Monday, June 4, 2012

Change of Plans

The year 2012 started off well. I found a project that I had started 10 years ago and never finished. My goal was to complete the project by the time the 10-year mark rolled around in mid-February. The project is Dresden plate blocks and here is a photo of the first two blocks I completed -- 10 years ago.

Here are the same two blocks as they are finished.
As you can see, I'm using my preferred method of "pot holder quilting" to complete the blocks. At this point, I have about eight blocks left to finish then they can all be stitched together. The finished quilt won't be the bed-sized quilt that I originally envisioned. However, there are 35 blocks and they are finishing out to 10" square. Those 35 blocks will make a nice twin-bed size quilt. Even though I don't have a twin bed, I think I'm going to keep the quilt, anyway.

Unfortunately, I don't know when I will finish the quilt. It may be early next year before that happens. My life has taken a very unexpected turn. If someone had asked me two months ago what I would be doing for the next two months, my answer would NOT have been having three surgeries and starting chemotherapy. In early April, I had a surgery to make sure the progesterone I had been taking was doing its job. What I found out is that yes, the progesterone was doing its job, but there was something else going on. Pathology results showed that I had developed uterine papilloma serous carcinoma. This particular cancer is very rare, occurring in only 5-10% of newly-diagnosed uterine cancers and the strain I have is typically found in slender Black women. Definitely not me!! A total hysterectomy was scheduled as soon as possible. The surgery went well and the doctor felt that all tumor-related cells had been excised. The doctor also removed lymph nodes in my groin. Fortunately, the lymph nodes were clear of disease and fortunately the disease was Stage 1 so very treatable.

Apparently, this form of cancer can show up in any part of the body so I am undergoing chemotherapy to kill any cancer critters that may have broken free and are roaming around in my body. So far, I have had only one treatment. From my perspective, it went well. I'll have treatment every Friday for 17 more weeks. The first treatment was not all that bad. Friday and Saturday were pretty good days thanks to the steroids I took. Yesterday (Sunday) was a bit rockier although still not too bad. I felt OK; just had no energy and wasn't in the mood to eat. Of course, I know I need to eat to keep going and to keep my blood sugars in control so I managed to chew on a few things. Today is getting off to a good start. And most importantly, I haven't had to struggle with nausea.

I want to share an experience I had during last Friday's first chemo treatment. I have a lot of people praying on my behalf, most of whom I don't know and have never met. But they are helping lift up my troubles. While the first drugs were being infused, I turned on my iPod and listened to some bluegrass music, one of my favorite genres. After an hour or so, I decided I wanted something else to listen to so I switched over to a couple of old-time gospel albums. As I listed to those songs, like Old Rugged Cross and Precious Memories, the lyrics were more clear to me than they ever had been. After a while of listening to those gospel songs, I felt a peace come over me and I knew that everything would be OK. It was the first time in my life that I actually felt the love of Jesus Christ. I've seen the results many times, but this time I felt it. What a wondrous feeling!

The coming weeks will be challenging many times, I am sure. But the peacefulness that I experienced on Friday reassured me that God is watching over me and helping me through this ordeal. We can never climb the mountain without the help of our Lord and I know with his help, I will reach the top of the mountain and conquer this cancer. Am I looking forward to the continuing treatments? Of course not, but I know that I have to do this to keep living so this is what I do. I have gotten advice from trusted people and am trying to heed that advice. I know it will be difficult, but with the love and prayers of family and friends and even people who don't know me, we as a group will see me through.

All of us have had quite a lot of laughs about the slender Black woman twist and that is what I am trying to focus on. I want to see the humor in as many things as I can and you have to admit the Black woman angle is funny! I will lose my hair, of course. On Friday, I had to go through a training session and one of the things we talked about is hair regrowth. Apparently there is no way to know what the hair may look like when it grows back in. The trainer said sometimes the regrowth is a different color and sometimes it's kinky. Well, of course, I zeroed in on the kinky part and I suspect that might be when I see manifestation of the "inner slender Black woman" I carry around with me. Again, anything for a laugh!

I have blathered on long enough. I hope you haven't been too bored. There was a lot that I had to get out of my system. As always, thanks for reading my ramblings.

Amy, the cancer warrior of Central Missouri

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