How I am Surviving with a Window in My Side for Months

In honor of my 11 year cancerversary of having no cancer found in my body, I decided to think of ways that I have stayed positive and made it through this year with my "window".  Some of these are things I found helpful during my many years of cancer treatments and other things are newer to this particular situation.  There are definitely ups and downs and when I feel good, I try to make the best of it!  I'd love to hear about ways that have helped you through obstacles in your life!

How I am Surviving with a Window in My Side for Months (and Daily Doctor Visits):
  1. Smoothies: Jamba Juice and St. Louis Smoothie are favorites- whey protein shakes with fresh fruit (helpful with healing and on days with low appetite)
  2. "Breathe" or Lung Items: "Just Breathe" ring, lung jewelry, various comfy lung and “Breathe” t-shirts
  3. Lung Art and Inspiration: the wonderful art everyone made me has been finding homes in our loft-many of them on top of our kitchen cabinets.
  4. Support: visitors, dinners/lunches/dates with friends, calls, cards, texts, emails, Facebook messages, etc.  It’s been lovely to reconnect with people and meet new friends along the way!
  5. New Experiences: going to various events when feeling up to it such as Tea 101, lecture about Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass, book signings, craft fairs, simulation of walking through someone’s life in another country, nutrition and cooking classes, conference about cancer research, Professional Bull Riding, Monster Trucks and the “salty snack” research study (in which they paid quite well)!
  6. Music: live concerts and listening to/from doctor appointments and at home.  For concerts there has been venues big (Scottrade, Hollywood Casino Amphitheater) and small (Ready Room, World Chess Hall of Fame, Firebird, Twilight Tuesdays at the Missouri History Museum, etc.) and all types of music-rap, jazz, country, folk, alternative, rock, German electronic, acoustic, pop, etc.
  7. Trips: since it’s hard to travel (no flying; dressing changed every day) my medical team and family figured out a way for me to go on a 1-night trip to Indianapolis.  It was amazing-filled with live music, yummy food, shopping, a cute B&B and catching up with amazing people!  Gabe and I also were able to do a 1-night staycation at a nice hotel in St. Louis, have some delicious food and feel like we were on vacation.
  8. Exercise: weekly training (walking) for a 5k (maybe a 10k) with a group of employees from the hospital where I’m getting treated (Females in Training).  It’s amazing to feel athletic and stronger than what is going on and feeling like a fighter! I have also dabbled in yoga, MELT Method (for help with chronic pain) class weekly and some Zumba.
  9. Medical Staff: amazing and kind people who go above and beyond-from secretaries to nurses to PAs to doctors to home care nurses-all top notch!
  10. Faith: prayers and positive thoughts from others has been immensely comforting.
  11. Naps/Rest/Massages: I probably don’t do any of these enough but they're essential!
  12. Positivity: knowing one day it will end when I have the next surgery and hopefully be able to move on.  Also trying to look at what is good about the situation and not focus on what could be potentially not be going in a favorable way.
  13. TV Shows and Movies: though I don’t watch that many, they are nice for times I need to lay down and relax. The Emperor of All Maladies was on PBS during a week I was pretty sick and gave me something to look forward to each evening.
  14. Art: engaging in art in my studio or in the sketchbook I sometimes carry to my appointments while waiting.  I’ve also enjoyed making art for others during this time and have been to a few art galleries including a neat show at the Bruno David gallery showing art by Max Starkloff.
  15. Gratefulness: that most days I don’t feel too bad, the horrendous side effects of my infections are pretty much gone and that I’m tolerating the long-term high powered antibiotics pretty well; for my amazing husband, family, friends, God, my medical team; for having a husband that works and can support me and also has amazing medical insurance through his company.
  16. Outdoors: trying to soak up the nice weather when possible through meals outdoors, walking, outdoor concerts and rolling the windows down in the car.
  17. Reading: I have read about 4 books since this began and was gifted an amazing box of new books from a high school friend who works for a publisher.  I have also flipped through some magazines along the way.  They are also helpful for when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office.
  18. Comfy Couch: the lounge part of our large sectional has gotten a lot of use during this recovery-it’s right by large windows with a great view and usually is very quiet and peaceful.
  19. Food: it’s been fun to try new places especially places from Ian Froeb’s Top 100list in the Post-Dispatch!  Some days it's a highlight of the day to eat something delicious or have a dessert to look forward to.
  20. Giving Back: it’s amazing how I’ve been able to be there more for people in my life right now, as a few people are going through their own serious issues-medical and otherwise.  I have also made some artwork for charitable causes, modeled in a charity fashion show and spoke to a couple of groups about my experiences.


agelaius said...

Dear Rachel:
We pray with and for you every Sunday at the 5:00 Mass at Pillar. I heard your story from Art James when our family was going to RCIA before I was confirmed in 2010 and I think of you every time I look over at the statue of Blessed Chaminade before Mass begins. I didn't know why you were on the prayer list again but I was praying for you for whatever reason - so I decided to find your blog. Now I will focus more on your safe journey through surgery and the healing hands that help you - both on earth and in heaven. God has blessed you to be a witness in all that you do and I am humbled by your story.
I add my prayers to all who pray for you,
Kathie Hoyer

Obsessedwithlife said...

Thank you so much-your kind words mean a lot :).