DAMISA  
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DAMISA's Recent Blog Entries

I am so past-due for a new blog entry...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My birthday has come and gone. I actually got to celebrate it with a large group of my cousins, as well as my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. I have to say, I haven't had a birthday celebration with so many family members since I was a kid -- and I loved it!

My last PET scan has come and gone -- and the results were awesome! I still have metastatic breast cancer -- there are still little cancer nasties that migrated outside of where they should have stayed, BUT some of the lesions have DISAPPEARED and the "uptake" (cancer-nasty building) in the active tumor was down significantly! Now, if we can just get this anemia from the chemo under control, I might even start to feel something akin to normal!

Speaking of normal, two of my Florida Duranie Girlz came to visit me for a long weekend. I rented a car (since mine still lives in Florida) and we stayed at a hotel. I drove for the first time in over a year -- and I loved it! I actually felt as close to normal as I have since December 16, 2008 (my diagnosis day). We went to the Warhol Museum, shopped and ate in the Strip District (it's a shopping area), and shopped some more! We have been Duran Duran concert roomies in the past, so it felt kind of like that (without the actual concert). I sooooooooooooooo *heart* my friends for coming to see me -- even with 2 feet of snow on the ground. The sun seemed to follow them and it was fairly warm while they were here. The day that they left, it started to snow again. How weird is that???

I had an appointment with my oncologist this week and, despite my icky cold that I got from my baby nephew, she told me that I looked great. She asked the "are you still working" question and I told her that I was. My aunt was with me and she was as tired of hearing that question as I was, so she chimed in, "I think that it is great that she is working and involved in something. I think that working is good for her." So my oncologist decided to ask me about what I do. Of course, a big smile spread across my face as I told her what I do how it makes me happy. She told me that I am a tough girl with an amazing attitude.

Speaking of attitude. Mine is this:

1. I refuse to believe that I was middle aged at 17.
2. I refuse to give up on living because my body has decided it wants to be sick.
3. I refuse to believe that all that I have put my body through isn't somehow going to make me better -- even if better doesn't mean cancer-free.
4. I fully intend to live and be happy!

Now, I gave a lot of props to the folks who came to visit me last month. There have been others. My friend from Georgia drove up last Spring and another friend from Florida drove up just before Christmas. These very dear people contribute to above-stated attitude. And there's more...

And my brother and his family -- they have been going through all of this with me. They have been letting me live with them for over a year now. I am so blessed.

The office cheering committee sends me cards and care packages. Teachers from around the state have sent me get well and thinking of you cards. My colleagues in other states have sent me cards and cheerful emails. Former co-workers (from 7 years ago) sent me a gift and a card signed by everyone in the school -- some of whom didn't even know me. One of my projects held a workshop and had the participants sign a gigantic card. My Duranie Girlz Sunshine committee has sent me flowers, tea, etc. How can I not have a good attitude? I have people praying for me and cheering me on all the time. I am humbled by it. I shed tears of joy over it. And I respond by having the best days I can possibly have -- even on chemo days -- which is saying a lot sometimes. When there are so many pozzie vibes coming my way, I owe it to myself and to the senders of those vibes to let them affect my attitude. Of course, there are down days and "whoa is me" times, but I am so bolstered by my family, friends, and colleagues that I sometimes feel like I can fly.

How awesome is that?

Signing off to go play with my adorable nephews.

Everyone have joy -- because there is always joy to be had!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BTRX71 3/16/2010 1:10AM

    Awesome blog! I love seeing how positive and strong you are. You are a motivation to all. Keep drawing in strength and love from the wonderful family and friends around you and please know with your posts you are sharing that strength. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KEYWEST_ANDREA 3/15/2010 4:23AM

    Florida Duranie girl checking in here..... It was great to get to see and hang out with you, we had a blast!! I haven't seen that much snow in YEARS!!! I could go for some more of that good food and good fun we had! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SUEJENN 3/13/2010 12:10AM

    Wow, what a woman. When I feel low, not victimized, but yucky, you know I can read your blog. Not only your positive attitude but the love and support that comes from others for you reinforces the good in this world. We are walking a challenging path yes, but others are walking paths that are challenging to them in different ways. I wish we lived closer so I could give you this hug personally. emoticon

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CAROLYN0107 3/12/2010 11:05PM

    Thanks for your inspiring blog. I'm glad I didn't miss it.
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JUNETWO68 3/12/2010 6:41AM

    Dawn you have had a positive attitude since I have known you. I wish I could have come to see you. Maybe one day.

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TERJEGOLD 3/11/2010 9:57PM

    I am thrilled that you are taking charge of your life, enjoying things to the max and seeing the world as the beautiful gift that it is. I truly believe our attitudes, positive or negative, can have a big impact on how we respond to treatments, how we recover from surgeries and chemo and how we feel in general. Sounds as if you are taking a page from my book and making each day the best day ever.

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2BEHEALTHYAGAIN 3/11/2010 7:48PM

    WOW!! Your attitude, strength, and determination is quite inspirational. You are a blessing to everyone around you. I will keep you in my prayers.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MOM2ACAT 3/11/2010 7:37PM

    I am glad your PET scan results were good!

Love your attitude too; especially #3; I know that what I am doing won't cure my cancer either, but I believe that trying to be as healthy as I can be will make it easier to live with.

A belated Happy Birthday to you too! emoticon

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New Year, More Challenges

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I feel guilty...

I have been lurking Spark, for the most part, for about a month now. I am sure that the team I co-lead has been feeling neglected. Then again, they have all been through cancer and probably understand...

I started a new chemo and it has really affected my blood counts -- both white blood cells and red blood cells. It got to the point that I had to have a blood transfusion. I was scared to death of having the transfusion, but am glad I did it. My appetite and energy level started to go up right away.

I went for the second opinion and the doctor told me that I did not qualify for his study and that he agreed with the course of treatment my current oncologist was using. My oncologist sent me for an MRI of my brain to see if I would qualify for another clinical trial. For this trial, I needed to have evidence of the cancer spreading to my brain. My MRI was clear, which is good for my brain, but it means that I don't qualify for that clinical trial either. So, my doctor is looking for another study for which I may qualify. She doesn't give up. I'm not giving up!

I guess I should back up and explain some things... I have what is called "triple negative" breast cancer. That means that the cancer is not "fed" by estrogen, progesteron, or something called HER-2 receptors. It also means that my cancer responds to chemo at first and then changes its mind. That is why we have had to postpone my surgery twice. My latest PET/CT scan shows that it is taking up residence in my liver. SCARY STUFF! The most promising medication for me is called a PARP-inhibitor. Unfortunately, the PARP-inhibitors are in clinical trials AND the FDA has put an end to what is called "compassionate use." This means that, unless I get into a clinical trial, I cannot get the medication.

I'm still not giving up!

My doctor suggested that I stop working. NO WAY! Working keeps me sane -- and I am still able to do some good for my programs. What would I do with my time if I were to stop working -- sit around and feel sorry for myself? No. Not gonna do it. I am not giving up.

My goal for right now is to maintain my weight. I lost a lot of weight over the past few months and it made my doctors worry about me. So, although my little weight tracker has a weight loss goal, I am going to try to make it stay where it is for right now. I'm hoping that, as the fatigue subsides, I can get back to exercising and build up my endurance again. Those are my fitness goals for the beginning of 2010. Hopefully, I'll be able to stick to them.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANTEEKER 1/14/2010 7:07PM

    Hi Sweetie, I am sure everyone here is happy to hear from you. I will continue to say a prayer for you .. Stay positive, keep working, and remember all your cyber friends are here for you.

Keep up the good fight..


PS.. my red counts went way down. I added protein powder recommended by a nutritionist beneprotein add to smoothies, applesauce, tea etc. It is made by Nestle and you buy it on the web

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/14/2010 7:08:26 PM

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KEYWEST_ANDREA 1/13/2010 9:07PM

    I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, sister.... I'm very glad you are a fighter, and that you have a good attitude. Hopefully we will have a date with 5 Englishmen this year sometime. Stay strong, I know you will prevail! emoticon emoticon

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CAROLYN0107 1/13/2010 7:53AM

    I'm sure glad that you have a clear head (no cancer in the brain)! The liver part does not sound good though. I'm glad you did not listen to your doctor when she told you to quit work!!

Don't give up and keep LOOKING UP to the Lord for HIS help.
HUGS

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SEMUSPARK 1/12/2010 8:56PM

    Never give up Damisa! You are such an inspiration. Stay strong and I'll keep you in my prayers. emoticon

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CELLOPLAYER1 1/12/2010 7:49PM

    emoticon

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MOM2ACAT 1/12/2010 5:38PM

    emoticon

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SUEJENN 1/12/2010 5:15PM

    Glad to hear from you again. Things get so complicated don't they? An A to B journey would be nice but when in this lifetime has that ever happened. I applaud you for the positive attitude you have toward wrok and exercise. Since my last chemo I am either sleeping or in pain. Soon I can jump on to your bandwagon and get some positive energy back. You are an inspiration!

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LILRED1980 1/12/2010 4:49PM

    You are such a positive and inspiring person. I have really grown to admire you this past year with how much you have going on in life and yet still so positive about it all. I am not so sure that I would have the same attitude and outlook as you do in your situation. You are truly a strong person and you have really taught me to be grateful for having good health and to really start taking care of my body. I have been working out everyday that I am at work and I am really enjoying it! I hope that when you return, you will come work out with me, when we go there is hardly anyone there so we don't have to worry about who is watching and all that non-sense! You are doing such an AWESOME job at staying POSITIVE! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon!

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Trying again... more chemo for me

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Well, the results of the PET/CT scan were not as promising as I had hoped and I am having more chemo. My oncologist has also applied for compassionate use of a new drug that is still in clinical trials. I am not eligible for the clinical trials because I have had carboplatin in the past (and am having it again), so compassionate use it will have to be.

I'm not going to say that this has not thrown me for a complete loop. It has. However, I am not going to let this get me down. I have to admit, though, that it has not been easy. In January, I will have been receiving treatment for a year. I never thought I would still be doing chemo at this point.

Staying positive. Praying. Living life. That is what I am doing to cope. My oncologist suggested that I might consider discontinuing to work, but I told her that working keeps me sane. Who says that???? I do love what I do and I am eternally grateful that the powers that be have been flexible and let me work via distance technology while I am fighting to get well. I cannot imagine giving up work. It would seem too much like giving up.

So... I have an appointment with another oncologist on Monday. I've had two treatments so far and they haven't knocked me over. Since I am doing chemo, all of my holiday shopping has been online to avoid getting sick. I thought that would be a bit depressing, but it has been great fun! I've gotten some great deals, too --and I am all about the bargains!

That's my story and I am sticking to it.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HCARTZ1964 4/23/2010 1:00PM

    may the Lord ride on your shoulders. I am adding your to our prayer list.

Love and Light from a fellow survivor.

Heidi

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SUEJENN 1/3/2010 8:51PM

    Damisa, you are an inspiration! When I get into my negative complaining mood and then read your blog it gives me a boost. I've only done 4 chemos and I have 2 to go. You show me strength and bravery and positive attitude. Thank you for the role model. You are in my prayers.

emoticonSue

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KEYWEST_ANDREA 1/2/2010 12:25AM

    I like the post from your co-worker about the image of you coming into the office and especially about telling about the most recent Durannie girl adventure :) That sounds awesome!! I am keeping you in thoughts and prayers, hope to see you soon!!! emoticon emoticon

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KATBWIN 1/1/2010 4:25PM

    Well, I am glad to hear you keep on trying. I am hoping 2010 gives you whatever you need to turn the corner on this battle. Been a while since I thought a year was long but, I miss you at work. For 2010, I am creating an image of you coming in the office door smiling, ready to occupy your space again, eat your oatmeal, and share stories about going to a concert... I can see it now. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ANTEEKER 12/28/2009 12:59PM

    Hello, I am continuing to keep you in my prayers cyber girl friend. I agree with you about working.. we have to have a reason to wake up in the morning. You are awesome! Keep Smiling.

cyber hugs emoticon emoticon

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SEMUSPARK 12/21/2009 5:08PM

    Praying for you Damisa! Reading your blogs is such an inspiration to me. You can remain so hopeful and cheerful despite it all emoticon

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KEYWEST_ANDREA 12/17/2009 10:29PM

    I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, as you know :) I know you are tough and will continue to fight this evil cancer with everything you've got! I agree with you, because I love what I do, also :) I think the more you do to keep your normal routine, the better it is for you, especially to keep your mind busy. I am very glad also that you are with your family during all the treatments. I will be on vacation all next week, you know you can call me anytime. (((((hugs to you))))

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LILRED1980 12/17/2009 3:21PM

    You are in my thoughts and prayers all the time. I hope that your doctor told you to consider discontinue working due to the stress that it puts on your body and not for a reason that you aren't talking about. We Love You! Hang in There! emoticon

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MOM2ACAT 12/16/2009 5:04PM

    emoticon I'm sorry the news from your scan wasn't what you had hoped.
It sounds like you work for a great place, I agree, if you love it, keep on working; as long as you can take the time off when you need it.

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PLATINUM755 12/15/2009 8:22PM

    Keep hanging in there...sending emoticon emoticon and emoticon emoticon...keep posting and letting us know how you are doing...we are here for you!

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KITTYMOM29 12/15/2009 7:35PM

    You really do have a really great attitude. Good luck with the treatment. You'll be in my prayers.

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TERJEGOLD 12/15/2009 6:59PM

    I love your attitude! And I agree with you that keeping life normal makes everything feel more normal. Keep working as long as it feels right to you. I went to part time work when my medical stuff started taking up too much of my time but I hold onto that part time job as it is my oasis of normalcy. Hugs!!

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So, tomorrow is the day!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tomorrow is the day. I have an appointment with my oncologist to see how my bone scan and PET/CT scans went last week. The good news is that I haven't heard from her. When she found something wrong in my scans in July (when I was supposed to have surgery), she literally called me on her cell phone from her vacation. I'm cautiously optimistic that the scans are okay.

Cautiously optimistic...

I haven't been on Spark much because of the neuropathy in my fingers from the chemo. My fingers feel like lead sometimes and it is hard to type as quickly and accurately as I am used to typing. Also, I haven't been too proud of my weightloss tracker. The goal during chemo was to MAINTAIN my weight -- not gain or lose. Of course, my oncologist and primary care physician are concerned. I've been trying to maintain weight by drinking Ensure and eating snacks (healthy snacks, of course), but even my new jeans are getting loose. I need to try harder.

I'm nervous about the appointment tomorrow, but it is all part of the process. Hopefully, the process will move on. Being stalled in chemo mode has really taken its toll on me.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLYN0107 12/3/2009 5:37AM

    Thanks for the sharing. Did you get your results?

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ANTEEKER 12/2/2009 6:04PM

    Sending you a cyber hug. And will keep you in my prayers for a happy outcome.
Keep Smiling Sweetie
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KEYWEST_ANDREA 12/1/2009 8:41PM

    Hey there girl :)

I am crossing everything for you for a good result tomorrow!! I think if there was anything else new, then you would have been called by now...No news is good news emoticon is what I'm hoping for you...let me know how it goes! As for the weight loss, it's not a good way to lose it, but I think in the long run it will help you meet the rest of your exercise goals..keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, Eunice :) emoticon

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MOM2ACAT 12/1/2009 6:37PM

    emoticon Keeping you in my prayers, and hoping that the fact you haven't heard about the test results yet means it good news!

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TERJEGOLD 12/1/2009 6:26PM

    I hope you have the very best news possible. I, too, have neuropathy and while it's been annoying it hasn't progressed or caused anything more than some dropsies and such. It comes and goes, too. Does yours stay the same or does it vary?

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow but I agree, no news from an oncologist is generally good news. so I think you need to start planning your celebratory event for tomorrow night. And when it happens, we want pictures and a fun blog!

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JENEAL1 12/1/2009 4:48PM

    God Bless you honey.

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ZLATEH 12/1/2009 4:38PM

  I wish you the best possible outcome.

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JJGILBERT71 12/1/2009 4:28PM

  You are in my prayers.

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Am I brave for wanting to live?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I had a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine -- someone I have known since Kindergarten. She called to tell me that she bought loads of raffle tickets in support of a breast cancer fundraiser and wanted to let me know that, although she didn't expect to win anything, she bought the limit in my honor (she called today to let me know that she won something, by the way).

Anyway, my friend told me how she thought I was sooooo much braver than she was because, if she had gotten the diagnosis, given the chemo, losing hair, being sick, etc., she would choose not to have any treatments.

Am I brave for wanting to live?

I have to admit. I never, ever thought of it that way. I've put on a brave face sometimes for friends and family, but choosing to have treatment for breast cancer was not really a choice to me -- it was a given. After some more conversation, I hope that I convinced her that choosing treatment to be well again wasn't brave -- it just makes sense -- especially since we are in our 30s and have a lot of life to live.

Makes me think, though...

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMMY104 1/17/2010 10:22PM

  I have battled cancer twice, and am 9 years past. Continue working, because that is what kept me sane. You will make it. Keep up the battle. I understand what you are feeling and going through.

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SAMMY104 1/17/2010 10:22PM

  I have battled cancer twice, and am 9 years past. Continue working, because that is what kept me sane. You will make it. Keep up the battle. I understand what you are feeling and going through.

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SAMMY104 1/17/2010 10:22PM

  I have battled cancer twice, and am 9 years past. Continue working, because that is what kept me sane. You will make it. Keep up the battle. I understand what you are feeling and going through.

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SAMMY104 1/17/2010 10:19PM

  I have battled cancer twice, and am 9 years past. Continue working, because that is what kept me sane. You will make it. Keep up the battle. I understand what you are feeling and going through.

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SAMMY104 1/17/2010 10:18PM

  I have battled cancer twice, and am 9 years past. Continue working, because that is what kept me sane. You will make it. Keep up the battle. I understand what you are feeling and going through.

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KATBWIN 10/28/2009 5:12PM

    Hey there,

Brave for chosen chemo? Yes, you were chosen something that you knew was going to make you feel sick (although I don't think you can know how sick you are going to feel until you get there) and going toward an unknown. Yea, it's brave. Staying with the treatment when you are feeling yucky, scared, depressed, yucky and what ever other words might fit the scenerio is brave.

And yes there is a lot to look forward to from 30 on. Take it from someone who has passed 30 a while ago...There are a lot of fun yet to come. Especially for someone like you - when you enjoy something you really do enjoy it. It was infectious watching you get excited about things - like the next concert...
:-)



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SEMUSPARK 10/27/2009 6:21PM

    I think you are brave Damisa and you inspire me! I'm glad you made the choice to fight cancer!

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TERJEGOLD 10/23/2009 10:43PM

    You know, there was one time in my cancer journey when, if I were not a Mother, I would have definitely chosen to stop treatment. i was tired, overwhelmed, discouraged, sick, hopeless, etc. I can honestly say my children saved my life. I chose to embark on that new round of treatments for no other reason than that I had a responsibility to parent my children to the best of my ability.


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LIFE_IS_SO_GOOD 10/23/2009 10:07PM

    Sometimes I think people tell us we are brave because they really don't know what to say to us.

I was constantly told how brave I was, how much courage I had ... blah ... blah .... blah

The fact is I just wanted to live so i did what I thought I had to do to survive.

Then again, maybe that's what is brave ... the not giving up and doing what we do ..... who knows :)

I wish you the best! It's not easy but we do somehow get thru it .... and sometimes we even thrive because of it ....



emoticon

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KEYWEST_ANDREA 10/22/2009 11:33PM

    I don't understand how someone would just give up and not take the treatments....I know for sure where I would be in that conversation, because I ran through all the scenarios in my mind when I had my scare...You're a tough cookie, Eunice....not one to lay down and just take what is handed to you :)

Comment edited on: 10/22/2009 11:35:09 PM

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CAROLYN0107 10/22/2009 7:03AM

    You're right to want life! Keep at it.

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CELLOPLAYER1 10/21/2009 8:36PM

    I agree with you I never gave it a second thought about not having treatments. When I found out my cancer had returned I just wanted to know what my treatment opions were and get them started.

I had friends tell me that they could never go through what I have gone through. I let my family, friends and faith get me through.


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MOM2ACAT 10/21/2009 6:45PM

    I know what you mean, I feel the same way when I get those comments.
I just tell people I'm just doing what I need to do to live.
Even though my cancer returned, I don't think I would be here today without the chemo I had the first time around. And I plan on sticking around for as long as I can.


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ANTEEKER 10/21/2009 6:29PM

    Hi D. I hope you helped your friend realize that you can never give up. I am with you I never thought about not doing the chemo.. Was it awful? Yes Did I get really sick ? Yes
It is better than doing nothing.. you have to keep trying.. I am glad you choseLife.
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Comment edited on: 10/21/2009 6:30:06 PM

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ASHLEYGRACE3 10/21/2009 5:06PM

    I appreciate the honesty in your blog.

I guess it is hard for any of us to plan what we would do in a given situation until we are faced with that situation. how we believe we may react may end up being the opposite of what we end up doing when faced with that problem.

I am glad that your decision was not difficult for you and that you are following your heart. people use their heads sometimes too much, and need to follow where their hearts guide them.

All the best!

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