forever grateful ❤️

Hair is hair is hair is hair

I’m not losing my hair. I was told I most likely wouldn’t, perhaps it would get thin and I’d lose some but not enough to shave it. My short rockin’ haircut works perfect for it as I can get a lot more body in it to cover up anything if I end up needing to. BUT one thing I didn’t think about was how I’d look in a hat. I love beanies especially during fall and winter. With the crazy side effect from the Oxiliplatin- I am going to need to bundle up even more. Unfortunately I look bald when I wear a beanie. Here me out. A lot if people with short hair wear beanies - they look great! A lot of cancer patients rock bald heads and headscarves and hats and beanies- they look great!  But I don’t like it. I can pass for someone not going through chemo on most days (unless I’m wearing my pump)  I don’t “look sick” even though I very much am and if you saw me at home you’d know it. But the moment I put on a beanie I feel like I look like I’m sick. I see in the mirror a cancer patient and I don’t li

The reality of this Covid/Cancer Combo for me

ICUs in Jackson and Josephine County are currently at 86% capacity.  If ICUs exceed capacity, death rates will go up in a hurry (not COVID deaths, deaths in general. People needing care and not being able to get it in a timely fashion)  If I get a temp of 100.4 or above I have to go straight to the ER. If the ER is full, if I get to the point I need to be in ICU but it’s full..... tell me how that plays out? Stay home. Don’t gather with friends during this freeze. Use grocery delivery. Don’t gather with extended family that hasn’t been in your immediate bubble on Thanksgiving. Work from home if you can and if you can’t, wear your mask correctly AND social distance. I’m doing  my part... can you do yours? Maybe you don’t agree with what our Governor is doing and I truly feel for small businesses. It’s just...  Maybe putting a face to the reality will help you take this seriously.....I’d like to always come home to this 👇🏼 My husband and three young kids.  #cancerpatient #immunocomprom

Chemo Birthday

My 37th Birthday was spent in a chemo chair. It’s not exactly where one wants to be on their birthday. It’s also gotten really bad in our area with COVID cases so it’s not like I missed out on a party or fun dinner out. It is what it is.  I was determined to make it a fun day regardless. I woke up to singing boys and breakfast in bed with ice cold eggnog that I knew I couldn’t drink later (thanks Oxiliplatin). My Mom came to take me to chemo and we stopped for a free birthday drink at Dutch Bros because #tradition!  I wore an awesome shirt my Mom made that said “Birthday shirt $20, Birthday Chemo- Priceless” and took my floor cupcakes to share! I spent way longer in the chair than I should have. I arrived at 9:50 and didn’t get home until 6pm. Lots of mix ups and miscommunication and system issues etc etc led to the longest day of my life.  But I came home to gifts and my Mom brought my requested birthday dinner (taco salads and funfetti cake!) And I had loads of messages and texts to

Wishing to Go Back In Time

Wishing I could go back to this Harry Potter birthday party.... Before my back surgery Before missing Thanksgiving  Before Trevor got influenza on Christmas Day and we were in the ER Before COVID hit and everything shut down Before several friends moved away Before school ended and never really started again Before we spent Easter alone  Before my colonoscopy  Before our girl’s bio Dad relapsed Before my traumatic surgery and extended hospital stay Before I found out I had cancer Before 5 weeks of radiation and oral chemo Before my Grandma fell and got hurt and landed in the hospital multiple times  Before fires ravaged our community and we had to evacuate twice  Before port surgery Before the start of 6 months of chemo infusion  Before our girl went back into foster care Before losing friends because I believe Black Lives Matter  Wishing I could just click my heels and go back in time 

4 Down. 8 to go.

33% done.  I thought I’d give a rundown on what one round of chemo looks like. It’s long :)  The day before chemo I get my labs drawn  to make sure all of my counts are looking good. So far so good for me, but it’s expected to see drops and with some of them there is nothing you can really do about it other than bring down the amount of chemo you get or postpone a round (Platelets). And with some there are things you can do (RBC’s and WBC’s) like getting blood, plasma etc. Yeah- giving blood matters so keep donating if you can! If the numbers are good then chemo day is a go! My Mom picks me up and takes me and drops me off at the infusion center at RRMC. Unfortunately the new cancer center isn’t finished being built and the Hematology Oncology Clinic doesn’t do chemo infusion anymore. What that means is it feels like they used random available space on two different floors and shoved things in spaces and corners to make do.... and it’s not awesome.  I enter on the ground floor, ride to

Looking for Hope after A Year of Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Things.....

November. The best month of the year. Nobody can argue this really, it's just fact. It is not just because it's my Birthday Month (November 17th in case you were desperate to know) but because the colors in Southern Oregon are gorgeous, the mornings and evenings crisp and the days of much needed rain (hopefully) come. It's also the month of Thanksgiving and where we focus maybe a bit more intentionally on gratitude, on hope, and being thankful for what we have.  It may be a bit tougher to search for those things this year than in years past. I know for me that November of 2019 marked the start of the beginning of a terrible, horrible, no good very bad season that continues on even now. I had back surgery the week of Thanksgiving. Back surgery was needed, but recovery was harder than I expected and it was a major bummer to miss out on Thanksgiving with our family. Fast forward to Christmas Day when we had to take Trevor to the ER because he was so sick (thank you so much for