Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on" I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Won't be quitting my day job, but it sure was fun!

While I was not blessed with my mother's gracefulness (or her pretty legs), I can at least keep a beat. So I am glad to report that I did not make a total fool of myself last weekend at our ballet recital.

I think I've mentioned my Thursday night jazz class before? It is something that I promised Emma and Leah I would do. All girls whose mothers take a class at the ballet studio are allowed to dance together in the special "Mother-Daughter" dance in the Spring recital. Emma and Leah really really wanted to dance in "Mother-Daughter", and they've asked me every year if we could do it. (I think they liked the idea of an extra costume.)

I couldn't imagine dancing in anything other than an aerobics class, and NEVER on stage in front of people I could possibly run into at my kids' school or the neighborhood pool.....but because I like to spoil my kids, and because I wasn't going to aerobics class anymore anyway, I signed up for the adult jazz class last summer. This was before I knew I had cancer (I was diagnosed just before class began in September). Thinking that I could possibly be a bed-ridden mess from chemo and whatever other treatment surprises were waiting for me, I prepared the girls in case I couldn't keep up with my dance class.....promised them I'd try my best but not to get their hopes up. There was always the next year.

Well, I had no idea how therapeutic this class would be! I looked forward to Thursdays, hardly missed a class. I even selected Friday as my chemo day so that I could have time to recover for Thursday's class. I missed one class because I was embarrassed about losing my hair (like PigPen in the Peanuts comic strip, I left a trail of hair as I walked across the room) and couldn't get in for my crewcut until Friday morning. I missed a few more classes after my surgery, but attended anyway, so I could videotape and not fall behind.

The women in class were so supportive, and they treated me like a normal person, not a chemo freak. They promised to catch my wig (and dust it off and toss it back) if it fell off during class, which thankfully it never did. They kept telling me how inspiring I was to them, which I thought was very sweet. I didn't feel very inspiring....just klutzy! They all asked about my progress and cheered me on. Eventually, they seemed to forget I had cancer. I'm not complaining! It was great to feel normal for an hour every Thursday.

My instructor, who owns the studio, was always so cheerful and upbeat. She has lost several family members to cancer, and I know she understood what we were going through. She was also Emma's and Leah's dance instructor, and was glad to report that the girls seemed unaffected by my cancer......other than Leah telling everyone "did you know my mommy is wearing a wig?" whenever I went to pick her up.

The big recital was last weekend. Emma and Leah danced beautifully in their classes in Act I. Our Mother-Daughter was the first dance in Act II and my jazz class was second-to-last. I had all of Act I to concentrate on my stage fright. I was so scared that first Mother-Daughter performance that I hardly smiled. Not to mention one of the moms and her 2 kids took our spot at the end of the number, so we had to run behind everyone and find a place to stand and pose. (As we left the stage, Emma told the mom "You took our spot!" and I told her I'd have to hipcheck her if she did it again the next performance...... unfortunately, I don't think she realized I was joking and I am pretty sure I made her feel bad. Oh well! She didn't do it again!)

I thoroughly enjoyed my jazz class number that night (even though I had a brief "LOOKITME!" moment when everyone's arms/hands pointed down and mine flew straight up.....something I never messed up during practice, and of course all these goofs were on the night the performance was being taped). I was both flawless and unafraid for both dances the next night! In fact, I was very disappointed when it was all over.

Those of you who know me are probably laughing now, because you know that in order to dance I need at least 2 glasses of wine (and even then it doesn't really qualify as dancing.....think "Elaine" on Seinfeld)! I swear, no alcohol or other performance-enhancing drugs were involved in either recital night.

I intend to dance again next year. Frances is 3 years old now and old enough to take ballet. So of course I can't quit now! We have another Mother-Daughter dance to work on.

Picture from Race for the Cure

I was so pleased when my parents, brother, and sister all came to town in May to walk (Susie ran) in the Race for the Cure. My sister was one of the top 10 fundraisers, too!

When my mom called in March to tell me they were thinking of walking, I seriously thought about joining them. But in March I was still doing the radiation thing, and I was feeling more than a little wiped-out. Even though the Race was to take place a month after my radiation ended, at that time I wasn't sure how long it would take to get my energy back. So I volunteered to work the water stop at mile-marker-1. Actually, I volunteered and then got picky about where I wanted to work. I'm sure the volunteer chairperson will not want to see my name on her list again next year! They wanted me to work the donation booth, but I rejected that and asked if I could be somewhere on the course. We settled on the water stop.

The water stop was so busy (not to mention in desperate need of order.....I have lots of suggestions for next year) that I didn't have time to take pictures of Susie as she ran by, or of David and my parents as they strolled by. I don't know why I thought I'd have free time!

It was the coolest thing to see the walkers and runners pass by, all walking and running to raise money for something that has hit my family so hard these last few months.

After everyone had passed by the water stop, we volunteers spent about 30 minutes cleaning up (again, lots of suggestions for improving this process next year!) and then I walked the mile back so I could watch my family cross the finish line. Everyone else waited for the volunteer bus, but I was anxious to get back there! Susie had already crossed the finish line and was enjoying some water. Together we watched for David, Mom, and Dad. It was a really great day. I think you can tell from our faces that we are proud of where we are and what we've all accomplished.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taking calls now!

Feel free to call: My labwork came back normal!

I called on Monday and left a message for my oncologist: "I know the doctor was going to call if anything looked suspicious," I said, "but I hadn't heard from her and am going crazy every time the phone rings. So I had to call just to verify: Did the labs come back and was anything suspicious?"

The nurse called back the next day and left a message for me, something about the CA-something being low, which she said is a good thing. She added that everything looked really good, really normal.

That's what I wanted to hear! Maybe next checkup I'll ask for more details on the various tumor markers....what they are called, what the doctor looks for, etc. Just not now. I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about breast cancer and its treatments. My brain is full! The rest can wait!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No calls please!

Please, no phone calls for the next few days! It makes me nervous! I just had a checkup with my oncologist on Monday. The labwork they did in the office (white blood, platelets, etc) came back normal, which was good to hear. However, the real labwork (tumor markers) had to go out to an external lab and won't be back for a few days.

My doctor said she would call me if the labs showed anything suspicious, so pretty much if I don't hear from her then that's a good thing. Of course, I wonder every time the phone rings whether it is the doctor calling. So I'm a little jumpy this week!

Knowing me, I will probably call the office tomorrow just to make sure all is well. My doctor declared me "cancer-free" on Monday, without seeing the labs, so I suppose I should be happy with that for now.

But til Friday, unless you want me to be a bundle of nerves, please don't! Thanks!
P.S. I am feeling good, getting my energy back along with my hair (which I dyed red). My family was here in May to do the Race for the Cure, which was a great experience. We hired a wonderful nanny, who was here several days a week, to help me with "all these kids" as Emma not-so-lovingly calls her little siblings. More on all of my recovery adventures later, just wanted to point out that I'm doing fine! (Except for the phone thing)