Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sunshine, rocks, trees, waterfalls, and PET scans

Tub full of carnelian agate
It has been a busy summer so far, but busy in a fun way.  My dad came to visit and we went rock hunting and to the Bagby Hot springs, I got to see his new place in Castlerock.  It's right on the Cowlitz river.  Looks like I am going to get to catch some salmon soon.  He also agreed to let me keep bees there too and I am excited about that!  A few days later my mom came for a visit.  It was a ton of fun.  We headed over to Madras, OR for the All Rockhounds Pow Wow, it was fun to stroll through all of the neat-o stuff.  On the way home my mom treated us to a little bit of gambling at a casino in Warm Springs, OR.  We always go cheap, we split $20 ($10 each) and played the penny slot machines for a few hours.  It was actually a nice distraction from the norm.  We came out with 10.33 still in our pocket.  Not too bad for a couple hours of entertainment.  Mom and I also went rock hounding (looking for carnelian agate) and found so much that we could barely carry it out to the car.  I just love finding agates! It is like getting little special gifts from nature.  It is a rush every time you find one, especially if it is large or has some druzy inside.  We also hiked to Ramona Falls and as usual, it was spectacular.  My mom had a great time enjoying the scenery and checking out the vegetation.
It seems that my summers are like this...busy but in a good way.  I love it! I love seeing my friends and  family and showing them where some of my favorite spots are.

Ramona Falls hike
I was talking to my mom about my diet lately, how I've been avoiding wheat, gluten, sugar etc. and how hard it is in any social situation (even if it is only with one other person) to adhere to this diet.  It seems that you can't walk into any restaurant and avoid the "brown food group" you know the one, colorless, lifeless, processed, and re-processed until it really no longer even resembles natural food anymore.  Now my mom knows how important my diet is to me and that it is largely responsible for the assassination of the cancer in my liver, but she also watches me struggle with eating as well.  To those of us with cancer or other life altering diseases we are acutely aware of how we are not the same person anymore in many aspects.  Food, being the building block of life, is critical to good health.  Food is also synonymous with social gatherings as is alcohol.  It is strange to go to an event (lets say a family bbq or friends birthday party) and watch everyone eating and drinking and you (the one with cancer) are getting side glances from people (or maybe I just think I am) wondering why you don't have a plate of food, some of their potato salad/pasta salad, hamburger, processed veggie/soy burger, hot dog, or strawberry shortcake...and why the hell isn't their a beer in your hand??  No one understands this better than my mom.  She has had to put up with hearing me go on and on about how difficult social gatherings revolving around food and drink are for me.  It sucked that we couldn't go get a giant plate full of yummy pasta, with some crusty bread and a glass of wine.  It also sucked that we couldn't go to Pine Street and have one of the best biscuits on earth for breakfast one day.  Now, don't misunderstand...I am not trying to say that eating pasta or a biscuit is going to kill me or anything that extreme, but if I do stray from my diet and have that indulgence I am paying the price not even 30 minutes later...bloating, gas, stomach hurts, feeling like I swallowed a beach ball, etc.  The next morning is no better, the bloating is still there, looks like I am carrying a child, can't get relief because the back door is locked if you know what I mean...
Ramona Falls
So it boils down to this.  I HATE going out.  I feel that if I cook and prepare my own meals at home, not only is it healthier for me as I can cook what I know is good for me and know exactly what goes into it, but it also alleviates the anxiety of trying to figure out what to order on the menu...lets face it, one can only eat so many salads.  I hate the bar, but everyone that wants to go out usually gathers there.  I order my "mocktail" or tea and sometimes get a refill but I am always ready to leave before everyone else because I am bored and quite frankly tired of watching others drink and drink.  Funny thing beer is, you order and drink one and you just want another and another.  Everyone around you doing the same thing.  I lightly mention that I am getting ready to leave and immediately find myself making excuses to go, "I am getting really tired", "its late and I didn't sleep well last night", "I don't feel very good" etc.  A lot of times I imagine that everyone is thinking that I am a prude or party pooper, I'm always the first one to leave.  On my way home from such events I get a little depressed, thinking about how nothing is the same anymore, how I feel like an outsider or an oddball, like I just don't fit into this world anymore. I love my friends, I love seeing my friends and visiting with them.  And I don't want them to treat me with kid gloves because I have cancer or because my diet is different from theirs.  But then I have to face the reality that cancer does make you a different person in every possible way.  I like to think that having cancer made me more aware of my health, my diet, my body, and more appreciative to be alive. Even though all of these good things came from a cancer diagnosis, it is still hard to overlook the social awkwardness of certain situations.
Rhody shadow on stump

So this coming Thursday the 12th I am going in again for my 4th PET scan.  I haven't seen my oncologist for 2 months.  The appointment with him to determine the results of the PET scan is on the 17th...I will keep you all posted.  I am hoping that it is going to be looking even better than the last time.  I will be honest, I have been worrying about it lately.  I've been so tired, sometimes sleeping all day long, going to bed and sleeping all night and waking up just as tired as I was before all the sleep.  My liver aches still, some days more than others, but every time I feel it I can't help but worry "is it coming back?" "what will the scan say?" "will they tell me that I have to get chemo again?"  UGH!

I have been really frugal lately, another reason that I hate going out.  One meal at a restaurant can buy 3-4 days worth of veggies for me.  I rarely drive anywhere anymore.  It saves money (gas) and I need to get my brakes replaced which is something I cannot afford to do right now.  My car has been parked in the lot of my apartment building for almost 2 weeks now.  Another reason I don't go out.  I am waiting for my dad to get settled into his new place and then I will be taking my car up there and working on fixing brakes together in his garage.  I know it can't be that hard and my family (including me) are all handy like that :)
miniature forest 

In the meantime, the sun is shining here in Portland, its in the mid 80's, the birds are singing, the grass is green and the roses are blooming.  Funny, I feel like less of an "oddball" or "outsider" when I am in the woods, no pressure to go to the bar, the trees and I can just sit quietly and enjoy each others company.


  1. I’ve had this sort of social-awkwardness regarding both food and drink. My best solution is to show up to parties/dinners (but not restaurants, that’s the exception) with my own food (like just a bit, not a whole tray . . . unless I make enough for everyone) and my own drinks. This way you get to eat. And while it might feel weird at first, I guarantee friends will get used to it quickly. (They may even find inspiration from your dishes)

    Anyhow, if people are really your friends then they’re not going to mind whatever healthy, life-saving choices you make.

    P.S. - what a lot of rocks!

  2. Catherine,
    Thanks for your advice! Smart to bring your own food! I can't believe that I hadn't thought of that one sooner! I usually try to eat before I go but that doesn't always work out. Last time I made a huge batch of broccoli salad, it was a hit and everyone was asking for the recipe :)

  3. You are amazing, beautiful and I am constantly in awe of you....and never for a second do I stare at you sideways and wonder why you are not drinking or eating. In the group you and I have been with together, I assure you no one would give a second thought to you bringing your own food and would in fact celebrate your strength and commitment to yourself....and if they don't, I will happily pinch them for you :o)

    Your journey and the way you have traveled this wayward path presented to you are an inspiration to all who know you. I have shared your blog with others who have loved ones battling cancer or other significant illness and am so thankful that you are sharing your story, for YOU and for those inspired and helped by your experience.

  4. I understand your concerns about the dietary issues. I have a digestive disorder that also restricts when/what I can eat. When it's rearing it's ugly head I want to isolate myself. Food and drink are such a huge part of our social system. When we aren't part of the "normal" sect, we feel like outcasts.

    Best of luck with the upcoming PET scan.

    Love your blog!

  5. Erin,
    I LOVE you! Thank you so much! I know that our circle of friends would never think twice about my dietary habits...that is why I love you all so much!

  6. Sweater Girl,
    It does get hard sometimes doesn't it. I too feel that same need to isolate myself when I feel bad, and although I have the most awesome, supporting friends in the world it is still tough to not feel like an outsider when you find that you have now turned into that "picky eater" that is always questioning every ingredient in our food. I find myself explaining my diet to others all the time while also secretly hoping that they might take some little nugget of it with them and practice it themselves or at least think twice about what they eat. Thanks for your well wishes, so far the scans are looking pretty darn good! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my cancer and fear that it might return. But I try not to focus on that, instead I choose to focus on how healthy I am now :)
    Sending you health, love and light!

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