April showers…

… have left us with a beautiful front yard! We are being overwhelmed by freesia, azaleas, roses, lilac, camellias… I often bless the prior owner who put in so many lovely plants for us to enjoy! I, unfortunately, have a black thumb. It’s true. I can kill any plant if you give me enough time (usually a couple of weeks), but my Darling Husband is fantastic! He keeps our indoor and outdoor plants happy and healthy!

We had such a cold winter, we thought we had lost a lot of our outdoor plants. Many of our shrubs looked dead, but they have all fooled us! The geraniums turned brown and brittle and frozen. But now they are sending up new green shoots from the ground, so we are optimistic that even they will make it back.

Springtime has finally arrived! And I am so glad!

Springtime here means a couple of things (besides all the lovely flowers). It means that I only have a couple of months left in my chemo! YAY! And it means I switch my crafting to brighter colors, lighter projects, and that I take the time to clean out closets and drawers — to make room for even MORE fabric, yarn, and thread!

I’ve been using up scraps. Lots of little projects have been going — I made five chemo caps this month and took them to the hospital last week. I crocheted some fuzzy yarn around the straps of a new pair of flip-flops to make sandals that match my jeans. This week I have been working on getting the wedding photos into a scrap book. And, finally, with my birthday money, I bought a drop spindle and plan on trying to spin some silk yarn.

My blood work shows that my white counts are too low for chemo right now, so I’ve been given a couple of weeks off to try to get those numbers back up. Going without the meds means I have a bit more energy, so I have even been able to sit at the sewing machine for a while. I’m working on a new project bag for my knitting with fabric I found on our honeymoon.

Oh, and Greg reminded me that I need to hem up his new pants this week.

Sometimes, I really enjoy having a bunch of small projects that I can get instant gratification from when I finish them. Sometimes, I like longer projects that take several days/weeks/months to complete. I try to always have a couple of each kind in the works so that I can do whatever seems like fun at the moment.

Crafting is a joy to me. It should never be a “yadda.” You know – “Yadda wash the dishes.” “Yadda pay the bills.” Yadda, yadda, yadda… Crafting should be for fun. It’s like playing for grown-ups!

So treat yourself. Craft something you love. For someone you love. FOR YOURSELF!

Let’s go create something!

Side effects du jour…

Cancer treatments are weird and unpredictable.

One week, I sail through the infusion with no problems – in and out in 6 hours. Another week, I have 3 separate allergic reactions and wind up sitting there for 10 hours. Same drugs, same dosage.

One month, the pills I take give me a rash. The next month, the rash goes away but I’m plagued with nausea and intestinal issues. My eyes turn bright red, then they clear up but my vision goes blurry.

The only constant is the fatigue – the overwhelming, ever-present fatigue. We’re not just talking about being tired. We’re talking about waking up in the morning so tired that getting out of bed requires you to stop and take a break. Recovering from a shower can take a couple of hours. Fixing a meal, doing the laundry, running errands – probably not going to happen at all.

And then there’s that wonderful break – once a month I get a week where I take no drugs at all. The first part of that week, the drugs are still in my system, but by the weekend I usually feel pretty good! I can run errands, joke with my family, make dinner, fold my laundry – all the things I used to take for granted.

Then Sunday evening rolls around and I face the fact that I start treatment again tomorrow. Back to the hospital for another infusion. Tuesday I start the pills again. Off on another round. Maybe this time I won’t be so exhausted? Maybe this time my stomach will behave? Maybe this month it will all be different than what it has been… I can probably count on that.

The treatments are working! My scans are good, my blood tests are good, and the treatments are going to give me a better quality of life (we hope) when they are all done. I’ve reached the halfway point – three months gone, three months to go. I know I can make it through this. I have a wonderful, supportive family to help me. But sometimes I sure get tired of being tired.

Gratitude –
cancer treatments that work
my wonderful nurses and doctors who listen to me
my darling husband who takes such good care of me
animals in the house that make me laugh and give me a reason to get out of bed
my close vision is clear so that I can still read, sew, and knit
my online friends who provide me with information and inspiration
my stash of fabric and yarn that ensures I NEVER run out of projects
all of you for reading my blog

Let’s go create something!

True Love…

Another month has come and gone and I haven’t written anything new. I’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that not much is happening on a day by day level.

But, on a month by month level, this has been a productive one! I committed myself to making some projects during the Olympics. So far, I have finished one scarf:
Hydrangea lace scarf

dyed three skeins of yarn:

and made 10 African flowers towards my elephant:
African flower motifs

The elephant pattern can be found on Ravelry at this link:
Nellie, the African Flower Elephant by Heidi Bears

Those of you who know me well know that I am crazy for elephants, so this project is perfect for me. It uses lots of little bits of yarn that I have saved up and will make me smile every time I see it!

Currently, I’m working on a crocheted chemo cap. I have been fortunate enough to NOT lose my hair, but the nurses in the chemo department where I go for treatment tell me they can always use chemo caps. I ran out of the yarn I was using, so I frogged back a few rows and added in a second yarn, alternating rows for the brim of the hat. This is another good way to use up leftover yarn!

I’ve put myself on a stash diet… no more fabric or yarn for me until I catch up on some of the many projects I have planned already. So, I have five shirts to make, three quilts to finish, and a LOT of yarn to use up before I go shopping again! Glad I stocked up when I had a more steady income. Disability insurance is a real life saver, but it’s not as predictable as a salary.

I will soon be out of short-term disability and into long-term disability. I never thought I would be unable to work for so long… it’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year. But, since I didn’t really get diagnosed until November, it stands to reason that I would need some extra time to get better.

And I AM getting better! The last CT scan showed that my lymph nodes are shrinking back to normal and there are no signs that the cancer has spread! The treatments are working! It is so much easier to take the exhaustion and weakness that the treatments cause when I know IT IS WORKING!

This month also brought my birthday and Valentine’s Day. I am reminded once again how fortunate I am to have my husband in my life. He makes me laugh, takes care of me when I feel lousy, and encourages me to keep fighting. He accepts me as I am — mood swings, illness, inability to drive or concentrate — and still makes me feel like I am a gift to him, not a burden. Our life together is all I ever hoped for in a relationship. It only took me 55 years and three marriages to find him!

Parents, friends, siblings, spouses, children… anyone who truly accepts you as you are is to be treasured and appreciated! I hope you all are able to accept yourselves and have others accept you, too. Love yourself and let others love you, too!

Now let’s go create something.

Well, ain’t that a kick in the pants…

It has been my experience that, when I make plans, life changes abruptly. Or, when I think I have “it” all figured out, something happens to prove me wrong.

This was one of those weeks.

As you recall, I went in for a biopsy last week. Now I knew it wasn’t cancer. After all, one of the symptoms of CFIDS is enlarged lymph nodes.

I spoke too soon. I have follicular lymphoma. Now let me just say this… hearing that you have cancer SUCKS! It’s not even a little bit good. No matter what they tell you about your particular cancer (and they will tell you more than you probably want to know) the bottom line is that it SUCKS!

That being said, this is one of the easier cancers to have. Apparently it is very slow-growing and very treatable, although not curable. The average life span is years to decades rather than days to weeks, so we are grateful for that. I’m undergoing more tests and more blood work and more everything… there are still questions to be answered. But it looks like I’ll be starting chemo in the not-too-distant future. This was NOT how I planned to spend my holidays.

They tell me chemo can take hours each time you get it. Hours. In a chair. With nothing to do but sit… hmmm… Crafts to the rescue once again! I shall crochet my way through chemo and have something to show for it when I’m done! What shall I crochet? Well, I have a baby blanket (yes, another one) that I’m working on and a Christmas gift or two… but the whole thing got me thinking…

If I’m going to lose my hair during the winter, I’m going to want a hat or twelve to cover my head! In every color. I never could get the hang of wearing a head scarf, but I look pretty good in hats with a small brim. Surely I can come up with something!

So off I went to Ravelry. You remember Ravelry, don’t you? The online resource for all things yarn? Well, there are a wealth of hat patterns available there. Many of them are free! One of my favorites (and the first one I’m making) is the Cuss Hat by Emily Matisz (This is her blog.) It will cover my ears and fully expresses just how I feel about chemo and cancer.

I also did a quick internet search and turned up free patterns to sew caps from polar fleece. These patterns are EASY!!! Even a novice sewer can make a chemo cap!

So I challenge you – it seems like we all know someone these days who is going through chemo, so let’s all make chemo caps! If you don’t know anyone who needs a chemo cap, get down on your knees and be grateful, and then take the chemo caps to your local hospital or oncologist office. I can guarantee there are people in your community who would be comforted by a home made SOFT cap.

Let’s go create something! (like chemo caps!)