After enjoying a wonderful week-long break from chemo to celebrate my son’s commencement from BYU and visit family in Utah, I went back for round 4 on Monday 5/1/2023. It’s time to recap how round 3 went. I want to remember this experience, all of it. I expect it to help me have more compassion and understanding for others who face this mountain. When I’m having a good day, it’s sometimes difficult to remember what the tougher times were like.
It’s kind of like birthing children. Once the battle is behind you, the joy and appreciation for all the good things that come of it often has a way of erasing the trauma so you’re eventually willing to do it again. That’s kind of what it’s like with each chemo treatment. I have written about the hard parts to have a record of them, but once they are behind me, I no longer feel their impact. And the more I experience them, the more strength I feel to endure another bad bout. I can tell myself – it’s temporary! I’ll get through it, because I have a growing track record of getting through hard things.
So, to recap round 3:
Monday (4/10/2023) – The day of my infusion I got terrible gas and bloating. A bad headache, acid indigestion, a feeling like there were rocks in my throat, I struggled to use my voice (sounded like an old lady), and had trouble swallowing. Fell asleep at 3am.
Tuesday (4/11/2023) – Had a good rest, slept until 9am. On Tuesday it felt like a rib behind my shoulder blade was out and the pain radiating up my shoulder was constant. I made an appointment for a myopractic adjustment.
Wednesday (4/12/2023) – Still bloated, queasy. Shoulder pain adjustment didn’t really help. Hands and feet starting to feel sore (neuropathy). Got so bad that it kept me awake all night – they felt like they were on fire. Not the pins and needles feeling they talk about – no this was like they had literally been seared. Can’t use anything to cool them, because cold sensitivity is what triggers the neuropathy.
Thursday (4/13/2023) – Bowels finally started moving, ostomy bag fail during my morning irrigation. That was fun. Sorry – TMI? A friend Sheena Wrick (a participant in my Miracles Made Simple program) had a conversation with me in the morning and talked my burning pain down from a level 8-9 to more like a 1-2. Thank you Sheena! I also got myself a lymph massage that night and spent some time on a vibration plate to hopefully help me metabolize the chemo drugs and get them out of my system by the end of the week like the doctor says was the goal.
He wants me to only be dealing with mild side effects for the first 5 days, so I can have days 6-14 to recover before the next round. So far, I’ve been having side effects all 14 days. Plus the shoulder pain on top of it all made the side effects pale in comparison. (In fact, after the 14 days it was his idea to skip the next week so I didn’t even have to ask for a break to do our Utah trip. He was already on board!)
Friday (4/14/2023) – Bloating and blockage finally resolved. Watched a video about miraculous healings and it inspired me to ask God with conviction, courage, and hope to heal my rib/shoulder. It actually felt better after that, so I was able to sleep.
Saturday (4/15/2023) – Hoped for the side effects to be gone by now, but that was not the case. Shoulder pain came back but I was still grateful for the rest I enjoyed during the merciful break the Lord gave me from it. Even temporary reprieves are welcome and appreciated. But here was something new – diarrhea began on this day. 24 hours of cramping made me grateful for the temporary ostomy bag so I didn’t have to run to the bathroom every 5 minutes! I think I might even miss it when it’s gone. (They’ll reverse my ostomy after all my chemo treatments are behind me.)
Week 2 (4/17-21/2023) – My husband had an annual conference for work in Las Vegas all week so I tagged along to convalesce in the hotel room. This is us on the flight to Nevada:
We used a wheelchair to get me everywhere – all through the airport and the massive Venetian hotel.
I was too weak to walk much. But spirits were up – I got work done, binged shows, and enjoyed room service. In the evening we binged shows together.
Going through chemo, one of the biggest challenges is passing the time when you don’t have the strength or energy to do all the things you used to do. Diarrhea lasted most of the week. The painful cramping with it stopped after a day or so, so it wasn’t bothersome, and the episodes slowed down from every five minutes to more like 4-6 times/day. However, it messed with my potassium so I was prescribed more meds (and was one of the main reasons the doctor wanted to give me a break. It’s not good to have diarrhea for a week).
Trevan snapped these pictures of me showing how much of my week was spent in Vegas. I can be at home resting or I can be here… I’m glad I went.
Giving Myself Grace
I used to feel guilty watching too much TV because there are so many more important things to do! But I have also burned the candle at both ends for most of the last 25-30 years so I’m giving myself some grace and letting myself be distracted a little every day to help me climb this different kind of mountain.
Climbing a Mountain
It was on this business trip that Trevan convinced me to join his team at the end of the week for their dinner together downstairs, where I was able to connect with and spend some time with his friends in a way I’ve never experienced before. I’ve seen them annually for a few years now, but it always felt superficial. This time we experienced some genuine connection and I have grown to love those people. They were so welcoming and generous with their concern for me. His company even sent me a care package after we got home (which included yet another amazingly snuggly blanket).
The company owner’s wife is a nurse and she told my husband, “Leslie’s climbing a mountain right now. But when she gets to the top, she’s going to be so glad she did it!”
I don’t know why, but that visual was sooooo accurately descriptive of what this has been like for me, and even healing to think about. The mountain looks big, and the climb is slow and exhausting, but there are places that level out. The fatigue is real, even though the work and struggle is internal, and largely invisible.
There are people cheering me on. There are hands that help lift me to the next mini-summit, and there are people at the top who have climbed this mountain themselves telling me that I can do it, and that it’s worth it.
A Night on the Town
After the dinner I was ready to go to bed, but we decided to take a little time on our last night to scoot around the resort and snap some pictures together.
The gondola ride we decided to take was icing on the cake. Our driver sang Italian love songs while we floated the fake river. He was hilarious. I asked if he is really Italian and he said “yes, by blood and by paycheck. I can be whatever you pay me to be.”
Friday (4/21/2023) –We got home Friday morning in time for me to run to the doctor’s office and get my bloodwork drawn for the next Monday’s infusion. (But it said my potassium was too low so he had me wait an extra week for round 4.)
Saturday (4/22/2023) –we landed some last minute tickets to the Millennial Choirs and Orchestra spring show at the Mesa Arts Center. I wasn’t sure I had the strength for it, but we made it happen. My ostomy bag started acting up around halfway through the show so I stepped out to enjoy the rest from the hallway. Too bad ostomies don’t come with a sphincter. Sorry again, probably TMI.
Ok, so why Chemo?
People have asked me why, if I am applying Rare Faith to my situation, why am I also subjecting myself to chemo? People can heal from cancer without it, so why not go an easier route? I have an answer to that question, which I will share here, separately.
To Utah for Son’s Graduation:
Wednesday (4/26/2023) –It was fortunate that the doctor wanted to give me an extra week to recover, so we spent most of the third week having a break from chemo, flying to Utah to be with our oldest four kids celebrating one son’s graduation.
I was even able to start tasting food normally again! During treatment, food just doesn’t taste very good – anything cooked with oil at all tastes like waxy lard with no flavor. Savory totally escapes me. Sweet still works but I only had an appetite for a couple bites of anything.
During the break I was able to enjoy food again and I packed on 8 pounds in one week! What else can I taste?? Oooh that would be fun to eat! I was extra susceptible to suggestion and more than once I’d see something advertised on TV and say, “I want that…” so Trevan made things happen and I’m back into my chubby pants again.
The nurses tell me to eat whenever I feel like it because you never know when that desire will shut off again, and I could certainly use the extra fuel.
After the graduation we spent some time with my sister and her kids, and then Trevan’s brother and his kids. I wish I had taken more pictures but here are a few:
Saturday morning (4/29/2023) – Nathan dropped us off at the airport in Provo…
…and after an unexpected 12 hour delay (TWELVE HOURS!) and a crazy fiasco with the airline issuing unusable vouchers to all the passengers…
– we were finally home again. I’m choosing not to spend any time describing the nightmare that that was.
Monday (5/1/2023) – was my next chemo infusion appointment, and also the extra DPD gene mutation test to see why my chemo cocktail has been harder on me than the doctor expected. We later found out they only do the test on Wednesdays, so I’ll get it next time I’m in.
I told him maybe the chemo has been unusually difficult for me because I’m a redhead? They say we gingers are generally harder to sedate, but more sensitive to opioids. He said he’s not aware of any connection to that, but the test might give us a clue.
For now, he’s reducing my dosage again (down 20% now), and we have a plan for if my hands and feet start burning again on day 3. Today is day 3 so we’ll see how it goes tonight. So far, this has seemed to be the most tolerable round, so I am grateful and hopeful. He also said we could try a completely different cocktail if this doesn’t ease up, and I said I hoped this adjustment is all we need, because at least I know how this feels.
I’m a little more apprehensive about trying something completely different. Plus, with the other option he said I would lose my hair. With this treatment I’m on, he did say my hair would thin but that I would most likely not loose too much. Well, I have definitely thinned out and if it keeps thinning at this rate I will probably shave my head.
Something about the thought of that even sounds wonderful – an excuse to have one less thing to stress over. I asked the doctor “at what point do your patients typically shave their heads?” He said, “Usually when they know they’re going to lose their hair.” Well, since we have not been expecting that I will lose it all, I was kind of like, “drat.”
My oldest son told me while we were in Utah, “Yeah Mom, if you shave it now, it would just look like a pity flex.”
Well I’m not looking for pity, just simplicity, for the record… that is, if I do end up deciding to reset this noggin with a good shave.
Shout out to Trevan:
Trevan has really taken things on including making some amazing dinners for the family while I rest. Hello Fresh, which we use on occasion, has helped a lot. Here’s one he made this week for the books, and it was early enough in the week after treatment that I could actually taste it!
Wednesday (5/3/2023) – we headed back to the doctor’s office for a liter of IV fluid because chemo can be so dehydrating. They also took my blood for that genetic test. Trevan is always such an amazing support, truly my favorite human on the planet.
I took my “round #4” picture alone that day since Trevan had to run down to the Apple store during my 4 hour stay…
…to try to help our daughter Bethany unlock her phone, after getting stung by a jellyfish in Thailand (where she is teaching English for 3 months), spending some time at the hospital, and forgetting her phone password.
When he came back to pick me up, we got our couple’s shot for round 4:
Achieving the Impossible
About an hour after my infusion I came home and led the next session of ATI (my “Achieving the Impossible” 12-month program). The rest of this post is to just share what that’s all about. I’ll share another update on my journey to health soon. (You can click off now and call it good, or keep reading.)
Our next session of ATI kicks off June 14th.
We’re learning so much in there! It’s not for everybody, but for a small group of ready students, it’s a powerful year-long coaching program for those who have big dreams and want the training and support that can help them achieve goals that may seem impossible right now.
Life has a way of reflecting our innermost desires and beliefs, after a delay. So it’s important to get your thoughts, feelings and beliefs in order now so that your future can begin to reflect them.
When we don’t elevate our thoughts, we tend to think a little lower than our actual reality, thinking and worrying about worst case scenarios. Trying to avoid pain. Thinking too much about what’s going wrong. Well, doing that has a tendency to pull our actual circumstances lower.
These illustrations from our Mindset Mastery course help remind me to have the patience and tenacity to think right until I see the changes I want to see:
Rare Faith thinking:
In Achieving the Impossible, we help our students elevate their thinking, and we even measure their thinking periodically throughout the course using the Mindset Quotient test (Extended version).
First, we check how they believe they SHOULD think, to test their understanding of the principles. Then we check how they ACTUALLY think and feel, to see how it measures up. We’ve found that the more we help students understand the principles, the better they are at knowing how they SHOULD think. The more they learn what ideal responses are to their situations, the more courage they gain to practice those responses.
Then, with that practice, how they ACTUALLY think and feel becomes elevated, which sets them up to experience significant progress in real life conditions.
Here are some examples of the kinds of results our students have been experiencing. Notice how their understanding of “best” responses trend upward, and how their ACTUAL thoughts and feelings then begin to trend upward as well. As illustrated in the “Rare Faith thinking” image above, you can see how the improved real life conditions will then be a natural byproduct, even if sometimes latent.
In the charts below, “best” means they answered the questions based on what they thought would be the best answers. “Actual” means they took the test on that date based on how they actually felt. Notice how their understanding of what is best improved over the year (trending upward), and how their actual thoughts and feelings started to trend upwards as well:
Remembering the impact that our real thoughts and feelings have on our reality, it’s so exciting when I get to see our students’ scores trending up:
The percentage charts are not all the same because some students take the test more often than others. During ATI, we measure your progress every quarter, but you get to take the Extended version of the test ($97 value) as often as you want.
So, Let’s do this!
Elevating your life is a predictable process. Some of the greatest results you will gain from this program is confidence, peace of mind, and a clear direction on how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Want to know how YOUR thinking measures up right now? Take the MQ Basic test here FREE!
If you are interested in joining my next Achieving the Impossible group starting June 14th, click here to learn more and apply. If you would prefer to speak with someone in person to get your questions answered, sign up here for a free consultation.
Let’s take life on together for the next 12 months, one week at a time.
All the best! Leslie
PS. For the record, earlier iterations of the test prior to October 2022 did not capture the student’s intention (whether they were answering what they thought was best, or their actual thought), so we had to research back to the instructions they were given at the time, and do our best to match their intention up with the dates they took it. We have since updated our process so future participants will have much more dependable data and more immediate feedback to help them measure their progress.