Monday, December 26, 2011


Hello! The winter solstice has come upon us!! I learned in high school that the winter solstice means that the sun will now progressively makes it's way closer to us. It's my glass-half-full approach to the winter blues and it has served me well for over 20 years. 

In addition to the sun moving closer to us, I (and my hubs and step-daughter) will be moving closer to the sun for 4 days between Christmas and New Year's as we embark on an adventurous family journey to Jamaica...

Yah. Jamaica-Mon.  Can you dig it? (I don't know if that last part is Jamaica-speak or just 80's, but it's fun to say).

I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a bit...umm...insecure with my pale skin, bald head, and prednisone-inflated face, neck, back, belly and butt. I have been wrestling with this issue for several weeks now. But, I realize that when it comes down to it...this vacation is about rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, vitamin D and being with my family...who love me bald, fat and pale. Everything and everyone else in Jamaica is just supplemental or scenery. Will I feel awkward the first few minutes I reveal my baldness to the other guests before dashing down the Pirate's Cove waterslide or swimming head first into the ocean? Yup. But, you know what? Meh. I'll get over it. They'll get over it (or have a lot of explaining to do to their kids...hee hee hee). And everyone will still have a great time.

On top of this insecurity...I was advised by my doctors and nurses that I should wear a mask on the plane...along  with frequent hand-washing and care with what I put in my mouth. Surgical masks on airplanes make me nostalgic for SARS and bird flu. What ever happened to those? Anyway...I will do the mask part because I don't really want anything to ruin Jamaica...but's not easy looking like a sick person when you are trying to just BE and FEEL normal!

In the past, I would have been doing everything I could in the preceding weeks to make myself look as much like a Victoria's Secret model as I could before unveiling any part of myself at a Caribbean resort. I would be trying hard to look like the most put-together Carrie Bradshaw-style traveler on the plane. I suppose my priorities have changed. And I think it's actually probably a good thing.

Anyway...we fly out in the morning...and underneath all the insecurity...I am BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS with excitement! Sun, sand, pina coladas, zip-lining, river tubing, food, fun and the vast open sky and ocean...await me. What better place is there to sit and meditate on the amazing-ness of life?

I bought my stepdaughter clip-on "mood" earrings for Christmas. She has been wearing them around all afternoon asking "What color are they"? When we say "purple", she responds with "That is because I AM SO EXCITED"!! Me too, little one, me too!!

Look out Jamaica...the DePaz's are about to tear things up!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is Nebby Even a Word?

So...the other night, one of my friends was all..."I'm talking to so and so and she is having some drama with her man"...and I found my heart beating a little faster and my ears perk up with a certain sharpness and I got a little excited and and and...I realized that I TOTALLY miss office gossip. 

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I am the girl who likes to be "in the know". It is shameful, I know. But, there it is. It's not that I am walking about spewing hateful rumors and gossip about's just that...well...I am nosy. Nebby. Whatever the latest word for it is. I like to be up in dah people's bid-nezz. Not really...but well yeah...kinda...really. I just find humans to be fascinating. I like knowing what makes them so grumpy or so angry or why was so and so crying in the bathroom yesterday? And did that girl and that guy just go away for the same week of work and come back with wedding rings? Do tell. I love me some good juice.


But, whatever. It's in my DNA. I think. It must serve some biological or ecological purpose or something like that. Yeah. 

My husband is the complete opposite.  He PREFERS to know NOTHING about ANYONE. He would be happiest in a little solitary cocoon of silence (and perhaps some Beavis and Butthead and fart jokes). One of his favorite quotes (from Ron Swanson of "Parks and Recreation") is:  
"The less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am. I’m not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.”
I think, in fact, that my husband has some internal ear plug that inserts itself as soon as anyone starts to share information about their life. Likewise, he never tells anyone...ANYONE...anything. He is "THE VAULT"....which isn't a bad quality, for sure. But, as the person in my life who is most accessible to work gossip...he is completely useless for fulfilling this nebby need of mine. (Plus, I am pretty sure that he and I were married before any of his workmates even knew he was dating someone. Geesh. Share a little? Come on!)

Anyway...the point is...I miss gossip. I miss having those sort of peripheral people in my life...the work people who I just know from 9-5 and then they go home to their lives and I go home to mine. (This is not to diminish the fact that I miss my real work friends...the ones who I knew from 9-5 and then text, email, call...I miss them terribly. Way more.) But, there is something comforting about trite, innocent gossip. That "gasp" you hear when you find out that the guy from such and such department got fired for having "inappropriate relations" with the lady in so and so's department. I miss that. I need some peripheral people. Send me some gossip y'all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Information Overload

So...the last few days have been rough. Not horrible. Not intolerable. But rough. The new chemo drugs kind of kicked my butt.  At first, it put me into a zombie-like state. Then, more of a (??) state. I felt as if I ate, I slept, I ate, I slept. As soon as I had a meal, I would need to go take a nap. At times, I felt hot and sweaty. At times, nauseous and itchy. I had a mild headache. And overall, I just felt downright sad and hopeless and anxious...which we know is NOT the way I want to fight this. It's actually hard to say if I was fatigued or depressed. Apparently, it is much harder to stay positive and hopeful when you feel like poop. But regardless...I need to shake this funk off!

The good news is...I am feeling a lot better today. It could be that I just decided to feel better or maybe the worst of it has passed. At least I know what to expect now. At least I know..."this too shall pass".

I have been reading/googling a lot. Too much, I think. It mostly starts out as me trying to find survivor stories. That is innocent enough...I want facts with which to build my hope upon. But, I always stumble upon all these "I healed myself of cancer" by giving myself coffee enemas and drinking carrot juice websites and the occasional "scary statistics" websites, which haunt me to no end. I am feeling a bit confused and overwhelmed by all the cancer information that is out there. Now, I feel nervous that I am making the wrong decisions (which certainly does not help build confidence in my kill cancer campaign). What if I should have done more "doctor-shopping" before starting treatment? What if chemotherapy is a really bad idea? Are my vitamins and supplements and juicy juices going to counteract the chemo? Can visualization and prayer alone save my life?

I am so confused, people!! Information overload. It's not necessarily a good thing to have knowledge. Who do I listen to? How do I know what's right for me? Can I do chemo and try other alternative therapies? Some folks say no. But, why?


My plan is to arm myself with these questions when I see the doc this week for my second round of Gemzar (this drug, by the way, seemed to go in pretty was the Cisplatin that knocked my insides around a bit, I think). I usually go with a list questions anyway...I just think this list may be a tougher set. Or...I may be a tougher audience.

So...that's my little update. Hanging tough in tough times. Scared and confused, but digging my way out.  Your prayers and healing vibes are much appreciated right now. MUCH APPRECIATED. 

Thanks all!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why Did God Make French Fries Taste So Good and Red Beets Taste So Bad?

Today is technically Day 14 of Operation: Kill Cancer. I say "technically" because  I have sort of fallen off the wagon the last week. Ever since the juice fast, I have been slacking off. Not horribly. I haven't been binging on donuts and vodka or anything, but I haven't been juicing, journaling, walking. I have a tendency to do this. I love making a "plan". A to-do list. A schedule. I get myself pumped up. I get myself all organized. Get all my tools and resources together. And then, if I actually start the plan, I fizzle out pretty quickly. 

I am not gonna let myself off the hook that easy this time though. Just because I slacked off doesn't mean I have to abandon the whole effort. Right? I will just regroup, recommit and continue as best I can. I have decided that I do not have to be perfect at it. That is too stressful and no fun.

In all honesty, I have juiced the last two mornings and the last two mornings I have felt better than I have in a week. It makes a difference. I wonder why it is so hard to take that first do the thing that we know makes us feel better?? Where does this mindset come from? Like...I know that eating a quarter-pounder with fries and a coke will make me feel fat and bloated and disgusted with myself...but, it probably wouldn't take much arm-twisting for me to give in and eat that (oh sweet juicy burger and greasy fries and sugar-laden soft I love thee). But, it took me a week to juice some greens even though I knew it would make me feel less fat and bloated and overall just better? 

I know that exercise makes me feel better and lighter and happier...yet I can't take that first step out the door. The other day...all I wanted to do was lay in the bed, go back to sleep, cocoon and hibernate and shut the world out. I finally forced myself to do a short easy qigong exercise and bam! I was energized (which was the point of the whole exercise)! But, WHY do I have to FORCE myself to do things that I know will make me feel better?? Can someone please explain this phenomenon to me?

I think...based on conversations with friends and family...this is a normal way to be. Even devout fitness fanatics have trouble taking that first step out the door. But, it doesn't really make sense to me...why we are programmed to want the "bad" stuff and to be lazy when our bodies and minds thrive so much more when we eat the "good" stuff and move our bodies. Why did God make french fries taste so good and red beets taste so bad?

If anyone has the answers to these questions or can provide me with the "secret" to getting off my lazy bum and making the healthy lifestyle changes that I know will help  me thrive...please share. Share! 

I will be waiting for your answer from under my warm comfy covers while watching trashy TV and dreaming about french fries.

Monday, December 12, 2011

With Mixed Results Come Mixed Emotions

While my husband and I waited for the doctor this morning to come give us the results of my CT scan, I tried "quizzing" my husband for his reaction to the various result scenarios...There are no masses. The masses are the same. The masses are smaller. The masses are bigger...

What I don't think either one of us was prepared for was the scenario where some masses were smaller (resolved even!) and some masses were new and some were bigger (twice as big even...eeks). I think that both my husband and I had the same reaction to my doctor's of a blank emotionless stare. What?! How can that be?! Aren't they all the same thing?!

I eventually broke the silence by asking the most obvious question...well, which is worse and which is better?

Turns out (at least from what I understand from his explanation and my copy of the radiology report) that the pelvic mass and the lymph nodes surrounding that area are smaller. Some lymph nodes that were previously inflamed may even be "resolved" per the report. I like this news. The notsogood news is that there is a new (albeit small) mass on my liver (now a total of 3) and the largest of the 3 has doubled in size (albeit...still small) and there appear to be some more lymph nodes in the upper regions of my body that are inflamed and weren't there before. 

It's really hard to know how to react to this news. I keep saying to myself "well, at least it's not ALL worse"! But, part of me feels so disappointed. So let down. Is my positivity all in vain? Do I just look like a fool acting like I know I am going to be fine, when maybe I am not? Part of me really believed that these "things" on my liver were not the cancer at all. Now the doctor is pretty sure that is exactly what they are...which means now...I have a "stage". I have stage IV metastatic cervical cancer. (In the words of a fellow stage IV cancer survivor: "Phew...what a least it's not stage V. Ha ha.)

The plan now is to change up the drugs in my chemotherapy cocktail. The new cocktail will include Cisplatin and Gemzar. I will learn more about these in my patient education session this afternoon...time to break out the Trapper Keeper again. Sigh. The drug that made me lose my hair is being dropped from the cocktail....are you kidding me?! LOL. I will have to go more often, but I have a feeling the infusion sessions will be shorter. We will do another 3 cycles and re-scan. 

*A little side story: After breaking the news to us, my doctor said he would like to examine me. He said something about removing clothes, handed me a paper gown and left the room. Both my husband and I were still in a bit of a daze. I stripped off my pants and shoes and hopped on the table, laying the gown across my lap. My husband says "were you supposed to undress"? To which I responded "Oh God...I think so. I think he said undress. Why would he give me a gown?  But, this thing has arm holes...why do I need armholes"? Doctor walks in and laughs..."yeah, you didn't do that right, but that's ok." I guess I was supposed to undress just the top, not just the bottom. Whatever. Oops. 

Anyway...I am still processing all this and I am still telling myself "at least it's not ALL worse". I may have suffered some setbacks in this battle,  but a) I didn't completely lose this battle and b) I most certainly haven't lost the war! So, let's shake up this cocktail and forge ahead!! Nurse Lynette...bring me another round!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yeah....Juice Fasting...Notsomuch My Thing

I should really not be trusted with the whole juice fast thing. The whole point of yesterday's 24-hour juice fast (which is part of Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy lifestyle...and those of you who don't know who Kris Carr is...she is one of my wellness warrior gurus and she is AWESOME and I lurve her so so much), was to give my digestive system a break and just basically "inject" nutrients right into my tissues, making me all juicy and healthy and OM. my husband will attest...I was the opposite of OM. I was a complete and utter terroristic (I think I made that word up) wreck. If there was hair on my head, it would have been torn out. If my eyes had shooting darts coming from them, my husband would have had ninety-gadzillion holes in his body. I. HATED. EVERYTHING. My head was pounding. My belly felt queasy. My emotional stability....all time low. 

On top of this...the juice fast day coincided with my CT scan prep...which involved downing 30 gallons (really 20 oz, I think) of barium sulfate suspension within a 15-minute time frame. Once at night and once the next morning.

(*Side note: I just decided to look up barium sulfate...and did you know (according to The Wikipedia), barium sulfate is also used as a component of oil well-drilling fluid, for making green and "strobe" pyrotechnic products, and as a component of white pigment for paints?! No wonder it tastes so delicious. Hack.)

Anyway...after ingesting a large quantity of tylenol PM in hopes of blacking out and forgetting how miserable I was feeling, I went to sleep and then...I woke up early the next morning even more miserable. Only now...because of the CT scan...all that lay before me for the next several hours was no food and another 30-gallon bottle of barium  sulfate that I was to consume between 8:45 and 9 am. Suh-weet...I couldn't wait to get this day started!

Fast forward to 8:45am. I am driving to my appointment with my large bottle of well-drilling fluid in hand, singing Christmas tunes and chugging as best I could. Halfway through said bottle...ooh boy...I did not feel well. I was looking for places to pull over (just in case) and when I arrived at the doctor's office, I spent my waiting time trying to figure out the best place to vomit in front of all these other patients that would involve the least amount of attention. Thankfully...I made it through the waiting period AND the scan without upchucking...though it was really touch and go for awhile.

After the scan...I was starving. And when I say starving, I mean RAVENOUS. And when I say ravenous, I mean was was ready to eat old dirty french fry crumbs off the floor of my car. But, I am being a wellness warrior, so I left the fries alone. I passed by Krispy Kreme and McDonalds and I swung by Starbucks (I know...not really healthy but...whatever). I got myself a veggie breakfast sammich and a tall-nonfat-peppermint-mocha-hold-the-whip. And...OH MY GOD...was it the best thing I ever tasted. OM. 

But, here is the second part of why I can't be trusted on a juice fast...because then I went home and I snacked and I snacked. Mind was veggies and more veggies and some salsa and chips and and...I snacked. A lot. I totally sabotaged any healthy benefit I may have gotten from resting my digestive tract yesterday. Now, I just feel bloated and fat and uncomfortable. Doh.

I think in the future, I am going to have to skip the weekly juice fast. It's just not for me. I am sure being all "prednizoned" out, which in itself makes you fat and hungry all the time, didn't really help the fasting...but I think my emotional stability and my marriage will thank me for skipping this next time. 

Peace out and have a snack, friends!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Out with the glum. In with the fun. Yeah.

Today marks Day 7 of Operation: Kill Cancer. A whole week. I can't say I have been perfect at it. In fact, I haven't done yoga once. And I did eat a DC cupcake. I mean...who can say no to that? There's more, but why focus on my failures. I figure I aim for 95% and hit around 90% and that is better than I was doing. My insides are thanking me. Of course, my outsides are still showing the results of my new prednisone regimen, so I won't even go there. Bah. But, I am feeling pretty good about all the endeavors I have undertaken this past week. Aside from some emotional outbursts/meltdowns here and there, restlessness and lack of motivation, and one middle of the night panic attack about death, all's well.

Today, I did a juice cleanse. All green juice. All day. With some water and tea on the side. And well...many many trips to the loo. Let's just say I am juicy and well-hydrated. I think I am gonna have to switch to some soups this evening. More tea. And then...banana cream-flavored barium! Yum. Not. 

Tomorrow is my CT scan. I am not really nervous about tomorrow. I drink my sodium bicarbonate. I lay on a bed for 10 to 20 minutes. I visualize my healthy non-inflamed cancer-free insides being photographed. I go home. Then I find a gadzillion ways to enjoy the end of the week and the weekend and not fret about what the report says until I see it for myself at 8:15am Monday morning. Yeah...that is EXACTLY how all this is gonna go. 

I am now reading a book on Chakras. I think I am gonna take some time during the next 7 days to focus on one chakra per day. There are 7 "bodily" (my word) chakras and then a whole bunch more that are outside the body but still considered part of our energy system.  It's interesting stuff and after trying one of her meditations, I really did feel and flowy and balanced.  Ahhhhhhh.

I am also going to be trying out some Qigong. I am excited to learn more and see what this type of practice can do for me. I have always been interested in different holistic/energetic approaches to health...specifically ancient practices that people have thrived on for centuries upon centuries...and even though I wish I didn't have such a serious "reason" to embark on this happy to have the opportunity.

I will be sure to report back all the zen-inspiring, life-enhancing details and hopefully my own humorous take on how it all goes down cause in the end...I still want to have fun while doing this. Out with the glum, in with the fun. Yeah.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Body is a Wonderland

I started reading a new book this morning. This one is about cell-level healing. It's about how amazing our bodies are with their millions of cells and how we as humans can somehow connect spiritually with our bodies at their deepest most scientific level and heal. The body is the temple to the spirit. And stuff. Blah blah blah.

Anyway...while reading, the author asked me to stop and appreciate my body. Acknowledge it's power. Be amazed by all the things it does to keep me alive without me even knowing. So, I did. Then she asked me to stop and list 4 things that I appreciate about my body. So, I did. Here they are:
  1. I appreciate the way my body moves. Walking, skipping, jogging, dancing, gets me up and down the stairs a gadzillion times a day. Around the lake. Up a mountain. Across the pool Through the grocery store. It gets me to the refrigerator and lets me chop veggies at the counter. It gets me to the bed for a restful night of sleep. There are plenty of people in this world who don't have this simple gift of movement that I take for granted everyday. Thank you, body!
  2. I appreciate the way my brain processes my thoughts and lets me express them. Chatting with friends. Nagging my husband. Journaling. Writing this blog. Just sitting and contemplating. Telling my loved ones I love them. Pen to paper. Finger to keyboard. It's amazing how I can think (period) and how those thoughts find their way into my world. Thank you, brain!
  3. I appreciate the way my body digests and processes the things I put into it. It filters out the bad stuff and absorbs all the good. When I think about all the filtering my body had to do in its younger, wine, vodka, the occasional cig, burgers, fries,'s truly amazing the work it's done for me! And, now...all the medicines going cells having to try and discern what to use and what to throw out. My liver. My kidneys. My lymphatic system. My skin. Thank you, filtering fellas!
  4. I appreciate the way my lungs breathe and my heart beats without my ever having to think about it. All those little (but huge live-saving) processes that go on even when our minds are occupied with everything else. My breath. My heartbeat. All proof that I woke up alive today. Thank you, organs!
After I finished this little exercise...I realized that the true things that I appreciate about my my amazement...have nothing to do with what size pants I am wearing these days or how I look in the latest style of jeans or what I see when I look at my bald head in the mirror.  This, in itself, is a big change for me, I think. Yes, I am a woman, therefore, I still beat myself up about my thighs and my belly and my lack of physical fitness. But, really...when it comes down to it...I appreciate the fact that I can walk around the block (even if I sound like a broken lawn mower walking up the hill) and that my thighs can get me up and down those stairs at home, even if I can't put on my favorite jeans from last winter, and that mah belly gurgles with lovingly-prepared food, even if I almost always wish it protruded a little less fully from my body. I should BE so lucky.

Conversations with My Husband

Him: You smell like olives.
Me: Really? Like pickles?
Him: No, like olives.
Me: What exactly do olives smell like?
Him: I don't know.

How can I smell like something he doesn't know the smell of?

Conversation continued after he read the above:

Him: Hmph. I know what olives smell like. I just can't explain it.
Me: The only olives I can think of smell like pickles.
Him: No. They don't smell like pickles.
Me: Do they smell good or bad?
Him: I don't know. Hmph. You should be making fun of yourself for not knowing what olives smell like.

Deep sigh.

Him: The wreath shed pine needles all over the front entrance.
Me: Yup. 
Him: We should clean that up.
Me: Yup. Why don't you bring the vacuum downstairs with you?
Him: I didn't know the vacuum was upstairs.
Me: Do you even know where the vacuum "lives"?
Him: Of course.
Me: Where?
Him: In the closet?
Me: Which closet?
Him: The hall closet?
Me: Nope.
Him: Hmm. Then I don't know where the vacuum "lives".

How long have we lived in this house? Sigh.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Need a New "C"attitude!

Today was Day 1 of Operation: Kill Cancer. I am reluctant to use that phrase because there is nothing calm and peaceful and loving about the word "kill" (or "cancer" for that matter). But, it is what came out when I was typing the other day, so we'll stick with it for now.

Midway through Day 1, I noticed that I started off my day sort of going through the motions of my new "daily to do". Warm lemon water. Check. Neti pot. Check. Walk with dog, green juice, supplements, check, check, check. Crossing them off and not really paying much attention to what I was doing or how I was feeling. I realized, at some point, that this is totally counter-productive to the slowing down and being present and paying attention that I was aiming for. Ha ha. So, after I breezed through a swim and a follow-up pass through the sauna...I came home to get a little more focused.

*Side note: This was my first time to the pool with the bald head. I wore a swim cap...which is decidedly uncomfortable with no hair. LOL. It sucked to my scalp like a vacuum. Also, since my latest eye adventure, I can't see without my glasses. This is a very new thing for me. Just walking around at the pool "guessing" at what I was looking at. On the other hand, when I did decide to take the swim cap off (I think un-breathable latex on the head is a bad idea in a sauna), I was unable to discern any reactions from people's faces. I am not sure if this was a good or bad thing for me. Ha ha. Meh.

Anyway...when I got home, I decided it was time to sit down and get real with myself. Try some stillness, inner sanctity, find my Buddha nature what-have-you. Something like that. I am still on a learning curve here. But, I sat my arse down, wrapped myself in my new blanket and lit a candle. And then...I watched the cat.

I think that the cat has this stuff figured out. Seriously. He was mesmerized by the candle flame. He stared at it intently for at least 5 minutes. He was smiling. Just totally happy and content. He didn't appear to be thinking about the laundry that needed to be done or worrying about whether or not his heart would keep beating throughout day. He wasn't wondering if he was good enough. If he loved enough. If he was loved enough. If he gave enough at the office Christmas charity or was too selfish at the Thanksgiving table. He just was there. In it. Happy. He seems to know how to live fully every moment of his day. And not feel guilty about it! Imagine!

So...I started thinking..."How can I be more like this cat?" Of course, life's expectations of a cat are pretty low-key. We expect them to nap throughout the day and play with Christmas ornaments and bask in the sunshine without a care in the world. (To the orange cat's credit...I think this cat WOULD clean if he knew how. He always seems very interested in helping. I think he might read too, if he could, as he likes to lay on top of my books and magazines and I think I have seen him attempt to use a pen. For real. Seriously.) 

With the holidays approaching (who am I kidding...they're here), I am gonna try to be a little more like the cat. I am going to take some time to bask in the sunshine patch and stare mesmerized at the Christmas ornaments and not feel guilty for taking some carefree time to do so. (Note: Just typing this invokes guilt...we have a long way to go to being cat-like!) But, I am going to TRY...TRY to be a little more IN IT and HAPPY and CONTENT and a little less frazzled and "guilty" and stressed. I know. Easier said than done people...easier said than done. 

Here's my little holiday bucket list of things to bask in:
  • Take time to stare at the Christmas lights
  • Blast Christmas music throughout the house and get my Christmas dance on (maybe rip up some wrapping paper and ribbon a la Sid the Cat)
  • Send out blessings to my friends and family, near and far
  • Get into the giving-ness of the season and let myself get carried away
  • Zipline and tube while in Jamaica (that's right...I'm going to Jamaica this month) Sid can't do that! Sorry, lil buddy!
  • Knead and hug and rub and love on all my soft fluffy loved-filled cancer-killing gifts...blankets, quilts, prayer shawls, fluffy socks....snuggles....