Tag Archives: books

Health Update

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I wanted to be open and honest with all of you, as I have been.  I do not know how much longer I can keep up with this blog.  Typing has become challenging with only one hand, and now that it shakes and is weak, typing is hard for me.

My health is declining.  I am still awaiting to have another MRI to see if the whole brain radiation worked or not.  The MRI should be within the next 2-3 weeks.  Part of me knows it didn’t work.  I have bad neuropathy in my toes which is only a side effect of the brain tumors;  My right eye is closed more than my left which it never was, and it hinders my vision when I am reading; my head feels full and heavy and I get sharp pains frequently in the areas that I know tumors are. I have a lot of weakness in my legs and walking is difficult.  My balance is off and my legs are shaky. My right arm has become even more  numb with a big increase of pins and needles in my hand and fingers.

I am unable to do much anymore.  My days are spent on the couch since I can no longer drive, and walking for any distance isn’t a reality. I am not telling you this for pity.  I tell you this because part of my journey when starting this blog last year, was to be honest about my life with breast cancer, and what I would be going through.

I don’t eat much anymore because I either have no appetite, or I am nauseated too much to eat.  The nausea meds don’t work anymore.  The fatigue is debilitating.  I fall asleep constantly and  feel tired all the time.  I feel like jelly inside, and dead.

Emotionally I have good days and bad days.  I’m afraid although my faith is keeping me strong.  My worries are for my three girls and my husband. I don’t want to leave them.  My youngest who is just 14, is especially sensitive and is constantly telling me to not leave her, and how she can’t lose me.  It kills me.  What do I say?  How do you answer that? I think she’s beginning to accept that I am not going to see 80, because the other night she asked me to always be with her even after I die. I told her I’d find a way to be with her always until she was an old lady and ready to come see me in heaven. Things like this leave me empty and in tears, but then I pray and I am comforted and my strength is renewed.

OK so there will be some changes on the blog I want to make everyone aware of.  I am no longer going to do book reviews other than possibly a book I read.  I may not post as much as it depends on the shaking in my hand. I will let you know as long as I can.

If the tumors have not responded to the radiation, there is nothing left to do.  I don’t know what the effects or what the progression will be. I have been told I could have seizures, strokes, confusion, loss of hearing, and loss of speach.  If I reach the point that I can no longer type or communicate,  My oldest daughter will keep you update on what is happening and will let you know when I pass.

I ask for your prayers.  I remain hopeful there will be a iracle and I go into remission for a long time. Thank you for your support and kind words. xo

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Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

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Recently I was approached by David Meredith to review his book and he kindly sent me a copy to read.  The Reflections of Queen Snow White was released a while back on Amazon, in the Kindle store, and has many reviews already as an established book.  Personally, I like to review new releases in order to get the word out about the book, in order to increase readership for the author.  Unless it is a rare find or classic that needs to be read.

The book focuses on Snow Whites life on the eve of her only daughter’s wedding.  Prince Charming has been dead for over a year and the Queen is in a state of deep depression, and cannot bring herself to be happy for her daughter or her kingdom.  In a fit of loneliness and despair, the Queen wanders through the castle to find somewhere to be alone.  She comes to a part of the castle, seldom used and climbs a staircase to an old storage room.  There she finds her cruel step mother’s magic mirror.

The mirror offers the queen the chance to find out why she has not been able to move forward after Charming’s death. But can she trust it? Will she have the strength to face her own demons and truths? Will she finally be able to find her “happy ever after” again?

The book, which is written for Young Adults, has a good story line, and held my interest.  Meredith is a good writer who uses rich, descriptive language to create his scenes.  It was a quick read, and I think best suited for 12-14 if the sexual references were removed.  Unfortunately, due to the sexual content I would put 14 as a minimum age for it but I do not think many  over the age of 16 would be interested in the story.  It has to appeal to the Disney crowd and that seems to be fading in many areas, and  my own daughters as well.

I would rate the book at 3 stars out 5 due to the limited group the book is suited for, and the quickness of the read.

SCAN RESULTS AND THE FUTURE!

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Sounds quite mystical doesn’t it?   Eh, it won’t be that exciting or prophetic sorry to say!  I met with my oncologist this morning for my scan results from Monday, and to get my treatment plan started for the cancer in my collar bone.

The scan showed the usual lymph node involvement in my collarbone, neck and trapezius muscle on the right side. There were a few tiny bone lesions in the collar bone as well.  It has never been in my bone, but they are so tiny and slow growing, chemo is not required at this time.  The Dr. was actually very pleased that the cancer was not anywhere else in my body other than where it is after being off all treatments since 12/14.  On next Wednesday, I will begin Herceptin and Perjeta since the cancer is still HER2+.  I will get an infusion of this combo, once very 3 weeks only and there are no side effects at all!  I have tolerated these well in the past so I am happy there.

To strengthen my bones from future fractures or breaks, every 6 weeks they will be adding a medicine to the Herceptin/Perjeta combo called Xgeva.  This will lengthen my session by an hour I think, but in the scheme of things, no biggie!  I also have to begin taking 2000iu of Vitamin D as well as calcium to build up my levels.

So that is it in a nut shell.  I am very pleased with the results, and with my treatment plan.  I truly am thankful to Jesus whom I just dumped this on and who gave me the strength and peace to deal with whatever results came in.  I know his plan is working and sometimes you just have to say you need help, and give it over to Him to take care of.

Thanks for all the love and support as usual.  I’ll be writing about 3-4 book reviews next so keep posted to see them!  Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter! XO

 

 

Writing is Hard

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There have been many times in my life, especially since my sister died, that I have said “I should write a book”. I have an idea book that I use to write ideas for story lines and things I think would make a good book.  Most of them have gone unwritten, and honestly, the most writing I have done is this blog!  I don’t know if it’s a discipline thing or the fact that I get busy doing something else, (who am I kidding, twitter isn’t my job) but I seem to come up with excuses why not to write.  Having function only in my left hand, means I can only type with one hand.  This slows me down, and most of the books I have started are handwritten because its faster to write. My latest book attempt is actually about my sisters murder but written in a different way.  The things my family went through, and the way we were treated by my ex brother-in-laws family are unbelievable.  Seriously, everyone who supported my family from the time of Kim’s death until the sentencing have been shocked by what that family has done.

Enough of that, I’ll only become enraged.  Anyway, besides the typing, there is the realization of how much I don’t know.  I thought I could just start writing the story from the beginning and off I’d go.  I never gave thought to editing; other than spell check, or outlining and organizing my plot and characters; grammar rules, of which I remember none of; how to write dialogue; and all the other things I can’t think of because I don’t know about them yet!  How does one learn how to write a book?  Maybe I should have majored in English instead of Sociology. I mean, what the hell have I done with a Sociology degree? Zip, that’s what.

Even writing this blog has not been easy.  It’s hard to come up with a new topic everyday, which is why my postings now have a few days in between.  It’s hard to find your “voice”. Writing is like acting.  Once you have decided on a style and your voice has been heard, its tough to keep it up.  Having stage 4 cancer that has metastasized to my brain and possibly other areas by now, leaves me in pain more often then I would like, and if I wrote about my true feelings this would be a very depressing blog, and no one would read it.  So I have to think of something to write that puts on my happy face and pretend I am feeling great.

If you are not a writer, or if you have never attempted to write anything but a college research paper, be careful the next time you think you could write a book, or comment on how easy it would be to be a writer.  It isn’t easy, and it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  You will never feel more vulnerable, or stupid in your life.  But, it is also very empowering, and freeing. You will learn more about yourself then you thought you could, and this new knowledge can be very cathartic.

The Road to Recovery

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Some of you may know that for the last few months I had been dealing with some medical issues.  The silicone implant I got when my reconstruction surgery was done 5 years ago, ruptured and was causing me pain.  I had it removed in December, but then I was lucky enough to get a staph infection which left me in the hospital for a week.   It hasn’t been a very nice start to 2016, but I am finally drain free, and IV through my port free!  It feels great to be able to sleep on both sides, shower normally, and wear my normal clothes.

I am also excited to get back to posting everyday.  Currently I am reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  It’s a big book at 973 pages and I am only on page 304.  I am enjoying the story line, but it is wordy at times which annoys me.  I want to scream “Get to the point!” when reading those areas.  It also doesn’t help that because I still have to be on pain medicine, I get sleepy, and reading those small words tends to relax me after 10-15 pages.

I have many books on my ‘To Read’ list that excite me.  I love the feeling of having so many options of new adventures, new characters to meet, and new topics to think about. I feel that is the best part of being a true book lover. The anticipation as you hold your next book. The questions that swirl through your head such as ‘Will I like this book, Will I grow to love this main character?, Will this be a journey I will always remember?’ All of these things and more make reading such a fantastic way to relax, unwind and unplug from today’s world with all its problems.  In a good book, you can escape to a better time, or immerse yourself in an adventure you wouldn’t have the courage for here in reality.   I love the escapism reading gives me.  While I am in the story world I don’t have cancer, I am not in pain, and all my fears go away.  That is the best part of reading.

I have learned to be patient with my recovery process.  The Dr. told me it would take 6-8 weeks to feel myself again, and another 6 months for my skin to look and feel good over my chest wall. I have had three major procedures to the area and it is going to take some time for my body to heal, especially with my weakened immune system.  Reading this long, chewy, book is helping me recover and teaching me patience at the same time.  I hope you are all reading something for yourself.  Not anything work related.  Something for pure enjoyment.  Let me know what you’re reading in the comment section.  I am always looking for new titles!

Barb

Books I Read for Comfort

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I love to read.  I have loved reading since I was 9 and could ride my bike to the library downtown three times a week during summer break. Throughout my 41 years since, I have read thousands of books and there are a few that have become my favorite. The favorites are books I have read multiple times because when I read them, they calm me, make me happy or feel safe.  Through breakups, bad times as a teen, whatever the case may have been, this beloved group of books has seen me through tough times.

When I became a mother, I didn’t have the need to run to those comfort books as often, and they became the “books to read when you don’t have a new book”. When my oldest, Kait was in second grade, that now famous boy wizard entered the literary scene.  Kait and I read the books together.  We would go to the midnight book reveals and race home to begin reading that night.  As she grew older, we would discuss plots and search for hints by rereading the earlier books.  We watched the movies as they came out, and would either praise how close they stayed to to story line, or tear them apart for leaving major plot lines out.  Harry Potter became our shared obsession and it bound us together in a special way.

My two younger girls didn’t get this incredible gift.  They watched the movies first, then read the books.  My youngest *gasp*, didn’t want me to read the books to her because she wasn’t into them!  That did depress me for a few weeks/months/ok years, but I’m in a good place now.

While I was going through chemotherapy and radiation, I was incredibly fatigued, and at times nauseated.  My joints ached and my vision would get blurry after reading for 25 minutes.  The one thing that helped get me through the day, or sleepless night was having Kait read Harry Potter to me.  Sometimes we would go in order, and other times we would just pick a favorite. Kait has many creative talents and one of them is picking up foreign accents easily.  She would read the story in a British accent and I would close my eyes and be transported to a magical place where there wasn’t cancer, or pain. Listening to these books gave me a better sense of comfort and relaxation than any pain killer did.  It had the added bonus of bringing forth years of happy memories I shared with my daughter.

I feel sorry for people who don’t like to read.  They are missing out on so much. God bless authors and books!

Book Review: Calculated Regrets by Thomas Jast

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The best thing about being active on Twitter, is the number of interesting, funny, caring, and talented people I have met.  One of these being Thomas Jast.  I had heard promising things about his book, but I’ll admit I was a tad nervous to read and review it.  What if it was really bad?  Would I then have to decide to be truthful and hurt his feelings, possibly ruining his career and sending him into a downward spiral of depression?  Or would I lie and pretend to love it, give it a good review and spend my life hiding from him because I didn’t want to read anymore of his books, all the while having people laugh at me for liking the crappiest book out there.

Well thank God I really did love this book! Phew! I feel so much better now that I can be honest and not ruin anyone’s life.  Calculated Regrets is the story of Alex Aberdeen, a pretty, 26 year old who doesn’t relate well with other people but who chooses to go into Human Resources.  It’s a yo-yo relationship with this main character throughout the book.  In fact, you could say that with every character.  At first you like Alex, then you hate her and think she is clinically insane.  Then you find yourself liking her again.  Alex’s boss Liz is such a mean bitch but then you feel for her also.  Her co-worker Kaylee , is a character that you find endearing.  Shes just an all around nice person, who befriends Alex, but does she have another motive?  Then there is Tom, who is the catalyst as to what happens in this story.  Can Alex trust her heart to him?

Calculated Regrets is a fast moving read that will leave the reader breathless from the emotional roller coaster they just got off.  I found myself laughing out loud at some parts and feeling angry at others.  I would put the book down, but then be pulled by unknown forces back to it.  I found myself  wondering what Alex was doing now?

Do yourself a favor and read Calculated Regrets by Thomas Jast.  You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be thankful I recommended it to you.  Happy Reading!

Barb

Reading Challenge

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Last year I took the Goodreads reading challenge and read 25 books.  I reached my goal, but it was tough to do.  This year I challenged myself to read 20 books and I think that will be more realistic to my lifestyle. The biggest challenge would be to read all the books I have on my “to read” shelf.  The problem is that I am constantly coming across new books I want to read or discover and I start reading them which makes the books on the “to read” shelf  ignored.

So, what I thought I would do is enlist your help.  I am going to list the books I want to read in groups of 10 (I have no idea how many are in this category) and ask you beautiful people if you have read any of them and if you would consider them a must read book.  The goal is to hopefully be able to eliminate some of them, making it a more manageable list.

Please comment your thoughts.  Consider this a community service!

  1. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
  2. The House Girl by Tara Conklin
  3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  4. The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts
  5. Pacific Avenue by Anne L Watson
  6. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
  7. The Neighbors by Ania Ahlborn
  8. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  9. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
  10. The Poisonwood Bibe by Barbara Kingsolver

Thanks!

Barb

 

Review:Stone and a Hard Place

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A couple weeks ago, I was asked to read and review Stone And A Hard Place by R.L. King on Twitter.  I was looking for something fun and light to read and I enjoy the fantasy genre, so this seemed like a good choice.

The story revolves around the main character, Alastair Stone, who is a mage and college professor. A friend from England asks Stone to take on a young boy –  who’s father was a mage and has died –  as an apprentice.  Meanwhile, a friend and colleague has asked him to check out his elderly aunt’s house because she is hearing voices and is getting negative feelings from the house.

Stone meets Ethan, who is 18, and tells him what being an apprentice will require.  Ethan’s mother is seriously ill, and she wants someone to be there for Ethan once she is gone.  Ethan agrees to Stone’s terms and is excited to learn magic.  Ethan is not very popular, and rather awkward, and training to be a mage gives him hope that it will make him cooler.

Stone visits the Aunt’s house which is more like a mansion, and discovers there is a malignant force in the house.  He makes it his goal to rid the house of this evil and protect his friends aunt.  Meanwhile, Ethan gets involved with another group of young mages who are also interested in the house.

I won’t reveal more for fear of spoiling things.  The book was a good read; similar to a beach read.  It was an escape from reality without having to work hard.  The author writes well, and uses a rich vocabulary, but lacks in creating a relationship between Ethan and Stone. The reader is given the impression that this master/apprentice relationship is a large part of the story.  In truth, it isn’t.  Reading it, I found myself wanting more from this story line and becoming frustrated when it never happened.  I also felt like the ending was rushed.  The author spends 98% of the book building up the conflict and only 2% resolving it.  There were weak resolutions in the characters problems and I got the impression Stine was in a hurry to complete the book.

I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars only because the story itself was good and the characters were interesting, even if their relationships with each other were weak.

New Year, New Hopes

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It seems that for the past 5 years I am glad to see the old year exit and have hope for the new one.  Once again I find myself in this same position, and I’m starting to find it all rather comical.  If I don’t laugh, I may never stop crying and that’s not how I want to live my life.  So 2015 began with a lot of hope, but after the cancer spread to my brain, my implant rupturing, and some family issues, I am looking forward to 2016 to be better.

I look at it this way, I’ve already had the worst things happen to me, so things can only go up from here right?  I have hope because without it I let the Cancer win, and that’s not going to happen.  Even if it does claim my life one day, it will have lost because I have lived longer than the statistics said I would already.  I have hope because there are new treatments on the horizon, and a cure not far away. One of these may put me into a long term remission and I could live to 70.  I have hope because my daughters refuse to allow me to die.  It’s not an option, and when I am feeling down, they pick me up to go on fighting.  Finally, I have hope because my husband cannot do what I do for the girls and so I will just have to stick around!

Hope allows us to overcome the rough spots and bumps on our journey through life.  Without hope, there is only desolation, depression, and fear. People need to hope so they can dream of a better future, and stay positive.  Even in the most dire of situations, there is always hope.  It’s how our brain figures out our next move to resolve the problem.

So for 2016, I have hope for several things I would like to share with you.  First, I hope there is a clinical trial or new therapy that can put my cancer into a long term remission.  Second, I hope this blog continues to grow, and that its words can hep others going through cancer, or find a new book, or share my passion for writing.  Third, I hope to complete the book I am writing and have it edited and ready to find a publisher by the end of the year.  Lastly, I hope to do some traveling since I have basically gone nowhere!

I hope that all of you enter into the new year with hope.  May you all have love, happiness, good health, and people to share your joy with.  Thank you for being a bright spot in my life.