February 26, 2021

I was able to spontaneously get my first round of the Covid-19 vaccine this afternoon. My work was able to arrange it for everyone next week with a local pharmacy, and they had a few spots open still today. I was a little nervous about it, but I had no adverse reactions. Barely even a sore arm.

I wondered early on about getting the vaccine while on chemo. At first thought, it doesn’t seem like a good idea. In fact, I was asked by 3 different staff/pharmacists today if my doctor knew I was getting it. But when I asked my oncologist about it weeks ago, he said I should get it whenever I had the chance. His only caution was not to get it on the day of my chemo treatment. Apparently, the only real drawback is that chemo will reduce the effectiveness of it. But I’m glad to be on the path to Covid protection!

I’m thankful for this vaccine today and also that it gave me the chance to chat with a friend from work. Oh—I’m also thankful to be able to sleep in tomorrow!

February 22, 2021

So, the last couple of days have been arguably the hardest since I started chemo. Yesterday I actually had the bone pain I’d previously avoided, as well as extreme fatigue and nausea. By bedtime, I had a migraine that not only lasted through the night, but woke me several times. This morning I got sick for the first time.

I’m not gonna lie, I was feeling pretty fed up today. Then I saw a segment on the Today Show about a woman who had not one, but two face transplants. Two. Face. Transplants. Over 70 surgeries. Because her horrible ex attacked her years ago. And you know what? She was upbeat and happy.

I love hearing about the resilience of others. Her situation is beyond comprehension, but her spirit was inspiring. We really can endure more than we think if we have the right mindset. I immediately changed my thinking.

I’m grateful that I’ve only had a couple of really lousy days and that I’m already feeling better.

February 18, 2021

I have four sisters and while we have lived in different states, I feel like we have done a fairly decent job of staying in touch with each other. Over the years, we’ve been able to get together for various holidays. But it’s been hard to keep up with each other’s daily lives as our families have expanded.

Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve been talking to my sisters a bit more, especially Laura, who also had breast cancer years ago. It’s been good to connect on a more regular basis, and I’m thankful for that.

February 16, 2021

Woohoo! Today I’m very thankful to have the last of the big chemo days done.

In a couple of weeks I’ll start the weekly treatments, which will hopefully be easier. At the very least, it doesn’t typically have mouth sores as a side effect, so that’s something to be glad about.

I’m almost halfway through the whole treatment plan (what?!), and I’m grateful that I’ve gotten this far without too much trouble. It’s been amazing that I haven’t been nauseous at all. It seems taking part in the clinical trial for anti-nausea medicine was a good choice.

Oh, I’m also grateful that Patrick has figured out how to get my shoes into my pictures because they’re always the star.

February 12, 2021

Usually I’m a big advocate for uniqueness. I like people and things that are different. Quirky. Strange. I agree with Maya Angelou.

But today, I’m thankful because I felt normal again. No headaches. No yuck stomach. No watery eyes and nose bleeds. I was even hungry at lunch for the first time in weeks. And I had enough energy after work to make cookies!

Also, because feeling normal means I’m all for dressing up, I put on a wig and lipstick.

I’m not sure what the change was, but it was welcome. I’m thankful for this day of normalcy. Normal feels good.

February 11, 2021

I mentioned previously that I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month before I was. While she was able to have a lumpectomy already, we are on the same chemo treatment plan, and she is one cycle ahead of me. Oddly enough, we work together too.

We don’t always talk about it, but occasionally we check in. Today after work, I called her since it had been a while that we talked cancer and not just work stuff. It was good to compare where we were at and find some common complaints. Ugh, the dry skin. The emotional rollercoaster. The everlasting quarantine. Soon we were laughing about needing to draw on eyebrows. I told her I warned Patrick that he would know my mood by how they were drawn.

When I was diagnosed, I told her we were bosom buddies, and she found this shirt for us.

While we certainly wish for each other not to have cancer, we have admitted that we find it comforting to have someone to commiserate with who gets it firsthand. In real-time. Today, checking in and being able to laugh about some of our difficulties helped lighten the load a bit. I’m thankful for our friendship.

February 7, 2021

Several weeks ago my mom told me that she, a couple of my sisters and brother-in-law were planning a surprise for me. Today she texted that it was scheduled to be delivered. When she gave me a 12-4 pm timeframe, I got very curious on what it could be. I even told Patrick that it sounded like a timeframe for furniture delivery. I was stumped.

About 12:30, my sister FaceTimed me and I could tell they were in her car. When I recognized the houses in the background, I was legitimately confused. They were outside our house! They had driven 3 hours to come see us. On our coldest day yet. This is my family.

I’m not gonna lie, I burst into happy tears. I just couldn’t believe they were here and in that moment, I realized how much I miss seeing them.

Because of Covid and my immunocompromised status, we sat outside, bundled up so much we were barely recognizable. They had planned ahead and brought chairs and blankets and hand warmers. We plugged in a heater and chatted for as long as we could handle the cold, which was about an hour. One sweet hour with my sweet family.

True to form, they also brought a Valentine’s basket with homemade cookies, puzzles made from family photos, a blanket with everyone’s pictures on, and other goodies. We’ll have some ongoing reminders of their visit.

What a great surprise. Lucky me they aren’t big Super Bowl fans. I’m so grateful for their visit and for their love.

February 4, 2021

The fatigue caught up with me today. I made it through work and ended up taking a late afternoon nap. I really dislike days when I’m feeling unproductive, but I realize it’s going to happen. It seems like the 2nd and 3rd days after chemo are my hardest ones.

I’ve never been one to nap, but I’m going to try to embrace it when I need them. It helps that our pups like to cuddle in with me. I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful that the fatigue isn’t constant yet. After a couple of days, I know it will get better.

February 3, 2021

Today I’m thankful for my in-laws. Every chemo day, Patrick’s parents have sent us something wonderful. The first treatment was a beautiful bouquet that I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of. I really thought I took one, but no. I do remember it well; it had seeded eucalyptus and soft lavender roses. It was so lovely. The last couple of treatments were edible arrangements. The first included brownies and the second included chocolate covered fruit. Yum!

The truth is, my in-laws are always very generous and giving. They’re eager to help or support anyway they can. But even more than that, they’ve been great at making me feel part of the family from the beginning.

I have to admit, when Patrick and I started dating, I had my fears. I’m older than he is by not a little bit. My kids were teenagers already. In fact, one of the first things I asked him when we got more serious was if he was sure he shouldn’t be dating someone younger. Someone who could give him beautiful babies. But he’s stubborn.

Then I got pregnant and had a miscarriage, and my fears grew. I hated that I was taking his option for his own family away from him. But he said it wasn’t a deal breaker. He’s dedicated.

And here I am, dragging him through cancer with me. One more hardship and difficult year of worry. But he’s been protective and supportive and says it’s just one more thing we will get through. He’s strong.

Through it all, my in-laws never expressed any doubt, at least to me, that I wasn’t anything but deserving of their son. They’ve happily included me in their lives from the beginning. I worried that they’d see me as someone too old and with too much history to be right for Patrick. But my worry was all mine. I guess I should have known for they taught him by example to be stubborn, dedicated, and strong. I’m thankful for them. And grateful to be part of the family.

January 25, 2021

I’m not going to lie, today was a crappy day. It started with an unexpected email and went downhill from there. Bad news upon bad news—not all mine, but news from friends that was really awful. And the actual news? I don’t even want to go there. Why do some days just pile it on??

It’s days like this that make me want to give in to my pessimistic side. But then I remember that finding gratitude doesn’t mean faking happiness. It means finding something in the darkness to keep holding onto so hope doesn’t completely disappear.

Today, I had a conversation with my genetic counselor and thankfully, all the important genetic markers came back negative for cancer. While I don’t seem to have a genetic risk for breast or other cancers, I do have an increase risk that cancer could reoccur in my other breast simply because of my family history. Our conversation confirmed my choice to have a bi-lateral mastectomy instead of removing only one side. It was good to have that affirmed.

I was also thankful today for a small gesture from Patrick. Before I started chemo, he cleared out a shelf in one of our kitchen cabinets and stocked it with items we thought I might like if I was feeling lousy—some Mac’ n cheese cups, hot chocolate, jello, canned green beans (weird, but I like them) and a few other things. And since my taste has changed, he’s been very conscious about trying to find foods that will work for me. When he did a quick shopping trip today, he sent me pictures of things I may like so I could let him know what to buy. He even brought home a container of animal crackers, which I love!

While it’s been difficult today, I know it’s just a bad day out of many days. I’m grateful for a bit of good news and a thoughtful husband. And I hope I was a good friend to those who needed one today.