Merry Christmas

It is nearly time to turn in for the night and prepare for a big day tomorrow! My mom, my brother with his Boxer Bo, my three grandsons, and my daughter-in-law (ex) will be descending on us at various times tomorrow morning. The cooking (lasagna and spaghetti) is mostly done, the house is partly cleaned, the presents are wrapped!! I’m going to get up bright and early in the morning to finish cleaning (as much as I plan to clean, anyway) … I was just too tired tonight to finish it up.

While I relish the idea of spending the blessed day with my family, I am also excited to see Christmas come and go. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all of my heart and I am pleased that we have a day to celebrate His birth … but I am afraid it has become so commercialized that I am not really sure how much celebrating of His birth we do anymore. It has been constant work here for the past several days – shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping … other than going to the orthopedic surgeon one last time on 12/26 so he can release me, I plan to relax, relax, relax!!! Except that I will probably want to take down the tree. I don’t like leaving it up much past Christmas…

I just read a blog written by an acquaintance who is battling colon cancer. She has a humorous outlook on life and she mentioned in her blog today that she is actually grateful for cancer in some ways. I agree with her. I know it sounds silly. But, sometimes it takes something really major to make you realize that sweating the small stuff is really pretty silly.

I think I probably smile more and laugh harder and enjoy life far more now than I ever did before. Standing in lines, facing crowds, crazy traffic – all things that used to send me over the edge – generally are accepted much more readily now. (Not always. I am still ME!) Those are small things compared to battling for your life 🙂 Cancer helps you put things into perspective.

Well … it is nearly 11 PM and I have vowed I will get up at 5 to finish my cleaning chores before the family arrives. I guess I should go to sleep and dream of ol’ Saint Nick coming tomorrow.

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas! May your holiday be filled with joy, peace, and love … and health!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latest Medical Report

The voice on the other end of the line asked if I had a few minutes to discuss my upcoming CT scan. Well, yes, I could talk about it while I was driving home from work.

“Your appointment is at 2. You’ll need to arrive by 1 PM so that you can drink the barium before your test. You should not eat or drink anything for 4 hours, which translates to 9 AM.”

“9 AM?” I had already prepared myself mentally (sort of) to begin fasting at 10 … and I wasn’t happy about even that. I am one of those people who sip on a drink constantly. And I often have a piece of butterscotch hard candy in my mouth. Plus, the minute you tell me I can’t eat or drink … I begin to starve … and die of thirst … I was really distressed to think that I would have to go without anything for 5 hours instead of the four I had prepared myself for.

The person who called me could apparently tell that I was really, REALLY not enthused with the fasting news so she told me I didn’t have to do without all liquids. I could sip water if I wished. That news appeased me greatly!

I love going to this particular place for the test because I only have to drink one bottle of that barium. When I was going to radiology at Presbyterian, I had to drink two bottles. I can choke down one bottle; two is a lot more difficult.

While we are on the subject of barium … it comes in four flavors: banana (oh my … can you just imagine fake banana combined with chalk????), berry (I am not a fan of fake berry flavors), vanilla (said to be the most popular flavor, but one that totally makes me gag), and mocha. Mocha is the only flavor I think I can drink. Honestly, the only two flavors I have actually tried are mocha and vanilla. Of those, mocha is by far my favorite. If that is, you can have a favorite flavor of barium!! 🙂

If you’ve never had a CT scan, you might be interested to know that they only take a few minutes. Mine always consists of two tests – the one that I drink the barium for and one that requires an IV of iodine contrast. You lie on a skinny table that slides in and out of a donut shape. A voice tells you to “breathe in” and “hold your breath.” Just about the time you think you can’t hold your breath any longer, the voice says, “breathe.” I do this four times – twice without the contrast and twice with the contrast.

Usually, the results of the CT scans are posted online where I can see them before I go see my oncologist. I like that fact; he does not. I go over the results with a fine-toothed comb and look up on google any words I don’t recognize (there are LOTS of those). Then I make up a list of questions to ask the doctor. I was told recently by my Physician’s Assistant that he – the doctor – just hates for you to come in with that list based on the radiologist’s report. He prefers to base his opinions on his own interpretation of the scans.

Well, the results of my full body scan were posted within a couple of hours, but the lung cans had still not shown up, even when I saw the doctor two days later. That’s highly unusual and had me scared that the report was really bad and that they didn’t want me to know it until I could talk to the doctor.

In fact, the report did say that one tumor had grown an insignificant amount. I’m not sure if the doctor put a hold on the report being posted until after he had seen me or if it just so happened that it took awhile. I suspect the former. At any rate, he wanted us to see the scans with our own eyes so that we could make our own determination about whether or not the tumors had grown.

The doctor and his colleagues all felt that the tumors had stayed the same size. Looked like it to me, too! And, there was no spreading! And there has been no spreading since the cancer was found a year ago! God is so good to me!! I often wonder why He has chosen to leave me on this earth. There is obviously something I have not yet done that He has planned for me.

It is always a little scary to get the CT scan … even though I feel great, you never know what those little monsters residing in my lungs might decide to do. Or when. I breathe a big sigh of relief after I get the results … since, so far, the results have usually been pretty good. (Back in the summer there was some growth after we quit the chemo. That’s why I got into the research study. Since I have been in the study, the tumors have just stagnated, which is a GREAT thing!!!)

I’m lucky, too, in that my bloodwork always comes back nearly perfect. We get a complete blood workup every single visit – every two weeks – and every single time, every one of my numbers is within the normal range. The doctors and nurses marvel at that and really can’t explain why … but we all rejoice that it is the case!

A Year Later

I had chemo yesterday. Today I cleaned house … or started. It has really gotten terrible in the year since I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Even on weekends when I felt like cleaning, I was too busy. Getting that unreal news changed my way of doing things. I fill every spare moment with activity – fun activity!! Cleaning house does not qualify! 🙂

This was me a year ago (early January 2013):

I believe I had just had my second chemo treatment when this picture was taken. I was very, very sick. So sick that I sometimes wondered if “the cure” was worth it. It was because I would feel just awful for several days and then I would have two weeks or so where I felt pretty darn good (not overly energetic, but certainly good enough to be glad I was alive!).

While I was pushing the steam cleaner today for the first time since I learned I had cancer, I marveled at what a difference a year can make. Now, I have rarely let this disease really get the best of me, but how I feel today compared to how I felt when the picture above was taken has no similarity! Thank you, Jesus, for that!! Literally.

The following picture was taken of my little Barney dog and me at the Run as One agility trial last weekend. I had already participated in several runs (Cotton went with us on Sunday and she participated in two events; Barney in three … all five runs took place within a 4-hour time span) when it was taken.

A lot of people have no clue what I’m referencing when I talk about agility. The YouTube videos here were taken several months ago. I don’t have any videos from the last few trials. Nevertheless, these let you see what agility even is … and perhaps give you a new appreciation for the fact that I ran six runs on Saturday with Barney (and worked the ring throughout the day as well) and came back on Sunday for the five additional runs.

Anyway, if you had told me in January when that first photograph above was taken that I would be running in agility trials a year later, I would have humored you and said I hoped so, but I truly wouldn’t have actually believed it. I watched my dad die of lung cancer in only 6 months after diagnosis … a common fate for those with late-stage lung cancer. Why should mine be different?

I surely do not have the answer to WHY my fate has been different, but I praise God that it has been. It isn’t that I am afraid to die – I am not – and I sometimes even wonder why I don’t wish to rush it – Heaven is … well … Heaven!!! It is going to be so much better than life on earth. Nevertheless, I’m human and there’s lots of stuff I still want to do so I want the time for me to leave here and go on to my next life to wait awhile!

God is good. All the time! That is all.

Awake

Well … it is 1:00 in the morning. I have to be at a school at 7 to do who knows what? And, I’m supposed to be there until 4 PM … I have a feeling that won’t happen – especially since I am still wide awake at 1 AM.

I think the place where the port was inserted is healing. I have tried to get a picture of it … it leaves a really ugly bump under my skin. It almost looks like I have grown a third breast. Just what I need! 🙂

It is really weird to have the port. It is hard. And, sometimes, I can feel the catheter in my vein too.

picture copied from https://bit.ly/2HkvHmn

This is what is under my skin and in my vein… I am not loving having it. It is alien. It is ugly. But, everyone tells me I am going to love it when I have treatments. I only have to get stuck once a visit. Blood for labs will be drawn through the port and the drug I am getting will be infused using the port. Since my veins are in pretty rotten shape after being stuck so much over the last 9 months, it will be a good thing to have it, I am sure. I just need to start accepting it better!!

Here is another good thing about it. Because it is inserted completely under the skin, there is no need to try to keep it clean and there are no tubes hanging out… I’m sure it will stop bothering me when the bruising improves and I don’t constantly feel it. I hope so!!!

 

Faces of Cancer

I started writing this article yesterday while I was in the waiting room at the Seay building at UT Southwestern. I guess I lost Internet before it was saved so I lost it all 🙁 I’m really sad about it because I felt “inspired” while writing it and think it was good (and no one can ever dispute that since it is gone, gone, gone!).

I am going to attempt to reconstruct what I wrote, what I was feeling when I wrote it. Wish my memory was not horrible! That’s a BAD sad effect of having chemo (or maybe of getting old or maybe both) – no memory. At all. Thoughts rush into my mind and leave before I can grab hold of them!!

Going to a cancer center is eye-opening. They are all full. When I go to Texas Oncology at Presbyterian Hospital, the waiting room, the infusion room, and the hallway where you wait for labs are all full of people. When I go to the Seay building of UT Southwestern, there are even more people everywhere you look. So many lives struck by cancer.

Full waiting room. Too much cancer!

Yesterday – Monday – we had a hard time finding a place to sit even though there are two different large waiting rooms to choose between. My picture doesn’t reflect how very crowded it was, but it is the only picture I tried to take of the waiting room … It’s a little blurry but I decided that’s okay because I am not trying to identify anybody who was sitting in there … just to record the crowd…

If you are not personally affected by having the disease yourself, you know someone – usually a friend or family member – who has battled some kind of cancer at some point in their lives. My dad died of cancer at age 49. My beloved stepfather, Bob Massie, was eaten up with cancer and passed away just five years after he and Mom married. My maternal aunt died from cancer and my paternal uncle did, too.

Over the last few years, Robert and I lost two great friends to cancer – Mike Schoolfield and Richard McCann died about a year apart. Another good friend, Steve Massengale, was given only weeks to live after cancer that had eaten him up was discovered. His is a success story!!! He has been a survivor for at least 10 years!! The more I think, the more friends and family I think of who have suffered from cancer. Some fall victim and some beat it … but they and their families have been touched by it.

And, for every person who receives that awful diagnosis themselves, there are family and friends who love them whose lives also change immediately and forever. It is an insidious disease for sure.

In the relatively small department where I work, Janice’s husband has had lymphoma. He is currently in remission, praise God!, but has developed multiple myeloma – the disease Robin Roberts from Good Morning America chronicled as she has battled it. The brother-in-law of my friend Cindy is battling leukemia. They had it under control for a few months, but it has returned now. The grandmother of another coworker has been fighting cancer for months, surprising the doctors who thought she would die within only weeks of diagnosis. My former boss was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer only months after I received my diagnosis. Cancer is just everywhere. Everywhere.

I just read recently that David Phelps’ sister passed away last year. David is the unbelievable tenor who often sings with the Bill Gaither Vocal Band. His sister frequently sang backup for David when he was on the road doing concerts. You would never have realized it by looking at her or watching her, but she was fighting liver and back cancer that ultimately took her life. She was only 49. She had so much life left to live, but cancer cut it short. For some reason, that broke my heart. She always had a big smile and seemed so full of life. Gone…………..

It doesn’t matter how much money you have. How old you are. What your name is or what your parentage is. What color you are. Cancer does not discriminate.

These melancholy thoughts were in my mind when I saw the following in one of the waiting rooms yesterday:

This young mom and her daughter were both messing with the doll the mom is holding. Mom was braiding the doll’s hair, using great care to do a good job of it. I wish I had had my good camera and the nerve to ask if I could take a picture or a series of pictures of the two of them. Mom, with her mask and bald head from chemo. Daughter with her smiles and happy countenance. For some reason, the two of them represent The Face of Cancer to me. There is a lot of sadness in this picture but also hope. Neither Mom nor daughter appears to be giving in to the disease.

On the other hand, I am struck by one more thing when I observe the people in these cancer centers. Nearly everyone has a very pleasant attitude. I hear polite, happy people speaking. I rarely see anyone who doesn’t smile – even when they look like cancer has really ravaged them. Very few appear to have given in to the disease. I do believe that you will see more happy and contented people in the cancer centers than you will at nearly anywhere else. I sometimes pat myself on the back for having a good attitude about being sick, but truthfully, it is more common than not for cancer patients to have a positive outlook on life.

At the same time as I saw the mom and young daughter above, there was another man and his family or friends sitting there. Lots of hospital staff came up to the man to speak and kid around with him. He is obviously a favorite. Based on his appearance, I have to wonder how much longer he has on this earth. His head was not bald like the mom’s is but you could tell that chemo had done its work on his hair. He was skinny … REAL skinny. Sick skinny. But, his smile was bright and cheerful. He also represents the Face of Cancer to me. I wish I had gotten a picture of him.

I decided that I would try to get more pictures of people in the waiting rooms when I go. So many stories. So many heartbreaks. And, at the same time, so much joy! The faces of cancer. They are you. They are me. Everyone is impacted by this insidious disease in one way or another – everyone.

Got the Chemo Port

Robert and I were at UT Southwestern for a long time yesterday. We had to arrive at their St. Paul Hospital by 7 AM so that I could get a port inserted. The chemo and constant pokes and pricks required from frequent blood tests, CT scans, and treatments finally wore my veins out, making the device necessary. Everyone says I will be really happy to have the port.

It was a frustrating morning. We rushed to get there by 7 … it is an hour away from home so we had to leave really early! We waited for 45 minutes to get registered at the hospital. Great! There was only one girl working registration for the entire hospital on a Monday morning. To her credit, she was ultra-patient. I just don’t understand why she didn’t have a whole lot more help. We were behind two people and when we left, there were two or three more waiting. Plus, people kept coming in from the “street” and asking questions, etc. that the girl also had to answer. Because I hate to be late to appointments, I was getting really anxious … and another “a” word … angry!

Once we finally got up to the floor where the little minor day surgery would occur, things started happening. I got an IV so they could give me some medicine to “relax” me during the procedure. Blood was drawn, vitals taken (my blood pressure was lower than it has been in a long, long time … go figure??!!!).

Next, the physician’s assistant came in and introduced herself. The surgeon didn’t insert the port. The PA did. Hmmmm. Hope my insurance wasn’t charged for a surgeon.

The clock was inching toward my 9:00 surgery time and I was anxious to get it over with. But, while things popped when we first arrived, they suddenly slowed to a turtle’s pace. We saw NO ONE from about 8:45 until not 9, not 9:30, not 10!!!!

I already told you how anxious/excited/angry I get when things don’t go like they are scheduled!! I was getting pretty upset because the surgery was going to take an hour and then I had to recuperate for an hour before being released. Well … I was supposed to be over at the Seay building by 1 for my labs, doctor appointment, and treatment. And, we planned to go eat breakfast before we went there since we are usually there for 7 or more hours and I wasn’t able to eat or drink anything from midnight the night before the surgery. I was seeing all of our plans going by the wayside and I was restless and unhappy about it!!!

Finally, at about 10:30, someone came to get me to take me to the operating room. Let me tell you, he was no driver!!! He bumped me into every possible wall from leaving my room until we got to our destination. He said he was going to knock the mean out of me!! (I’m afraid it didn’t work!)

Truly, while I was getting upset, I don’t think most knew it (Robert did). One of the technicians in the operating room – a really sweet English girl with a great accent – mentioned that she heard someone who was jolly was on their way in. Jolly … haven’t heard that word in a long while but appreciated having it used to describe me because I do try to be positive and yes, even jolly, most of the time!

Anyway, while things didn’t go along on the timetable I wanted, the port was inserted (I keep wanting to say “installed!”) with no problems. The medicine they gave me to relax apparently put me all the way to sleep – I was out of it during the actual procedure despite my intent to stay awake so I could write about it!

I got Robert to take some pictures of what it looked like after the surgery. You can see how bruised things already were around the incisions, etc. …

Today, I am sore from the incisions made to insert it. On the other hand, I am enjoying a day at home relaxing – no bath and no driving for 24-48 hours so no work for me!

I tried driving last night when Robert and I went to Subway to grab some dinner. Yeah … I found out why I wasn’t supposed to be driving. The port is installed on my right side. Turning my head to look left or behind me … ouch!!! Nearly impossible at this point!

I’ll post picture of what it all looks like when I can take the bandages off tomorrow. I can’t wait for that!!! The tape is driving me crazy … maybe more than the incisions!!! 🙂

Months Later…

Surprises

If you had told me in October 2012 that I would still be here and feeling pretty darn good in August 2013, I would have thought you were very optimistic. Facts back up my pessimism. Less than 50% of all Stage 4 lung cancer patients live for one year after diagnosis. I realize I haven’t actually made it a year yet … I have to make it to the end of October for that … but God willing, that is going to happen.

Entertaining myself during Chemo

This picture was taken at UT Southwestern where I was receiving a test drug as part of the research study I am in. It marks the last time I will have an infusion through a vein in my arm (or hand, as the case may be). Tomorrow, I go in for a port. No food or water after midnight. Arrive at St Paul Hospital by 7. St. Paul is an hour away! We’ll be getting up and getting with it early!!

As you can tell by the picture, I don’t look particularly sick except for the tubes coming out of my arm. It is because I am NOT very sick. My blood tests continue to be nearly perfect. My organs are holding up beautifully. I haven’t lost weight (not necessarily a good thing in my mind but most people find that a positive). Despite receiving chemo for six treatments of a 3-chemical cocktail and six more of one chemical, I didn’t lose my hair. It did get really ugly though so I had just had it all cut off not too long before the picture above was taken.

What’s It Been Like?

Once you receive a cancer diagnosis, I don’t think it can ever be forgotten or even pushed very far back from the forefront of thoughts. The fact that I have stage 4 lung cancer – the deadliest of all cancers – with only 15% of all those diagnosed, including those diagnosed at an early stage – living for five years – controls nearly everything I do. For instance, vegetables are not my favorite dish but I try hard to eat dark green vegetables every chance I get (realizing, of course, that we eat out most every meal). When we eat at a buffet, I will frequently choose to eat fish. I drink vegetable and/or tomato juice by the gallons. I try to stay away from carbonated drinks and, despite craving on occasion a mixed drink, I have refrained from imbibing. All in the interest of a healthier lifestyle.

Likewise, you will find me walking my dogs every morning. They are such a blessing. If I didn’t have them, I know I would not make myself get up and out. Not only do we walk, we also go to agility practice most Saturday mornings – even now in the hot August Texas summer heat. Last week, between the two dogs, I ran 6 or 8 complete courses. I have to sit down between runs and catch my breath, but I can still run! Thank you, Jesus!!! I am blessed.

For the first few months, I refused to buy anything for myself. I didn’t want to spend any money on someone who was short for this earth. I finally broke down and purchased several pairs of slacks and lots of little summer tops (admittedly, the tops have all come from Walmart or Sam’s, but still!). I’ve signed up for magazines that have subscriptions that run for a year. I’ve signed up for dog trials and photography classes.

On the other hand, I have thoroughly enjoyed listening for hours to the Gaither Vocal Band. Some of their videos make you happy; make you want to clap and sing along with them. I looked into going to a concert of theirs. There is a 3-day event in Tennessee over Memorial Day 2014 that sounds like a ton of fun. Tickets would amount to several hundred dollars. I have chosen not to invest despite the fact that really good seats are still available.

I’d really love to have a new car, too. But, I don’t want to purchase something long term that Robert might be stuck paying for without me here to help.

So, short term, there are not huge changes in my life. I can’t go to as many agility practices or trials because of stamina, desire not to spend excessive amounts of money, and a growing lack of interest. But, I have developed new interests that take a little less stamina (maybe), such as photography. Why can’t I ever find a cheap hobby??!!

I have more to say, but it is getting late and I have to get moving early in the morning. I’ll try to revisit here a whole lot sooner than I have been so far!

 

Cousins’ Weekend

Cousins’ Weekend

When my cousin Jeanette learned I had lung cancer, she called right away and asked when she could come to visit. She and her husband Richard live in San Marcos. I had seen Jeanette about three years ago when she came to Dallas to attend our cousin Judy’s wedding to John Clark. On the other hand, I hadn’t seen Richard in 25 years or more.

I looked at my calendar and we decided the weekend of January 12-13 would be the best because it was the weekend before another chemo treatment. Once we settled on a time, I contacted Judy and her sister Kathy to see if they wanted to have a cousins’ reunion. We all enjoyed one another when we were younger, but time and distance issues have prevented us from getting together much as adults.

Kathy wasn’t able to join us, but Judy and John came over on Saturday and we all had the best time! We laughed and laughed the whole day and most of the night. It was wonderful therapy – great for the soul!!! John, Richard, and Robert were very compatible and the three cousins couldn’t have been happier to be together. We vowed we won’t wait so long to get together again. I pray we hold to our promise to one another!

Walking the Trail

Jeanette had two goals when they came to Dallas. She wanted Richard to get to experience the Goldmine Restaurant in Garland and she wanted to take a walk on the nature trail behind our home.

Since the Goldmine is our home away from home, the first goal was accomplished early on Saturday morning and again on Sunday morning! Mom was able to join us for our Sunday breakfast. She and Jeanette had a wonderful time talking about Baylor girl’s basketball, among other things. I am so fortunate and thankful that Mom, at 82, is healthy and her mind is still sharp.

While it was rainy and cold on Saturday, Sunday was bright and sunny. So, when we returned home from a very long breakfast at Goldmine, Jeanette and I changed into our tennis shoes and headed out on a walk. Cotton and Barney were so excited to be out on the trail – they haven’t gotten nearly as many walks as they are accustomed to getting since I have been sick.

The path behind the house is not particularly long. I think it is a total of 1.5 miles from end to end. If you walked the entire thing both directions, you’d walk 3 miles. Under normal circumstances, walking it both directions is something that I can do with no problem. Since I have been sick and not as active as normal, I am able to walk only about half of it before I wear out.

We and the dogs had a great time! It was an absolutely beautiful day – just a little chilly when the wind could come through the trees. The trail was mostly dry so we didn’t even end up with muddy feet or dogs!

When we passed one of my most favorite trees on the path, Jeanette suggested that we take some pictures with the dogs. I think they turned out really well:

What a wonderful time we had! The weekend was over before we realized it. Rich and Jeanette headed back toward San Marcos and I came in and crashed for a few hours on the couch. I hope we have the opportunity to get together many more times over the years and that all of us are healthy enough to truly enjoy the time like we did this time!

Agility Fun!

Friends and Fun

I signed up for seven runs at the Run as One NADAC agility trial on Sunday, January 6, 2013. My dogs and I both love agility. So much! But, I was a little concerned about whether or not I was going to have it in me to make the drive to Terrell, TX (about an hour away), set up crates for Cotton and Barney, and then manage to run them throughout the day.

When I signed up for the trial, I carefully considered which runs to include on my entry. If Barney had a title on the line, he got the run. If it was something Cotton loves to do (like tunnelers), she got a run. I made sure that both dogs never ran in the same class at the same level. It was really hard to narrow my entry down to only seven runs. Only seven runs. Considering that I often ran 12 or more at a NADAC trial, “only seven” is accurate. But, for someone undergoing chemo and suffering from lung cancer and emphysema, “only seven” sounds like a lot!

My husband Robert and I hoped to make it out to Terrell to set up the crates, etc. on Saturday afternoon. But, I was extraordinarily tired and needed to rest first. By the time I was rested, it was too late to go out there. I was afraid we would drive for an hour and find no one at the arena. We would have wasted a trip.

Robert is not the agility aficionado that I am, but he planned to go with me to the trial on Sunday to ensure that I had someone there with me in the event that I had bitten off far more than I could chew! Imagine his delight when my friend Dori texted me and offered to go along with me to the trial! It let him off the hook and I was glad to have someone going with me that loves agility as much as I do! I can’t tell you how much I appreciated her offer. She had to get up at about 4 AM to be at my house in time for us to drive to Terrell and arrive by 7. That’s a good friend!

Agility Trial

Run As One trials are delightful. They are relatively small and very friendly. I know nearly everyone who comes out to compete and consider many of the competitors good friends. I think almost everyone knew of my condition and were extraordinarily supportive.

Since Dori was sweet enough to give up her Sunday to go with me to the trial, I decided that she should be the person that primarily ran my little Barney. He is a fun dog to run in agility – he loves it and, while he is not the fastest dog out there, he is a very accurate competitor. Cotton has a blast on the agility field, but she is as likely to make up her own course as not. The likelihood of earning a qualifying score is pretty slim when running Cotton! I love to run her but would certainly hesitate to ask anyone else to have the same pleasure!

Dori ran Barney for four of his five runs. I wasn’t sure if he would run with her or not, but run he did! They earned three qualifying scores. One of those “Q’s” earned his Open Regular title – he has now earned the right to run in Elite Standard. When I started NADAC agility, I never really imagined that any dog of mine would make it to elite!

I ran Barney for his second Open Regular event. I was gratified to also earn a qualifying score because I was afraid that my chemo-wracked body would not be able to run fast enough to make time. I was surprised and pleased to learn that we actually came in 10 seconds or more under time. (Since I have never been fast, I was afraid that if chemo slowed me at all, we would be too slow to earn a Q.)

I ran Cotton in Tunnelers and Chances. Her Tunnelers run was actually quite nice after she settled down a bit. Her Chances run was not so nice, but she had a really good time!

We had so much fun! I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue training and trialing after I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I am absolutely gratified that we were able to go and even to compete some.

We do miss a lot of classes because I come home from work too worn out to make it to class at night. And, because of the chemo schedule and being too sick to get off of the couch, much less go run in a trial, there is a relatively small window available to me to trial. But, it can happen and we can be competitive. The Run as One trial proved that to me.

It also proved to me that I have some very delightful friends! It goes without saying that Dori earned a special place in my heart for her willingness to come with us and help me all day long. My lifelong friend Patti drove all the way from Irving to Terrell to spend several hours with me out in the cold arena! She doesn’t even run a dog! Bridget came to the NADAC trial only after seeing how supportive they were of me. Other friends were at the trial primarily because I had signed up for that day. How special is that??? SO special!!!!!

Last Day of Christmas Break

Boo! Today is the last weekday of Christmas break. Back to the old grind comes on Monday. I’m not ready. Or am I?

These two weeks have flown by and I’ve accomplished nearly nothing. I’ve let myself be lazy – sleeping in until 8 or later; taking nice long naps. I tell myself I have no energy but is that a self-fulfilling prophecy or do I truly lack energy because of the chemo? I’m not sure!

Time to Play

Tomorrow I will test my energy levels a bit if the weather holds out. Cotton, Barney and I will go to agility class at the DAWG field. Getting out and playing agility with my dogs and my friends will probably be invigorating and I may find that I actually have a whole lot more energy than I have given myself credit for having this last week. I hope so anyway!

On Sunday, Barney, Cotton and I are truly going to test the limits of my stamina. We will be going to the Run as One agility trial in Terrell. I am so excited to be at a trial again that I dreamed about it last night! I woke up raring to go. Barney is going to have 5 runs and Cotton has 2 – I hope I can actually make all of those runs! We likely won’t make time, but I’m going to have fun anyway. I hope!

Snot and more Snot

I mentioned to Dr. Wilfong that I had had some issues with my sinuses after the last chemo treatment. I assumed it was because of the time of the year. But, instead, I learned that one of the drugs I am getting has the side effect of messing with your sinuses.

Well, let me tell you. My sinuses have been terrible – and I do mean terrible – since I had Chemo #2. I can’t blow my poor nose often enough. My ears are clogged. My brain is clogged. With snot. Lots and lots of snot. Can I just say? I HATE SNOT.

I do think it is finally getting a little better. I can go a few hours without having to blow out my innards. I can sleep at night in the bed instead of sitting up. So, after more than a week, there is an improvement. Yes!