Saturday, July 3, 2010

Health update and I love all you people out there

No new art to post this time, this is a short update on my health situation with my cancer.  This post is overdue, and I'm sorry it took me this long to keep you informed.  My first and only post about it was done on February 22nd, a long time ago.  Here's a link to that post in case you didn't read it.   This post is for those of you who visit my blog.  I posted an short update on my yahoo groups a few weeks ago.  I feel I should've kept you more informed, but it's not easy to write about.  And this is an art blog,  which I prefer to keep easy going and focused on art.

I just took a stroll through my blog, and read that post and then all of the 72 comments that were left for me.  I hadn't done that in quite a while, and I'm glad I did it tonight.  I love all of you, I really do.  Your love and concern and encouragement and thoughts and prayers and emails and comments and art works blow me away and have meant the world to me.  You all have been instrumental in, and played a big part in this journey I'm on.  You've convinced me beyond any doubt that I'm not going through this alone.  It does my heart good to know there is so much love and caring out there, from so many wonderful people whom I've never physically met.  So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  All you guys ROCK!!!  Seriously!

I did get approved for Medicaid, and started treatment on April 26th.  Waiting those four months to get approval was a scary time indeed, realizing that the cancer could be spreading to any number of organs in my body.  I just prayed that wouldn't happen, and praise the Lord, it didn't happen.  He had my back on that, which was pretty darn important!  Thank you, Jesus.  I went to radiation Monday thru Friday, everyday, until June 16th, which was my last day of radiation.  Thank God for that.

 The radiation is cumulative, so it gets worse before it gets better.  Four weeks into it, I hit the brick wall, or fell into the abyss.  I was experiencing a number of bad side effects, at the same time, and was in pretty bad shape for the next month.  I was totally bedridden for two weeks, except for going to the hospital for treatment.  I had zero energy and could barely get around.  I ended up in the hospital for four days at that time.  

The bad side effects were no energy, dizziness, a foggy brain, diarrhea, intense abdominal pain, (the pain meds weren't working well yet, they were still tweaking the dosages), a right kidney infection, and bad radiation burns in the crotch area.  That was the worst side effect of all, as you can imagine.  It felt like a bad sunburn and the skin was even peeling.  I also experienced some depression and really had to struggle to stay in the fight and continue fighting.  That month was the worst time of all.  That's why I call it the abyss.  

And to make it so much harder was the fact that my brother, who was three years younger than me, he was 54, died of a massive stroke.  It was such an incredible shock to all of us, because he was of normal weight and active and appeared to be very healthy.  He died 10 days after he had the stroke, and was in a coma most of that time.  So I was trying to deal with the painful loss of my brother on top of all the other stuff.  Can you say ABYSS?  Or BLACK HOLE?  That's where I was at that time.

But I made it through.  The doctor gave me a week off from the radiation due to the bad burns, and that seemed to help a lot.  I started feeling better almost immediately.  Then I had only seven more treatments to go to finish my treatment plan.  The side effects started to clear up and I could see a light at the end of that tunnel, so the depression lifted.  

I was getting chemo once a week in addition to the radiation.  And my hair never did fall out, thank God.  I was supposed to be done with all treatment on June 16th, but my oncologist wanted me to do two more cycles of chemo with a different drug.  Two cycles meant four treatments in five weeks.  Two treatments, then a week off, then two more treatments.  So I had a treatment last Wednesday, and have three more to go.  The only side effect so far with this drug is a decrease in my energy.  Not as bad as it was during the abyss phase, but enough to definitely notice.  I learned that being bedridden is a real bummer and no fun at all.  It's BORING.

I'm up and around all day now, which is the way I like it.  But I start running out of gas in the afternoon, and have to remind myself not to overdo it.  I've been spending a lot of time on my computer.  A friend who helps me with computer problems took it home and cleaned off the hard drive, and now it's running almost like new.  It was so slow before it was driving me crazy, and was barely usable.  It takes time to get the computer back to where I want it, so that's what I've been working on.  I was able to save the important stuff onto my external hard drive.  

I have a strong desire to get back to making art, so strong it's consuming me.  I have the desire and am strong enough now to do it, but I need some inspiration and direction to go in.  Three of my siblings have all requested an art piece from me.  I can't seem to focus enough yet, or rather maybe it's my muse Bonita who isn't focusing.  It's easier to blame my muse, you know?  She's off on some fun exotic vacation and left me here to fight this cancer battle.  Shame on her.  Oh well, I'm certain one of these days, any day now, I will be creating some new art.

My oncologist told me two weeks ago, the last time I saw him, that I've responded very well to treatment and am doing well.  He said two more cycles of the chemo would give me a better chance.  I won't be tested for the results of treatment for three months after I finish.  So I still have some waiting to do.  I'll be believing and praying that the treatment will be a smashing success.  And I'd like to humbly ask all of you to pray and continue praying for me.   Prayer is very powerful!  

Once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your part in this journey of mine.  And thank you Jesus, for giving me your love, strength, comfort, and hope.  I do believe I'm going to win this battle.


Redfish Artwork by Vickie Fisher said...

My prayers are with you my friend and I believe you are winning this battle too!!

Nina and/or Ruthie66 said...

Glad to hear you're out of the abyss and fighting hard! You're in my prayers!

Something that works for me: every time I think a negative thought about my health, I immediately replace it with this one - "I allow wellness." I repeat it many times as often as I remember.

Stay strong!

Julie said...

What a journey you've been on Val and no wonder you slipped into an abyss for a while. Keep fighting hard and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sure Bonita will be winging her way back to you any day now. Small beginnings are fun :o) and you will win your battle, courageous lady that you are.

Val F. said...

I'm doing this as a test because it appears my blog isn't posting the comments. If that's the case, I'm in trouble and don't know how to fix it.

Anonymous said...

My name is Harriet C. and you don't know me. I also have a debilitating disease that sometimes takes all of my energy with some same and some different side effects from the disease and the treatment.
I'm a fighter, too and the minute I can I'm up and running. I appreciate what this has been like for you and admire your spirit and perseverance.
Keep on keeping on!

Val Foster said...

Oh good, it's working now. I had just registered on youtube, which is a google site, and then pulled up my blogger dashboard. What a shock! It looked totally different, and said You are not an author on any blogs yet, create one now to start posting! There was nowhere to sign in and no way to control my blog. It appeared my blog had disappeared.

I started to freak out, but then did a google search for support, and found the help I needed. I knew it had something to do with registering on youtube, and I was right. I have three different email addresses, and used a different one from what I use on my blog, and that's what screwed it up. I'm just thankful I found the help I needed to correct the problem. I can't imagine a person losing their blog permanently, that would be so terrible. After all,I have my heart and soul invested in my 2 1/2 year old blog, so losing it would be like losing a part of me.

But it's fixed now, so all is well.

RekindleMe said...

I'm sending you a HUGE hug and a squeeze, Val! Can you feel it?

Anonymous said...

Val, Thank you for the update. I'm so glad you are through the worst of this- and will continue to pray for your recovery and health. I'm so glad to have you back!

Gail P said...

Thanks for the update, I know how hard it's been for you to email me so this more than suffices! I didn't know about your brother, you've had too many losses so ENOUGH! You sound very fit mentally which has been something that has concerned me. Prayers sent your way.

Tammy Freiborg said...

You are a courageous, strong, beautiful human being with so much to share! I'm praying for you and your health.

Nancy said...

All the best to you, Val. You have truly been in a battle, and seeing the light is a blessing! You are very courageous.

darlene aKa HugGeR said...

Thanks for the update Val I did not know about your brother and I'm so sorry. I have had you and Bonita on my prayer list for a while now...and there's no stopping that!

It's so nice to hear your doing better keep that attitude going, it's worked for you!!

Seth said...

Val...what a struggle you are going through. But you are one tough cookie and a survivor! I can see that in you. I am glad you reached out and shared with us your situation. My thoughts, my prayers, and all my healing vibes go out to you and your family. I will be thinking of you!!

Therese said...

Hey, prayers & healing thoughts are with you, too. I have an Aunt & Uncle (they are brother & sister) with the same lung cancer. Uncle is doing well, Aunt's returned again but she has a decent prognosis. You are not alone in many ways...we are sending you thoughts of healing and others are experiencing the dreaded disease, too.
Anyway, I think if you can get your muse back up and around, doing an art piece for family members is a great start.
I am so sorry to hear of your bother's untimely passing. Geez I'm only 2 years is time to live, Val, even when you're tired. Plus don't forget that AAVD is always here with quick art pieces (Third Thursdays) that you could just warm up with.
Okay, long enough.
You will get through this; He is on your side.
with healing prayers,

Fibreartist said...

Val, I have admired your art work on Cloth paper studios for a while. Thank you for telling your story. My prayers and thoughts are with you. Keep strong and I hope you can make some healing art. Hugs Donna

mammagil said...

Hi Val,
glad to hear the treatments are almost over I'm still praying for you friend hand in there
God Bless you, Melissa

Shirley said...

Val, sending you my thoughts and prayers. We met at a couple of art meetings I attended in Thornton. I admire your strength, and pray for more strength. I have off and on depression, depending on how my meds are working at the time. I know how hard it is to try to do art in those times. Your art is beautiful, and it comes from your heart, keep it going, my friend. God bless you, Shirley