The Big Bad Wolf Has Returned

Or it never left, either way, I am back in treatment :(.

On Friday, I went to the doctor to find out the bad news.  Fortunately, it is not 100% bad, and not dire, as I have very few symptoms.  I will be going to Houston in the next couple weeks to see if I qualify for a clinical trial.  I started a GoFundMe, and my former classmates at Park Center have funded the first trip to Houston.  A charitable organization has offered more funding.

I have been asked a lot what were the symptoms, what should you do if you suspect you have ovarian cancer.  My doctor has called the disease a sneaky bastard and that’s what it is.  I’m going to go into some gory details, so if you are squeamish, or a man, you may want to turn around and run lol…

Symptoms:

  • A change in my period, PMS, and ovulation.  My period was irregular since I was a teen.  Instead of getting more irregular, my period actually regulated.  At ovulation time it was painful (which I joked for almost a year with my husband that I was finally ovulating, I had lots of trouble getting pregnant). PMS was a BEAR.  I was exhausted, nauseous, and had heavy cramping.  My period was also very heavy and I had increased cramping during it.
  • Lower back ache.  Closer to my diagnosis, I developed an intermittent lower back ache. I had been injured the year before– S-1 Joint hurt, so I thought it was my injury.  The cancer had cut off the uterer between my bladder and right kidney, and I was in stage one renal failure.
  • Malaise.  I was BONE tired.  I had the energy to run, but as soon as I got home from my runs, I was DONE.

Anything can cause these symptoms.  If you are concerned that you have these symptoms and bloating, constipation, difficulty breathing, painful sex, weight gain, and stomach upset, please see your gynecologist.  If you would like specific tests, request a CA-125 (which is a cancer antigen).  Many things can cause it to elevate, so be aware that it may not be accurate measure for disease.

 

The Word Of The Day– Anxiety

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I took this blue-tailed skink at the park on Sunday.  It’s been a LONG four weeks.  It started after my first post-cancer appointment.  The doctor said, “You look great, welcome to remission.”  Then a few hours later, I got a phone call, “Hold up, your CA-125 (cancer antigen) is abnormal, and you have to schedule a PET Scan.”

Then, anxiety hit, and hit HARD!  First, it was scheduling the exam, which was cancelled THREE times, because the machine was broke.  Finally, I got the exam scheduled, and I had anxiety about the scan itself.  It’s a three hour test, and you have to sit in a room by yourself for an hour after getting an IV.

Now, it’s waiting for the results. I didn’t realize that if the scan is clear they don’t call you and tell you its clear, instead they call you, and make an appointment.  Every thought goes through your mind.  I hear the doctor saying, “Your cancer never went away, your cancer is back, kiss your kids good-bye, your going back on chemo, or congratulations– you’re all done.”  The nurses, techs, and doctor gives you no hint at what’s coming on results day.  From what I know is if it’s bad– he tells you to come in immediately, or the radiologist calls the doctor quickly.

So now, here I sit, with scan anxiety.  What are the symptoms?  Every symptom of cancer– real and imagined.  I have not slept, I have barely been able to eat, I am irritable towards my kids, I rage, I swear, and I cry.  It takes every ounce of energy to go about my daily life.  I have been officially diagnosed with PTSD.  I feel utterly INSANE.  It is not a condition just for Army Troops returning from war.  Last night at 3:00 AM, I swore I smelled and tasted saline, which is a sensation you get when you have an IV inserted.

What can you do?  If you are the praying type– please pray, if you are an atheist, just send me positive thoughts…  I need them right now.

An Open Letter…

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Dear Misfit Runners–

I am utterly and completely disappointed in your group of people.  In January, I was a victim of cyber bullying from this group.  The reason, SF and SR decided that I was faking cancer– I don’t know why they decided that I had faked this condition, or how they came to this conclusion.  They berated me very publicly to friends I had for years.  I was ostracized, and treated horribly.  I left the group without defending myself.

I learned that there were other victims of this group– male and female.  Another runner who on journey to lose 400 pounds was told he was an attention monger.  Another runner was told that she faked her finish line pictures in the New York City Marathon (and was also accused of faking her ailments as well).  Just yesterday, they attacked a mother, and her teenaged daughter.

The perpetrators of this behavior are not teenagers, they are not even children, they are 20-30-40-year old grown ass women.  And it’s despicable.  It is so wrong to troll other adults, but extending that trolling to minor children is pathetic.  I hope the people who are doing this read this, and know that you are utterly, and completely pathetic.  I felt sorry for you when you attacked me, because I thought there was seriously wrong with your self-esteem to go after adults, but a child– there is absolutely, positively NO excuse.  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  You are disgusting human beings.

 

Jodi

P.S. Just so you know– I kicked cancers butt.  I’m now done with chemo.  The picture above was taken today.  The only evidence of cancer is my really short hair cut.

 

I’m With Her

I’m not a celebrity, I don’t have a really large readership.  I’m a struggling author and artist.  I can say that I make absolutely, positively NO money with my writing, photography, or even my hand-made mosaics.  My only claim to fame is that my husband is an officer in the United States Air Force, and even that fact I hide (though I am immensely proud of him, I don’t deserve any credit for his success).  Yet I decided to declare, like a celebrity, who I am voting for.  Namely, because my decision is not a popular one in my community.  The responses from other veterans, neighbors, and military spouses: “Were you dropped on your head?” “You must be a special kind of stupid,” or my favorite one, “You are a traitor…”

Yep, I’m one stair step up from Bowie Bergdahl and that kid, who sold his stuff to Wiki-leaks.  I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.  Lucky for me, I own this site, so while I don’t necessarily have to explain my reasoning, but I want to explain my reasoning.  I cannot, even as a somewhat conservative individual support what the Republican Party has become.  I knew I was not going to vote for Trump the minute I saw the recording of him making fun of the reporter.  From there it was kind of a windy road to get me to not only declare for Clinton, but to completely change my political party…

First of all she’s a woman…  I used to think that was a utterly stupid reason to vote for someone, but then I got cancer and realized the inequity in female medical care versus male medical care when I tried to apply for veteran’s benefits.  My cancer was deemed service connected by the doctor at the VA, and I was still turned down for benefits, when I read many men with similar cancers were getting disability benefits.  Besides female medical benefits, I can’t see women being respected in an administration that accuses a woman of being on her period when they don’t like what she has to say.  Nor can I vote for someone, who trades in wives almost as much as he changes his underwear.  Nor can I vote for someone, who changes what he says based on the crowd he is in front of.  Nor can I vote for someone, who says he is going to punish women if they have an abortion.

Secondly, educational rights and ADA/IDEA…  This is one of the platform points that’s the most important to me.  When we first moved to Florida, my son was performing at just below grade level.  He did have some behaviors, but they were minimal.  He had a teacher that absolutely loved him.  We put him into public school, and his performance fell off. He reacted poorly to the teacher, and I could tell that the teacher did not like him.  He now cannot read, or write.  I do blame myself for some of this, but I mostly blame the school system that let him down.  I don’t see how things would improve by disbanding the Department of Education.  I don’t see a man, who makes fun of a disabled reporter as someone, who would deal compassionately with my son.  When called out for making fun of the reporter, Trumps supporters accused people of being oversensitive, or too politically correct.  Here’s the thing, people with special needs have feelings too, and those feelings count as well.  My son, though cognitively delayed is very aware of how people treat him and look at him.  He can tell when someone doesn’t like him, and so can I.

Do I really want the man, who has his finger on the button to be completely uneducated on what that button does?  Hillary Clinton never served in the military, got it.  She may have potentially killed four people, got it.  She leaked classified information on a home server, got it.  But I have the utmost confidence that she wouldn’t fly off the handle and misuse nuclear weapons.  I also know that she isn’t $250 million in debt to one of our biggest adversaries.  She knows what the nuclear triad is.  Trump had to be schooled by another candidate.  Trump may have a fair to mediocre business sense, but he doesn’t have the temperament or knowledge to manage a country in an extended war.

Finally, the name calling…  Trump has started a trend of calling opponents names.  “Crooked Hillary,” “Lying Ted,” and “Little Marco” was a real turn off for me.  It said more about Trump, than it said about any of those he opposed.  Further, when people on the Trump Train began calling Clinton Supporters names, it drove me further and further to her side.  When a politician calls people names rather than addresses issues it tells me that they are not educated, and not willing to be educated, by the real issues.  Further, it also displays a complete lack of compassion and empathy towards other people.  My political views are fluid.  I’m starkly in the middle, I could be easily compelled to vote for any political party.  When I make a decision to vote for someone calling me names does not change my mind.

These are just a few of the reasons I have decided to vote for Hillary Clinton.  If you are going to comment on my blog, please keep the discussion/comments respectful.  Anyone that makes disrespectful comments, or insults me will be blocked.

 

 

Dear Mr/Mrs Future President…

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Dear Mrs. Clinton/Mr. Trump/Mr. Johnson/Mrs. Stein,

One of you will have the ultimate honor of being the next commander-in-chief.  All four of you have promised in one way, or another, to take care of veterans and military families during your campaigns.  As a military veteran and military spouse, I have an interesting insight on how you can truly help us.

First of all, throwing money at programs with a fancy name is not going to provide much help.  For the last 14 years of my husband’s 19 years of service, I have been unemployed.  For the most part, I volunteered to be the stay at home mom, but when I was ready to return to work, I discovered much to my dismay that my commission, 40% disability rating, and experience meant next to nothing.  The “real world” is like the honey badger, it doesn’t give a f(#*.  It doesn’t care that you race directed three 5-kilometer races, and raised over $70K for autism charities.  It doesn’t care that you are a published author, that you gave away your artwork that you work extremely hard on, or that you have put the free freelance for years.  The real world doesn’t care.

Secondly, please change the EFMP system for special needs children.  My son is one of those military children that have fallen through cracks.  He has been written off as uneducateable by the local school system.  He was ABUSED in a classroom, and sadly there was NOTHING I could do about it.  I tried hiring a lawyer, but the local school district had all education lawyer on retainer.  I tried writing the newspaper, and I was told by readership that they didn’t want my child bringing down the standards for their children.  I even contacted Dr. Phil, but my husband didn’t want to go to on a daily talk show.  How can you help with this?  Make school districts for ALL special education students (not just military ones) accountable for not following the law!  It is amazing how back asswards some districts are.  The military is a powerful way to affect change in educational standards for special needs kiddos.  Basically, if the military start refusing to send families to school districts that systematically ignore the law– it will hit them where it counts.  The military where I live has a strong positive impact on the local economy.  There are over 10,000 family members in the state I live in now with special needs, and if those families were to move, it would negatively impact an economy.

Finally, the number one employer for veterans is actually the US Government.  One thing the government can do to make it easier for veterans is make the application process less cumbersome.  The complicated application process makes applying for a job a daunting task.  Many veterans quit before the accomplish their application.  The transfer and application process makes it difficult for veterans and spouses apply for jobs.

I Am Not From The Same Planet

Today on Facebook, I was called a libtard, I was told that I am the worst parent in the world, and that my kids must be spoiled rotten brats.  Why would someone say something so horrible to someone they don’t know?  Because I vocalized my opinion on a story that has gone viral down in Lower Alabama.  A grandfather was arrested in Birmingham for spanking his grandchildren at McDonald’s.

First of all, spanking is completely legal in Alabama.  Secondly, I have NO issue if you want to spank your kids.  Thirdly, I am not the vindictive type of person, who would call the authorities on child being spanked in public, unless you are the type of person who hits your child with a closed fist.  Hell, I spanked my kids a long time ago, but something happened around seven years ago that completely changed my mind.

My daughter was three, and per being part of the nuclear inspection team after a major nuclear weapons incident, my husband was gone inspecting something.  My daughter had done something, I don’t really remember what, but it was something typical of a three year old that garnered the reaction of me spanking her on the butt.  I gave her a spanking, and when I was done and about to explain to her why she had “deserved” that punishment, because that’s what every good spanking mom does.  She hit me, and said, “bad momma, you shouldn’t hit.”

In that one moment, I became utterly confused.  I sent her to her room, and told her not to hit.  It was in that moment, I realized I had two options.  I could punish her more for hitting me, by hitting her, and she is the type of child that would have hit me again.  Or I could change my parenting approach.  I realized in that moment that spanking her was not going to work.  She had outwitted me.

Of course I get the, “How did you teach her not to run into the street, or touch hot things without spanking her?”  Simple, I told her that if you run into the street, you could get hit by a car.  I kept a close eye on her, and didn’t allow her to go near the street.  It didn’t require me to hit her if she got close to the street.  It just required me to say, “Hey Sophie, come here, you are too close to the street.”  If she didn’t come, I would go to her, and grab her.  Again did not require me to hit her to get the point across.  She never really ran into the street.  Same goes for the oven.  She would get close to the oven, I would say, “it’s hot, don’t touch.”  If she got too close I would remove her.  And one time she did touch it, and got a little burn.  It hurt, it scared her, and she never touched the oven again.  It didn’t require me to smack her butt.

As for my son, when he was first diagnosed with autism, we were told that traditional discipline would not work, and could have dire consequences.  Namely, one therapist said, that spanking a child on the spectrum could cause them to become overly violent, or it could cause them to mistrust adults.  We stopped all corporal punishment after we were told this.  The only time he has ever injured me was completely accidental, and he has never purposefully been violent to anyone.

Well, the conclusion of the Internet parenting experts is that my children must walk all over me, they must be disrespectful, and they must be brats.  None of the above is true at all.  I’ll sing the praises of my children.  My son, the one with autism, is one of the most sensitive loving children a parent could ask for.  He has a wicked sense of humor, and his favorite thing in the world to do is tease everyone.  He has one of the most interesting tastes in music, and is a Boy Scout.  His best friend is Thor, my 100-lb Golden Retriever.

My daughter wants to be an ABA-therapist when she grows up.  She is polite, kind, and wicked smart.  She plays violin and sings in the church choir.  This summer she has decided to read the Bible cover-to-cover.  When I asked her why?  She said, she liked church stories.  Her favorite song is “How Great Thou Art.”  Trust me, I have a new found faith in God, but I am not nearly that religious.  She has said that when she gets married that her husband better love Ryan, because he will be living with her when she grows up.

The behavior of on-line commentators utterly confuses me.  I have said nothing about myself, my political leanings, or how my children are.  I have not judged any other parent for their parenting choices when it comes to discipline.  I am one of those parents, who thinks that if a discipline method works for you, and your family, go for it.  But I am also one of those parents, who believes in mutual respect.  That does not mean that I am best friends with my kids (yet, perhaps when they are older we can have a relationship like my mom and I), but it means that I respect them as human beings, and I feel (most of the time) they respect me.  I don’t believe in demanding respect by virtue of age, or experience.  For me respect doesn’t work that way.  It can’t be something forced, or demanded.  Respect is earned, and it can be taken away.

My kids are not these wild children that everyone complains about. They are not entitled, demanding, or spoiled.  They are good kids.  My parenting philosophy is if my kids are the type of kids a grandparent feels the need to discipline, the type of kids that people complain about, or are not respectful and polite, then I am the one who failed, and I need to fix the way I parent them, not the other way around.

 

How Do You Thank Someone For Saving Your Life?

I finished chemo yesterday.  I looked back on the last six months since this entire adventure started, and the only thing I thought of is, how the hell do I think the people involved with saving my life.  Catching this cancer in the earlier stages (though I was stage iv, it was caught very early as in retrospect my symptoms were minor), and I am still here today because of the doctors, nurses, and my friends and family, who were a constant support.  I guess the best way to do it is to write an open letter to those who were involved in my treatment.

Dear Staff at Sacred Heart,

I don’t know if you realize this, but you saved my life.  You do it every day, and I wanted to acknowledge some of you individually.  There is really nothing I can do, give, or say that will express how much I appreciate and truly love you for what you did for me.  So where do I start:

I would like to thank the ER resident OB, who had absolutely no experience in a 40-year-old woman, with no symptoms dumped in your lap that night.  Who through tears told you that another radiologist you never met that I had a mass, but you couldn’t feel the mass, so you sent me up to a hospital room.

Tommy, the nurse, who appreciated my jokes about drinking that frozen concoction with tequila.  I don’t know if you like it on the rocks.  I really want to bring you a bottle, but I don’t want to get you in trouble…  You have no idea how much your humor, your honesty, and how much fun you were during this incredibly rough time.

To Dr. Parra– I am so proud of you for finishing the half marathon.  Thank-you for your solid advice and talks about autism, the Air Force, and for praying for my family.  I really, really appreciate your expertise and how much we had in common.  I’m so glad to have met you.  Thanks for taking the stint out so I can run :).

Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the other night nurse in oncology, who finally relieved me from the pain of 12 hours of dry heaving, by giving me something to finally puke.  You held my hand while vomited and sobbed.  You broke my Seinfeld-esque vomit free streak.  You’ll be happy to know that I never vomited during chemo :).  I came close.

Onto Oncology, and Gynecological Oncology…  There are no words, no prayers, no nothing I can say to Dr Stephen DeCeasare.  I cannot thank-you, or give you credit, or scream it from the rooftop on how wonderful you have been.  You will always be the one who saved my life.  I know having served in the military, we hold those that save lives in the highest regard.  You are a hero to me, and to my family.  We will not forget your bedside manner, your kindness, and your tireless work for your patients.  Thank-you so very much.

To Becky, Dr. DeCeasare’s nurse.  Thank-you for being his support and mine, and for answering every question.  Nurses are the backbone to care, and you are truly appreciated.I really cannot thank-you enough for your helping me with my crazy schedule.

To Karla, Jeanette, and everyone else in the oncology infusion room.  You women are the heart and soul of treatment.I truly love everyone in the infusion.  Especially Karla, who I got to know in the last 16 weeks.  Thanks for being there and being a constant support.  I appreciate your advice, and followed it to the letter (most of the time).  Thank-you for reminding me to complain when I feel yucky and not to suffer in too much silence :).  Thanks for holding my hand the first infusion when I was so terrified I could barely move.

I can’t thank anyone involved in my cancer treatment enough.  You have touched me, and changed me forever.  I love you all, and will keep you in my prayers forever.  You have saved my life…  As far as I am concerned, there are not enough military medals, accolades, recognition I can give you!

A Poem Within

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A Poem Within:

I am intelligent.
I am amazing.
Although, there are days when I barely manage.
And sometimes I feel downright stupid.
I know that on those days I just need to try.
Perception is not my reality!
I am an original.
I will never give up, never!
I am gorgeous.

I am invincible.
I am wonderful.
I know that sometimes the odds are incredible
Inward I lean;
I will learn.
I will live,
And the things that leave me insecure,
Will be vanquished and I will have victory
And I will endure!

I am imaginative
I am amazing
I have the will and the drive to move mountains,
To be an example of strength.
There are times I feel terror,
Those days I remember
Bad things will occur
I keep hope near
And then I keep going and going.

Because I am strong…

This poem was inspired in the car driving to chemo today.  It is a poem within.  It may be easy for most, hard for most, or you won’t get it.  That’s the beauty of poetry.  Sometimes the obvious answer is the one staring you in the face.  If you figured out the conundrum message me, but don’t give it away to others, because that would ruin the fun.  Share if you would like, but don’t copy, because that would be rude, and ruin my copyright…

Dancing In The Purple Rain

I am so very sad the last couple of days.  I think back to 2016, and wish that I really could rewind and start all over again.  Actually, I wish I could go back to the middle of 2015, and just undo all of it– every waking moment.  Starting with the day my dad died, and ending with the day royalty died.  The reason for my sadness is the loss of Prince.  I am not much of celebrity watcher, I don’t care about the reality stars, I am not a member of the Bey Hive, and I have varied tastes in movies and music.  The one thing I am very proud of is being from the state of Minnesota.

The military has taken me all over the world, but my heart is in Minnesota, and a big part of my heart died this last week.  I was a huge fan of Prince since I was 8.  You see being from Minneapolis, loving music, and appreciating the color purple is a birthright.  Prince was everything that was great about Minnesota.  A part of a bohemian musical and artistic scene.  He had made it big musically and artistically, he didn’t move to LA, NYC, or anywhere else.  He built a recording studio in Chanhassen, a suburb of Minneapolis. He stayed where his heart was.

There was no paparazzi in Minnesota.  When I was in High School, it was well known that you could go to Downtown MN, go into in First Avenue, and maybe see him (if you were lucky you would see a show!).  He would be outside of his compound handing out invitations to block parties, and some of his neighbors even said he would stop by for a chat.  He didn’t drink, he didn’t do drugs, and he was a religious man.  The biggest thing about Prince, though, he was one of US.  He was someone we were proud of.  He not only defined where I am from, but he defined people of my generation.  He was our Elvis, he was our neighbor, and he will be missed.

So when it rains, I will be dancing in the Purple Rain…

I Wear Athletic Wear To Chemo And Other Crazy Things I Do…

I have done some pretty crazy things the last several weeks since I was diagnosed with cancer.  Here are a few of them:

I wear running clothes to chemotherapy.  And when I am not wearing the same clothes I would wear running a marathon, I go out and buy “chemotherapy” outfits.  So far I have bought three new outfits that I have only worn to chemo.  And I have purchased scarves and headgear to match.

I let my daughter shave my head.  That’s right, I handed a razor over to a 10-year-old and said, “Have fun…”

I bring my laptop and a puzzle book to chemo with every intention to work on my novel.  I have not done one puzzle, nor have I written one word on the novel since December.  I sit there for 5 hours, talk to other cancer patients, talk to whoever has rode with me, or I binge watch “Law And Order Special Victims Unit” on USA Network.

I have started running again.  I announced on my Caring Bridge Site that I was running, and got a slew of texts, and calls telling me that I was insane for running, and running outside at that.  In my defense, my doctor is fully supportive, and he said that he wants me running.  I would never do anything to jeopardize my health or recovery.

I plan on getting a tattoo and piercings after I am done with chemo.  I actually plan on getting a teal butterfly tattoo somewhere on my body.  I want to commemorate what I have survived, and I also am thinking about getting my nose pierced.  I don’t really care that I’m 40, and it may seem hipster-ish.

I have contemplated doing crazy clean eating diet, but opted for chocolate, jellybeans, and Fritos.  I was going to do a green smoothie diet, with fresh organic vegetables, and lots of fruits.  Unfortunately, I am allergic to bananas.  (Sorry TMI) Pineapples give me the runs.  And the only thing that really stays down are bagels, cream cheese, chocolate, jellybeans, and Fritos.