Monday, October 18, 2010

Radiation Leaves it's Mark

Rianne has been recovering from the Radiation Treatments slowly but surely - but mostly slowly. I’m not sure if its me or her, but it seems that her progress has been at a snail’s pace. It could be that my expectations for her are to recover quickly or it could just be that she is extremely tired and has taken time to progress. Either way, she is still on the roller coaster.
Rianne has a few sayings, which definitely provide us with wisdom during these tough months. “By the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s hard.” I like it because her recovery is actually taking more time than I thought it would and this saying reminds me that ANY progress in a positive direction is good progress. I need to expect her recovery to take more time – weeks and maybe even months to be realistic.
“Don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite” is another trademark quote from Rianne. If we expect her to be able to recover all at once, without any setbacks, then we are expecting too much. Her recovery will be more of a challenge than I initially assumed it would be. By allowing her to take it a day at a time, one bite at a time, we are allowing her to recover at a reasonable pace.
But the thoughts and fears of my wife having cancer continue to consume me daily, and I struggle with anxiety at times, waiting for the oncologist to say that she is cancer-free. The demons in our heads tend to eat away at us, especially when we worry about the possibility of the cancer returning.
In the meantime, Rianne has been to work several times in the past two weeks. She has struggled at work due to the chemo-brain. Most of us rise in the morning and head off to work, but Rianne has daily fights with anxiety the second I leave the house. She feels an anxious loneliness and fears going to work because she is afraid that her memory will lapse and she worries about not being able to stay on task. She is anxious when people approach her because she is uncertain of who they are. She knows the faces but the names don’t surface quickly enough in her brain that has been affected by the chemotherapy. She pushes herself to do a little more each day, yet feels that she can’t keep up. Returning to work has been an emotional roller coaster in itself. Yet she couldn’t ask for better bosses than Bryan Little and Dave Little. They have been unbelievably supportive of her throughout this entire ordeal. They have had huge hearts and continue to support her 100%. “Just do what you can while you are here” and “if you feel that you need to go home we understand” are two examples of their support for Rianne during these difficult times in her life. Her co-workers have also been absolutely supportive of her return to work. Becky, Katie, Lacey and Carol have picked her up and brought her home each day and have helped her at work.
Rianne says that it seems like Becky sees most of her tears when she picks her up for work. One day last week before she went to work, the anxiety overwhelmed Rianne and she had a meltdown. Becky picked her up and she sobbed from the second she got in the car. They drove a mile toward work and had to pull over to talk. Becky said, “its okay, why don’t you let me take you back home for the day.” Rianne called me at the school and just sobbed. The chemo-brain and the anxiety were more than she could take that day. It was best for her to just curl up on the couch, put a movie in the DVD player and let her mind relax.
Evenings have been good to Rianne. She has had a good appetite, eats well, then relaxes on the couch and goes to bed early. She is most comfortable when I’m close to her. She has been sleeping well at night because she “cheats” by taking Ambien to help her brain shut off for the night. At least that’s what she calls it…I say it’s a good strategy for her brain to take a well-deserved break!
It’s the 18th of October and, as I type, I reflect on the road that she and I have been down together since April. It has NOT been entirely exciting or enjoyable. We do, however, count our blessings! Some cancer patients have not made it until today, and we are both aware of that. Each day brings different challenges, yet often new blessings. We are both very happy to still have each other to lean on!

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Rocky Road

Rianne’s Radiation Treatment is complete! Last Monday Rianne endured her final visit to the facility for radiation. What a DANG TOUGH and amazing woman she is! I’m really proud of her for all that she has overcome during the past 6 months. She has been through one rocky road during this difficult course in her life!
Luane drove Rianne up to Coos Bay for her final radiation appointment a week ago, which allowed her parents to again get a break from traveling. It was a good day for Rianne and she even received a certificate for completing her scheduled treatments! They also gave her the mask that was used to align her head to the same position for each treatment. It left little diamonds on her face each time, which are easy to see in the photo on this post. She was relieved to reach the final day of radiation, as the fatigue was beginning to take a toll on her.
She was exhausted early in the week due to the effects of the radiation. Her parents were both also exhausted, so much that they slept the entire ride home from one of her treatments. They are yet to see the photo in this post, which should certainly get them to laugh. They pulled the 5th Wheel out of the driveway and left for Clarkston on Wednesday. It was great to have their support while they were here for the past three weeks. We are both very grateful for their help during that tough month of September.
Her spirits have been strong and her energy levels are slowly but surely increasing. Yesterday, Ty brought Kacen and Brant over and they played non-stop with “Gramma” for two and a half hours. She also worked a few hours during two days last week! Her attitude has been great and she wants to desperately succeed, especially at work.
Today I drove her to Coos Bay for a follow-up CT Scan. She had a little anxiety before the procedure, which is…well…Rianne! She’s felt that way before each and every appointment, so why should she change now?! We won’t hear about the results until later this week or into next week, so keep your fingers crossed! What we want to hear is that she is cancer-free from the shoulders down through the CT Scan results!
Thank you again for all of your love, support, prayers, gifts, letters, phone calls, text messages and friendship! We appreciate ALL that you have done. We love you all! Have a GREAT week!!