Friday, February 11, 2011
I feel so supported by you all! Words can't express how thankful I am for all your comments, thoughts and prayers.
Last week my sister Janet had her first scan since she started chemo. After all she's been through with many side effects, the treatment did not work. The tumor in her pancreas did not shrink. The cancer has now spread to her lungs and has gone deeper into her liver. She called me with the news last Wednesday night and I have had a hard time coping with the reality that her time with us is slipping away. I feel helpless and frustrated and downright angry.
Oh, but not Janet. She is so amazing and it's nothing short of a blessing and grace from God that she has been able to deal with all of it with such peace and faith. Even while she was telling me this news, she was very matter of fact. I know it's not an act to spare me. I know it's not denial. She has always had the ability to do what I call compartmentalizing. It's a coping mechanism she's had all her life. If something is bothering her and too painful to think about, she just puts it in a compartment in her mind and locks the door. It's her way of letting go. She does this for anything that it beyond her control because she knows that dwelling on it won't help one bit and in fact is detrimental to the situation.
Here I was angry that the treatment did nothing. She has no regrets in choosing chemo. Her response was, "You have to at least try, and who knows if the cancer would have spread even more without it."
I spent yesterday with Janet and her sweet spirit and positive attitude was contagious. She told me that she just chooses to live in the moment and have the best days she can for the time she has left. And she really means it. She doesn't want me to be sad. She doesn't want to waste one minute of time by feeling bad. We spent the time chatting about all sorts of pleasant things, and things she needed to get off her chest about people, places and things in general.
When I left, I was no longer despondent. She was teaching me how to let go and choose peace. For the day, I had totally forgotten that cancer is overtaking her body. For the day it was just like old times and we were having a perfectly wonderful day.
I only have to assume that she's going to have some rough days ahead. But I can't jump there in my mind because what's the use of that? I need to do as she is doing and stay present, appreciating the good times while they're here.
My sister is my hero. She's the one lifting me up and showing me how to face mortality. It's a journey all of us will face one day. I only hope I can do it with such grace as she.
I've been feeding my emotions with food ever since I heard the news of her illness last October. Eating for comfort is a familiar coping mechanism of mine. It's a drug that soothes and numbs me, but afterwards leaves me feeling disappointed in myself and empty, frustrated and depressed. I notice that every week after I've spent the day with her I will come home and binge. Last night was no exception. I realize that it's a totally unconscious thing and a knee jerk reflex. The only way to stop it is to become conscious. I'm working on that. I know in my mind that food doesn't help me or the situation. I am aware that I feel better when I am in control of my eating. The only reason I turn to food is that I'm seeking comfort, or even a diversion from my sadness. I hope that by letting go and staying present, I can regain my balance and treat myself well by eating mostly healthy foods, and in moderation.
So today I decide to stop feeding my emotions with food. Instead, I will nurture them with love.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I noticed something today - a lightbulb aha moment if you will: you can always tell when I'm struggling by how often I blog. I look back on earlier blogs and when I'm having trouble committing, I blog often about what I intend to do, of the benefits of doing what I want to do, and sometimes of the difficulty of doing what I want to do. All the while, I'm not really doing it.
I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing for some people. It's good to plan and good to get it off your chest when it's rough. But last year when I stopped talking about it and just did it, I was successful and that made me happy. Sometimes it's a procrastinating tactic for me to spend too much time reading others' blogs and writing my own. I'm on the computer when I should be doing something active - housework, walking, anything but sitting. In my attempt to get motivated, collect useful information, and plot and plan my strategy, all I'm doing is delaying the action part.
So, less talking and more doing! That's a promise I've made to myself and I hope to report great progress in the not-too-distant future. I'll keep updating my feed with how I'm doing and how my sister is doing.
I'll be back!
Love you all !!!
Monday, January 17, 2011
Here's the story:
Total over last 5 weeks = +7
I still feel like I'm sinking in quicksand and thought if I laid it all out here it would help to wake me up, grab a rope, and pull myself out. I struggled throughout the months of Jan and Feb last year too, so I'm still encouraged I can get through this and turn things around.
I have been walking on average once/\week where I used to walk 5 miles every single day. One problem is that it's so darn cold outside and all the walkways are snow covered. That's really not a good enough excuse. It won't be ideal walking weather until April, so I have to motivate myself to do my indoor workouts.
My commitment for this week: Do a WATP workout every single day. Strive for 3 miles. Even on busy days, I can make time for at least a 15 minute 1 mile. The goal for this week is CONSISTENCY.
I have been eating things like ice cream and cookies. I'm better off swearing off these foods because a taste leads to a binge. I've been going through the worst emotional ups and downs over the last 4 months. I tell myself that I'm dealing ok with my sister's illness, BUT after spending last Friday & Saturday with her, I found myself stopping at the store on the way home and buying goodies. I pigged out all day Sunday. Old habits die hard, and eating has been an automatic mechanism to cope for so long. It's more important than ever for me to work on my automatic responses.
My commitment for this week: watch my 30-minute Glen Harrold weightloss hypnosis DVD and read positive affirmations once/day.
I stopped tracking my food right around last September and have not been able to consistently do it. Rather than fighting it, I've decided to find a means to stick to my program without tracking. Just tonight at my WW mtg., the topic of tracking came up (as in those who don't want to track). Our leader said that if you stick to the "power foods" and stop eating once you're full, you don't have to track. Dr. Fuhrman (author of "Eat to Live") is against having to measure and track food. If you stick to veggies, fruit, beans, legumes, and whole grains, you will not only naturally lose weight, you'll be transforming your health and protecting against many diseases. It's no coincidence that these very same foods are also the WWer's "power foods".
My commitment for this week: Stick to power foods. Keep telling myself I can do it "for this day" and do it one day at a time. Remind myself of the benefits and that it will get easier as the days and weeks go by. The reward is a slim body and optimal health. Keep my eyes on the prize.
I won't beat myself up for what I've done these past months. BUT I will remind myself that I can do it - that I have done it before - that it's worth it - that I'm worth it.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Anyone reading this who doesn't know me, my dearest sister has pancreatic cancer and is fighting for her life. I love her so much and it's been a real rollercoaster since last October.
To update you Janet, she completed round 2 of chemo and it's really beaten her up. Her red blood cell count is so low that she had to have a blood transfusion yesterday. Because of her low cell count, she is not getting enough oxygen and is short of breath most of the time. Her husband had a bad cold a couple weeks ago that she, of course, caught because her immune system is so suppressed. She has completely lost her voice so I can't even talk to her on the phone.
Round 1 had left her with blood clots in her legs and lungs, such that she has to give herself blood thinner shots in her abdomen and they did a procedure to keep the clots from traveling above her waist to vital organs. Her type 2 diabetes is out of control and she's testing her blood and taking insulin shots 4 times a day.
She emailed me this a.m. to tell me of this latest status since she was unable to speak to me on the phone, due to losing her voice. I'm trying so hard to be positive for her. She really is tough and has handled this so much better than I know I would have if I were in the same situation. She said it's taking its toll on her husband. He's 73 and she said he looks like he's aged a lot since this has happened. He's lost a lot of weight because he can't eat when he's upset. She's been his whole world for most of his life. They've been married for almost 42 years. Being her primary caretaker, he's got to be physically and emotionally drained.
I feel so helpless. I sent her an email asking if I can come over Friday and spend the night. I want to be there for her to take care of her and give her husband a break also.
She now has a week off from chemo before she starts round 3. I know that the last time she had a week's break, she started feeling really good - the best I'd seen her in a very long time. I'm praying she can get through this and regain her strength to keep fighting. She says it's been very hard to stay positive. She's been upbeat and positive from the start, but I think it's starting to wear her down.
It's almost too much to cope with at times. Seeing what she is going through makes me want to take care of my own health even more. It's the most precious thing we have. It's something we often take for granted until it's taken away from us. Without our health, nothing else matters.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
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