Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Of Clouds with Silver Linings

Some of you know or have surmised that I have been having some health issues. Actually the past 3 years have been rife with challenges, this is just the latest. :}

Last year turned into a bit of a nightmare with one thing after another. Nothing horrible, just ongoing.

Eventually there were just two things concerning me - on-going fatigue (which was supposed to have been cured with the angioplasty, but wasn't) and unstable blood pressure.

In the fall my doctor threw up his hands in frustration and strongly advised me to simply increase my bp meds.

I pointed out that, in the previous 2.5 years, every time my bp had gone wonky there had been an underlying problem. Could we find out what it was this time?

As a last ditch effort he wrote a requisition for a CT scan of my kidneys.

Turns out the kidneys were fine - the lymph nodes - not so much.

The next few months various and sundry tests were run and as usual all came back negative or 'within normal tolerances'. (Don't you just love that phrase?)

In February my doctor referred me to the cancer clinic. This time the answer was not negative.

The day before I left for Madrona I was told that the most likely culprit was NHL. No, my dear fellow Canucks, that does not refer to the National Hockey League but to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Returning from Madrona I had another CT scan, with a follow up PET scan scheduled for March 17.

While ignorance may be bliss, knowledge is empowering. Although I don't have all the answers yet, there is enough to share.

First of all, the oncologist believes that what I have is a non-aggressive form of lymphoma, which means slow disease progression. So far the only symptom I have is fatigue. The second bit of good news is the very early diagnosis, thanks to my family doctor believing me when I said something was wrong and going the extra mile to run tests that eventually led to the diagnosis.

I am also blessed in having an oncologist who is not letting any grass grow under his feet in getting answers. There are 30 different cancers under the NHL umbrella. Once the biopsy is done identifying which one I have they will be able to formulate a plan for treatment. Since the diagnosis is so early, one option may be to simply monitor the situation. Other options are chemotherapy or radiation, or a combination of the two.

Ultimately, because of the early diagnosis there is no rush to treat, and any treatment can be fitted in and around my life so I do not expect this situation to have a great impact on my life as a whole (although chemo may not be much fun, strides have been made in terms of the cocktails they concoct and treating the adverse affects).

I have run the usual gamut of emotions - shock, disbelief, outright denial (no, this isn't, can't, be happening to me), rage and acceptance.

While I don't know what the future holds - none of us do, really - I do know that - with the help and support of my friends - I will get through this, too.

I have adopted Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" as my anthem. If you haven't ever listened to the lyrics, especially the chorus, today might be a good day to do so.

With apologies to Bon Jovi - this is my life. I'm going to live it while I'm alive.

Thank you for letting me vent. There will be challenging days ahead. As mentioned the PET scan is booked for March 17 - the day before Fibres West. I could have had it done sooner, but combining the scan with Fibres West saved a trip to Vancouver (9+ hours each way). March 23rd I'll have a bone marrow biopsy done. If that is inconclusive they will do an excision of one of the affected nodes.

One day at a time, one test at a time, the answers will come. Thank you for your expressions of concern. They have meant a great deal to me.

Bottom line is this - I am looking forward to many more years of playing with string. I will be faxing the contract to John C. Campbell for next March in a few moments. I will look forward to travelling and visiting with some of you, sharing our love for fibres and textiles. Living with lymphoma will be a lot like living with any other chronic condition - eating and resting properly, exercising, avoiding bad stress and looking forward to what each day will bring.


Woven Spun said...

My heart is bursting with emotions right now. At first, it hurt, but then felt lighter after feeling the positive attitude you have. While we've never met (although I wish we would have at Madrona) I feel as though I know so much about you through your blog and Facebook. Please keep your "fans" updated through your journey and let us know how we can help and/or pray for you.

Tuesday Weavers said...

Thanks for venting. Knowing something was wrong but not having an idea of what, it's almost harder to read your blogs. All of us are here for you. I met you years ago at a Midwest Weavers Conference, maybe Pittsburgh?? However, I'm part of a group of weavers that is following your blog, learning from you, hurting with you, and just wishing you the best as you tackle this challenge.

terri said...

I'm glad you have a group of supportive friends to go through this with you. You are a strong and amazing woman!

Laura said...

It's unbelievably helpful to have an "anthem" when you are facing something big/scary/overwhelming. I applaud your choice - it says it all!

My thought and hopes will be with you.

Tien Chiu said...

Sorry to hear of the diagnosis, glad to hear that you caught it early. Hugs and best wishes to you!

Peg Cherre said...

My thoughts are with you as you face the health challenges ahead. Keep your positive attitude - it will serve you well on both good days and bad.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear this news, but so good to be found early! as you say clouds with silver linings. And I too am glad you have shared and spread this heavy news so your friends can help sending good thoughts and energy your way.

Anonymous said...

Oh Laura - this is so difficult after such a challenging few years. I don't know what to say. I love you - you are such a roll model to us all - and continue to be with your upbeat outlook on life. Please know that I am here for you anytime - and we have no snow...(honestly I saw some on the hills miles away and was so excited, as it is rare). I am off to Japan to visit with Liz and back by April 1. So seriously I am here. I send you love and prayers and all good goddess spirit energy. Cate

Anonymous said...

Laura, I am a new weaver, having just bought my first loom, and new to your blog. I have been reading your blogs and have learned so much (shuttles-what kind to buy, etc.). You have much to teach and are blessed to have a craft that you love; a great family; friends and doctors at the top of their field. I, too, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at age of 70. It was Stage 1 for which I am very thankful. I had regular mammorgrams at the insistance of my doctor and it paid off. Stay positive knowing you are surrounded by people and friends who care and that you can give back.

marie said...

Hi Laura. Well that's no fun to hear. But as someone who has been dancing with cancer for over a decade I offer my love and support. You are right that the treatments have gotten easier to deal with and it sounds like you have smart docs and manageable cancer. There are quite a few of us now living with it. Anthems are good. I've gone from Gloria Gaynor "I will survive" to Beatles "Oobladi ooblada life goes on"! You know how to reach me, if you ever feel the need. Take care.

Sandra Rude said...

I'm so glad you stuck with it and made the doctor keep doing tests. Knowing is *so* much better than not. Just knowing makes it possible to say to yourself "It's okay. I can deal with this, because there's a path forward." Hang in there, we're all rooting for you!

TeresaAngelina said...

"Of Clouds with Silver Linings" - yes. Well done.

Restless Knitter said...

So glad you have a listening doctor and caught it early. I wish you the best.

Syne Mitchell said...

Hey Miss Laura,

I'm glad it was caught early and that you have great doctor support. You've overcome so many physical challenges with determination and optimism, that I think this cancer isn't going to know what hit it.



DebbieB said...

Laura, I am with you - knowledge is power. Now you can have a plan of action, and be proactive with your health. Good for you, being aggressive and persistent with your healthcare! I hope you can feel my support and my prayers from way down here in New Orleans, Louisiana. I look forward to many more years of learning at your feet.


Anonymous said...

Laura, I am sorry you have this diagnosis and I am so thankful you persisted in finding out the reason for your problems! I love your positive attitude, it will serve you well. Please know my thoughts and prayers will be with you. Vent away as you need to, we are here for you whenever you need us!!!

Anonymous said...

I would offer sympathy but actually I want to say "congratulations!" - well done on getting it pegged early. That will make such a difference. You and your doctor obviously work well together, too. And the whole weaving world is cheering you on!

Laura said...

Thank you, thank you! Your support and encouragement makes the coming weeks much easier to contemplate! And the devil you know is so much easier to deal with than the one who lurks in the dark. :D


Rhonda from Baddeck said...

Hi Laura,
I'm very relieved that you finally have a diagnosis, and I appreciate you sharing it with us (it didn't sound like 'venting' to me!). The early detection, your excellent medical team, your many friends and fans, and most of all, your positive attitude will all help you get through this challenge. Collect all the hugs you can at Fibres West - they'll fill your "energy reservoir" so you can dip into it as needed. Sending BIG HUGS from Michigan.

Judith said...

When I was going through treatment for breast cancer it meant so much to me to hear the success stories of others. There
were more than I could ever have imagined. They lifted me up and I know there will be many to lift your spirits
as well. Sending you light and love

Susan said...

When that 'C' word comes up, you really don't hear much after that. The head and heart reels... both my husband and my father have or are dealing with the 'C' word.

It sounds to me like you have a plan worked out; logical steps. Like others here, I'll restate that finding it so early is such a blessing!

I had a friend who received a cancer diagnosis and still went ahead with a Woolhouse Gertude order from John. She wove and spun for 14 years and said that weaving centered her. Gloria was an amazing woman. (Ask Sheila about her... I'm sure they met)

You have many people with you 'in spirit' as you walk this road.


Anonymous said...

Best wishes for your healing journey. My prayers and good thoughts are with you.
Stephanie Stanley

A. Warped, knitter said...

Thank you for sharing with us. Your positive attitude is inspiring to me. Let us know what we can do to help.

MarthaVA said...

Stay positive. Good thoughts are heading your way from lots of people. Be strong. Be brave. Take care of you.
Good for you for being your own advocate in your own health. Not a lot of doctors listen....I haven't found one yet.
Sending healing positive thoughts your way.
Hang tight!

Dayle Ann Stratton said...

It helps so much to have it out in the open. Thanks for telling us about it, Laura. I also live with a chronic illness, and it was the sharing of others that helped guide me to a diagnosis, treatment, and beyond that, living. I learned that there is much that I can do, and much I have to offer. You already know that. I am looking forward to learning more from you, both about weaving and about living.

Anonymous said...

Just another blog follower. I just dodged a cancer bullet of my own so am especially sensitive to the topic. I am so sorry you did not dodge that bullet but glad you have an early diagnosis and a good attitude. I am hoping for the best for you with the next steps.

Jennifer said...

Vent away! We will be here for you!

Margreet said...

Only just found out about what you are going through at the moment. I really hope all will go well. Being positive is half the battle, yes?
I keep my fingers crossed for you. Best wishes Margreet

trish said...

Thanks so much for sharing this - I had been wondering how your health was and missed you at Fibreswest due to a family health crisis...seems I never get to the shows you do! Anyway I wanted to put my 2 cents in - a former boss of mine was diagnosed with NHL 20 years ago and after a bit of surgery at the time is still running her own health food store and keeping well. So your optomism is justified. Take care.

Laura said...

I should hear from the oncologist next week re: treatment. I've heard of many people who have been through this and come out the other side so I'm hopeful that I will have good results. I've got way too much stash to use up! :^)