52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 7

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This is the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 7 at Haddon Musings

I had written eight posts about my melanoma treatment. I need to write one more to complete my story. I emerge it as part of my Thankfulness. So this week I am thankful for going through the journey of cancer treatment and have been in remission for almost eight years.

August 13, 2009

My bio-chemotherapy came to the end. I just needed a couple more procedures done before the completion of treatment.

When I had my first cancer surgery in October 2008, the surgeon removed all the cancerous tissues except one cancerous lymph node. He sent me back to my primary health care provider and oncologist for chemotherapy. Due to the lack of communication, the referral didn’t get any attention until two months later. I went to the oncologist’s office, sat in the waiting room, demanded for attention. Finally a case caretaker came to talk with me. I cried and complained, saying that my last surgeon requested chemotherapy within four months before the cancer entered my brain, and it had been two months already.

The next day she called the case management office. The supervisor of the office took over my case. She made all the arrangement of tastings and obtained the authorization of referral to a melanoma specialist.

By the time I started my first cycle of treatment in January 2009, the cancer in one lymph node on the right hip area had invaded the whole set of inguinal nodes on the left. So the cancer went from stage II to stage IV.

I went through two cycles of bio-chemo and one surgery and two more cycles of bio-chemo. At the end of June 2009, I completed four cycles of in-patient treatments and one surgery. By this time, the first cancerous lymph node had shrunk into a dead tumor. Dr. O’Day, the melanoma specialist, and the surgeon agreed that it was a good idea to have one more surgery to remove the dead tumor. I had the second surgery done in early July, 2009. The surgeon removed one larger tumor plus 15 smaller dead tumors.

The final procedure was the radiation. Dr. O’Day ordered two sets of radiation. The first set was five days a week for four weeks in the pelvic area. The second set was once a week for four weeks. I met with the radiologist. She aligned me with the radiation machine, marked the tattoo on my body so that each radiation would be done in the same position. She further explained to me the side effect and the possible damage of the radiation. My husband is a radiology technician. He discussed the situation with Dr. O’day. Dr. O’Day decided that the damage would have outweighed the benefit. Therefore he cancelled the first set of radiation. I only needed to do the second set. I started the second week of July and completed it in the first week of August 2009.

Before I entered this journey, I didn’t know where it would have taken me. I only knew that if God didn’t say He was done with me, I had no right to decide to quit. I had to take the chances presented to me and trust him to guide me through. All I could do was to take one day at a time. There were so many nights that I didn’t have any sleep because the chemo drugs burning continuously. My body was so hot and the skin was so sensitive. Knowing that I didn’t have to go to work the next day helped to reduce my anxiousness. Throughout my treatment, my family and friends were my greatest support.

I do believe there is a reason for every season, and for every suffering. With God’s help, I could look beyond the suffering, even when I was right in the middle of it. In the end, I was able to count the suffering as my blessing.

Post note: The highlighted links are linked to the previous 8 posts. I continue to suffer lymphedema (swelling) on left leg, and nerve damage on both legs resulting in tingling and poor circulation.

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52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 6

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This is the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 6 at Haddon Musings

I’m thankful this week for having 45 minutes of touching, contemplative Good Friday Concert presented by the Choir and orchestra tonight. The concert presented the message of the Lamb of God sacrificed Himself for our redemption. We were grateful that our new pastor was part of presentation. He read the scripture and prayed before our singing. He appreciated the choir’s service to the church.

The choir has been singing for over 50 years. Some of the members have been together from the beginning. We are not merely a choir but a family, a support group that uplifts each other. Some members are in their 60s, 70s, even 80s. In the first photo, the members in the front row were sitting down because of their physical limitation. They don’t let their physical conditions discourage their participation in singing. In fact, praising God with their voices becomes their strength.

The former pastor who stayed with us for only a couple years almost dismantled the choir. (The previous pastors stayed for 20 years each.) We went through a most difficult time in our choir history. Yet we still met and prayed together regularly even when we were not scheduled for singing.

The new pastor embraces all age groups of the congregation. He also appreciates classical, traditional, and contemporary music. The choir has a greater hope to be included in the services in the future.

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52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 5

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This is the 52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 5 at Haddon Musings

My husband has been retired for six months. He is happy to spend more time at home. I’m thankful that we could do more things together. We have been keeping up our workout schedule at the gym three times a week in the morning. On the same gym day, we go to Laguna Lake where he runs and I walk in the afternoon. In the evening, we try to play board game together once a week. I’m very good at board games, so far I’m winning! This night we played Chinese checkers. I played on green and he played on blue. I reached the destination across the board to his side. He came to my side with two steps before all the checkers were in. ♥♥

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52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 4

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This is the “52 Weeks of Thankfulness” Week 4 at Haddon Musings

I have been traveling by air for forty five years, and haven’t missed a flight yet. When the flights were delayed in a significant amount of time, the airlines usually compensate by overnight accommodation, tokens, or coupons. If we miss the flight, that’s another story.

We almost missed the flight coming back to California from Portland, Oregon last Tuesday, March 28. We eventually made it and got on the plane eight minutes before the plane closed the door! I was so very thankful!

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Here is the story. We were leaving Portland last Tuesday. My daughter and her husband went to work. We checked out from the hotel at 11:00 a.m. Our flight left at 5:55 p.m., so we spent a few hours at their house, then took the MAX trains to the airport.

I already went online and printed the train schedule. We needed to take the yellow line to a Transit Center, and then walked across several crosswalks to the red line that goes to the airport. We took the yellow line on time as recommended. After we got off the yellow line and walked to the red line station, for some reason, we were just a few steps short to catch the red line train.

Alright, the train comes by every fifteen minutes; we just had to wait for the next train! My husband said the next train would arrive in 24 minutes due to a 10 minutes delay. I started to get anxious, and looked at the time on my phone every 15 seconds. I sent a text to my daughter about the delay. My daughter offered to ask her husband to take us to the airport. I looked at the traffic and told her that driving could be worse. The 24 minutes wait was like forever, but finally the red line train came.

While we were still on the train, my phone received the boarding notification. I just kept praying instead of telling my husband. I knew if we had no problem going through the security check, we would have a chance to make it.

Thankfully, we had TSA Pre-check, so we went through the short line for security check. Then my husband ran to the gate, let them know that we were there. He had my phone with the Boarding Passes. We finally got on the plane eight minutes before the door was closed.

I sent a text to my daughter to let her know that we made it. She said she was praying for us all that time! God is good!

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52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 3, Getting Well

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This is the “52 Weeks of Thankfulness” Week 3 at Haddon Musings

I have been sick all week with flu. I am finally getting better.  I think I’ll be completely well by next Friday, just in time to visit my daughter and her husband in Portland, Oregon. I do not want to bring any germ to my daughter.

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Last Friday, March 10, when I was at the gym going from Jacuzzi to the pool. My skin got shock from hot to cold. Usually that is the critical moment I get sick easily.

The next day, I had nonstop runny nose, body ache, and sore throat. I was so weak that nothing in me could get me up. I woke up but fell back to sleep until 2:00 p.m. I ended up staying in bed all day.

On Sunday, I didn’t feel any better. Since I had a sore throat, my first concern was if I had a strep throat. I saw a couple white spots in my throat. I decided to go to the Urgent Care, waited for two and a half hours to be seen by a Physician Assistant. He ran a test, and it came back negative, so that was good news. He said I had a regular flu, and sent me home without prescriptions!

By Tuesday, my head was full of congestion and pressure from sinuses. I called my family physician and got some antibiotics. I knew that nothing could make me feel better any faster. I just had to let it go through its course. That means I will be sick at least ten day all together. I cancelled most of my meetings and classes, except my volunteer counseling appointment.

The ringing in my ears was quiet for a few days due to pressure in my head. This morning, the congestion and pressure were reduced; the ringing was rushing in with echo bouncing back and forth blasting in my brain. It almost threw me off of the balance when I got off the bed.

This is my share of flu of the year. I should be completely well within three to five day and looking forward to see my daughter!

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52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 2 – Bees and Butterflies

This is my “52 Weeks of Thankfulness” Week 2 at Haddon Musings.

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What an exciting week in my garden.

I worried about my plum tree two weeks ago because it was the first tree to blossom after the rain. There was no bee attracting flowers close by the plum tree. I manually pollinated the blossoms with a fine paint brush.

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The plum tree is against the retaining wall. There are different plants on the slope behind the wall. I climbed over the wall to look at the plants. I had some bee attracting plants on the slope last summer.  Right now the whole slope is covered by clovers with fellow flowers. Somehow yellow flowers were not my favorite color. I started pulling them out to expose the ice plants with purple flowers, only to discover that they were dead.

Before I got disappointed, there was a shocking surprise. I saw BEES. The bees hovered over the blanket of sixty feet wide yellow clover flowers. I almost wanted to plug the clovers back into the soil. Then I was thinking how to get some clovers close to the plum tree on the other side of the wall. First, I wanted to take a few photos of the bees.

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Suddenly, I caught the sight of some bees hovering over the plum blossoms also. Oh, how excited I was. I felt like the whole burden just fell off my shoulder. Now I could just leave it to the nature. Let the bees pollinate the plum blossoms.

Yesterday morning as I was having coffee and doing reading in the backyard. I caught another exciting sight of butterflies hopping from flower to flower on the plum tree also.

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How thankful I am for the nature. How delightful I am to see the bees and butterflies in my garden this week.

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52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 1

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This is my first week of “52 Weeks of Thankfulness” at Haddon Musings. This week I am thankful for sunny days to do gardening. Gardening is my personal therapy.

The official spring date is not here yet, buts spring is in southern California. It has been sunny for a week. We had an unusual winter with cold and rainstorm. I got the flood warning signal twice on my phone. Since our home is situated near the major drainage system, we had no worry. The rain finally stopped a week ago. This is the timing I was waiting for to do gardening.

I love gardening. I love to work with the soil bare handed. My fingernails would be filled with dirt and scratches. This is just a minor detail. Gardening is my therapy. It’s a way for me to be in touch with earth. I love to watch growth. No plants, trees, or flowers are maintenance free. They all need nurturing, pruning, watering, correcting the gesture, nourishing, healing of diseases, and the right timing to plant different plants and flowers. I am thankful for many life lessons learned through gardening experience.

I usually prune the rose bushes in the middle of January, but the heavy rain kept me in the house. My gardener skipped one week in January due to the rain. As soon as it had a clear day, he came to mow the lawn, and pruned all the roses. I was so glad he did that. The rain was welcome after many years of drought. The soil in my garden is well soaked.

With one week of sun, the green and the flowers can hardly wait to burst into showy colors. The plum trees started budding and filled with blossoms. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are not around to pollinate the blossoms yet. It needs other flowers such as lavender to attract them to come. Last year, I used a brush to manually pollinate between the two plum trees. They produced about twenty plums. Well, one plum tree was triple crossed bred.

The Valencia orange tree produces two crops a year. Thanks to the rain, the second crop is full grown. When they are first ripen, they are little bit sour, so I will wait for a couple week to pick them. By that time, they should be juicy and sweet.

The camellia bush is crossed bred. It has red flowers as well as pink and white flowers. They are in bloom, so I can make nice flower arrangement for decoration. The purple and yellow freesias; red, yellow and pink snapdragons, and other perennial flowers are complimenting each other with their beauties.

This year is my first attempt to plant irises. I planted purple, fuchsia, and blue bulbs. I am waiting with great anticipation to see their beautiful blooms.

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