Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One Year Ago Today

. . . Reflect And Rejoice

I cannot let this day go by without acknowledging that one year ago, on this date, I was undergoing an 8 hour surgery known as the whipple. My husband, children, grand children, older brother and sister were there. We all caravaned up to the hospital that morning. Upon being called into the pre-op room, I gave each one of them hugs. Prior to the surgery, we were told that, upon opening me up, the surgeon will see the extent of the cancer and determine if the surgery could even be performed. Thus, we were all on pins and needles as to whether my life could be saved. The passing of my younger brother just 15 months prior weighed heavy on my mind. He had passed from stage 4 duodenal cancer. He was to undergo the whipple surgery but, upon opening him up, the doctor discovered that his cancer was too advanced. His was stage 4 and he was given 6 months to live. I watched him die. Was it my turn?

When I opened my eyes, I saw the loving, smiling faces of my family as they leaned over me. The first thing I asked was, "Did I get the whipple surgery?". They told me I had. The cancer was caught in time.

I woke up early this morning reflecting on that day and the two months that followed. Complications such as infection and leakage (of organs that were surgically re-plumbed) caused my stay in the hospital to exceed the 8 days we were orginally quoted. I was there for 32 days. Fortunately, I was able to go home in time for Christmas, though not able to really enjoy it. I ended up back in the hospital only after having 5 days at home. My digestive system wasn't cooperating. It didn't know which direction things were suppose to go. I felt so horrible, I remember telling my husband that "no one should have to feel like this..ever!". So, after another week in the hospital, I came out more able to adapt.

It's been a year now and, after going through the follow up chemo treatment and it's icky side effects, doctors visits, tests, chemoradiation and more side effects (I'm still itching all over and have to take medication every 4 days to make it stop) . . . I'm very thankful to the doctor who saved my life. Or, at the very least, gave me a longer life to live than what would have been. I'm certain that my guardian angel (my younger brother), had a hand in it, too. Pancreatic cancer is usually caught too late and, I believe, my guardian angel allowed me to feel the pain at an early stage so that I would see a doctor and could be given the chance he never had. I love you, Art.

I'm truly blessed.

This holiday season, I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner, shopping for Christmas gifts, wrapping, decorating, baking goodies, making some handmade (crocheted) gifts, working on my little candle/soap business . . . and enjoying the full festivities in good health. I hope your holiday season is wonderful, too!

Aroma Fields Candles & Bath

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back To Business

. . . Because I Can
. . . . Because I Want To

As most of you know, I had to shut down my little candle and soap business due undergoing cancer surgery, recuperation and treatments this past year. I've been blessed with much better health and, while I feel terrific and am consumed with the need to be productive, I've reopened my online business locations. I'm excited to be back to making great smelling, all natural products and, while I'm at it, my home smells fabulous!

You can now find me at Aroma Fields Candles & Bath and Aroma Fields Candles & Bath at Etsy where I offer my handmade, clean burning, highly scented soy container candles, wickless candles, tarts and tealights ...beautiful, ambient, scented palm wax pillars ...handmade, skin-loving, all natural goat milk soaps (scented and unscented) in bars, guest and gift soaps ...and lip-a-liscious, all natural, handmade lipbalms. I carry tart burners, candle warmers and gift sets at Aroma Fields Candles & Bath

For those who come to my blog to read only about my cancer realted health updates, I will continue to post them as ongoing tests are performed and/or any new health issues are discovered. I realize that the information can benefit some who are going through (or have a loved one going through) the same thing. Please, feel free to side-step the posts that are relative to my online boutiques as it is not my intention to peddle my products to you.

May we all enjoy a blessed holiday season!

Aroma Fields Candles & Bath

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November Is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Tie A Purple Ribbon 'Round The Old Oak Tree

My daughter is going through nursing school and, as she is in her last year of school, she's been doing her clinicals at a local hospital. She shared with me that on Friday, a 63 year old man walked into the hospital seeking help as he had jaundinced and didn't know why. After some testing, he was told that he had Stage IV pancreatic cancer and with only 6 months to live. He had no other symptoms aside from the jaundicing. This is all too common of this particular cancer.

Psssst!....can we talk? . . .

Each year, about 42,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, each year, about 35,000 die from this disease. The vast majority of individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within three to six months. With a mortality rate somewhere between 96 and 99 percent, precious few survive this dance with death. Pancreatic cancer remains the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., however it receives much less funding than any other leading cancers.

We have witnessed tremendous advances in some of the other leading cancer mortalities in the past 30 years. Breast cancer, for example, which had a five-year survival rate of 75 percent in 1974, is currently just under 87 percent. Prostate cancer survival moved from 67 to almost 99 percent. Pancreatic cancer, meanwhile, remains stagnant.

Early detection techniques are not a routine consideration in health care. Given its location, any abnormalities in the pancreas are not likely to be found during an annual physical exam. There is no accurate blood test available. It becomes a concern only when symptoms are manifest, usually too late for curative treatment. Another reason for this lack of awareness stems from the high mortality rate of pancreatic cancer. There are so few survivors that the critical mass necessary for mounting a national awareness campaign is severely lacking. It is very difficult for those who have lost loved ones to pick up the mantle and carry on this fight. Most will seek closure and healing. The second distinctive feature of pancreatic cancer is the lack of adequate research funding. Thank God that some choose to continue the battle.

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (pancan.org) is a national advocate for this deadly disease. I learn much from this site and gain much needed hope from their Survivor stories. I too am a survivor in that I had early enough symptoms which allowed me to undergo a surgery that may end up being my cure. I can hope, anyway. Or, at least, I was blessed with more time...other's aren't so lucky. The people at pancan.org are doing all they can to bring awareness to pancreatic cancer but they can't do it alone. With November being Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, perhaps you may want to go to pancan.org to see what you can do to help. You can go here to watch a very short public service announcement video to learn more. And, even if you don't look good in purple, maybe you could wear a small amount this month :-)

I'm thankful for the additional time I've been given and I live it one day at a time . . .

Aroma Fields Candles & Bath