It’s been a while

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I know, I know. I haven’t checked in for quite a while. Dealing with life has kept me busy.

As of right now, I am in such a stressed out state that I don’t even reach out to my closest friends. I hate to be thought of as a burden or a charity case, and try to handle everything myself. This, in turn, creates more stress…not less. Who knew?!?

So, what non-stressful things have been happening?

Well. We rescued a dog on Valentine’s Day. She’s an American bulldog mix. Mixed with what? We have no idea. I suspect it’s Greyhound.

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Her name is Amber, and she’s a Parvo survivor! She’s the sweetest little asshole you’ll ever meet 🙂

I’m addicted to crack….Trivia Crack, that is. It really helps to take my mind off of things, especially when I kick my (way smarter than me) mbff’s butt. Don’t tell him, but my husband helps me on the sports category.

My children are crazy, and driving me crazy, but that’s also a good way to get my mind off of things.

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Is it just me, or does my son look like Carl from The Walking Dead?

Speaking of, I am super bummed that the season is over, and now need suggestions for something to take its place until it comes back on.

Really, nothing else has been going on, so this pretty much catches us up. I hope all of y’all had a wonderful Easter, and I’ll try not to be such a stranger.

Friendship is hard

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I have this friend. I met her at work about five years ago. She’s been with me through some serious shit, but being her friend is difficult, to put it mildly. She tells me that she needs a friend, we make plans, and then she cancels. This has happened more than once.
There is no “typical” when it comes to depression, but I would hazard a guess that her case would pretty much be  textbook. She’s manic with social anxiety, and that, if you’ve never been around it, is a stressful person to be around. She also has a tendency to laugh maniacally while saying that she’s not depressed. It’s quite obvious to those around her, yet she continually denies it.
I’ve tried to be there for her, but I have my own struggles with depression, and I am an emotional empath. I tend to take on other’s pain and mirror them. This is great for them, because they feel like I really understand them. Not so great for me, because not only do I understand them, but I also have to find a way to claw myself up from their abyss.
I don’t have a friend like me. I tend to be drawn to those who are damaged, and damaged people are usually very self involved. I don’t mind being there for the people I love, but sometimes I would like to have a conversation that is not one sided. Sometimes, I would like a friend to ask how I’ve been, and call me on my bullshit when I say, “Fine”. One day, I’d like to be able to listen to a friend’s problems, and when it’s my turn, they pay attention and not just stare blankly until it’s their turn to talk again. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

There are other cancers besides boob cancer….(original posts from 2011)

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“How, Chemo-sabe”

How, indeed!  I did very well for this being my first day of chemotherapy.  I don’t feel nauseous, just tired, but that could be the Ativan they give during fluids 😉  I was able to see my very good looking doctor beforehand, so yay me!  I was also able to make him jealous, because I told him about my dentist appointment.  I don’t think I have ever made a doctor cuss, so this was a first, as well.  I was totally prepared(well, almost).  I had my phone, my iPod, my laptop, and a word puzzle book….7 hours, man!  The only thing that I should have taken, was a sandwich.  Though they are kind enough to supply snacks, and drinks, the snacks consisted of peanut butter, cheese, or plain crackers.  I had two packs.

Let me just say, I understand that we must face trials during out lifetime, and we are rarely prepared. Do they have to be one on top of the other?  Waking up this morning to an 84 degree house was not fun.  Yes, my dear readers…our a/c went out!  My father went to check it out, and has a friend coming sometime tomorrow, but then it is a matter of getting it fixed. Praying that it only needs to be recharged.
Keep praying for me, and I promise to keep the faith.
Shanna
But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.  Psalm 5:11

Guilt should be a 4 letter word!

I finished my first cycle of chemotherapy last week, and I feel great!  Yes, this is what the title is all about.  I feel great, and so many people just don’t after chemo.  This is not to say that I will feel this way the next time, or even the time after that, but let me take you through this short journey, please?

First, I’d like to say, that no matter what you may think of me or my diagnosis, I have only been scared once or twice during this time.  It has never been a fear of dying, or pain…just the unknown.  Normal, right?  Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret….I hate surprises!  No joke. Ask my husband. I badger him for weeks before my birthday and Christmas, because I want to KNOW what I will be getting. People pleaser that I am, I want to be able to school my features, just in case.
I went in on Tuesday for the first round in my first cycle of chemo.  I felt pretty prepared.  I had my laptop, my iPod, a puzzle book, and my phone. Ya know, just in case I got bored.  My chemotherapy regimen is Cisplatin and Etoposide(vp16). These are the chemo drugs that are used for the hard hitting cancers, ie. lung, testicular, stomach, ovarian….you get the picture.  All cancer’s are hard hitting, but just like a snowflake, no two are created the same. Some are more aggressive, some move faster than others. Nobody knows how they are going to react, and nobody knows what will alleviate the reaction.  I have said it time and time, again, this cancer is a crap shoot, and I’ve never gotten the hang of that game of chance.  So, I get to the doctor’s office…on time…believe me, that is a big deal.  I go in for the exam(that nobody told me would occur), and everything checks out.  Next stop, blood draw.  I’m going to stop right here.  If anyone is going through chemo, or may need to go through something with infusions/blood draws, I highly recommend getting a port!  Any doctor who doesn’t try to get their patient one is a sadistic…well, you know.  O.K. – blood draw.  My blood cells come back at a normal count, so we are good to go.  First, because of the toxicity of the chemo, I need fluids to prevent kidney failure.  This takes about an hour.  As they are giving me the regular fluids, it is infused with a very potent cocktail of Patron, vodka, gin, and a splash of lime, but more than likely, it is Ativan and promethazine.  These are to relax me, and keep me from becoming nauseated.  As this is the complete opposite effect that Patron has on me, I’ll stick with this mixture.  I have roughly 5 milliseconds before this kicks in, so I decide to try my hand at some brain teasers.  Next.  Let me try the laptop.  Nope.  Solitaire?  Huh!  All of these things I have brought with me, hold no interest.  Guess I’ll take a nap.  2 hours later, and I am awakened by the beep of the infusion machine.  Time for a potty break.  Hook me back up, Jim!  I’m ready to get this over with.  What’s that you say?  I have 4 more hours?!?  Oh joy!  Long story, still kinda long, I finish my first day with minimal fuss.
2nd day is much the same, with the exception of time.  My 2nd and 3rd day are comprised only of the Etoposide.  This only takes an hour and a half, at most.  The funny thing is, they dose me with the same amount of relaxant.  Needless to say, I am useless when I get home.  I have a 7 and a 4 year old, they need me, and I am asleep all day!  I go back for my 3rd infusion, and I have a bargain that I would like them to meet.  If they half the dose, I promise I won’t get sick!  Lucky day, they decide that since I am doing so well, we can forgo it altogether!  Thursday was a good day.  I finished in record time(at least in my mind), and went home to take a small nap to prepare myself for Friday. Bum bum buuuum.
Friday was a fun day.  I got to go to the doctor, again!  He and I had discussed what sort of actions could be taken to help boost my white blood cells during the short intermission between cycles.  His suggestion – a shot of Neulasta.  Can I get that straight up, please?  Needless to say, it worked wonders on my energy levels.  Friday evening, my uncle and aunt came into town, just in case I needed help this week.  I was very happy to inform them that I would not need their services, though I appreciate the offer very much(there goes that independence, again!)  In my chemo induced brain fog, I forgot that they were coming in, and also invited some friends to stay with us from out of town.  Luckily, we have plenty of room, and very understanding guests.  I felt well enough to clean the bathrooms and wash some clothes!! This is a really big deal, as I have not felt like cleaning in about 6 months.  I do it, don’t get me wrong, but I actually FELT like doing it.
The only other side effect that I assume is from chemo, is heartburn.  I had it horribly on the second day, but the third day, I took Prilosec, and it seemed to get rid of it.  The nurse informed me that with women, whatever you suffered from during pregnancy will probably be what you suffer from during chemo.  Thankfully, I did not have morning sickness with either child, but I had raging heartburn!! I think I can live with that.
I won’t bore you with the details of my awesome weekend. I did that enough with the details of my chemo.  Suffice it to say, I feel major guilt for feeling so great.  I’ll get over it, don’t you worry, but at this point in time, I just wish that I could will my well being onto others that are not so lucky.  My body is an enigma.  My doctor accused me of having super hero blood, due to the healing process of my incisions.  There is a higher power helping me, I can assure you.  I have never stopped praying, as I am sure most of you are doing, as well.  My wellness is nothing short of a miracle.  I am not healed, but am healing.  I can literally feel it.  Keep the prayers coming, because I am definitely keeping my faith.
 (Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV) Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.

Even more cancerific caringbridge posts (originally written 2011)

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Bada bing, bada boom!

Where to start, where to start?  I had my radical hysterectomy on Monday, and everything went very well.  After a fabulous overnight stay at the luxurious St. David North Medical Center, I checked myself out, so that I could come back to Chez Marquez.

The service here can not be beat!  I would say this is definitely a 5 star establishment, and the help is unbelievable!  My mom and dad, my friends Kellie, Hector, Debbie and Katrina, and my Aunts Leila and Sandy have all been A-MAZING!  My children have been awesome, and that is not the narcotics talking.  My husband, in his own way, has been very caring and loving(he thinks he’s funny at times, but that’s ok).
Tuesday, before checking out the doctor came in to let me know that they were waiting for the pathology report. He said that he had good margins, and once the pathology reports came in at the end of the week, we would schedule our next steps, namely chemo and/or radiation.
After a grueling week with a catheter, I was able to go in today to have it removed:)  Big yay for me!  Also, the reports came in, and I am happy to let you all know that my margins were clear, and all of the lymph nodes they removed came back negative!!!  He also said that he has never seen or heard of a case of small cell carcinoma that was contained in one area!  Now, I may not know exactly what this all means. Margins and such confuse me, but I do know that this is excellent news.  I am pretty sure this means that I will not have to go through radiation, which is a huge relief.
Now, as to what this means to me personally.  I have found out that it absolutely pays off to be a good person.  I would lay my life down for my friends and family, and if there was any doubt on my part as to whether the reverse were true(there wasn’t), this would have gotten rid of it!  My faith has grown in leaps and bounds!  I am a true believer in God and all of His miracles.  The power of prayer is a real thing, and to those that don’t believe, I will testify!  Please, take a moment, if you haven’t, to look up small cell cervical carcinoma. Very rare, very aggressive, and very scary when looking for a prognosis. I’ve been told by several people, on several occasions that they have put me on their prayer list, or that they were praying for me.  There have been people who confessed that they have not been very prayerful, but even they have sent up one or two.  My past few nights have not been the most restful, but to wake up to a warm sensation radiating from my chest, and KNOWING that it is everyone’s prayers, humbles me and affirms my belief in Christ.
My dear friends, this is not the end of my battle.  I will still need to go through the rest of my treatment, but as long as I have all of you beside me, I know that everything will be fine.  Thank you to all who have been there for me physically.  Thank you to all who have been there for me in heart, mind, and spirit.  Thank you to all who chose not to be there for me, because you allowed me to see who my true friends are.
Keep the prayers coming, and I promise to keep the faith!
…If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

The waiting is the hardest part.

It has been one whole week since I have been home from the hospital.  I am healing well, and the pain has lessened to a burning sensation when I stretch too far.  I can’t drive for 2 weeks.  I am not allowed to pick anything up over 10 pounds for 6 weeks…which means I can’t even vacuum. I have already had a few bad days.  It’s depressing when you are used to being a strong, independent person, and you have to now rely on other people.

I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful brat, because I really do appreciate everything people have done for me, but it’s hard for me to ask for/accept help of any kind.  My mother is amazing, and I depend on her so much.  My friends have shown incomparable kindness.  We have a fully stocked freezer with foods kids love due to one couple’s thoughtfulness.  Another friend, who owns a cleaning company, has generously offered to do our laundry until the completion of my treatments.  Another friend graciously offered to watch my children, so that my husband could go to work. I have not had to cook since being back, because if my mother isn’t here, another family member is bringing food.  It has all been so wonderful, and so overwhelming at the same time.  It makes me laugh when someone leaves the house, and makes me promise, PROMISE to call if there’s anything I need.  They all know that I’m not going to, but they also want to let me know that they know.
Pity…party of 1, your table is ready.  I want to hurry up and start the next step, because if I can do that, I can hurry up and get well.  It’s also a control issue, and I totally get that.  My life is chaos right now.  It’s disordered, helter skelter, turbulent even. I’m used to being able to get the kids ready, and go for a ride somewhere, at least.  We are all trapped in this house, and we are all getting tired of each other.  I snap at my husband, and accuse him of wanting to leave me.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  I read stories of women who are going through, or have gone through this kind of cancer, and sometimes it is not too hopeful.  One of the ladies contacted me, and I told her that I was doing well, but I felt, sometimes, that I was never going to be rid of this because God was not finished.  She told me that God is not who makes us sick, the devil is.  I had to explain that I knew God didn’t make us sick, but he allows things to be done to us, so He can do things through us.  If He can use us as His voice, believe that He will.  I know that I am up for the challenge, but it all comes down to fear for my family.  Sure, they will be alright without me.  I just don’t want them to have to find out for sure.  Control issue, again.
I’m praying, and allowing myself to be prayed for.  I’m trying to give the controls over to someone who knows better.  I’m trying to be selfish, and let people know when I need something.  I. Am. Trying. To. Survive.
Keep the prayers coming, and I will keep my faith.
I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled of afraid. – John 14:27

Chernobyl, or not Chernobyl…THAT is the question.

I am angry! I am frustrated! I am so tired.  I feel my world spinning out of control.  I know, I know…NOW her world is out of control?  She has been fine through diagnosis and surgery, but force her to make one simple decision, and the world is off its axis?

This has been an awful weekend!  I feel like I have been run over…several times.  I don’t want to do radiation!  I feel like a rotten child saying it, but I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna!  Everyone tells me that this is the best course of action, but I just feel like one huge experiment.  “Well, this worked on so and so, let’s try it on Shanna”. Nobody knows what works for REGULAR cancer, so how the heck do they know what works for a rare type of cancer?!?  So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?  I went to my consultation with a radiologist at the start of last week.  She really didn’t tell me anything that would have convinced me that radiation is going to give me any better chance.  I was not convinced that the side effects are worth the small chance that it will help along with the chemo.  Come on! It’s bad enough that I have cancer, but to possibly have to have a colostomy bag for the rest of my life? How is that fair? Yes, it is a small percentage of people who have to deal with that, but guess what?!? Less than 5% of women contract this type of cervical cancer.  The odds are kind of against me.
Next thing, so I can get out of Debbie Downer mode.  I went to my pre-chemo dentist appointment this past Friday.  If you thought it was bad that I hadn’t been to a lady doctor visit in 3 years, you’ll love this one!  I haven’t been to the dentist in 16 years.  Yeah, I know. I’m a slacker.  The only reason I went this time was because my mother’s dentist suggested it, as his wife had cancer, and it helped alleviate a lot of her mouth issues.  So, as if I weren’t strange enough, with the diagnosis, and clear margins, etc.  16 years, and I had one line of decay on one tooth!  I have one broken tooth(not due to decay), and he noticed wear as a result of grinding my teeth at night…ya think?  So, good news from the dentist!  I will have my teeth cleaned on August 18th, so wish me luck.
 I think what has been the hardest on me lately is trying to keep everyone else’s spirits up.  It is very hard work to be optimistic all the time. I know I don’t have to, that’s just the way I’m built(as a friend so lovingly put it).  I try to be upbeat, and it is wearing me out.  There is nothing upbeat about this.  When I try to make jokes about it, I am usually met with 1 of 2 reactions. 1) Hysterical laughter(because they think I am crazy) 2) Crying(because they think I am crazy).  I am not crazy, nor am I going crazy.  I’m sleepy, angry, and humor is my defense mechanism.  Just want to reiterate that, because even those of you who know me well are having some difficulty dealing with my dark humor lately.  I am in no way trying to make you uncomfortable. On the contrary. I am trying to make myself more comfortable.
Speaking of comfort…I bought my first wig today.  I don’t know how it will feel when I don’t have hair, but it is pretty darn comfy right now.  It is blue with light blue streaks.  I was going to get a teal wig, because that is the awareness ribbon color, but decided to go a little darker. You know. Because of my skin tone.
Anyway, I suppose this is enough rambling for now.  I am tired, and I want to take a pain pill. Port o catheters hurt.  Please, please, please keep the prayers coming, because I am trying really hard to keep the faith.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and they staff they comfort me.  Psalm 23:4

Day 18: A problem you have had…

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Oh where to begin??  I can’t compare my life to a Greek tragedy, but I have had to jump over some major hurdles. You would think I would be in better shape.

Let’s begin at the beginning. My father was an abusive asshole who basically abandoned my mother and me at a year old. Luckily, my mother is one hell of a woman! I think the limited contact I had with my father was due to my grandma and mom constantly nagging him. Believe me, the lack of attention that I got from him was  enough to make me not want to have anything to do with him from the ages of 13 to 19. Prior to that, unfortunately, there was some slight hero worship. At the ripe old age of 19, I decided to give him a second chance.  My then boyfriend convinced me to try to fill in the gap that my father’s issues had left in my soul. We actually started to make progress, then the boyfriend became abusive, and I moved far away. Fast forward to 21 year old me, living in Austin, TX, when my mother came up to my job to break the news that my father was on life support in Corpus Christi (a 3.5 hour drive from where I was).  Nobody had called me! I had just spoken with my father the month before! He didn’t even indicate that he was sick. So, we made the drive down, and I arrived just in time to hold my father’s hand, tell him I love him, and watch him fade away when they took him off the machines. See, by the time I had arrived, all brain activity had ceased. He didn’t even get to hear my voice.

That brings us to depression. I have dealt with some sort of depression probably from a very early age. I remember at 7, wrapping a rope around my neck, and hoping that it killed me. At 13, my boyfriend decided that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer, so my solution was to take a handful of my mother’s pain pills. Whether by luck or by design, my stepbrother arrived home from work in time to shove his finger down my throat, and he monitored me for the rest of the night.  By 14, I was actively bulimic, but the suicide attempts had stopped. After high school, my mother and stepfather divorced, and I felt like I had to be strong for her.  As long as I was focused on someone else, my problems faded away. When my father died, I spiraled quickly. My guilt from not making as much of an effort as I possibly could have made me lash out at the people who were closest to me.

Then I met my future husband.

He helped me through a lot at the beginning. The asshole boyfriend? Decided he would follow me up to Austin. I soon realized that it was a horrible mistake to be in a relationship with him. Having someone imprint their hand on your face will definitely improve your clarity (sometimes). My future husband saw the hand print, and was livid! He wanted to drive down to Corpus Christi right then with his friends and beat some ass. I convinced him it wouldn’t be worth it, and we became friends.

We married when I was 24, and had our first child when I turned 27.  My baby boy was a handful from the jump. He was due December 19, but didn’t cause a contraction until the 29th. I went into labor at 8:00 p.m. and finally at 6:30 p.m. on the 30th, my doctor decided that it might be best to have a c-section.  Do the math. I’ll wait. After being on pain meds for that long,  I was too shaky to hold my newborn. To add insult to injury, I started throwing up, and nobody noticed!! Duh! New baby! Then I wasn’t able to get him to latch for breastfeeding. This motherhood thing wasn’t at all what I had been expecting! I was in the hospital for 3 days, and upon release, I was tired and weary. This was not how I pictured this day, at all. Postpartum depression. There’s that word, again. This time I had more to deal with. I had a tiny human who was dependent on me to hold my shit together. I was able to make myself into a reasonable facsimile of a human being, and my son has been giving me hell ever since!

I’ve had therapy. I’ve been on medication. I’ve tried yoga. In my opinion, there are some people that are just going to be depressed. Whether it is cyclical or constant. I am able to psych myself out a lot of times. I can sense when a dark time is coming, and can usually warn my loved ones. I’m not violent towards myself or others, but I can be hurtful with words. My depression has led me to do things that I wouldn’t do in a normal situation.  I have put my marriage in jeopardy many times with my casual disregard to my husband’s feelings. I can only hope that he loves me enough to see that when I do the things I do, it is because I need his help. I don’t always deserve his forgiveness, but he gives it nonetheless.

 

Haiku

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I did a haiku challenge a while back, and this is what resulted. Not my best work, but I also haven’t written poetry of any kind since high school (and you don’t need to know how long ago that was).

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It’s been over a week

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I’m not on social media anymore, so the day it happened, I found out about it when my husband got home from work. He couldn’t understand why I broke down and cried for this guy I didn’t even know personally. In the 14 years we’ve been together, he’s never understood my depression. My exuberant highs and my tumultuous lows are a mystery to him. No matter how much I try to explain myself, he just doesn’t get it.

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If anything leads to suicide, it is that. The knowing that no matter how hard you try, you will be alone in your own head for the rest of your life.

It’s been over a week. I should be over my sadness, but I can’t. No other celebrity death has affected me this significantly, probably because I know what a smile can hide.

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