Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Lifetime's Not Too Long To Live As Friends

The title of my blog today is part of a song called Friends, written by Deborah D. Smith, music by Michael W. Smith.

Twenty-two years ago in August 1989, I lost a very dear childhood friend, Frances Hudson Lair.  She was only 35 years old, leaving behind a shocked 16-year old son, Brandon, and a devastated husband.  She died after a common surgery from something that rarely kills anyone anymore; a pulmonary embolism (or blood clot).  These days surgeons put things on your legs during and after surgery that puff in and out to keep your blood flowing to keep that very thing from happening.  I remember after Fran's funeral driving home with my children when this song that I had never heard before came on the radio.   I had to pull over to the side of the road because the words of the song hit me so hard that I just could not stop crying.  Friends are friends forever, if the Lord is the Lord of them... Though it's hard to let you go, in the Father's hands we know that a lifetime's not to long to live as friends

Here are the rest of the words to the song (below), in case you are interested.  I tried to read them out loud to Dwain a few minutes ago, and couldn't get through it.  After all these years I still choke up.  But the words are still poignant today to golden childhood friends who, to this day, live actively in my life; and the more recent ones who've been in my life for, oh. let's say the last 20/21 years.  Today I want to say (hopefully I won't get all choked up) a huge thank you to my friends Margie Keener and Anne (Todd) Miller.  Below the song you will see pictures of these friends and an accompanying story. 

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can't believe the hopes He's granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

With the faith and love God's given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you'll live in
Is the strength that now you show

But we'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

About 10 o'clock this morning, Dwain and I walked straight to the outpatient surgery wing of the hospital.  The lady who pre-admitted me said that there would be no reason to come early because my surgeon had several patients ahead of me, so Dwain and I were not in any hurry to get there this morning.  However, on our way there, my cell phone rang, caller ID indicated it was the hospital.  "Is this Megan?" I said, yes.  "Are you on your way?"  Again, yes.  "Good, she said."  I could not imagine the rush, it was 20 minutes til 10.  Maybe a patient canceled.  Who knew?  

At the waiting room desk was a Pink Lady volunteer who was visiting with another lady -- our good friend Margie (the dentist's wife -- the one I've mentioned several times before in a previous blog entry)  She greeted us with a huge smile and a hug.  I was so surprised to realize the she too had someone in surgery that she was here for.  I came to sit with Dwain and keep him company.  And if you need me to come home with you after, I will, she said.  She offered after that to bring food and assorted other wonderful things.  All too overwhelming to take in.  I didn't even know she was aware I was having my chemo port surgically implanted today, let alone what time.  She stayed with Dwain the whole time I was in surgery then came back to see me after I woke up in recovery. 

Let me just say this about recovery after outpatient surgery, it's nothing but a bum's rush.  I mean, I was sound asleep, when they so rudely shook me awake.  Why can't they just let you sleep until you open your eyes?  I will say, they at least gave me a tiny plastic cup of apple juice. Guess they thought it would help wake me up.  When Margie and Dwain came in, and I guarantee my eyes had not been open 5 minutes, the nurses ushered Margie and me into a dressing room and hurriedly pulled my clothing out of  a bag.  Margie and another nurse helped me get them on in a proper sequence.  Bless you, Margie.  Not many people get to see such a frightful sight.  Gad!  You poor thing. Then Margie followed my wheelchair to the emergency room exit and helped me get into the car that Dwain had pulled around and thoughtfully warmed up.

 The picture's a bit blurred.  Like I said, we were getting the bum's rush.  They wanted everyone out of there early, before New Year's Eve (I guess).  That's Margie on the left. 

The lady on the far left wearing a red vest,  is Margie.  The one that looks loopy and drunk, that's me.  Margie is a living Friend, just like in the song

The picture below was taken in 2007 (by Dwain, always ready with a camera) of my childhood friend Anne Todd Miller (far left, in the red sweater) and her mother.  We've been dear, dear friends since 5th grade when her family moved here from another state -- Nashville, if I remember correctly.  But they had also lived in Dalhart, Texas.  Her father had been an Army minister (Episcopal) but had suffered a serious stroke.  Mr. Todd assisted in serving our town's local Episcopal church -- well, to tell the truth, her whole family was very involved.  My family, on the other hand was of another faith but since we lived within a few blocks of Anne's church, and we were such good friends, I got to visit her church often, and she visited mine.  We stayed fast friends and are to this day.  

Anne's mother, Virginia Todd, became ill with lung cancer when she was in her 90s.  Anne is a high school teacher in a town several hours away, but she took turns with her other brother and sister in helping care for her precious mother.  Anne has called me frequently since learning about my breast cancer, before my lumpectomy, before my mastectomy and after.  She even surprised me with a wonderful spa gift package that arrived in our mailbox the day after I returned home post mastectomy.  When she learned last night about my upcoming surgery today, she phoned.  We talked a long time -- a long, reassuring call, to be precise. 

 These are the SPA gifts Anne sent + a blue guardian angel that hung on our Christmas tree this year.  I love (and still am using) everything. 

I could not possibly do her justice by trying to repeat all the wonderful things she told me.  Thankfully, Anne, being the friend she is, just e-mailed me a list that I could reference it any time I wanted.  It is such a marvelous and positive list that I am just going to post it.  Anyone who is going through cancer should read this.  Thank you, Anne.  By the way,  Virgina Todd did die from lung cancer.  But she lived a long, long time -- surprising her doctors and stunning her oncologist, which is the same oncologist I have.  Anne and Margie have something else in common. They both say,  "He's the greatest, most knowledgeable doctor anywhere. We are lucky to have him.  You will absolutely love him"  

My trusted friends have spoken.   I shall now shut up.  

This is Anne's e-mail:
Hi you, two crazy kids!!!
  Here are some of the tips I gave Megan on the phone. I'm not an expert, but hopefully, some of these will help you.
1. Don't get hungry. Eat early, eat often! We made Mother eat small amounts every 2 hours during the day.
2. Fruit cups, canned fruit, pears, peaches, jello, applesauce, anything light that tastes good to you! (Don't worry about nutrition during chemo days, eat what tastes good to you. Eat healthy in the weeks between chemo treatments.)
3. Mother liked the fresh, frozen shrimp cocktail from Wal-Mart.
4. Drink plenty of fluids!
5. Keep water or juice by your bed at night. Sip small amounts frequently.
6. Get the prescription dry mouth spray (or whatever they have now).
7. Prevention is the key! Don't wait until you "feel" hungry or tired, because it will be too late, and you will have a meltdown for sure. Stay on schedule! Rest on schedule, eat on schedule, pray on schedule, etc. Then your body, mind, and spirit  will adjust and heal better. Hopefully, you will stay ahead of the nausea and fatigue. Remember from Lamaze, how they coached you to get on "top" of the pain. Pretend that you're pregnant, and treat your body as carefully as you did then. You are giving new life to yourself, this time. 
8. Pamper yourself, get your nails and hair done, rest a lot.
9. Listen to calm, soothing music. I think you can take music (headphones) to chemo, ask them. (They had headphones in surgery, when I had my C-sections! The music was very helpful).
10. Psalm 23, Psalm 91, Romans 8:28, I Corinthians 13, Guideposts, Upper Room.
11. Pray without ceasing. Your Methodist minister will bring communion to your house, if you want it. 
12. See if your church has a Stephen Ministry. They are trained lay people who will pray with you, and be completely confidential. 
13. "Fear not, but Believe!' Don't let fear rule your life, let Faith rule.
14. Praise and Thank God for everything. Praise and thanksgiving defeat fear, doubt, discouragement, disappointment, etc.
15. You, Dwain, Carolyn, and Chuck are in my prayers.
Happy New Year!!!

Love always,


Oh wait, I have to explain one more thing about the song, Friends.  My husband, Dwain was Frances's husband and she was Brandon's mother.  Fate threw us together after I suddenly became a widow.  

Dwain is not only my husband of 20 years, but he's my closest friend.  And Fran will always be near my heart.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Go Cut Me A Switch -- I Mean Which Size Port Do You Want?

Not that my mother or father ever asked me to do such a thing, but I have heard the threat -- "go cut me a switch."  Cut a switch? Are you kidding me?  But I guess, in a way, I know exactly how that child feels -- the very painful dilemma.  

The surgeon's nurse, during my consultation yesterday, showed me two chemotherapy ports.  Which one would you prefer, the big one or the little one?  As if I had a clue.  As if I wanted one in the first place.  As if I wanted yet another surgery.  As if I wanted to take chemo at all.  I didn't want to have breast cancer in the first place.  But here I am, living proof that breast cancer can happen to someone who thought they were doing everything right.  I get to take my licks anyway.

My breast cancer is low risk; 90% chance of no re-occurrance, which I thought, mistakenly, meant that after a double mastectomy, I would be done.  Apparently not.  My breast surgeon/oncologist gently told me that, no, I would defiantly have to take some sort of systemic medical oncology treatment after surgery.  What kind? I asked.  She never ventured as guess.  She just said that my sentinel lymph node test results would be sent to my oncologist, and that he would suggest a treatment plan.  My results were also sent to a place called Genomic health for an oncotypeDX breast cancer assay, which gives a recurrence score and prognosis for  node negative estrogen receptor (ER)  positive patients.  My score was 15, which means that I have a 10% average rate of distant recurrence.  For the first time in my life, I was rejoicing, celebrating a low test score.  Apparently I thought that meant I would not need to take chemotherapy.  Apparently, I was mistaken.

Dwain's sister, Carolyn, gave me a book for Christmas by Suzanne Sumers -- Knockout.  Right on the front sleeve it says:  Interviews with doctors who are curing cancer and how to prevent getting it in the first place.  It's a gripping book, by the way.  Once I'm through reading it, I'm sending the book to my daughter, Shaynan, in Tacoma, WA because (a) she'd be the one daughter most likely to read it and (b) she's all about Suzanne Somer's philosophy of no chemicals in your body unless it's absolutely necessary.  Me? I have a lot of give and take on that.  I'm not a big fan of pain. I'll take anything that works.

When I first told Shaynan about how the oncologist suggested chemo treatments, she had a fit.  Why didn't I get more information, enlist a study group, do anything but this?  Because, for one thing, I have a full-time job and don't have time to do lots of research.  And a study group? We live in a little-bitty town in Arkansas and are surrounded by more little bitty towns.  We don't have an astonishing number of universities with study groups.  But I'd give anything if she'd do one, if for no other reason than for future reference.  Suzanne Somers is all about study groups and long-term natural-type help for such things as cancer. Can't fault her for that.

For those of us who are about to embark on a dark and scary journey of chemotherapy (thank goodness I don't have to have radiation) Knockout is a very enlightening book   I don't like all the negative things Suzanne Somers has to say about chemo -- not one bit, mostly because I'm about to start that journey myself. That said, I will have to say, the doctors and nutritionists she interviewed, and there are several, are well worth the read. I don't happen to agree with everyone's points of view, but I can read and weigh their words and see if they make sense to me or not.  I'm extremely interested in the nutrition parts because I do believe that nutrition is huge in not only preventing cancer, but keeping it bay after.  I think nutrition is key during chemo as well, to keep energy and immune systems strengthened.  I'm definitely going to become a label reader.  Gotta watch out for soy products (ER cancers love soy) and MSG (or any chemical preservative).

Any day someone shines a light down my dark path is a good day for me, so this has been a good day.  I still don't know what size port I'll be getting, but at least I know what it looks like and that someday (after 6 chemo treatments), I can have it removed.  That will be a good, good day.

Chemotherapy? Your Dentist Has Answers

Evidently when you take chemotherapy your body is at risk for developing infection, and apparently this means you can't have your teeth cleaned either.  Dwain noticed the little dental reminder magnate on our refrigerator that my next dental appointment was scheduled for late February.  He said, I don't think you can have your teeth cleaned while you're having chemo.  James' dad had to get his teeth seen to before his chemo started, so you might want to call Lynn (that's our good friend, who is also our dentist, he and his wonderful wife Margie.
My dental appointment was hurriedly set up for this morning at 7:30.  I know that is really early, but I don't mind.  Hey, they got me in on short notice, right?  I'm an early-bird anyway, so what's the difference?  Lynn and Margie know what I have gone through recently and what I'm about to endure in the near future.  And let me tell you what, both of them are a fount of information.   Lynn may be a dentist, but he has an incredible knowledge of cancer and chemotherapy and what they can do to your body medically.  He was concerned with my teeth, which after x-rays, he pronounced me healthy as could be.  He said, chemotherapy will dry out your mouth, which is a bad thing.  It can lead to tooth decay and gingivitisDrink lots of water.  Dry mouth is a significant condition.  Do not ignore this at all.  He handed me a sample of something called biotene dry mouth mouthwash and biotene  dry mouth toothpaste.   Use this and any other toothpaste that contains fluoride.  Rinse with Listerine, that will help to prevent gingivitis and other gum disease.  In fact, you can brush with it as well.  Brushing with baking soda as well as toothpaste to eliminate acid.  You don't want acid to build up on your teeth or in your mouth.  
He ran his fingers over my gums, top and bottom, pressing hard; something I can't remember him ever doing before.  I have no idea what he was checking for, but he seemed satisfied.  Then he pulled down his face mask, leaned back against the counter behind him and asked, Do you have any questions?  Any questions about your chemotherapy or anything associated with it?  I will try to answer them or find answers for you.  I told him no, that I wasn't far enough along in the process to have thought of questions to ask yet.  But I know that when I do, (or I should say WE, because Dwain's as involved in this process as I am.  In fact he was at the dentist appointment with me and heard every single thing Lynn had to say) Lynn or Margie will be the first people we will call, day or night.  Margie offered to come sit will me when I have my first chemotherapy session, and I have no doubt she means it.  She sat through chemo sessions with another friend of hers who was going through the same thing several years ago.   
Yesterday evening, although I hate to admit it, I had a meltdown; not a temper-tantrum, exactly, but a meltdown.  I wanted to throw things at the wall and scream at the top of my lungs (I resisted).  At whom, exactly, I could not say.  At the unfairness of it all.  The "why me-ness" of it all.   I know.  I know.  It was a selfish moment; a rewardless moment.  But sometimes you just need to cry and rage.  And I have to give Dwain huge, huge credit.  Although he started out trying to fix everything for me (as men so often do), he finally decided to just listen.  I honestly thought that by the first of the year, by January 1, 2011, I would be basically done with all that I've had to endure since "the discovery" in early November.   But evidently the little pill that I thought was going to be all that I had to take for five years, is going to be at the end of my treatment, not the only treatment.  Chemo comes first.  And I'm angry about it.  And I am scared to have to go through it.  Poison will be my cure.  Can you imagine?  Poison will kill cancer cells, hair cells, white blood cells, red blood cells and put my immune system at great risk for 18 weeks -- among other things, like my teeth.  What about my job?  How fatigued will I be?  How sick will I feel?   Oh yes.  Chemo treatments make you feel so nauseous that the doctor has to give you anti-nausea medicine.
So many questions, and I won't know the answers until I've lived through it.  That's why I'm writing this blog.  Maybe someone reading this will find help for themselves or someone they love, and pass it along.  I found a blog, Susie Johnson's Breast Cancer Triumph, that helped me.  This girl is only 35 years old and lives in Australia (or I think that's where she lives).  Her breast cancer was discovered in August.  Start from the beginning of her August discovery date and read to the present.  It's very insightful.  They do things differently in other countries, which makes me grateful to live where I do.  I honestly think we have a better health care system -- warts and all. 

The "Routine" Mammogram

Race for the Cure, October 16, 2010 Little Rock, Arkansas
I know you think these picture are self-explanatory. Believe me, there is more -- much more to them than meets the eye.  Read on.  This will be my first journal entry of a moment in time that changed our lives (Dwain's and mine) forever. 
The pictures, below, were taken by my husband Dwain, shot on Saturday, October 16, 2010, from the window of our Doubletree hotel room.  Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure across the Arkansas River bridge and the second picture are kayaks in support, floating quieting in the river just below the bridge. 


This is part of the 45,000 who were in the Race for the Cure.


Dateline October 15,  2010; Little Rock, Arkansas:
Although we live three hours north of Little Rock, my mammograms are always scheduled to take place at the Higginbotham Breast Center in Little Rock.  I was fortunate many years ago to have found a young woman who grew up in our hometown, became a doctor, practiced in Little Rock, came back to Harrison and became my doctor.  In 2000 or 2001 she encouraged me to see a breast doctor  in Little Rock she knew and in whom she had great confidence to take a look at my local mammogram results; she didn't like some spots she saw on the slides.  The breast doctor, Dana Abraham, wanted another mammogram done at the Higginbotham Breast Center.  After comparing the slides she came to the conclusion that what I had were harmless water-filled cysts.  However, she wanted to, quote, watch them for a period of two years  to make sure they did not change in shape or size. So it became a habit of Dwain and I just to drive the three hours to Little Rock to have my mammograms.   The mammogram imaging center was on the second floor; Dr. Abraham's office was on the fourth floor.  How convenient, right? 


My mammogram on Friday, October 15th was scheduled for 11 o'clock, which was very convenient because we were also in Little Rock for another reason; my annual court reporter's meeting smack dab in downtown Little Rock at the Doubletree.  There were a LOT of women in Little Rock, thousands, in fact.  And the great majority were not court reporters.  We were, in fact, a teeny tiny minority.  Volunteers were everywhere putting up pink ribbons, pink balloons, AND painting all the Port-a-Johns bright pink.  I've never seen so much pink in my whole life.  And oh looky, there was a pink fire truck. 


Let me get back to my mammogram.  Over the years I've come to accept the chilly rooms and the freezing cold steel smashers. It's become a personal quest of mine to see just how tough I can be; see how paper-thin my breasts can become when pressed hard enough.  When will I actually be forced to yell Uncle? But I figure, the harder they press, the better the image.  So grit your teeth and bear it.  I don't actually want them to see anything, but if there is something inside all that mass of mammary glands, fat and muscle, I do want them to get a good look at it.  But as usual, the radiology tech took picture after picture with a poker face (as I grimaced in pain), walked me back to the dressing room and told me my results would come in the mail in about a week.  Dwain and I always figured that if the radiology tech or radiologist saw anything alarming right then and there, they would tell you immediately.  They did not, so we left to have some lunch before my meeting, which began at 1 p.m.
The uproar caused by Race for the Cure nearly upended our meeting and nearly anything else taking place in Little Rock that weekend.  Men, women, grandmas, grandpas, little children filled up every nook and cranny of every eating establishment, hotel, motel, business, sidewalk, street -- you name it, they had it covered.  And the noise level was deafening.  The big day, we were warned, would be the next day, Saturday, October 16th, where a parade of people would convene and then the race would begin in earnest.  As Dwain and I sat in the Doubletree restaurant Saturday morning eating breakfast before my Saturday meeting (there was no way we would be able to leave the hotel in our car; streets were actually closed off) we watched the race participants busily eat their breakfasts, or walk around the lobby.  No doubt who they were because of they crazy way they were dressed. 


I am truly, truly ashamed to admit this now, but I was actually extremely annoyed.  Why?  I can' t exactly say right now.  But just the sheer number of all these people -- rowdy, annoying, take-over types.  We were just trying to have a simple meeting (to get our continuing education hours) and we could barely hear the speakers.  Dwain and I were just trying to have a quiet early-morning breakfast in a little corner of an overly-expensive restaurant, and we couldn't even accomplish that.  And I mean, pink Port-o-Potties and a pink fire truck? Give me a break.  This was going a bit too far, wasn't it?  What's this all for anyway?
The answers came.   Oh yes.  The answers came.  How could I have possibly known how things would turn out?  Was it a coincidence that I was having a mammogram in Little Rock, Arkansas at the same time at the preparation as the Race for The Cure was beginning?  Is it even possible that that wee voice inside my head (the one that I thought was shaking a finger in my face and scolding me for judging these women) was actually a warning that I could possibly be one of those annoying. rowdy, "silly" pink women walking in a Race For the Cure someday?

The Beginning of My Journey as a Breast Cancer Survivor

December 24, 2010:   My journey in life has dramatically changed.  Amazing.  And here it is that I've picked Christmas Eve to begin writing about my new journey.

 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in early November, and that fact alone has completely turned Dwain's and my lives on it's proverbial heads and spun both of us like out of control tops.  It's the scariest ride you'll ever ride, believe me.   Nothing, not even Christmas 2010 is normal, but we try to pretend like it is.  We do all the normal things because it is the Christmas season.  We do this because it's traditional. We do this for the sake of our families, children and grandchildren and perhaps even for our own selves.  Sometimes doing "Christmas stuff" even makes us laugh and forget our troubles for a few hours. 

On Wednesday, December 22, 2010, I had my first appointment with my medical oncologist.  I remember sitting outside the medical building in my idling car with the heater going thinking, this is the same doctor who treated my father; the same doctor who fed chemotherapy drugs into my dad's surgically implanted port.  This was a doctor who tried hard to save lives but in the process made people feel very, very sick -- people who came here often lost their hair.  I simply did not know if I could actually get out of my car and walk inside that door.  It's a free country.  I didn't actually have to go in there.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.  Maybe he would look at my results and say, oh wow, you are so low risk that don't need any systemic treatment at all.  But I knew that I was deluding myself with that thought.  After all, my breast surgeon had warned me, you absolutely will have to take some type of medical oncology systemic treatment if you want to lessen your chances of the cancer from returning.  What I actually expected the oncologist to say was what my lymph test results predicted and suggested, that I would take a pill of some sort.  No radiation.  No chemotherapy. 

 It was only a few feet from my car to the door, but let me tell you what, that was one unbelievably long walk.  After the usual piles of paperwork/medical history/insurance forms that take about 30 minutes to complete, the nurse called me back to do the weigh-in, blood pressure check stuff.  Then she asked me the funniest question, "Why are you having your oncology treatments all the way up here?"  I said, because my doctor in Little Rock was kind enough to make the appointment for me.  Wasn't that nice of her?"  Then the nurse said, "Why didn't she make the appointment for you in Little Rock?  Do you have family up here or something?"   I about died laughing.  "I live here.  My breast surgeon lives in Little Rock." 

The nurse lead me into a room to wait for the doctor.  I had not been in the room five seconds before Dwain arrived. Whew! At least he would be there to keep me company, hold my hand, and hear what Dr. Abdelaal (Ab-da-la) had to say.  The keep me company part was huge because it took the doctor for-ev-er to make his way into my room. The nurse warned me when she left me in there that Dr. Abdelaal would be looking over my chart and history before he came in.  She wasn't kidding either. 

He arrived with a kind smile and shook my hand then Dwain's.  He then asked us if we knew a local dentist in town, without  offering any other explanation.  Dwain and I exchanged confused looks but assured the doctor that not only did we know the dentist but that he and his wife were good friends of ours.  He asked me to hop up on the examination table, did a general exam, you know, with the stethoscope (heart and lungs) and reflex hammer on my knees.  Afterward he said I appeared to be a very healthy "young" woman.  Young?  Healthy? I'll take healthy and young.  This was very nice to hear.  The bombshell he dropped next was, to say the least, a shock.  Evidently being young and healthy were good reasons to drop such a bomb.  He said I needed to have chemotherapy.  Six of them over the next 18 weeks.  Chemotherapy?  Eighteen Weeks!  Are you kidding me?  What does this mean?  What will happen?  Will I lose my hair?  Will I be able to work?  How will I feel?

The main answer I get is, everyone reacts differently to chemo.  Evidently losing your hair sometimes happens and sometimes does not.  Sometimes it just thins a little.  I will most likely get fatigued.  He will give me anti-nausia medication that will  help a lot.  Apparently the nausia resolves itself after a couple of days.  Most people continue to work.  My chemotherapy will be once every three weeks.  One of the scariest  things is that chemo puts your immune system at serious risk.  Oh goodie!   When I am at work, I'm among huge crowds of people all day long -- sneezing, coughing people.  

Little by little I'm getting teeny-tiny tidbits of answers to the million-and-one questions I have and even some questions I haven't been smart enough to form yet.  Thank goodness for volunteers who just tell me stuff, like my dentist friend's wife, Margie, who suggested that frequently washing hands in warm soapy water was the single best thing one could do to keep germs at bay.   And then my sister-in-law Carolyn who told me about a Cancer Society non-profit business in Mountain Home where I could be fitted for not one but two wigs, completely free of charge.  She said that I should go there while I still have hair so they could match my hair color and hair style.  They will show me how to style it and so on.  If I don't lose my hair (fingers crossed on that one), I can just return the wigs for someone else to use. 

My focus should be on the big picture here, and that is my life.  All the doctors that have treated me so far have focused on that one "life" thing first and foremost.  Secondary they have focused on my (and my husband's) comfort and pain levels.  I've been very blessed.  But I HATE this.  I hate that I have to go through this in the first place.  I hate that Dwain has to go through this with me.  We both feel like we are bushwhacking our way through a dense, dark forest with very dim flashlights. 

In the next blogs I will backtrack a little bit and tell about my journey up to this point.  Like I said before, maybe it will help someone going through the same thing with the million and one questions they have.  Obviously I do not have very many answers, but as I learn what helps me, I will share. 

And by the way, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...  Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863)