Showing posts from 2008

The Huron Carol

We had a lessons and carols service today, and I was reminded of the beauty of this hymn.

Here's a version with Huron, French, and English lyrics.

And here's one (same graphic, not too surprisingly) with the words in English:


On the Journey IX...

Between the season and chemo, I have just not had much extra time or energy recently. Still, I should have updated this a long time ago!

This round (December 17th) has left me very tired. Well, tired isn't the right word. If you're tired, you can get some sleep and feel better. This is what the doctor calls amount of sleep takes care of it; I can wake up from eight hours of good sleep feeling exhausted. And unliek some of the other side effects, there's nothing to be done about it. So I'm trying to work around it, cut back, reschedule...whatever it takes to get through.

We've had a tough winter already here in River City, too--as many places in the US and Canada have had. Not being able to clear my own sidewalk has been a frustration for some reason. However, I did bake the three Christmas cookies I wanted to make, and the tree was up and decorated.

Our Christmas Eve service was shared with our host church, and went very well--a modified lessons and car…

On the Journey VIII...

I'm amazed at how much less energy I have. I have things to do, things I want and need to do, and yet...there's a lack of oomph! It's a very good thing I cut back my commitments early, before I disappointed someone or let someone down.

I'm feeling very blessed today with friends who care, and who show it in such concrete ways. One friend has become my Friday night delivery service--pasta salad, sushi, butter chicken, whatever my taste buds crave, she brings to me on Friday night and just drops it off. Another pair of friends have permanently loaned me a portable dishwasher. This is a blessing on many levels--I can be sure the dishes are clean (important with the higher risk of infection from chemotherapy), it cuts down on what I have to do around the house, and it just may save my hands, as I tend to have dry hands in the winter anyway (even using rubber gloves for dishes, etc.) and the chemo makes that worse. A few flowers are still hanging on from the arrangement sen…

On the Journey VII...

I am now bald.

But you know, it's OK. At some point in the last couple of days, I came to realise that I actually preferred being bald to the annoyance of hair drifting everywhere and my scalp itching.

I gathered with friends, we shared wine and cheese and party mix, and Stylist gradually shaved off my hair.

He was wonderful about it! He clipped my hair into various styles, each time taking some more hair, until I had a Mohawk (note to self: NEVER get a Mohawk), complete with hairspray to stiffen it up! I looked like Foghorn Leghorn, to be honest. And then one more swipe of the clippers and it was all gone.

Then we tried on all the hats, scarves, etc. that I have been gifted with by generous, loving friends. My favourite black velvet bucket with a satin rose; a black beret (both from Strong Heart); a tube scarf (it can be converted into a dozen shapes and ways of wearing it); a green corduroy newsboy-style; and a matching soft scarf.

Afterwards, two of my friends took me out for an Ind…

On the Journey VI...

I felt well until Sunday the 9th, when I crashed and crashed hard. I made myself go to church, however, as we had a budget meeting. My wonderful deacon led service, however!

I didn't feel myself again until Wednesday the 12th. Tired, headaches, no appetite, etc. And then almost overnight, I felt so much better. Still fatigued, but able to eat and sleep again.

Saturday the 15th was Strong Heart's ordination. What a wonderful service that was! So many people there to support her and celebrate with her, members of the several congregations who have come to know her over the years, the mentors and fellow-students, the friends and congregation members... the spirit of love and celebration and joy filled the space and lifted us all.

The photograph of her in her full vestments (chausable even!) with her ordination certificate is one I will always cherish--she is glowing and radiant, full of joy and pride and the Spirit.

I managed to pace myself through that day--I did not jump up to help…

On the Journey V

Continuing to feel good. I know that over time this may well change--the body can fight off a one or two time dousing of poison (which is what chemotherapy is, after all) but after a while it gets tired. But so far so good!

Slept very well last night, which is a relief after the couple previous nights! My appetite is doing odd things...the vegetable lasagna I had loved over the weekend and saved myself a bit of for lunch yesterday turned my stomach when I even looked at it yesterday...maybe the tomatoes? So I'm doing the bland thing--pudding, tuna, crackers, applesauce, cottage cheese, etc.

But otherwise no complaints. I'm working my semi-secular job today (which I had better get to) and then perhaps to a friend's band's gig tonight. Have to see how I feel, but I'm pretty much free tomorrow and no sermon to write (house church on Sunday).

I'll keep you posted!

Friday Five--Comics!

The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five is for yuks today! Good idea, Presby Gal!

Here’s my play:

1. What was your favourite comic strip as a child?
Peanuts, hands down. I realise in retrospect that I didn’t always understand all the nuances of the jokes, but that’s part of the genius of good comedy (whether an essay, an animated movie or comic strip)—being able communicate on several levels at once.

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
For Better or Worse. L love the Canadian setting, the way the characters grow and change and deal with real issues that most folks face. It’s written honestly—bad things do happen to good people and not all the endings are happy, but things do work out. She’s dealt with the widely diverse topics of child abuse, small business ownership, censorship, gay teens, Alzheimers, and pet loss without (in my opinion) a miss-step.
It’s not that it’s funny, so much, as that it reflects my reality in many ways, in ways that help me deal with the r…

On the Journey, IV...etc.

Wow, lots to blog about.

First, I was not accepted into the clinical trial. The central lab that re-tests all the tissue samples says that my cancer is estrogen receptor positive, so I am not eligible for the triple-negative trial. My oncologist says I am borderline (you just knew these things weren't clear-cut, didn't you?) and I am more to the negative side than the positive. He's asked the cancer centre pathologist to look at my samples again, but he thinks it's still negative, and we'v decided to proceed on that assumption.

He also told me all my heart test results came back in the excellent range! Apparently my heart is functioning as well as that of an athlete--and he wasn't being ironic! I have no idea how it got to that state--as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am pretty far from an athlete! Wow...three exclamation points in one paragraph--time to move on.

So today was my first chemotherapy session. It went well. I got there way too early--anxiety ma…

On the Journey....III

The whole thing is becoming more concrete.

Thursday I had a port (stent/cath/shunt) placed, so that I don't have to get a needle everytime I get chemo. It's about the size of a quarter (although it feels much larger), with a tube running to a large vein in my neck. It just makes the whole process of chemotherapy easier for me and the staff sdministering it. They can also draw blood through it. As I apparently have "small veins" (which means "difficult to stick") minimizing the number of needle sticks is important!

I was back at work yesterday, although I did not stir out of the house last night. There were several events I wanted to attend. Band Named After a Household Appliance had a gig, there were two art shows opening, and of course the usual Halloween fun. I thought of last year when Man About Town and I went to a local bar and watched the people in costume going into the local "young people's bar" and picking our favourite costumes--I like…

On the Journey, II

My sleep has gotten more regular, thank you Jebus!

Really having ups and downs though--feeling a hundred different things. Sometimes I feel so needy, and I hate that, but part of me says, "Hey you have cancer, you have a right to be needy," and another part of me says, "No, I can't give in to the weakness and wimpiness..." and then yet another part of me just gets tired of my life being about cancer, but then I think I need to know something else, or I have tests scheduled...etc.

So at the moment (8:20 pm on October 24, 2008), I'm trying to strike a balance between sucking it up and pushing it down on the one hand and on the other hand, knowing my limits, knowing what I need and asking for help. Tough times. I'm the sort who doesn't like to ask for help, who thinks I shouldn't need help, that it's a sign of failure or weakness--I don't want to look needy, above all. I know--of all times, this is when I should ask for help, and it's not…

Friday Five...places I've lived!

Funny Singing Owl should use this meme...I've had to think about all the places I've lived since I was 18 for some immigration paperwork. Let's just say 18 was a long time ago and in another galaxy far far away!
I didn't count them up, but there are probably 16 places I've lived in my life...some just across town from each other, and some moves were transAtlantic.

1. Charlottesville, VA
Military Guy and I lived in a teeny-tiny duplex half that looked like it had been built out of war surplus (World War II, that is...). No insulation in the walls, and even in Virginia, you need it! That was the year I got adult-sized footie PJs for Christmas... Charlottesville was just beginning its comeback then--the regentrification of the downtown, the rebuilding of stores and homes and movie theatres. We really only lived there for about 10 months, but it was a favourite place to revisit on weekends, once we moved to the big city, AKA...
2. Washington DC I love, love, love DC. Yes, …

On the Journey....

I haven't really slept well on a regular basis for a while now--probably since I learned I had cancer and would need the lumpectomy. Not that I've been dwelling on things or that I've been thinking things over and unable to sleep. More that I don't stay asleep. I'll wake up a couple times a night and just stare at the ceiling, sleepy, but unable to sleep.

And then when I do sleep, it's not a restful sleep. I've been having very vivid dreams, mostly of the anxiety sort, but not all--some very good ones--but so vivid that they aren't restful. I would love to fall asleep and not wake up until morning. I'm very tired a lot of the time...or else I'm OK for a few hours and then crash after four or five hours. If I'm like this now (residual surgical effects? psychological weariness?) what in the world will I be like after a round of chemo?

Still some soreness and tenderness in my arm and along my ribs and shoulder....and some numbness still as well…

It is What It is...

...And what it is, is an aggressive form of breast cancer--a "triple negative," in fact. There are three forms of hormones, as I understand it, to which it might be receptive or sensitive. Any one of them could be used for treatment (Clarification: the hormones "feed" the cancer/tumour--assuming there are any cancer cells left or, possibly, unidentified tumours elsewhere--so by eliminating those hormones from the patient's body, the tumour/cancer is "starved" and dies). Unfortunately, mine isn't sensitive to any of the three (and so eliminating them or stopping my body's production of them, will not affect the cancer). Therefore, it will be treated aggressively.

I'll be getting a total of six cycles of chemo, each of three weeks. During week 1, I'll get the chemo. Then I have week 2 and 3 off, then the next cycle starts with week 1 and chemo again. That repeats for six cycles. I'll be getting two kinds of chemo, one is a "cock… be continued...

Strong Heart and I visited the surgeon again yesterday.

The cancer is at Stage 2, which means that it was found in my lymph nodes, besides the tumour.

The usual treatment is radiation and chemo combined. We'll know more about scheduling and timing after we meet with the care team tomorrow (Wednesday the 8th).

It's not what I wanted to hear, but after wallowing in negativity for a couple of weeks, I got angry this weekend, and that got me out of it and now I'm in a positive place.

What got me out of that boo-hiss place? Well-meaning people who want to 1) treat me like glass and coddle me; or 2)tell me they know exactly how I feel because their sister/cousin/co-worker had breast cancer; or 3)tell me how I should be eating/sleeping/treating it, because of what worked for their sister's best friend's cousin's daughter-in-law.

I know they mean well, and so I do my best to respond graciously. SH gave me a great phrase to use--"Everyone's story is different"-…

Tuesday Morning Giggle

Why does this make me smile every time I see it? Am I just sick?

Sunday Morning Reading

In my Sunday morning procrastination reading, I came across this article by Nathanial Frank, on the religious-not-so-right's stance on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (the US military's policy on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender servic members, for my two or three global readers).

Frank has a book coming out which I can't wait to read--"Unfriendly Fire"--about GLBT servicemembers. He has several excellent points to make.

We are wasting human lives and resources and actually undermining our troop morale (try living without being able to be honest about who you love, having to monitor your conversation, having your deepest relationship ignored--or not even being permitted to mention it--and living in fear of being "found out").

My ex-husband was in the US military--yes, I was an Army wife (although I don't recall those 17 years being nearly as dramatic as the TV show...), and I have some understanding about what is needed for troop co…

Back to Normal?

Yeah, well, first define normal!

I led worship last Sunday, and will do so again this week. I started back to my semi-secular job (it's at another church of my denomination) this week, just two days, to ease myself back into it.

It's been hard, though, to get through a certain lethargy...I know there's a sermon to be written for tomorrow, and I want to write it, and I have ideas and plans for how I want it to go, but I can't seem to muster up the oomph to actually do it. I don't know if I'm still recovering from the surgery or if it's psychological or sheer inability to shift gears from enforced laziness.

I slept 12 hours last night--I haven't slept that long in years.

Well, Monday Strong Heart and I go in for the pathology results. Wednesday is the "intake" appointment at the cancer centre here in River City--that's when we'll get some idea of a schedule for treatments.

I continue to be amazed and touched by the support and caring of my f…

Mood: Grumpy

Can I just vent for a moment?

I'm tired, I'm bored, I'm uncomfortable. I want this drain out, I want to be able to drive, I want to be able to go to work (!!!), I want to be able to take a decent shower!

OK. I'm over it for the moment.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday Evening Update

Not quite the "60 Minutes" of my childhood, but the news around our house, anyway!

The surgery went well on Tuesday. Mom, Strong Heart and Boss Pastor were all there--BP anointed me and we prayed together before they wheeled me off to the OR. Woke up in the Recovery Room (actually very pleasant, it has skylights and the sun was beaming in on Tuesday morning--a wonderful way to wake from surgery!). I'm still uncomfortable, but "1-800 WAH" as Strong Heart said, when she was in a similar situation. I loved that my surgeon, anaesthesiologist, and both scrub nurses were all women! Sorry, guys--I just thought the female energy was very appropriate for breast surgery.

I've been taking it easy--reading, talking, computer games--just wish I could sleep better. I overdid it a bit yesterday (an interment and a wedding rehearsal), but am trying to make up for it today. I will do some work tomorrow--but light things like research for the sermon next week and some paper…

My Personal Friday Five

Mother Laura's Friday Five looks great, but today I have my own personal Friday Five I need to share.

The lump I mentioned last month? Well, I had a biopsy last week, and the pathology report came back positive--I have breast cancer. I am scheduled for a lumpectomy on Tuesday the 16th, and then radiation later on. Prayers are coveted...

So--What's my Friday Five? Five things I am grateful for, that are blessing my life in this moment of fear and uncertainty.

1. First and foremost, the love and support of Strong Heart. I could not ask for more than she has given me--she knows what I need when I need it, by some miracle. She also isn't afraid to shake me up a bit when I get stuck in the fear and forget the faith.

2. The love and support of my family and friends--from my sisters, son and mother to co-workers to people I work with on community projects to my dearest friends--all offering love, encouragement, positive vibes and everything from lawn mowing to meals.

3. My confidence…

Dance Night!

Just 'cause it tickled me...and I know how they feel!

see more crazy cat pics

Update and Gone For a Bit...

Thanks to all of you (you know who you are) who sent good vibes and prayers and suggestions my way before the debate last month--they were felt and appreciated!

We're struggling here in River City. Finances at the church are very tight--this is a factory town, and our main product is cars and car parts, and they aren't selling well these days. The trickle-down effect here is that people get laid off, or they fear getting laid off, and so they spend less. They don't buy clothes as much, they stay in the old house instead of buying a new one, they order pizza in instead of going out to dinner, they rent a movie instead of going to a know how it goes. They also, unfortunately, tithe less. Things need to pick up very soon.

Strong Heart is back to work! Too soon, in my humble-and-not-medical opinion, but then I'm not the one in charge of when she goes back (nor is she, unfortunately).

We're checking out another health issue for me--lump on the other side, pr…

Dogs and Crumbs

(Sermon draft for August 17, 2008)Isaiah 56:1-8 (New Revised Standard)Thus says God. Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil. Do not let the foreigner joined to the Holy One say, “God will surely separate me from God’s people”; and do not let the eunuch say, “I am just a dry tree.” For thus says God: “To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to God, to minister to the Holy One, to love the name of God, and to be God’s servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant— these I will bring to my …

Debate Debrief!

Long time no blog! Let’s see—updates. Strong Heart was approved for ordination! I ended up traveling with her, through a complicated series of events… It was all for the good, because then I got to be there to celebrate with her.Pride went very well here in RiverCity. We had some rain on Saturday, and early Sunday morning, which may have pulled the numbers for the worship service down. Still, we had the service, with the chair of the Pride Board in attendance…trying to get the community here to be supportive, and we’re making some progress.But I barely had time to recover from Pride when I had to finish preparing for my debate on the next Sunday—this past Sunday, as those of you who attended the Preacher’s Party know!What happened was this—the pastor of a local Presbyterian church contacted Pride about someone willing to debate the topic of homosexuality in a church setting. Monsieur passed it on to me, and I contacted the pastor. Now, the Presbyterian church in Canada is more conserv…

"Where's the Fire?"

Please pray with me. God, your child Jesus taught us that we should love one another; your Spirit teaches us your truth and love; give us now the strength to love each other—not just the people we know, but each person who needs our love, even those who hate us. Give us the wisdom to speak your truth, the fire in our bones that Jeremiah felt. Open us to you guidance in our lives, to the ways you want us to show that love and speak that truth.We’ve heard a reading from the Jewish prophet Jeremiah today, and the testimony of the New Testament gospel writer called Matthew. Hear now from a modern prophet, someone who has gone into danger bearing the truth of God’s love for all God’s children, and who spoke that truth to power, who did not leave those longing for God’s word to hunger and thirst in vain.Our bishop wrote of her trip to Moldova:"I am battle weary, bone tired, emotionally wasted and I could cry so easily. Not for myself but for those who must exist in this place of so mu…

Up and Down in May

Well, yes, it’s been a while. Literally no time to journal, let alone blog.Mid-May, Strong Heart was told she needed surgery. So three days later, there we were—me in the waiting room, her in surgery.The staff was marvellous—again! I had some real reservations, since this time we were in a medical facility in the States, in a relatively small town. But they were accepting and even affirming of our relationship (one of the aides came running in to tell us the good news about California), and took wonderful care of Strong Heart. To be honest, they were some of the best medical staff I have ever seen, and I have worked in more than one hospital. They were cheerful, helpful, upbeat, and friendly—it almost seemed as if they LIKED working there! So Strong Heart is now staying with me while she recuperates, which is an experience all in itself! I’ve learned to drive her car (it’s easier for her to get in and out of), we’re catching up on all those DVDs we’ve always wanted to see, and she’s r…