Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Friends everywhere!

Tiny thoughts

I never really thought much about posting on this blog or Facebook about my "little bout" with cancer. Honestly, it helped me to organize the chaos of thoughts and emotions that come along with such a turn of life. But it turns out! people really get a kick out of my silly writings and keep in touch one way or another.

So I receive these tiny thoughts and cards in the mail from all over the world. I wanted to take this post to simply thank everyone for thinking of me and taking the time to send something. My desk is getting crowded but everything brings a smile to my face and strengthens my resolve. Thank you thank you thank you!

Speaking of resolve... "hemes" are up! Oh joy oh joy, the weekly blood letting is finally delivering some uplifting results. White blood cells were the first to start coming up after I started injecting myself with a new poison that spurs my bone marrow into action. And now finally my red blood count is nearing something "normal". I wonder if I should test my newly acquired "hemes" up at the mountain?! No? Yes?!
Hemoglobin in red blood cells carries oxygen, which is needed for, well, breathing! Last time I attempted a hike I had to sit on a log just five minutes out with a dog sitting by me looking befuddled. What? that's it?
Maybe I try without the dog first, spring hikes are the most beautiful with water running down the mountain from the snow melt.
I can't wait to get back up there...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dual Marias, some thoughts

The Two Marias

Today is the day I become "that other" Maria, the one with the dreadful disease that goes to the Cancer Center for a visit with the Oncologist. I always thought I had pseudo-out-of-body experiences at times but this is truly new.
The old Maria at Red Rock Canyon
not so long ago

Accepting that there was really "something eating my bones" was tough, but the pain all over my body helped make accepting cancer a reality very quickly. Now things are different. I am getting energy back, especially mental energy. I feel like doing things again, other than being sprawled on the sofa catching up on magazines, that is.
Testing is done, now there are poison pills and some injections to try to spurt my bones into making blood again. But really nothing out of the previous ordinary.

The only time things feel weird is when I go to the Cancer Center. It's me, Maria, driving myself to the Cancer Center, getting some blood work done, telling the Oncologist I feel peachy. Listening to him tell me the poison is working and telling me to keep it up.
That Maria drives herself back home and there's the dog wagging her tail! A little walk around the neighborhood in the sun. All is well.


I imagine when my two Marias merge into one will be the moment I can really say I have accepted this "thing." I can say I am well aware that I have cancer but there is still that out-of-body experience when I do something like give myself an injection.
And I imagine there will be many more twists and turns to the journey, I imagine. In six months the breast surgeon wants to see me again. I think about my hair getting a bit brittle, my fingernails breaking (fine for frettin', not so much for pickin'), still out of breath when doing yard work.
But I'm gaining strength, walking more, even went to the mountain and was able to really take in a huge gulp of cold piney air. I wonder if that Maria will be able to go between the pines a bit later this spring.
View at 8000 feet, Mt Charleston

Escaping between two pines,
back in the studio making art

Monday, March 5, 2018

A week of "firsts"!

No appointments?

I had to double check my calendar several times, no medical appointments this week. No blood letting, no big machine looking into me, no phone interviews, no check ups, no ordering or receiving meds in the mail even! week off...a week for me.
When I first was diagnosed life turned into day to day thinking, planning. I honestly couldn't "see" past the next day. MRIs one after another, blood tests, more blood tests in prep for biopsies, PET and CT scans...just a whirlwind of tests and doc visits. I was anxious about every one, eager perhaps. One test led to another as we narrowed down the beast and determined its location and spread.
Then came the relief of diagnosis, the hope of treatment and the routine of weekly blood testing and monthly oncology visits.

This all only started November 27, 2017. I am now on my second break from the chemo-drug cycle and I HAVE A WEEK OFF! Oops, sorry, did I scream that?

I started by going to the park, of course, my nature walking therapy while I await the strength to return to my lungs in order to withstand a coveted hike up on the mountain. I will sneak up there this week, if only to feel the thin air and have a meal in the pines. Not much walking probably as my blood counts are still in recovery mode.

No pain, oh, the joy

And I had to really think about this joyful event because I actually have had some sort of daily pain for near a year now. I thought at first that most of it was self-inflicted, working hard at the cabin, digging ditches, pouring concrete, moving materials, splitting wood, hiking higher and higher. Then when I got the news in November I realized at least some of the continuous and recurring soreness was due to the cancer spreading rapidly through my bones. Who knew?!
I have always pushed my physical body a bit too far, riding on my bike long distances, hiking and scrambling up mountains, working on the house, rebuilding the humble cabin in the woods, or just taking down and chopping a dead tree. Even in my art I would take on huge collaborative projects that required weeks of printing large blocks (my other blog
Cranking the press daily, out of the question for now,
but will get back to that!

Printing the first large project with my friend Barbara Mason

So I'm often sore, often stiff, often nursing some bump and bruise. I can take pain, a lot of it. But the underhanded erosion of my bones was new to me. For a few months last year I thought I would have to "back off" my physically demanding lifestyle and start to get old gracefully. Little did I know my body was being eaten from the inside bringing in a different kind of pain, a constant mixture of soreness and sharp stabs.

This past Saturday I woke up wanting to go walking, wanting to garden. Almost felt weird to have a desire to exert myself a little. I felt like the old me for just a little. But wait, be careful, you are detrained, I tell myself. My lung capacity, my ability to use muscle fuel, taking a very deep breath, sweating when I get hot, everything is operating normally now but at a lower level than before. But it's working! The meds are working, the body is working. I have no pain. I can fill my lungs to capacity with cold dry desert air. I can walk two miles now, without stopping to sit on a park bench. I can sneeze without wincing! What a blessing! What a joy!
I can now look forward to a "normal" week, not new-normal but old-normal, real-normal.

So what's up with the rattlesnake?

Monday November 27 2017 Rattlesnake story There I was...surrounded by ferocious diamondback rattlesnakes hissing and rattling and slith...