Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sharing Writing

Here are some writings in progress from several weeks of Write Around Portland workshops with the Quest group of women (cancer survivors, chemical dependencies, mental illness, HIV) and also, some writings from the workshop held at Hot Lips Pizza once a month, every 3rd Thursday of the month (next one is Thurs. Dec. 18th 9-11am).

11/14 prompts:
1. Someday I will...
2. The next time I see you...

Will it Be Enough? (totally a work in progress...)
by Shauna Berglund Immel

What if tomorrow never came? What if today was your last? What if it was your last Christmas? The last time I see you. The last time I touch you. The last time I kiss you. Will the next time I see you be the last time?

What if there was no tomorrow? How would you want to remember the last time you saw me?

The next time may be the last time. Will it be good enough? Long enough? Will it live up to my expectations? Will it be memorable?

I will embrace you a little longer. A little tighter. I will tell you how I feel, without holding back or leaving anything out. I will live like there is no tomorrow. I will make sure you know that I love you and am grateful for you in my life and that I am thankful that I got to walk in this world with you by my side.

I can't wait for tomorrow.

The next prompt was to write something you learned about your self, your writing and/or your community...

I learned that I love to write. That I love to share my writing. That I need to write. It's part of who I am. It gives me life and purpose. It's like a best friend for me, giving me a safe place to share my insecurities and fears, as well as my hopes and dreams. It listens without judgement.

11/20 prompts from Hot Lips Pizza Writing Workshop:

5 minute free write (but I was really late!)
Autumn brings me....

Autumn On My Mind
by Shauna Berglund Immel

Apple cider.
Falling Leaves.
Pumpkin flavored pastries.
Back to school.
Soccer sidelines.

10 min. write
I love the way...

I Love the Way That Feels
by Shauna Berglund Immel

To wake up each morning and realize
that I have been given another day to live.
Another gift to open and unwrap.
I love the way that feels.

To feel alive and present.
To experience the beauty and adventure of life
as it unfolds throughout the day.
To get as much living in a day as I can
and to know that is one more day shared with those I love.
I love the way that feels.

To awake, nestled in the safe haven of your arms.
To breath in the intoxicating scent of your being.
To know that I have another day with you.
I love the way that feels.

To hear my childrens voices float into my room,
as they awake, eager to discover what their day brings.
To wrap my arms around them and drink in their innocence.
Afraid to let go too soon,
for fear that I will not get another chance soon enough.
To feel their arms encircle me tighter.
I love that way that feels.

To move about my house,
and revisit my belongings that make it a home.
Treasuring memories.
To feel the warmth of my dog at my feet,
as he follows me room to room through my house and my day,
never tiring of my company.
I love the way that feels.

10 minute write
Using an object (a tea bag)

Company of a Good Friend
by Shauna Berglund Immel

The smell of cinnamon weaves it's way through the chilly air to my nose.
Beckoning me with it's sweet scent.
Like perfume.
Promising me warmth and comfort.
I long to sit in it's company,
embracing it's warmth like a good friend.

6 minute write
I remember....

Before Darkness
by Shauna Berglund Immel

I remember what it was like before. The freedom. The innocence of life. The security. Small worries that seemed enormous and life shattering at the time. I remember being able to lay down at night and sleeping before fear crawled into bed with me and laid down for the night. I remember the light and how it felt as it warmed my skin with it's hope and promise. Before darkness creeped in and spread like a disease through our lives, destroying everything in it's path. Leaving us raw and exposed. Clinging to all that we had left. But ourselves.

11/21 Writings from our Quest group meeting on it's own

1. I am thankful for...
2. A favorite food, best meal you ever ate, something you love to cook

A Gift to Open
by Shauna Berglund Immel

I am thankful for each day that I am given. Like a gift to open on Christmas morning. The anticipation of what it to unfold. Will I like it? Will it be the best gift ever? My most favorite one yet?

I find my expectations high. What if today if my last day? Will it be good enough? Will it live up to those expectations? Will I be disappointed with the gift I was given? Will I sit down at the end of the day and look back on my day with regret? Wishing for something else?

Or will I be grateful for the gift itself and cherish it for what it is. A gift.

Another moment. Another day. Another memory.

1. Crushes
2. Describe an obnoxious kid you once knew or someone scary or strange.

The Dark Presence
by Shauna Berglund Immel

He is here.
I can feel his dark presence.
Lurking in the shadows.
Waiting for the just the right moment.

He has come for me.
He sits and waits for me.
Night after night after night.

I can smell the stench of his breath
as it hits the back of my neck
and creeps down my spine,
polluting the innocence of my youth
and the woman I once was.

1. On the Road
2. When I Look in the Mirror

The Eyes of the Soul
by Shauna Berglund Immel

Who is that woman?
The one in the reflection looking back at me?
I don't recognize her.
The person I have become.

I know it's me inside the tattered body.
I can see me in the depths of her eyes.
The eyes of the soul.

She stares blankly back at me.
She looks so scared and alone.
Old beyond her 40 something years.
Ravaged by cancer, surgery, chemotherapy
and unimaginable emotional trauma.

She. I. We.

Are but damaged goods.

Thanks for reading my dark, twisted, warped thoughts.


Friday, November 28, 2008

New Addiction...

I'm now addicted to blogging, email, texting and Facebook!
Who knew?
If you're reading this, add me as a friend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Team Immel wishes you and yours a Happy Turkey Day! We are so very thankful for our friends and family and for all of the support you have shown us over the years. We are grateful for today and for each and every single day we have the privilege and pleasure of spending together.

Gobble Gobble Gobble! Oink Oink Oink!!!!
I wish for many more Thanksgivings spent with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grandparents Day, Support Groups and Living with Life Threatening Diseases

Do you recognize this girl? I mean, she's in disguise and everything. This actually would have been the perfect Halloween costume for Kaelin. Dressed as a girl! LOL Look how nicely she cleans up. She "had" to dress up for Grandparent's Day at school. Kaelin told me the first year, "you have to dress up in a dress or skirt or fancy pants, and I'm NOT wearing a dress or skirt!" So the first year she wore red velvet pants. She wore this skirt and jacket last year as well as this year, but look, she's evolving. She actually is wearing a skirt! (with her Nike shorts on underneath LOL). She makes a very pretty girl I think! Nice break from the Tomboy mode. I love Grandparent's Day!!! (I like it even better when she lets me take her shopping for a new outfit)
Kaelin rode to school with my mom and my dad and his gal Ginger met them there for a fun morning full of music, dance, refreshments, school/class tours and socializing with teachers! Unfortunately I didn't make it to school to take photos with my dad and Ginger (did you take any photos this time Ginger????). Doesn't my mom look pretty too? You can tell they're related.

Today was a crazy busy day for us. Spencer is off of school all week, and Kaelin just had a full day Monday and a half day Tuesday. Today she had a 3 hr. private lesson with her Rhythmic Gym coach to learn 2 more of her competition routines while I attended my support group. The videographer/film maker Brian Lindstrom followed me to group today for more film for his documentary in regards to the importance of writing/journaling and what Write Around Portland is doing for people. Check out some links to some of his work below. His camera is very small and he shoots in a "fly on the wall" style that is unobtrusive. His goal is simply to show the audience a little of my world outside of the writing workshops.

Links to articles about his recent film "Finding Normal" are below. I then met with my OHSU medical student for the class "Living with Life Threatening Diseases" that I am a patient teacher for. We talked about "Hope" and "Pain and Suffering." It was interesting how those things have changed for me from diagnosis to now. I'm finding my answers are different than I gave my students from the 1st and 2nd years.

One thing that I mentioned was how, for me, the emotional trauma was so much worse and painful than the physical. I'd like to share an example of that point by sharing an emotional blog entry from another cancer survivor's husband, on Lainey's blog. He tells it from his heart and hits on all of the issues regarding stress, emotional and otherwise (especially paragraph in bold).

Dear friends, we start the next episode this week. I want to make sure everyone knows how serious Lainey's situation is. I don't post too much about this as Lainey reads this blog and i don't want to scare her. But many people see Lainey and say 'how can she be so sick, she doesn't look sick". Lainey has stage 4 ovarian cancer that has metastecised to her liver and it's growing.She is platinum resistant, which means many chemos won't work on her cancer. She is in a lot of pain, she is tired, depressed, weak,scared, anxious,shocked, distressed, sad, the list could go on and on.
Due to her current situation she has to be very careful.We've decided now she must stay away from the meetings for the winter , she will listen in by phone. She absolutely can not risk exposure to sickness, it would be a disaster. Every week when she goes in for chemo she has to pass a medical to be pronounced for for chemo. If her temperature is too high, is she is ill, if her counts are too low she can not get the life preserving treatment she needs.
We need your love and support. Phone calls , cards, meals,scheduled visits, so she is not totally cut off from the world. She needs to not feel forgotten. She may not be strong enough to answer the phone but she love's to hear your voices, and i need to know we are still loved and thought about.
Today we go to Stanford. Realistically there are not many treatment options, but if they have anything else to offer we will take it. Today i hope to make contact with a Doctor in Reno. We hope to go see him next week and if all works out we will probably spend the month of December there getting daily treatments. I am pulling out all the stops to try to get Lainey's cancer under control.
We are under a huge amount of stress, if you can imagine the current economic situation, add to it you can't get work or do work because you have to take care of your wife, add to it the medical costs, which after insurance are still tens of thousands of dollars, add to it the pain and sorrow of just going through this with the one you love,add to it the loss of everything normal in life that we usually take for granted, add to it the isolation and fatigue due to daily medical needs and procedures, add to it the sheer sadness of the whole situation, add to it we have been fighting this now since July of 2007, imagine all that and you start to imagine how we feel. The stress alone does weird things to your mind and body, you develop stomach problems, digestive problems, you feel dizzy, tired, unable to think, unable to remember, unable to do simple tasks. You mourn the abilities you had just 2 years ago, you mourn the future planning and growing that you wanted to do. You fall into a rut of getting through each day.
That is why kind words, hugs, emotional support are huge. If you don't know what to say , just say i love you , and give me a hug. Tell me i'm doing a good job, tell lainey how much you love and admire her for her spiritual strength and courage.
As you can tell we are in a new place mentally and emotionally, it's a desperate place where you cling to hope and pray for relief. Nothing is normal for us and it never will be again.
In the future i will need all the love and support i can get, behind my smile is a heart that has already broken, please excuse me/us if we aren't capable of normal, we wish we were.
My dear friends, we are not the only ones who suffer, this world is full of pain and suffering, do all you can to show love, kindness and mildness to others, after all Micah 6:8 say's : "He has told you o earthling man what is good and what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice, and to love kindness and be modest in walking with your god" to me that scripture says it all !
In closing take care of your families, they are precious, take care of those in need, and there are many, and "Never give up in doing what is fine,for in due time we shal reap ,if we do not tire out"

We Love you ,all you kindhearted people, family, brothers and sisters Love Keith and Lainey

In closing, thank you for those of you who read my blog, pass it onto other people in similar situations and who send positive energy my way. Thank you to all of you who have impacted my life and that of my familys. Thank you for standing by me, in the good times and the bad. For doing the little things in life to make it so worth living and for making those little things the BIG things. Thank you for embracing me, disease and all, and for all of the love and support in all of the many ways you have shared yourselves with us in our battle with Cancer. I couldn't be here without you.

Hope you all have a wonderful turkey day.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Following Suit - Three of a Kind!

Last Friday night, Spencer attended a formal dance at The Racquet Club with several classmates. It was quite the adventure coming up with "formal" attire, as we are a family of casual (as if you haven't noticed!). I found a Nordstrom dress shirt at the consignment store for $8. Spencer borrowed a coat, tie and pants (he's outgrown his khakis) from the other boys going and he wore his own socks, belt and shoes (a 1/2-1 size too small but it worked!). He cleaned up nicely!It was so fun for the boys to get ready and ride together. It was even more fun for me to tag along to the pre party and to take photos and see them all in person! I felt like I was witnessing Spencer getting ready for the prom or something! (a mom can dream can't she?)Being the teenagers they are, they weren't willing to share any details of the night, no matter how hard we all pried! I'm like, "Come on, throw me a bone!!!!" LOL I asked Spencer who all was there (ya know, from his class) and his response...."people." Oh gee, thanks. Torture your poor mother!!!!

Other things that happened last week:

Even though my writing workshop finished up, several of us still met to write together (unofficially) at one of the other woman's houses. We are taking turns coming up with prompts. It's good to have a date to write. I also went to a monthly writing workshop at Hot Lips Pizza on Hawthorn Blvd. It's every third Thursday of the month (I think?) and it's a $25 donation. If anyone is ever interested in going with me, email me! I plan on going each month!

Kaelin and I saw "Twilight" at midnight on Thursday and she missed school Friday. I'm hoping to go see it again with Paris soon.

Dave and I saw the new James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace." A bit of advice, rewatch "Casino Royale" first to refresh your memory. The storyline from that one continues and alot of the characters cross over and it's hard to keep them all straight and follow along. Good flick though. Loving this James Bond. Daniel Craig rocks as Bond. Warning: scary fire scene towards the end of the movie.

Spencer and I went and saw the new Disney animated movie "Bolt" (Kaelin went on Friday with Grannie and Gramps). A really cute and fun movie. We really got a kick out of it. However, another warning: a scary fire scene towards the end of the movie.

Kaelin had a 7am indoor soccer game on Saturday and we had to be there at 6:15am! Ouch, that one hurt!!! It was the first time The Red Magic had played indoor together as a team. Took them a bit to figure it out and they ended up winning 2-1, but it was a battle!!! Fun to watch. Very fast paced. Will be good to get them in shape for hoops.

Sunday Dave coached Kaelin's hoop team, The Sting. This is the first time Dave has coached one of our kids teams. Kaelin is very athletic and can defend and shoot and rebound, but has no left hand! Gotta work on that one.

Gorgeous weather the last two days. High 50's, maybe even low 60's. Been spending time at the dog park and walking the happiest dog in the whole world.

Making homemade spaghetti and meatballs in the crockpot today and hoping to bake some Monster Cookies later.

Trying to figure out our plans for Turkey Day. It's complicated with trying to travel to SEattle inbetween high school hoop practices Wed. and Fri. and 7am soccer games on Friday the day after!

Enjoy your week!

I'm loving chemo-free Mondays!!!!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight at Midnight

2:45am Kaelin and I have just arrived back home after a midnight showing of the new teenage vampire romance movie "Twilight", based on the book of the same name. We stole away for a girls night out to celebrate my CT Scan results (shhh....don't tell anyone at school that's why she's staying home today!). I know some of you think I'm a bad mom to take my 9 year old daughter to a midnight movie on a school night, but you only live once and I aim to really live each and every day. Not to hold back. No regrets. Take the opportunities as they come because you never know when your time is up. This will be memorable. "Remember that time your mom took you to that teenage vampire movie at midnight on a school night, and you got to stay home from school the next day and sleep in?" Yep, she'll remember that. Thanks to Tiffanie for rounding up tickets for us and to both her and her daughter Talia for getting to the theater early and snagging us stellar seats. It was fun to hang out and do something so outrageous. The book is definately better and the movie is a little cheesy and corny in parts, but it works. We all agreed it would become a cult classic. Kaelin wasn't sure what all the hubbub was all about and her first words after the movie were: "That movie wasn't worth staying up to see at midnight." LOL But that's my girl. It wasn't about whether it was worth it or not. It was being a part of it. A part of the frenzy and fun. Being some of the first ones to see it. To sneak out and do something outrageous and memorable. And we did. I have to say that the actors weren't how I imagined the characters in the book, but that they worked in their roles. They totally set the movie up for the sequel. It was very cool to see our neck of the woods in the scenery and stuff, like the Gorge and Multnomah Falls. Fun stuff. I'll leave you all with photos of Tiffani, Talia, Kaelin in our seats at the theater....
Shauna (Team Jacob in the book, maybe Team Edward in the movie! He's a hottie!!!! LOL)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The CT Scan Results are in

Hi Shauna -- good news on the CT scan -- there is no spread of cancer and no new areas of cancer that could be seen by the CT scan. That area of thickening in the upper abdomen is still there but has not grown. I have pasted a copy of the full report for you below.I think it is fine for you to continue to take a break from chemotherapy until after the holidays as we discussed. Please let me know right away however if you develop any new symptoms or concerns.Happy Thanksgiving,JL

FINDINGS:CHEST: Left internal jugular Port-A-Cath position is unchanged. No supraclavicular, mediastinal, hilar, or axillary lymphadenopathy. Heart size is normal. No pleural effusions or pneumothorax. No pulmonary nodules. No acute bony abnormality. ABDOMEN: Liver, spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands, and kidneys are normal and unchanged. No pathologically enlarged retroperitoneal, abdominal, or mesenteric lymphadenopathy. Omental fat stranding along the gastrocolic mesentery/ligament is unchanged without a discrete focal nodule. PELVIS: Hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, and pelvic lymph node dissection are again noted. There is no pelvic lymphadenopathy or mass. Central pelvic fat stranding/scarring is redemonstrated. Mild thickening of the urinary bladder wall is again suggested. Result Impression:: 1. Unchanged omental mesenteric fat stranding within the gastrocolic ligament compared to September 10, 2008. 2. Postsurgical appearance of pelvis status post hysterectomy, oophorectomies, and lymph node dissection unchanged with residual fat stranding/scarring. 3. No lymphadenopathy. 4. No thoracic disease.


ps. gonna go celebrate with Twilight movie at midnight!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lady in Waiting...

I'm going crazy waiting for the results of my CT Scan! It always makes me worry when it takes longer than I think it should. Or than it usually does. Like she's afraid to call and tell me. Eeeek. Going crazy with worry while I wait. I hope she calls/emails me soon....

Another thing I'm going crazy waiting for is the release of the "Twilight" movie! It gets released Friday, November 21st. I read all the books....TWICE! (I'm a Jacob fan for those of you in the know). I'm considering going to the special showing at Midnight Thursday, but I'm having trouble finding anyone crazy enough to go with me! Anyone??? Email me if you're up for it! I don't think I can wait for the weekend...

I went to my support group today, met Paris for coffee at Borders Books and volunteered at school by doing curb duty at pick up. Now I'm home for a few before going off to basketball and acrobatics for Kaelin.

Woke up today feeling hungover on Barium. Ugh. Wish it would get out of my system already. I feel so blown up and bloated and uncomfortable. Blech.

Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday evening!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Posterchild for Cancer

Survived drinking the Barium (barely) and the CT Scan itself this morning. It was interesting to have someone follow me around with a camera and film the entire thing, hospital gown and all! It's amazing how fast and painless it all is, considering the hardest part is drinking that CRAP!

My Writing Group is being filmed for part in a documentary and the cameraman asked if he could follow me and my life outside of the workshop. So today he met me and followed the CT process. He's also going to accompany me to my "Making Today Count" Women Living with Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer support group (if the girls agree upon it) and to my first meeting with my Oregon Health and Sciences University medical student for the Living with Life Threatening Disease course for 1st and 2nd year students in which I am a patient teacher for (3rd time in a row now!). He also wants to film me with my family so I thought we'd meet him at the dog park one day. Whatever I can do to give back, I like to do. And if I can make someone elses journey easier or better, I'm all for it. I'm happy to be the posterchild! Autographs anyone? LOL

Just waiting to hear from my doctor on the results of the CT scan. Hoping for the best. Will let you all know asap.

Enjoy your Tuesdays!
Time for my nap!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Escape to Seattle

So I decided to pack my bags and head to Seattle for the Scrapbook Expo after my last Writing Workshop on Friday! (Regardless of the fact that my Jeep was undrivable because it's leaking oil and waiting to be fixed and then on Thursday night my mom's old car, the Suzuki that I was driving, began steaming and smoking from the engine! Turns out the hose had come loose from the radiator). Dave let me take his car and leave him car-less! Luckily the Suzuki was an easy fix and he wasn't car-less for long.

I decided last minute to run away and escape my life as "Shauna the Cancer Patient" and get lost in the sea of scrapbookers where I could just be "Shauna, another face in the crowd!" I also thought that I was ready to be inspired again with scrapbooking. And to see what I've missed since being let go from my job as a scrapbook page designer for the last 9 years (because of that darn cancer!).

It was the perfect day for a drive, with the sun shining bright and the blue skies after a week of rain. My CT scan wasn't until Tuesday and my oncologist had given me the week off of chemo. Do you know how amazing it felt to feel good 2 whole weeks in a row???? OMG it rocked!!!!!! I wish it could/would last!!!

I got into Tukwila/Renton around 4:30pm, along with everyone else in the state of Washington on a Friday it seemed! Instead of sitting in traffic for several hours to get the rest of the way to Bellevue and stay at the host hotel, the Hilton, I decided to consult "Ruby" my trusty "smart phone" and her GPS system/directory and she directed me to a hotel nearby! I pulled up and stayed at the Clarion Hotel on East Valley Hwy in a non smoking room in a king sized bed, next to The Keg Restaurant and across the street from a 13 plex cinema. Does it get any better than that??? (Only if the water would have been hotter and they had more pillows...). They had free WiFi and the windows opened for fresh air and the curtains pulled shut so in the morning it was still pitch black in there like it was night and I could sleep in!!! :) It was quiet and peaceful and restful and AMAZING! Such a treat! I reccommend it to all of you moms out there! Just go down the street and stay in a hotel once a month to get away from your crazy, hectic life! It does wonders!!! No dishes. No laundry. No tidying up after anyone but yourself. Quiet. Peaceful. Restful. Ahhhhhh......................................

I walked over to The Keg to see if I could order take out and bring it back to the hotel. The hostess told me that I had to order from the bartender, so I went into the bar and decided it looked very inviting at the bar, in front of the big screen TV with the Laker game on. So I sat down and decided to eat at the bar. The manager asked me if I'd ever been there and when I said no, he brought me a free Shrimp Cocktail! Which I couldn't eat really, so I offered to share it with the couple on my left and the gentleman on my right. That opened up conversation and I had a great time chatting away with them! They didn't treat me any different or feel sorry for me or know me as "Shauna the Cancer Patient", so I forgot about my cancer and troubles and had a blast just being me! Turns out the couple actually have a house in Canby, OR (where my work was located and I worked at for the last 9 years!), that they lived on Oahu in Hawaii (I went to 6th and 7th grade there) and that the gal was a big time scrapbooker! When I told her why I was in town she got all excited and planned on attending the expo the next day too! The food was excellent (I had a baked potato and steamed asparagus, water and diet pepsi) and the company was fun. I meant to go see a movie, but was having too much fun at the bar. It was nice to be transported out of my cancer life for a short while. Loved it!!!!

Saturday I headed to Bellevue for the convention and had the best time socializing again! I sat down at a table for lunch and because it had 3 extra chairs, people kept coming over to share my table (seats/tables were few and far between!). In the process we would chit chat and make friends! I sat for awhile and probably saw 3-4 waves of groups sitting with me. It was fun to run into them on the show floor afterwards. I went alone but left with more friends than I started with! Some of them took my name and address to keep in touch. I have to say that scrapbookers are really really GOOD people! Big hearts!!!

I visited with my friend Laura. She worked at the Boxer booth with my other friends Angie and Vicky. Here's a photo of Laura and I...
Laura was so sweet and bought me a tshirt at the show that says "I Fight Like a Girl" and has a pink ribbon symbolizing cancer on it. Thanks Laura! You rock. :)

I then was shopping in the Simply Swank booth and the owner, who is demo-ing the product, says to me "I love your hair". I had to look around because there was no way she was talking to me? Me with the salt and pepper hair now post chemo. Me with the salt and pepper CURLY out of control hair post chemo. Me??? Is she insane? Me that looks in the mirror and doesn't recognize herself and wishes she could color her hair. Wishes she had her straight hair back. Not this uncontrolable afro mass of salt and pepper curls. Really, you talking to me??? I had to tell her how she made my day by saying that! That led to the whole story of me losing my hair and it growing back with "chemo curls" etc.! I stood in her little booth and talked to her for hours! She was so much fun! Loved her. And in that big, expo hall full of overwhelming amounts of scrapbook supplies, her little corner with out of the oridnary supplies was a welcome retreat. A safe haven. I spent a pretty penny in her booth, buying soldering tools to make xmas ornaments, necklaces, bracelets, photo frames, etc! What fun I will have! And anyone who wants to come play with me!!! Check out her website! She says Craft Warehouse carries her product. Fun stuff.

The next place I stopped was the Melissa Franis booth. I was drawn to the beautiful vintage products and bought a wooden block letter "I" for Immel! I was also drawn to the booth because I had read on her blog that she was battling cancer herself and had designed some cancer related products and I was so thrilled. Guess who rang up my purchase and was working in her own booth? Melissa Francis herself! I asked her how she was doing and one thing led to another and we're hugging and squeezing and talking and crying and ranting and raving and bonding!! It was amazing to be in the presence of someone who understands. Who gets it. Who knows what's it like. To be a survivor. To be a fighter. To be a chemo/cancer patient. To live with emotional trauma etc. It was really really special for me. I think I was meant to go to that show, just so I could connect with her. I believe that it was fate that we meet. How cool is that? She gave me her email and we're going to keep in touch and cheer each other on in our fight. :) Here'a a photo of the two of us....
Doesn't she look fabulous? I think she must have thought I was stalking her, since I kept going by her booth LOL

To top off my fabulous Saturday, I met my sister in law Jennifer and my sweet, adorable niece Ella Enchanted at Red Robin for dinner! My brother is in Paris, France, so I missed him this time around but hope to see him at Thanksgiving. I got a big hug from my niece and she was excited to see me, which made me feel so good! She's a girly girl and loves all things pink, so it's fun to get to be in the presence of a little enchanted princess!

I wish we lived closer and we were all less busy so we could see each other more. The holidays will be nice to reconnect.

After dinner I decided not to drive back to the hotel in Bellevue and I went back to my favorite hotel from the night before and had a restful, relaxing, heavenly night full of crossword puzzles, football and laying in bed doing nothing at all!

I called/texted my friends around town before locking my keys in my car at 7-11 in downtown Kent and having to call Roadside Assistance....which put me on the road much later than planned. But I wasn't in a hurry. I wasn't stressed out about it. I used the time waitiing for roadside assistance to read the paper and start the crossword puzzle. AFter I finally got on the road, I stopped in Centralia to eat and decided to sit and do the crossword at a leisurely pace. I finally got back into town around 8ish or so. I really wasn't in a hurry and didn't want my weekend to end! I liked being away from my life of cancer. I didn't think about cancer all weekend except my expo experience. I was just me. Anonymous. It was a very small version of Reno, but it was so healing. Just what the doctor ordered!

Today I baked Monster Cookies and went to lunch at a Korean restaurant with other Catlin Gabel 8th grade moms. It's great to have a 3rd week in a row off of chemo after doing chemo every other Mon- Wed for the last year. To feel good. Almost normal for 3 weeks in a row. Wow!!! It's amazing how much more energy I have. How much more I can accomplish. How much more hopeful and energized I am.

I hope my CT scan goes well tomorrow. Everyone please cross your fingers, toes, arms, legs, eyes and heart for me! Think good thoughts! I want the holidays off of chemo! I want this feeling of freedom to last!!!

Enough rambling....
Thanks for reading this far if you made it. LOL

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CA125, CT Scan, Conferences and Chatter

from my oncologist:

Hi, the CA 125 was 45, compared to 37 previously, so this very slight change is unlikely to be significant.

Let's see what the CT scan shows.

I'm a little worried about this to be honest. Normal is 35 or less. I've had a steady decrease for quite awhile now. Now it's a slight but steady increase the last 2 months. And I have a bad feeling. I just don't feel right. I've put on more weight, and that has always seemed to parrallel my cancer. Sigh. Loving my week off but have a sinking suspicion that it will be short lived. :(

As for my CT scan, they failed to call me and schedule, so I took it upon myself to call today. They fit me in on Tuesday at 10:20am. I have to fast 3 hours prior, and drink Barium at 8:20am and 9:20am. Did I mention how much I hate drinking the Barium? It's far worse than the scan itself. Ugh! And did any of you see the article in the Oregonian about CT Scans and how too many too often increase your risk of cancer? What is a girl to do when she already has cancer and has to get CT Scans every 6 weeks to 3 months? Doesn't make much sense to me. :(

On a brighter note, we had Kaelin's school conference today and it went smashingly! She's 9 yrs old and in 4th grade and is excelling both physically and academically. She's a very strong student, especially in math and is reading at a 7th grade level, which for her is huge since she hates to read! She can't sit still long enough to read! LOL One of her strengths is her close, positive relationships with boys and one of her areas to improve on is making and establishing a close girlfriend. That's something I've worried about for her as they get older and the boys and girls draw lines in the sand. I'm afraid she will be excluded from the boys at one point and then not fit in with the girls because she's always hung out with the guys. She just relates better to them and enjoys their activities and interests more. But I think she is well respected and liked and accepted for how she is, just the way she is. So I think she'll be fine. I hope and pray that I will be around for a long time to see her grow and blossom and discover things on her way to becoming a teen and a woman. I've got to get this cancer under control and be here for her and for me. She needs me. Sigh. Scary.

I've been asked to do a reading tonight for Write Around Portland. I think I'll do the piece from the first anthology I was published in, titled "In the Valley of the Shadow of Death" and then a dialog piece they chose for the anthology coming out Dec. 17th, titled "Tell Me A Story." It seems appropriate after my last paragraph.

Tomorrow is my last Writing Workshop and we're having a potluck. Not sure what to bring yet. I made chicken enchiladas in white sauce for the teacher luncheon at school tomorrow. Kaelin has the next two days off. I may drive up to Seattle and go to the Scrapbook Expo spur of the moment. Kaelin has gymnastics tonight and tomorrow night and starts indoor soccer on Saturday and Spencer has his Grandparent's Day at school tomorow. Crazy life as usual!

But I love to get in as much living as I can, while I still can. They can all rest and be couch potatoes after I am gone. (They better not be and I'm counting on all of you out there to make sure of it!!! Be my eyes and ears *and heart* when I'm gone!

Thanks for all of the support and for keeping up on my crazy cancer life via my blog. You guys rock!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 7th Writings

7 minute write from November 7th.
1. use the last line of a previous piece
2. The voices are wrong...

I chose the last line of a previous piece....

Chasing Rainbows (a work in progress)
by Shauna Berglund Immel

We go through life with big hopes and dreams for our future. Not ever thinking that our lives will come to a screeching halt long before it's fully lived.

As a little girl I grew up believing in fairy tales, magic, happy endings and finding my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

I had those big hopes and dreams. I believed anything was possible. And now I have those big hopes and dreams for my children and I long for happily ever after. i want to be there as they chase their rainbows, discovering their pot of gold.

Getting diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Cancer at age 40 wasn't one of my dreams. That was never part of my happily ever after. Nor did I ever believe it possible. Things like that don't happen in fairy tales. Only nightmares.

You never know when your nightmares may come true, just as you never know when or if your dreams will ever come true. But you can't stop chasing your rainbows or looking for your pot of gold.

It's important to start now. Don't wait. Don't put things off. Chase those rainbows. Every day. Seek out your pot of gold while you can. For you never know when your rainbow will become your stairway to heaven.

The next prompt was a 12 minute write, in which we were to write a thank you to something we don't normally thank.

Love Affair (a work in progress)
by Shauna Berglund Immel

I wake up each morning and think of you,
after going to bed the night before with you still on my mind.

I stumble out of bed for you,
eager to sit in your company.

The thought of precious time spent with you,
stirs a longing in me that causes me to hurry.

I feel myself perk up in anticipation,
as I breath in your rich aroma.

It makes me dizzy with longing.

I feel guilty,
stealing away to be with you.

To feel your warmth.
To taste you on my lips.

I know I shouldn't want you like I do.
But you bring me such joy and happiness.

I feel so alive
when I am drunk on you
and your caffeine.

The perfect cup of coffee.

I'll catch y0u up on my life tomorrow!

Hope you all had a rockin' Tuesday!


ps. I am digging Beyonce's new song "If I Were a Boy!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Met with Oncologist Today

I had chemo scheduled for immediately after my doctor's appt. today. But I wasn't sure if I'd have to do it or not, since I just finished 12/12 rounds of the folfox, minus the oxcilliplatin (which I had built up a intolerance to) the week of Halloween.

I've been doing chemo since last November. That's a whole year of it. And prior to that, I'd had several months off after major surgery and 11/12 rounds of the folfox, full strength. That's every other week chemo. One week on. One week off. One week on, etc. A very tough schedule to keep up. With some serious side effects. NOt to mention how far behind in life I am. I can't keep up with anything!

Read here for a recap of my cancer journey so far.

Anyways, after this last round of chemo, I was spent. Emotionally, mentally and physically. I dreaded going in today, dreading having to do it again. Sooo not looking forward to being hooked up to "Fillup" the stupid chemo pump for 3 days. I just need a breather to regroup, enjoy my life/family/friends and get strong again. Mentally, physically and emotionally. So we talked and she agreed, that we need a balance between the cancer fight and my quality of life. So she agreed to give me this week off (YAHOO!) and then we're scheduling a CT Scan and waiting on my latest CA125 results before we plan our next attack.

Depending on the CT and CA125 results, I could have 1-2 months off, with a CT scan again at 6 weeks and monthly CA125 tests and port flushes. After that, we discussed me going on an oral chemo, Zolota (5FU, the drug in the pump, via pill form). It would be a daily pill every day for 2 weeks, one week off and repeat. Pretty much the same side effects except the mouth sores and hands/feet symptoms seem to be worse with the pill form. I'm NOT a good pill taker. But it would beat going in and infusing for several hours and then going home hooked up to a pump for 3 days. I would feel iffy one week, really feel the effects the 2nd week and recover the 3rd week.

Anyways, I am in such a good mood today thinking that it's possible I will have the holidays off!!!! And I still have hair this winter, unlike last! But I hate to get my hopes up. It happens every time. I get my hopes up and WHAM BAM they are smashed and I get bad news and am so disappointed. So I hate to get excited and hope. It's better to be indifferent and not expect/hope for the best.

So thank you to all of you who have been praying and thinking of me. It is so much appreciated!!! And thank you to all of you who do such nice things for my family and I! I can't thank you all enough. I am so blessed to have you all in my corner.

I will try and post my recent writings and weekend wrap up in the next few days!

Big hugs going out to all!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Playdate with Friends

My friend, fellow UCLA Pi Beta Phi Sorority sister and college roommate, Sheila, flew down from Seattle again today and we had a playdate! Paris joined us as we had Moonstruck Chocolate Chai Teas, had bagels at Noahs, went for a walk, ate lunch at Pho Van Vietnamese restaurant and chatted up a storm! What a great escape from reality and life for several hours! Fun to introduce Paris and Sheila and to catch up and relive memories again. Can't wait for our college friend reunion in January in San Francisco! Notice I'm wearing red, white and blue for Election Day! I think there are a lot of happy people out in the USA and the world tonight! :)
Hope you all got what you wanted today and had fun with friends and family!
Make it Count!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Writings and Weekend Wrap Up

Sharing some more writing from my Write Around Portland Workshop...

10/31/08 prompts:
1. Now or Never
2. Standing at the Window

I Wonder (a work in progress)
by Shauna Berglund Immel

I stand here at the window,
looking out into the darkness.

Wondering if tonight is the night.

The rain hits the glass forcefully
and slides down the surface like the tears down my face.
The wind blows the branches up against the glass
and makes an eerie scratching noise,
like the sounds coming from my own throat.

Again I wonder if tonight is the night.

The night that he comes for me.

The next assignment was to take a line from a piece of poetry writing we read in class. (not sure where my copy is) or we could use the following prompts:
1. What do you want to remember?
2. Starting Here

I chose the line "What Can Anyone Give You Greater Than Now?"

What Can Anyone Give you Greater Than Now? (a work in progress)
by Shauna Berglund Immel

You are alive.
One with this world.
A part of something big and spectacular.
A sight to see.
A strand of life woven among others.
Moving through the universe with pleasure, pain and purpose.
Relishing the touch of a friend's sweet embrace.
Delighting in the sounds of your children's laughter.
Tasting the sweetness of your lover's kiss as it lingers long after it's over.
Dancing to the music that plays in your mind.
Inhaling the cold, crisp, sweet air of autumn's breath.
Walking among the glorious shades of fall leaves
Not only feeling, but hearing their laughter under your feet.
Feeling the warmth on your face as the sun blows you kisses from afar.
Surrounded by Mother Nature's gifts.
Her subtle, simple, precious gifts of life.
In all of their glory.
What can anyone give you greater than now?

Only two more workshops! I will go into withdrawals! Need my writing fix!
For anyone interested, the Write Around Portland Reading and Anthology Release Party is Wednesday, December 17th, 6:30 - 8:30 pm @ The First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson (right by the Goose Hollow Max Stop)

Weekend Wrap Up:

Last week seemed to be one of my hardest chemo weeks ever, emotionally and physically. I really struggled this last week and it took a lot out of me. I apologize for my negativeness etc. and thank you for your kindness, patience and support.

Halloween: I slept most of the day and got out of bed just in time to go to our 6pm party that was hosted by Kaelin's soccer coach and his family. I'm sad to say I didn't feel well enough, nor did I have it in me to dress up in my Snow White costume I payed a pretty penny for and was excited to wear. It was just too much effort and would have been uncomfortable. Dave and I were pretty much the only grown ups not to dress up,as Kaelin decided to forgo her Halo X Box game soldier character and hijack Dave's Indiana Jones costume accessories (hat and whip).Almost the whole soccer team was there (minus one?) and they all had a great time Trick or Treating and dancing and trading candy. But I truly think this party was more for the adults! I couldn't believe the creativity of the costumes! The parents went all out!We had Palin and McCain...Jack and Jill who went up a hill...
Mario and Luigi (from Mario Brother's video games!)...
We had the a prom queen and her nerd of a prom date (in full character!)...
We had Beetlejuice (in full character!) and beautiful, enchanting witches...
We had the Nightmare Before Christmas trio...
A Chick Magnet and Trophy wife...
There were pirates...
and a couple of referees. And a fun night for all! Although Dave and the host (Go Southridge!) lost on their home turf in shuffleboard to Beetlejuice and a pirate and will never hear the end of it. Apparently they are in need of therapy now. LOL

I didn't see Spencer all day until we arrived home at midnight! He went to school in his big, green Dipsy Teletubby costume
and won the costume contest for the catagory "Classic Costume". I asked him what he won and he said "a piece of paper." LOL He went to a friends after school and helped work the Haunted Room at his house and went Trick of Treating with friends immediately after.

We all had to get up early and be on the soccer field at 8:30am! We all expected the girls to play horribly since they were up past midnight, but they played amazing and won 5-o, playing keepaway pretty much the whole 2nd half.

Spencer's team lost 2-1.

This weekend is the end of the outdoor soccer season. Whew. Spencer will have his martial arts and I'm trying to talk him into playing 8th grade hoops at school. Kaelin still has competive dance and gym and a 5th grade hoops tournament team (her dad is going to coach!). We opted not to have her play indoor soccer since so much is going on.

Kaelin has a 4th grade girls sleepover at the gym at school (put on by the PE teachers and bought at the school auction) this Friday. She's spending Sundays learning some new individualized gym routines for her Level 7 competition season. She's missed a ton of training lately with soccer and all the extra activities between her and Spencer. I just can't be everywhere at the same time!

I finally started to feel more like myself on Sunday and had a great day, falling back and waking feeling rested. Was even productive as I tried to dig myself out of the mess that is our life and home after being down all week from chemo and a busy schedule. Didn't realize that my family had run out of underwear! Can you believe my husband had my daughter pull some out of the wash before school on Friday and blow dry it with the hair dryer????? What will they ever do without me??? OMG!

Oh, and Saturday we went with some friends and saw "High School Musical 3." My son played his Gameboy throughout the movie and my daughter would never admit that she liked it, but it was kind of fun. It's no "Grease" though!

Sorry for rambling.

Hope you all have a rockin week! I'm going to enjoy my week off of chemo and hope that my doctor finally gives me a break next week!

Oh, and my fellow UCLA Pi Beta Phi sorority sister and dear friend Sheila is flying down from Seattle again to spend the day with me tomorrow! I'm excited that she will get to meet Paris and vice versa! Coffee, lunch and time with friends...the perfect day!