New Year, New Me!?

Wow! It has been a while. I have been busy with so much. So much. New doctors, new career goals, new energy, new meds, new strength and direction! It has taken a remarkable amount of time( I really had no clue) to feel better, really feel better! I am still dealing with my cancer but I am feeling better all the time. I was in remission for a little while. And wouldn’t you know it, when I really started to feel good my tumor markers started to go up. I don’t know if tumor markers are all they are cracked up to be but the doctors monitored them closely. I am grateful for all that. I found a new facility that offers a more wholistic approach and the doctors there are wonderful. But the best thing is… I only have to go once a month! You wouldn’t believe what a difference that has made for me. I drive 6 hours, all my tests and treatments are done in one place so after a day or two there I drive back home and basically don’t think about cancer, or disease, or doctors, or tests, for another month! It is very liberating! I get to be a normal person for a little while! While I am there I see a nutritionist, a naturopath, a mind body counselor, a chiropractor, as well as my oncologist and, the best part is,  they all work together! And on my behalf! I feel confident in the things they are doing for me so that frees me up to think about other things, most importantly, my life!

That’s me in the black!

I am living my life and following my passions. I was hired to cook and be a chef liaison for four days at New Years, working for a celebrity and all that that entails. I was able to push my fatigue aside and get it done and I had a great time! Thats not to say I wasn’t tired and sore for a few days following. But I was still happy to be able to do it at all! I am learning to trust my body again, its not quiet what it used to be, but its getting there!

I have started my riding school back up and I am teaching children how to ride and take care of horses. I have two new ponies in the barn, thanks to some wonderful friends. The barn work keeps me pretty busy but I love it. I have started riding my mountain bike again, not very far, but still! I am starting to feel like me again! Doing all these things gives me purpose and my confidence is coming back. I may have cancer, but I am not cancer!

Star Seed Salad

It’s Been A While

I know it’s been quite a while since I last blogged. I am fine. I have just been super busy. Felt like I couldn’t slow down long enough to share my thoughts. As I am feeling better and stronger my passion for living and life has come back with a vengeance! The weather here has been amazing!  I had a super bad case of “Spring Fever” I have been gardening and landscaping like crazy. I have planted vegetable gardens, flower beds, and trees. I have trimmed and raked and watered until my hands feel like they are gonna fall off! We built a new deck on the house which we are enjoying immensely! I have put up some solar lighting and a few wind chimes. My place is becoming the little oasis I had imagined.

Everything is in bloom, even some things I thought I had lost in the freeze! The fruit trees are loaded. I have so many peaches on one tree I had to prop up the branches! The hummingbirds are back. The resident Sandhill Cranes have a baby. All the critters here at the farm are fat and sassy (including me)! I have been working out, trying to get back in shape. It is good to be alive! I am starting to hike again well…last week I went canoeing with a friend and kinda sprained my knee. So, I have to take a few days off, but thats alright. I have been religiously practicing my cello! I love playing so much! I hope I am good enough to just really let loose and play one day. My puppy (Tallulah Bleu) turned a year old last month. She is amazing. We have graduated obedience and rally class so far, looking forward to whats next.

Oh my goodness! One of the best things that has happened is that I am painting again! Finally! I have completed 6 paintings in the last 2 months. I just couldn’t do it when I was sick. I was worried that I would never get back to it but finally, the passion is back! I have found a new direction with my life and with my work. I guess nearly dying can give you that perspective!

So any way, I am back. I hope to hear from you all. Tell me what you have been up to. I have lots more to share. Love and light to you all!

Soups On!

Today I am having trouble sitting here and writing. It is beautiful outside and the weather is calling me. I have had a cold for a couple of days so I am trying to take it easy and give myself a chance to recuperate. I haven’t had a head cold in years and this is really annoying! I have been on a roll, eating healthy, and exercising. Yoga everyday which is definitely helping the mobility in my shoulder. As I said before, I have been taking back some control in my life and getting on with it! I was really feeling wonderful and then this…a head cold! Runny nose, watery eyes, headache, sneezing, sniffling, whining. Yes whining! Why now when I have so much to do? Funny. Is there ever really a good time to have a cold?  All I can say is this needs to hurry up and get on outta here so I can get back to my plans!

This is the time of year for soup. I love soup. It is so warm and comforting. I am going to make a huge pot of French onion soup, one of my favorites. And everyone knows a good hot bowl of soup is good for what ails ya! I just found a recipe that uses five different kinds of onions, scallions, shallots, yellow, red, and leeks. I make my soup with a beef broth and a little pinch of cloves. I remember one time, when I had a cold, I made this soup and when I was chopping all the onions my eyes started watering, my nose started running, loosening up all the congestion in my head. Not a pretty sight but afterwards my cold was gone! Onions have many healing properties. I am hoping this works again! Ta ta for now I have to go get chopping!

Recipe

1 lb mixed onions

¼ cup butter

2 pints beef stock

2 twigs of fennel

1 clove

salt and pepper

1 tsp sugar

provolone for topping

splash of brandy

Slice onions, cook in butter in a large cast iron pan until transparent. Bring stock to boil and pour over the onions. Add fennel, clove and seasoning. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Carmelize sugar in a long handled spoon by holding it over heat until it melts and turns a lovely golden brown, stir into soup. Remove soup from heat. Add brandy. Serve with a nice toasty french bread. If you have oven safe crocks, put the toasted slice of bread in the bowl, ladle in soup, then put a slice of provolone cheese on top. Put the bowls on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for just a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. To your good health, enjoy!!!

 

What A Year

This has certainly been an interesting year. Some of it is still a blur. I have definitely had some interesting, although not always wanted, adventures. It was right around this time last year that my health was really declining at an alarming rate. I am VERY grateful to still be alive. Every morning I wake up and take a deep breath and offer thanks that I am still here, breathing. Every day is truly a gift! Not that I want to sound morbid or whiney but when you have a scare, like stage 4 breast cancer, it really drives home the fact that you really don’t know how much longer you will be around, not that any of us do. I don’t plan on going anywhere very soon but, I am going to live whatever life I have left!

I am trying to really notice and appreciate everything I have, friends, love, laughter. Lots of things have changed. Things that used to seem so important to me are not quite as meaningful as they once were. I had given most of my life to horses, something that I will never regret, I lived and breathed horses as far back as I can remember, but right now they are just my companions. No more rigorous training and wishful ambitions of fame and fortune. I have spent decades in the saddle and I cherish every moment. The sounds and smells at the barn are intoxicating and fill me with joy. Horses softly nickering or munching on hay. The sound of hoofbeats and snorting. The sweet smell of fresh feed, new shavings, and leather. The barn has always been a place where I find solace, my happy place. Riding, training, the discipline and physical labor involved in horsemanship is a form of meditation. I have spent many years in my boots and breeches. It is something I will never leave but it is different now.

Art. I am an artist. Everything I do is with an artists touch. I can’t help it, it is who I am. I have struggled for many years trying to make a living as an artist. It is not for the faint of heart! I love creating art, however I do not enjoy trying to market and sell my art. I have been wildly successful at times and I have failed miserably at other times. There is never any steadiness to it. You often end up feeling like a ship tossed about on the sea! “Oh we absolutely love your art, but no we don’t want to actually pay you for it!” UGH! Or “We would love to have you pay us to hang it in our shop.” REALLY? Part of creating art is wanting to share it with others, but at what cost? It is not fulfilling to me to create art and store it in my closet. I enjoy the creative process but I would still like to share it with others and have people care or appreciate what I do enough that I could make a living doing it, but alas this alludes me! Art is sometimes like speaking without words. It can also be like working without pay.

So, after a year of pain and struggling with my health I have no desire, at this time, to continue to struggle with these things, or much else for that matter. I just want to enjoy them. However the bills keep coming and I am not making any money right now. So, whats a girl to do?

Whoa!

Ok, let me back up. Before hurricane Irma blew in I had a few exciting things going on. First of all I had some tests done. I was finally ready to really start getting my health back into my own hands. I went to an office that does alternative as well as western medicine. I saw a nurse practitioner there. I liked her very much. For those of you that don’t know about alternative health care, the doctors really take their time asking you questions and really trying to get to the cause of your issues. That is very comforting to me because I feel like they get to know you a little before just doling out a bunch of drugs. I am in a place now mentally and physically that I want to get back into shape. I still don’t have the muscle strength or endurance I had before my cancer. I have been having a lot problems with my shoulder (pain) and my thigh (neuropathy) that is not helping. I also wanted to know how my bones were, fragile, strong, brittle? They sent me for an x-ray, extensive blood tests and per my request a bone density test. I bought a supplement called Restore to help my body get going again.

I am excited to tell you my tests all came back great! My blood work  looked almost as good as it did pre cancer! My X-rays showed only soft tissue damage in my shoulder! And my bone density test was awesome I am .1% less likely than other people my age to have a fracture! No more Xgeeva! Watch out horses! It won’t be long now before I am back in the saddle again! This is all very reassuring and now I know I can work on these things. I am going to a physical therapist and an Alexander Technique teacher to help with my shoulder. I do have some damage in my spine, thinning of my discs that is probably causing the problem with my thigh. I am going to see a neuropathist soon but in the meantime I am using some essential oils and taking vitamin E, lions mane mushroom, and turmeric to try and support the nerves. It feels good to be trying to help myself, thats just who I am!

I also got to play my first cello “gig” it was so much fun! I played the Beatles songs, Imagine and Let it Be, with my friends Chris and Jim at The Backyard Barn. Im not sure how good it sounded? But it was a first for me and although I have to admit I was a little nervous it was a great experience that I will never forget! Things are looking up!

Just a little update

Yesterday I had to go to get my blood work done and have my port flushed. It is always a yucky reminder of my illness, this cancer thing hanging over my head, ugh! I really try to focus on the positive and how lucky I am. My blood work looked great! Gets better every time I have it checked. But every month there is a little apprehension leading up to my appointment. I am feeling better but, I hope everything is ok, I hope the tumor markers are staying low, etc. I think this will all get easier as time goes by. Everything was good yesterday!

I am feeling stronger all the time, mentally as well as physically. Sometimes I am amazed at how far I have come and other times I am disappointed that I am not 100% yet. I know these things take time. Cancer is rough. Chemotherapy is tough. It is all very hard on your body. I am having trouble with entire body aches and pains in my muscles and bones. And the hot flashes and night sweats SUCK, especially in this heat of Florida that I live in. These are side effects from the medication I have to take. I could go on and on about how all this sucks. I could sit back and whine and complain all the time. I could accept this as my new normal. I could get on disability. NOPE!!! Not me! I will never give in. I think you create your own reality and I am not going down without a fight!

Somedays its hard to get out of bed, but I find that I get better with movement. As always I am taking it upon myself to make the best of my situation. So I am trying to exercise every day. I am back to my mile long walks with the dogs, yay! And on days I don’t get to do that, I am practicing Tai Chi. I can go a little further all the time! Soon I think I will be adding some weight lifting back in to regain some muscle that I have lost. And I am hoping that by the fall, when it cools down a little outside,  to get back in the saddle again. So I know I am getting better. I am trying to support my body in any way that I can to help with my healing process. First and foremost I try to have a good positive attitude. Somedays this is easier said than done! Second I try to eat healthy nutritious food. Don’t get me wrong I indulge sometimes, thats just part of enjoying life, which is very important! I do take supplements.  A good whole food multivitamin, just because. Iron to help support my blood, I still can’t believe how anemic I was. Vitamin K

to help support calcium absorption. Calcium to counteract the Xgeeva injections. Vitamin E to help with this painful burning neuropathy in my thigh. I am also taking Turkey Tail mushroom, there are lots of studies being done on this right now for fighting cancer. And I just found out about Lions Mane mushroom for nerve pain, I just ordered some! I will let you know how it works out.

Here’s to a healing journey! Listen to your body, support it and help it heal!

Make It Good

What a difference a day makes. So funny how good news can cheer you up. There is waaay too much gripeing, complaining and negativity out there. We do it to ourselves. We are force fed it by the media. Our closest friends and relatives can push it on us. We must not give in! Our time on this earth is limited and precious and we need to start living and loving more. Sure bad stuff happens and we will certainly have bad days but it just seems that negativity and drama are so rampant in our society right now. I have decided to avoid the news for awhile. I want to focus on me and what makes me happy. That may sound selfish but I am not buying into all of this craziness. I have enough trouble just taking care of me right now!

It has taken a while, much longer than I thought, to get back to feeling like myself again. I have started painting again and walking more. I just ordered some Tai Chi DVD’s and I am trying to eat clean. I am going to start taking a supplement called Turkey Tail Mushrooms, it is supposed to help boost your immunity. A very trusted and knowledgable friend told me about this. I did some research and my doctor said it was okay, so I ordered some last night. I like taking care of myself, it is something I have always tried to do. Until this cancer thing tried to take me down, which makes you feel helpless and out of control. I am taking my control back! It is empowering to feel like you are helping, supporting your body to heal itself. It is amazing the abuse our bodies can take and if only given a chance they work so hard to repair the damage. I had a wonderful visit with my doctor yesterday. My PET Scan results were great! REMISSION! I do feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was a little anxious leading up to the test results, everything seemed to be hurting a little more and I felt a bit more tired. I think it is a mental thing, you start worrying and your mind takes over and fills in the blanks!

My doctors visit yesterday proved what I really already knew, I am so much better. My tumor markers have gone from 145 at the beginning of my treatment to 30, which my doctor says is normal. My blood work looks great and I am getting stronger. I could focus on the negative. I am still not allowed to ride, bummer! I am getting Xgeeva shots because my bones are still fragile. I will never be considered cancer free. I still have lots of aches and pains. I have this annoying neuropathy in my thighs. Night sweats and hot flashes. But I don’t want to live like that! So I will put my attention into what is good and makes me happy. I am still here. I have so much more living to do. I am thankful everyday. I have an awesome husband and great friends. I have a wonderful place to live with amazing animals. I feel so lucky, life is what you make of it…make it good!

Ok?

Tomorrow I get the results of my latest PET Scan. I wonder if there will always be this worry? I don’t like worry. But sometimes its hard not to worry. I know it doesn’t do any good and I know I shouldn’t do it, but there it is, staring me in the face. Just going for the PET Scan reminds me that I have cancer, oh crap I forgot! Then the radiology guy innocently asks, “Are you anemic? You bled a little more then usual.” Oh no! Thats where this all started, dread! So then everything starts to ache more. I am feeling a bit more tired this week. I had a hangnail that bled a little too much, oh no! Am I going backwards? Is everything ok? This sucks!

Now I know this is irrational thinking. I know you need to be positive.  I know the medication I’m on can cause muscle aches and bone pain. I know that it also gives me hot flashes and night sweats, so I have not been sleeping well. And the hangnail well…it is what it is! I hope that as time passes I will be less anxious about all this. It’s hard to trust your own body when you feel like it has let you down in the past. But I know I am getting better, and stronger every day. My blood work results have been improving each time. So I am just gonna look forward to better and better results. Maybe one day I will be normal…not a chance! Lol

Its crazy what the human mind can do. Sometimes its hard to control, like this silly puppy sitting at my feet chewing on my shoe. But with time and patience it will come around. Sometimes a nice long walk helps too!

 

Finding Passion

What is your passion? What is it that you know you just couldn’t live without? What is passion? Merriam-Webster says, passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. All my life I have been driven by passion. For a very long time it was working with and training horses, that was my life I was totally consumed, I literally lived and breathed horses! The sounds at the barn, the stomping hooves, the snorts and whinnies fill my soul. The smell of hay and freshly bedded stalls, liniments and leather are some of the greatest smells ever! Horses, I just can’t imagine my life without them. Ever.

Then I got involved in art and it quickly became another passion. Painting and creating every day. It just felt like something that I must do. If I’m not creating something I just don’t feel right. I love experimenting and trying new techniques. I think I live a creative life. Everything I do from cooking to gardening is creative on some level. Right now I have been enjoying a new, for me, creative outlet, music! Well I have always loved music. I actually work my horses to music. But lately I am learning to play the cello and just recently I am starting to play the drums and I am loving it! It remains to be seen if I will ever be any good at it but I sure am having fun learning!

Since I got sick I have had to put some of these things on hold. I was physically and mentally unable to do much of anything for a while. I felt kinda like a zombie. As I am recovering from my treatment my mind would get ahead of what I could physically do. I was a little worried that my life would never be the same. I worried that I would never be able to do these things that I loved. But I think my body is finally catching up now. My doctor really doesn’t want me riding because my bones are a bit fragile at the moment. But I’m not sure how much longer I can wait. My “horse fever” is calling me down to the barn! Every day the urge gets stronger to get back in the saddle again. I am also feeling a crazy creative pull. I have to get my life back, I have to get going!  I have so many paintings in my head!  I am feeling better every day. I have been working on getting my house organized and in order. I have been getting my puppy, Tallula, settled into the routine. I have been getting back into hiking and enjoying nature. This is kind of a spiritual getting ready. Getting ready to start again. After being laid up for a while, every day is special. I am just happy to be alive, walking in the rain, gazing at the moon, eating delicious food, enjoying good friends! I feel it coming back, my passion is knocking on the door and I’m afraid I can’t hold it back much longer! I have a painting in my bedroom with a horse on it titled Unbroken Spirit. I was a little worried for a while but my spirit or my passion will not be broken!

You Are Here

You are here. Here I am. Some days I am still puzzled, how did I get here? Where am I headed? How did this happen? Still learning to take things day by day. I know, I know you’re thinking, just get over it and move on already! Believe me I am trying! I always seem to get ahead of myself. So I make all these plans and appointments and then I wonder why? What were you thinking? Oh thats right, you think you can do everything. Think again! Ha! I have been crazy busy the last few weeks. Just this week alone I drove to Georgia to pick up my new pup, which is upending the whole routine around here! I did the Mothers day things for friends and family, took the puppy to the vets, my own doctors appointment for blood work and XGeeva shot, had my cello lesson, took my big dog to the vets for some minor surgery, and had a root canal! I honestly hope the root canal was the last horrible thing that I have to put my body and mind through for awhile. Enough is enough! It actually wasn’t that bad and I am happy to get it over with. This tooth has been bothering me for awhile. When I was getting my chemo treatments and my platelets were so low my oncologist said a dentist wouldn’t touch me. So I guess, in some weird way, I am happy to be able to get it taken care of. In fact this little old tooth could have been making me feel not so super good.

Some days I just feel overwhelmed and worn out. But when I think back to what I have been through I am so excited at all I am able to do now. So I just have to slow down a little and let my body catch up to my mind. I know I am not as physically fit as I once was. It is coming back slowly but I find if I push myself too much I am not a happy camper! I was thinking about a personal trainer to whip my butt into shape? Hmm, no way! I’m not ready yet. Right now this new puppy is wearing my a** out! So I will just have to take it slow. Slower than I want? Yes. But as long as I’m moving forward I can’t complain. So I guess I will just have to make the best of my situation. You know, bloom where you’re planted! Maybe I will write more.