my new normal

life is starting to get back to my new normal. Still have same ole same ole aches but they are letting up a bit and for that I am very thankful. My hair is coming in slowly but now there are some dark sprouts joining the white ones. Only time will tell which will be more dominant and if curls will overtake the straight locks. [they are straight now because they are not even an 1/8" long ;-)]

I just want to be able to move forward with life but these doctors keep reeling me back in because they are worried about this and that. I know that is a good thing but I guess I thought I was just done. I am coming to the realization for the next 5 years at least I am not done and I need to do as they say and go for the blood work, have the CT scans, see the specialists and whatever else they want to make sure the cancer doesn't rear it's ugly head somewhere else. I think once I am feeling 100% it will be easier, but right now, not so much. It can be a bit stressful.

On the bright side though, before my diagnosis we had planned a trip to Italy [Firenze 6 days, Cinque Terre 4 days] to celebrate our friends anniversary and Dana's 30!!! birthday!!!. Physically, it isn't exactly how I would have wanted to go on a big trip but I am adaptable and it is what it is, and I am going. Don't worry I have no problem sitting down and resting when I need to. If you have been around me you know I am not that proud. Well we leave before the crack of dawn so I must be off but wanted to say thanks again for your continued support, it means the world to me! Ciao and Grazie!

 This week trying to build some strength for my trip. Gary sticking close by thinking that I like obstacles and challenges.

This week trying to build some strength for my trip. Gary sticking close by thinking that I like obstacles and challenges.

40 days out

So its been 40 days since my last chemo treatment and for the most part all is well. I won't go into what isn't because I am the first one to say how sick of I am of hearing about it [and feeling it], so I imagine you are too. Instead lets talk about my hair, or lack of it. People say to me well now we will find out what color your hair really is? I think to myself, well I could just tell you, but hey, ok.

As I showed you a couple of weeks ago I was was photographed as a 40 something yr old blonde [or pictured with some anyhow], but it turns out instead of being a blonde, I am all platinum. My nice friends say well you don't know, they still might . . . [it is nice to have optimistic friends, however misguided] 

I took this picture today to show you how far my hair has come. The oncologist says it take 3-6 months for your hair to come back in. This is a little over a month. Looks like it will be perfect timing for the cooler weather!

 I know, I know I look like an old man in this photo. I cropped in close so I wouldn't have to photoshop my face since it is so close, but I wanted you to see my new sprouts. Not a lot of hair and not brunette or blonde but hey it's something.  I had an art opening Friday night at  Harumi Yoga+ Holistic Healing House . This was something planned a year and a half ago. I said yes then because I had a lot of paintings already finished that I thought would work for the space. I had help to hang the show so I went forward with it and all went well. For being so far out I had a lot of people coming through which was really nice. I even sold a little piece to a fellow artist and FB friend [we had never met in person] who also happens to be going through chemo right now. So new friends, olds friend, short friends, tall friends [heels, really ;-)] Good time had by all. The teachers at the studio seemed very happy to have the paintings to enjoy for the next 2 months.   Myself and my legs couldn't have been happier that it was only 2 hours! We went home and collapsed. Dave has been so very helpful through all of this!  wishing all my jewish aummie's a happy and HEALTHY new year! May it be sweet and may it be peaceful. L'shana tova! 😘  hope you had a good weekend!

I know, I know I look like an old man in this photo. I cropped in close so I wouldn't have to photoshop my face since it is so close, but I wanted you to see my new sprouts. Not a lot of hair and not brunette or blonde but hey it's something.

I had an art opening Friday night at Harumi Yoga+ Holistic Healing House. This was something planned a year and a half ago. I said yes then because I had a lot of paintings already finished that I thought would work for the space. I had help to hang the show so I went forward with it and all went well. For being so far out I had a lot of people coming through which was really nice. I even sold a little piece to a fellow artist and FB friend [we had never met in person] who also happens to be going through chemo right now. So new friends, olds friend, short friends, tall friends [heels, really ;-)] Good time had by all. The teachers at the studio seemed very happy to have the paintings to enjoy for the next 2 months. 

Myself and my legs couldn't have been happier that it was only 2 hours! We went home and collapsed. Dave has been so very helpful through all of this!

wishing all my jewish aummie's a happy and HEALTHY new year! May it be sweet and may it be peaceful. L'shana tova! 😘

hope you had a good weekend!

opening my heART

You may have heard me say I am probably not going to do another solo art show again. Well a year and a half ago I said that I would, and that time is now. Of course the timing is lousy but it has pushed me to get off my sofa and figure out what I was going to put in the show. This is not all new work [and that is why I said yes to it] but I do have a couple new pieces. It has been nice to be painting even if it was only for short intervals because of fatigue or dizziness. The image in the promo is rather large, don't ask. Friends said wouldn't it be easier to paint something small, even lap size? no doubt . . . not sure why I didn't think of that.

I rarely paint with teal, I usually move towards a more turquoisy or yellowy color but that green kept moving into my palate so I decided to go with it. I figured that I must need to just get ovarian cancer out of my mind and my system so maybe this life size challenge will help me do it. 

So anyhow, I have been laboring away this labor day weekend and in the evening going to dinner parties which has been lovely. I am still pretty damn tired all the time but trying as hard as I might to get back to my normal life. I basically just need to take a lot of breaks to sit down [dizzy] and rest [legs still hurt] and catch my breath [my lung capacity sucks!] 

So glad it's September and I am feeling better than I was [and glad to have August behind me]. Starting to feel a little cool air in the mornings and evenings and that is enough to make any Arizonian happy!

Hope you all are having a good weekend and enjoying this day off! Come up and see me next friday if you are around!

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3 weeks out

I can tell from the amount of texts and calls that I have been getting that my curious peeps out there are wondering how I am doing. I guess I haven't written because I was hoping to say everything was back to normal when I wrote back to you and I have just learned that might be a little while yet.

Tuesday I had a follow up visit with my oncologist. As I sat in the waiting room happy about being done, seeing some of my infusion neighbors made that hard knowing that for some, this chemo crap continues on.  I had my blood work done and then some more waiting around for my turn with the doctor.  We discussed how I am feeling [not great, still fatigue easily, still pain but now mostly in my legs] Luckily the nausea seems to have passed for the most part and just have some lightheadedness left. She thought I was doing very well, and explained that the timeline in my bald little head might be a little off. Turns out it may take months [possibly up to six of them to feel as I did before all this started]

I have been going for blood work every week since my surgery and so we discussed those results and fluctuations. She was concerned that my tumor markers were still too high for having gone through surgery and chemo and she wants to see me back in a month instead of three. She ordered a CT scan which I had done on thursday but still don't have the results. This blood test is the one screening we have for ovarian cancer and the one that I told you was so unreliable, so we were trying not to worry. In the meantime, after much reading and listening to podcasts about cancer and diet, I had cut meat out of my diet. I am not cooking it at home and so we are eating mostly plant proteins and just trying to be healthier in general. [have not cut out fish or eggs but are going easy] The good news in all of this is that the results from this weeks CA-125 [tumor markers] test came back and my levels finally dropped! So we are all very happy. Was it the vegetarian diet? Of course I can't be certain, but there is a lot of evidence to say that animal proteins feed cancer cells so I myself and not going to question or take any chances at this point in my life. Plus I am finding that coming up with complete vegetarian meals is interesting and tasty. I have also learned that plants do have protein and there is too much hype about how much protein one needs in a day. Dave even says he feels better, lighter and has more energy. I can't really judge that for myself right now but I am eating well and looking forward to having more energy, sooooonnn!

I was given the go ahead to do whatever I feel I can, soooo this weekend I helped throw/went to my first party. It was to celebrate a good friends birthday, it was suppose to be a happy hour but went on for many hours, I didn't crawl into bed until 12:30, which I would have considered very late even in my healthiest of days. Saturday I did not move from the couch and I am back there now writing to you. [but it was worth it!]

so although the week started out with some unknown stressors, it has ended with some relief with the tumor markers going down and my red and white blood cells in normal range finally. So it is good news all around, I just have to CONTINUE to be patient! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.

 here I am friday night as a 40 something year old blonde!

here I am friday night as a 40 something year old blonde!

meet me

I know this is a shameless plug of myself but incase you aren't on social media or haven't wandered around before, this blog is actually on my painting website [because I wasn't sure how else to do it] so if you ever feel like it you can look around and see what it is I do by using the pull down menu at the top of my website. Or read the article. Or neither :-)

I still don't feel great but at least I don't have more chemo on tuesday, so that is a bright spot. So maybe neeexxxxxt week I will feel better?????

http://voyagephoenix.com/interview/meet-sara-reinstein-becker/

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melon head

I hope everyone had a good weekend. I just wanted to let you all know I am starting to feel a little better which makes me happy. Like I told you last week this nausea was bumming me out, but I feel like I am turning the corner with it. The other stuff like pain is easier to deal with. But the real reason I am here is to tell you how awesome people are, well you probably know that because you are my people, but just today I got beautiful sunflowers from a neighbor and then this gorgeous watermelon from my friends garden. I LOVE watermelon and this was a very nice gift since she didn't have that many [so I feel honored]. I also received a little painting this week from an artist friend, dinner mailed to me, a friend who won't let me pay for lunch until I have hair and someone needlepointed me a fuck cancer picture, how great is that! So of course having cancer sucks, but I would be lying if I didn't say hearing from all of you hasn't been a nice way to get me through all this.  Also, I might have gone through my whole life not knowing that I had a stork bite on the back of my head/neck, so theres that!

wishing you [and me] a good week ahead!

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yay?, it's august?

hi, again, I wish I could say I just got back from running a marathon, but I will likely never utter those words. Instead, I am struggling to walk to the bathroom and do everyday things that we normally take for granted.

but I do feel fortunate that this is going to end for me soon.

I know you want to hear how I am doing. Although I really don’t have anything new to add except the symptoms/side effects seem to have come on sooner than past treatments which isn’t fun. I am also having more nausea this time which is also no fun.

A lot of very nice people have been asking after me, I just wanted to assure you all that I am doing ok. It is a one day at a time kind of thing and I am planning on each day get easier and just want to thank you again for your concern.

thank you for every card, post, message, call, text, meal, and positive thought. You have helped allow me to deal with all this with optimism and positivity. Having your strength and encouragement behind me gives me the daily support I need. I want you to know I appreciate all your support even if I don't always get back to you or thank you properly for the nice things you've done.

hope you all have a nice sunday and are able to keep cool!

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in da club

Here I am in the club that I never wanted to join (the initiation sucked btw {by the way} looking around this room I’m guessing no one here wanted to join either. I guess you could call it a fight club, although I have looked everywhere for Brad Pitt . . . We are all fighting nevertheless. 

I was a little worried this morning about my blood draw because last week my red and white blood counts were low and they won’t give you the chemo if they drop too low. I arrived at 8:15 waited, blood drawn, waited, seated in infusion room, and then waited until labs came back. Blood work was good and so here I am. Nurses had a hard time getting the IV in [took 4 people trying and then decided to go for the hand] so if you see me soon, you might think this club has a sick hazing ritual or that I am a drug addict (but I gotta say if I were to do drugs, these would not be my drugs of choice) so anyhow it’s 4:00 and I have at least another hour hour 1/2 or so, my bags are full (and I am not just talking about the ones under my eyes) I am tired but happy that this is it. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading the next 3 or so weeks ahead and what the cumulative chemo will bring me. Knowing it’s the end does help, knowing you all think I am so strong helps for sure, even when I have never felt weaker. Thank you again for going along on this journey. Having you by my side whether near or far, hugs and/or kisses, texts and calls, FaceTime, FB, cards, oh so many cards wow! Plants, flowers, messenger, veggies, bags of goodies, insta, these things have all made me feel your love and helped me through the tough days. You can be sure when it comes to inviting new members to this not so exclusive club, I will be the first to blackball all of you. F this club! Let’s join a fun one! Who’s in?

it's hot, it's cold, it's hot, it's cold [or was that just me?] . . . I was kicking things on and off    all day. [This was taken toward the end of 8 and half hours, a bit harder to smile]

things I did today

took a bunch of pills and powders

wasn't recognized by my yard guy of 20 years [I guess it's true we all look alike]

painted until I was tired [not very long]

rested and read about neuropathy and why my fingers and toes are still tingly/prickily and painful [answer: chemo]

ate

face timed with a far away friend :-)

painted a little more

rested and snacked [did I tell you crying is back]

read some more, this time about why my legs still hurt [answer: chemo]

laying here thinking about soaking in the pool before dinner if I can get up the energy. I Invited Jake over for dinner. He is moving to California soon to start his doctorate program in psychology and so I want to cook while I can. I know I won't feel like cooking after my next round of chemo so I don't want him to leave town without a home cooked meal! [Next chemo is tuesday the 31st and is said to be the last one, so yay for that]

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Nope, Dana isn't still here, she was really only here for 48 hours but I thought I would share this picture with you. 

48 hours

Although I haven't been feeling great, my week took a turn for the better when Dana popped in for a quick visit. It was so nice to have someone to drive me, get me out to yoga and lunch [and to nap with]. Having your own in house acupuncturist doesn't suck either! This afternoon Dave was home and we just floated around in the pool before Jake came over and we all went for dinner. My only complaint, and that is what this blog is about after all, is that it went by way too fast. So glad she was able to pop in though.

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 there are no words . . . best sandwich ever!!!   [dana didn't shave her head, thank goodness, but has joined me with no makeup and wet hair in solidarity]

there are no words . . . best sandwich ever!!!   [dana didn't shave her head, thank goodness, but has joined me with no makeup and wet hair in solidarity]

[and to those thinking hey wait, I could have, would have or did offer to bring you, take you or otherwise do something really kind for you . . . thank you, really, I wasn't feeling up to doing anything this week, but it was the only time Dana could visit and I rallied so that I wouldn't seem so frail -and I think I pulled it off ;-)]

weekend in rearview

This past weekend had highlights and lowlights, just like my hair used to. Having your anniversary and both birthdays all within 9 days is a lot in a normal year, this year throwing chemo in the mix has made it even harder. Having wonderful friends want to celebrate gave me something to look forward to. Wondering if I was going to be able to show up was another story. This has all been challenging, mostly physically, sometimes emotionally. What am I supposed to be able to do? How much? How little? I really have no idea. My body is really quite achy so it isn't easy to walk around. My throat is sore, so talking is a challenge. I am really tired all the time and frankly not much fun to be around. I think acceptance has been the hardest. Knowing that is is temporary helps me get through the day [but it saddens me for the people for whom its not so temporary]

I have a found a little help in . . . napping! I have stopped fighting naps. Who knew, something so simple as just closing my eyes [or resting them as my dad is always fond of saying] really does the trick, especially when you aren't sleeping well at night. So I was able to eat my way through the weekend and was resting in between meals. I was able to have a little semblance of normalancy in this oh not so normal journey. So thank you to everyone who came in and made food, brought food in, took us out [or tried to], it's your love that is making all this that much easier.  [that and napping!]

loss of appetite? nope, hasn't happened yet

I am wondering if it is possible that I will be the first cancer patient on chemo to gain weight? Yesterday I had the pleasure of not one but two darling duo sisters who stopped in for a quick visit and dropped off goodies to me. Yummy Ice cream at lunch time from a new place at the corner called the screamery [they picked bee's knees for me which is lavender swirled with local honey] and then a late afternoon visit from another couple of cuties that made me ginger cookies. While I am not complaining, at all, I mean who would, I probably need to snap back to my healthy eating, fight off cancer cells mode. It was a lovely birthday break which, who am I kidding, I will ride out through the weekend. The girls were cool with my bald head too, I offered to cover up to their moms since they have all seen me fairly recently with hair but both moms said no we already talked about it. You just gotta love kids!

birthday hangover of a different kind

Yesterday I turned 56, which seems surreal because I don't feel like I am that old, [although today I kinda do] I actually had a really nice day considering that I had my chemo treatment the day before. Today I feel light headed, foggy and I am a bit dizzy but nothing too debilitating. For my birthday yesterday I had a friend visit me in the morning, another bring and stay for lunch and then Dave and Jake came by in the early afternoon. In between visitors, I was on FaceTime with friends and family in foreign lands, talking on the phone and texting with friends and family near and far. Everyone [my mom] said don't worry, next year your bday will be better and I was thinking, so far this one has been pretty nice. I heard from so many people [thank you!!!] and I felt so loved, it really wasn't bad at all. I even mustered up the strength to go out for sushi last night knowing that I may not have the energy to get out of the house for awhile. While it would not have been a top choice as to how to spend my birthday, it really was nice to hear from so many people that I love. So even if though I am starting this year in a fog I am looking forward to clear skies ahead and I thank you all for coming along on this journey and cheering me on. 

chemo [round 2]

I am home from my chemo shesh. I went a bit longer than the last time because we had to wait for my labs to come back to start the infusion. [They had to draw blood a second time to get more blood] I will have you know that my labs were great. "I got all A's" [results were in normal range] and that's a good thing because the women next to me got sent home because her white blood cell count was off and that is a drag.

There is not much to say about today because all I did was sit in a chair with a needle in my arm and lots of bags of drugs [and not the good kind] hanging from a pole dripping into me. I will say that having friends and family that step up in times like this is so nice. My appointment was at 8am and I got a ride, {I had soooo many offers and I thank you all!}  sit with you when you are having uncomfortable things done to you [and are happy to leave when you ask them to nicely] bring you lunch when you are hungry [I could get used to this] Dave came after work and sat with me in the afternoon and then drove me home. I put in a 7 and half hour day today, not too shabby.

How do I feel? inquiring minds want to know. Well, I am tired, I feel a bit dizzy/lightheaded, I have the beginnings of a headache. I feel like my body is in slow mo mode. Now I know there are people out there that purposely put weights on their wrists and feet to build muscles. [I am not one of them] Chemo has a way of virtually putting weights on your hands and feet making them harder to lift, it is a crazy feeling. I am pretty sure it doesn't make you stronger either, quite the opposite! So now I am going into the known/unknown side effects. I will battle some of the bad ones preemptively with meds so maybe it won't be as bad as everyone who has been through this before says its going to be. I will try and keep you posted when I can. Love to you all!

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to exercise or not to exercise

After abdominal surgery you are told to not exercise hard for 8 weeks [not a problem as I have never exercised hard in my life] but they do want you to walk. Having surgery in the summer in Arizona is limiting in terms of when and where you would want to walk. In the beginning walking from the couch to the bathroom seemed good to me.

My in house doctor didn't feel that was enough and has been on me to step it up [get it?] I really have had a lot of good excuses not to and so I just haven't, but this weekend I started to actually feel pretty good. My mouth sores have calmed and the rash has died down so Friday we walked around the art museum [great air conditioning] Saturday I jumped in the pool and kicked around a bit and on Sunday I walked on the treadmill for a little. Today is Monday. On Monday's I usually go to yoga. I haven't gone for 2 months now. Knowing that I start all over again with chemo on Tuesday part of me says why bother. The smarter part of me says why not. My favorite teacher is back in town and I have missed yoga so very much. The smarter part of me really is smarter because even if I can't get back to practice for awhile I am so very glad I went. It was hard for me, I didn't do great but I am glad I went. I like to think it will make tomorrow easier.

not a story

Apparently writing about getting ovarian cancer in a blog form has given the impression that I was going to continue to write about my experience here, I guess I should have just called this a story!

If you are interested, I will do my best to keep you updated on my summer of chemo. Although to me from here on in it will just seem like complaining. But if you are into that kind of thing then I went ahead and added a way to subscribe to the page so if I do add something you can be alerted if you so choose. So just subscribe, and you may or may not get an alert [since I may or may not know what I am doing.]

in sickness and in health, I love this guy!

I know not everyone is married to a doctor; I also know that not every doctor is as smart as my husband is. David happens to like diagnostics, he likes solving problems and figuring out unusual issues. Many people have benefited from his extracurricular doctor-detective solving skills, he has even saved lives.

When mentioning being bloated to this guy his solution was to go buy new pants. Yet when I asked him if my appendix was in my lower left quadrant he wanted to know why [it isn't] I told him I was having some pain after I ate.  His mind was off to the races, I was told to lie down on the hard floor [really, I can't lie on the sofa? nope] He completed a palpation of the area and then he was back to his office. He comes back with a visual, which were the photographs of my colonoscopy. Of course the only area not photographed is the area that is causing me pain, but he thinks my symptoms sound like diverticulitis.

Call for an appointment NOW. [he was very adamant] Do not wait. You need a CAT scan . . .find out what is going on.

I know these last 7 weeks haven't been easy on you, giving me painful shots everyday for a month, watching me deal with new chemo side effects as they pop up and just generally having to jump into roles at home that you are not used to. All without complaint [the real miracle here, LOL]

So thank you Doc Dave! I know when you are married for 32 years [TODAY!] you can never say I love you and thank you enough, but I hope you know that I do love you [very much] and do I thank you, YOU most likely saved my life with your speedy response and networking to get me taken care of so quickly.  

Happy Anniversary to you, I couldn't be happier today to have met and married you all those years ago! 💋

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[fun fact: we are celebrating 32 years of marriage this weekend and have been very lucky in sickness, in that we have had very little of that in our time. David has stepped up and been great these last 6 weeks, just as you all imagined he would be . . . Again see how lucky I am!]

no hair no care!

Everyone seemed to think losing my hair was going to be the hardest; they were concerned for me. Wigs, scarves, hats, what's it going to be? . . . I guess it was hard at first but I gotta say being the glass half full kind of gal that I am, it's been my favorite part. [Actually, connecting with friends has been my favorite, but no hair in the Arizona summer is a def second!]

the positive side to having no hair:

hair doesn't get caught in glasses when i put them on my head

saving time and money on the coloring and cutting of your hair is great

the cool breeze you feel when the fan rotates over your head

save water! no hair results in shorter showers

need less shampoo and conditioner

nothing to hold back when you need to throw up

you can cool down really fast through your head

no worries about chlorine damaging your hair!

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