Tag Archives: Gratitude

Remission 12th anniversary

Photography by Miriam Hurdle

I was diagnosed with a rare melanoma cancer in July 2008. None of the doctors who treated me had seen it. It started with stage I or II but turned into stage IV within a few months. I completed the year-long bio-chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation on August 1, 2009. Today marks the 12th anniversary of remission. I’m thankful to be alive, enjoy my family and have the joy to watch the grandchildren grow. I have been writing about my cancer journey since 2016. The distance from the event allows me to have reflection and a proper perspective. It will be a part of my legacy to pass on to the generations to come. This was a one-day-at-a-time journey of faith, hope, and strength. It was a journey cheered and supported by family and friends.

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of my remission, I wanted to share an excerpt with you. The working title of my legacy is The Winding Road, and I’m working on the tagline.

Chapter 2

The hysterectomy surgery was on July 31st, 2008. I wanted to rest for two or three weeks after the surgery before returning to work when the new school year began. 

My husband, Lynton, drove me to St. Jude Medical Center which was 3 miles from home. He stayed with me until the hospital attendant transported me to the surgery room. After the attendant and nurses lifted me onto the surgical table, the anesthesiologist called my name and introduced himself to me and said Dr. Gray was on the way. Before I smiled at him, the blackness came upon me. 

I woke up in the hospital room in the afternoon. There was no pain in the abdomen. Perhaps the anesthesia was not worn off yet. Lynton came with a bouquet almost the same time I woke up. He stayed with me until dinner time and said he would call me early in the morning. It was a relief that the fibroids I had for years were out for good.

At 10:00 p.m., Dr. Gray came to the room and greeted me with a smile. I returned a grin with apprehension because no doctors would visit patients late at night unless there was an emergency. He sat down by the bed. “The surgery went well,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pathology result with you.”

My puzzling grew but nodded and kept smiling.

“The pathology result shows that the vaginal mass was melanoma. I’ve never seen it before, not in vagina, so I did some research. The research shows that melanoma is the most aggressive, invasive and dangerous cancer.”

He detected the perplex on my face, and said, “It looks like it’s in stage I or II, the beginning stage and the cancer has not spread into other parts of the body yet.”

I wanted to ask questions, but my mind went blank. What questions could I ask? The moisture saturated my eyes.

“I have lined up the referrals for you to see the specialists for treatments. Call my cell phone if you have questions. I’ll start my vacation tomorrow.” He handed me a note with his phone number. It seemed like he did a lot of homework that afternoon.

“But you’ll be on vacation,” I said, still tried to find words.

“That’s what a cell phone is for.” he smiled. “I’m glad God put you in my care.”

His visit transported me to the thickest fog in the dark.

~ ~ ~

The next day, I still had no pain after the anesthesia was worn off.

Lynton called me around 9:00 a.m. to let me know he was coming to see me later that day. He told me his dad passed away, and he was on the phone with his siblings. His dad had been in Loma Linda ICU since last Wednesday with a heart-attack and a kidney infection. The infection went into the blood and his condition went downhill. After the infection was gone, he was on dialysis to give the kidney a break to see if it could be reversed. Lynton and I went to see him last Wednesday. He was unconscious when we got there. The entire family of twelve people were there talking to each other about the latest progress. Lynton’s dad heard our voices and opened his eyes. We went close to his bedside to hold his hands and spoke to him. His eyes sparked a little and then went back to unconsciousness. That was the last time I saw his dad.

“Would you ask your family to schedule the funeral service after I get home from the hospital? I want to be there.”

“Don’t worry. My family will consider that when they plan for the funeral service. I’m on my way to the hospital to see you.”

When he arrived, I gave him the news. He faced me with the brooding look and said he would research on melanoma as soon as he got home.

“How are you feeling?” the nurse came in to check on me.

“I’m feeling very well with no pain. Can I go home today?”

“The attending doctor is not here yet. Let me check your incision and change the dressing. I’ll let the doctor know of your condition. He has to authorize the discharge.”

The doctor came in an hour later. After checking my progress, he authorized the discharge.

“Thank you, doctor,” I said to him while my mind spun at a record speed, miles into the search engine, chasing the meaning of melanoma.

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Merry Christmas

It has been a challenging time for me since the beginning of November. I have an allergic reaction toward something, possibly medications. After having gone to the Urgent Care twice, Emergency Room twice, hospitalized for five days and seeing eight doctors, no doctor could pinpoint what happened to the constant inflammation of my skin. All they could say was to ask me to discontinue this and that medication. I will discontinue ALL my medications in less than a month. What a motivation for me to get rid of all the medications I have been taking. They gave me some treatments such steroids and antibiotics. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and was hoping not to miss all the celebrations in Christmas.

 

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Messiah Performance

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Messiah Performance

With great effort and determination, I gathered my energy and ensured a pleasant appearance; I managed to sing in one of the two performances of Messiah. I couldn’t sing in the first one because I was still miserable. Laying in my bed, I could hear the choir singing. My disappointment was no greater than my motivation. I quietly plead for good health the next day so that I could sing. Oh, what a miracle! I woke up feeling the coolness of my body. It was a great joy for me to spend hours to prepare myself. The photos showed my red face (with no make-up) from the inflammation. My friends in the audience were happy to see me.

 

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Retirees singing to the retirees

I also got to sing in one of the two chorale concerts. I missed the first one when the group sang in a retirement home. The second one was as fun when we sang to the fellow retirees.

 

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Precious group of ladies at the Christmas dinner

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Joy to the World celebration

There were two Christmas parties I was delighted to go and had fun seeing my friends of thirty years. One was the ladies Christmas dinner, and the other was the adult fellowship Christmas party.

I haven’t seen the end of the tunnel yet. I’ll still must take a blogging break until my health is fully recovered. Until then, I wish you all

A Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Gratitude for Being – A Poem

November is a month of Thanksgiving. This is a post in response to Stevie Turner’s Share Your Story – November.

 

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When I taught second grade twenty-five years ago, there was a boy with purple lips in my class. Hector’s mother told me he had a hole in his heart, a ventricular septal defect (VSD) which is the most common heart birth defect. The ventricular septum is the wall that separates the left and right lower chambers of the heart. If there is a hole in the wall between the two ventricles, it is a ventricular septal defect (VSD).

Hector’s mom didn’t expect him to live for a long time and had never made him study hard. He was a happy boy, ran as fast as any boys and girls on the playground and took part in all the learning activities. I treated him with no difference than any other students.

Years later, I met his mom in a restaurant and learned that Hector was in high school. It made me feel good to hear he continued to live with a heart defect.

The inspiration for having Hector in my class was that it is a miracle to be born with the intact features of the body.

Gratitude for Being

From ashes and dust of the earth,

        beautifully and wonderfully

        we are made.

Read more

Share Your World – January 22, 2018

Cee’s Share Your World questions and my response:

List 2 things you have to be happy about?

I need the help of all the fingers and toes when I count my blessings.

I’m happy to have my daughter Mercy, her husband Will and now my granddaughter Autumn in my life. They have brought so much joy to me. I’m delighted to see Mercy and Will strive to grow individually as well as together. I was touched to watch them day by day, learn to be loving parents. Autumn is an adorable baby with good temperament. Mercy said, “This little girl melts my heart every day.” I’m privileged to share the same joy with her.

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Share Your World – November 13, 2017

This is my response to Cee’s Share Your World – November 13, 2107

Do you ever sit on a park bench for more than ten minutes?

We do that often, especially in Laguna Lake. My husband and I love to walk around Laguna Lake which is 0.77 miles around. We walk around the lake twice, then find a shaded bench and sit down. The lake is a home to many kinds of ducks, Egyptian Geese, turtle and many sea creatures. The irrigation system keeps the water of the lake flowing while there is stillness on a calm day. In the summer, the ducks enjoy their lazy nap by tugging their heads under the wings. We relax and watch people doing their leisure fishing, riding their horses, their bikes, jogging, walking their dogs, or walking their babies in strollers.

 

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Gratitude for Being

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Gratitude for Being

From ashes and dust of earth
Beautifully and wonderfully we are made

Eyes to see the majestic sky, mountains, and sea
Ear to hear His voice and harmonious sounds of music
Nose to smell fragrance of flowers and scents of trees
Mouth to sing praises and speak of peace
Hands to serve and extend the healing touch

Heart to feel acceptance, compassion, and love
Feet to trot spreading the good news
Walking the path that is less traveled
Faithfully and gratefully we roam
Till the day He calls us home

Debbie’s Forgiving Fridays

Daily Prompt: Gratitude

Share Your World – October 2, 2017

Cee’s Share Your World – October 2, 2017

  1. If you were given the opportunity to ride in a helicopter would go?

My husband is a helicopter pilot by hobby. He flew a lot before we got married. He has never flown after we married. Even if he flies, I wouldn’t fly with him due to fear of collision. He described that he had such “close call” encounters at least two times.

When we went to Alaska, we went on a helicopter ride. I don’t mind flying with a professional helicopter pilot. The pilot said if my husband has the license with him, he would let him fly.

We had a great view of the glacier, the mountains, and looked at the water from above. It was a wonderful experience.
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  1. What are some of your favorite type of proteins to eat? (meat, seafood, eggs, soy, cheese, nuts)

I’m not an official vegetarian. My daughter has been a vegetarian for twelve years. When I’m with her, I eat tofu (from soy) and quinoa for protein. My husband has a new diet since April 2017. We have mixed vegetable green smoothie every day. We eat eggs for breakfast, salmon or fish for dinner, and have meat once a week. I eat nuts for snacks. My husband is doing great to reduce his blood sugar level with this diet.

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  1. What would be your preference, awake before dawn, at dawn, or awake before noon?

I’m a night owl. When I was younger, I could stay up until 2:00 a.m. every night. Right now I try to go to bed before midnight. Due to the nerve damage from chemo treatment of cancer, I still have tingling in my legs. The sensation is stronger at night. I take medication several hours before bedtime, but the sensation still may keep me awake for a while. Therefore, I don’t fall asleep until the tingling stops

The time I wake up depends on the time I fall asleep the previous night.

  1. What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

By observing my daughter giving birth to her baby Autumn, it reminds me again that life is a miracle. Safe pregnancy and safe delivery are not something we could take it for granted. Any second could bring us stress or joy. I’m thankful for her safe delivery of a healthy baby. They came home yesterday. Their friends came to decorate their front porch to welcome and congratulate the new family.

Cee’s Share Your World – October 2, 2017

52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 7

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This is the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 7 at Haddon Musings

I had written eight posts about my melanoma treatment. I need to write one more to complete my story. I emerge it as part of my Thankfulness. So this week I am thankful for going through the journey of cancer treatment and have been in remission for almost eight years.

August 13, 2009

My bio-chemotherapy came to the end. I just needed a couple more procedures done before the completion of treatment.

When I had my first cancer surgery in October 2008, the surgeon removed all the cancerous tissues except one cancerous lymph node. He sent me back to my primary health care provider and oncologist for chemotherapy. Due to the lack of communication, the referral didn’t get any attention until two months later. I went to the oncologist’s office, sat in the waiting room, demanded for attention. Finally a case caretaker came to talk with me. I cried and complained, saying that my last surgeon requested chemotherapy within four months before the cancer entered my brain, and it had been two months already.

The next day she called the case management office. The supervisor of the office took over my case. She made all the arrangement of tastings and obtained the authorization of referral to a melanoma specialist.

By the time I started my first cycle of treatment in January 2009, the cancer in one lymph node on the right hip area had invaded the whole set of inguinal nodes on the left. So the cancer went from stage II to stage IV.

I went through two cycles of bio-chemo and one surgery and two more cycles of bio-chemo. At the end of June 2009, I completed four cycles of in-patient treatments and one surgery. By this time, the first cancerous lymph node had shrunk into a dead tumor. Dr. O’Day, the melanoma specialist, and the surgeon agreed that it was a good idea to have one more surgery to remove the dead tumor. I had the second surgery done in early July, 2009. The surgeon removed one larger tumor plus 15 smaller dead tumors.

The final procedure was the radiation. Dr. O’Day ordered two sets of radiation. The first set was five days a week for four weeks in the pelvic area. The second set was once a week for four weeks. I met with the radiologist. She aligned me with the radiation machine, marked the tattoo on my body so that each radiation would be done in the same position. She further explained to me the side effect and the possible damage of the radiation. My husband is a radiology technician. He discussed the situation with Dr. O’day. Dr. O’Day decided that the damage would have outweighed the benefit. Therefore he cancelled the first set of radiation. I only needed to do the second set. I started the second week of July and completed it in the first week of August 2009.

Before I entered this journey, I didn’t know where it would have taken me. I only knew that if God didn’t say He was done with me, I had no right to decide to quit. I had to take the chances presented to me and trust him to guide me through. All I could do was to take one day at a time. There were so many nights that I didn’t have any sleep because the chemo drugs burning continuously. My body was so hot and the skin was so sensitive. Knowing that I didn’t have to go to work the next day helped to reduce my anxiousness. Throughout my treatment, my family and friends were my greatest support.

I do believe there is a reason for every season, and for every suffering. With God’s help, I could look beyond the suffering, even when I was right in the middle of it. In the end, I was able to count the suffering as my blessing.

Post note: The highlighted links are linked to the previous 8 posts. I continue to suffer lymphedema (swelling) on left leg, and nerve damage on both legs resulting in tingling and poor circulation.

 

Please share your thankfulness by participating at Haddon Musings

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