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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Wednesday, July 31, 2002  

My grandaughter Kari, who is seven, had bladder surgery Monday for a reflux problem. It took about three hours and is called a ureter reimplant. She made it fine and Kathy stayed there with her the whole time. Kathy's stepfather-in-law also had surgery Monday to remove a polyp on his colon. Results from all the tests haven't come in yet, but so far they did find a malignancy in the section of colon they removed. Kathy's mother-in-law is really having trouble getting her blood sugar regulated, so they all have quite a bit to deal with.

I've felt better this week now that the Prednisone is out of my system. I get more and more nervous the closer it gets to Monday when chemo begins. I hope for no side effects. Maybe I used all of them on the Prednisone!!

School has begun without me. In-service was this week and the students start Thursday. I miss some of the teachers and was really looking forward to being back on the hill again to renew friendships and get to know others. I also miss some students I've known for years when they were in Challenge class. It's fun to watch them grow up and I enjoy being around them. I must admit that I am not missing the stress of being responsible for the behavior of a classroom of students and the other parts of my job that are not really teaching. It has been a good career and one that feels important to me. I can't imagine having done anything else! I hope all of you have a wonderful school year!! Keep me posted on what's going on!

9:46:00 AM

Friday, July 26, 2002  

What I wrote last time was how I felt that day which was better than I'd been feeling. That's not how the rest of the week went though. These last couple of months are the only times I've felt bad from the cancer but it's really from the Prednisone mostly. It makes me really agitated, sleepless, unfocused, hyper, and wired when I am on it. Then getting off of it is like crashing. That's where I am now and feel wiped out, down, and have indigestion. Someone told me that's a lot like cocaine. If so, I don't understand the attraction to it. No high is worth this.

Some of you who are around me during Prednisone know how I am on it. Sorry about that!!

1:36:00 PM

Saturday, July 20, 2002  

I feel so much better! The swelling has significantly reduced, and the side-effects from the Prednisone dose pack involve having more energy. I can sleep well and get things done. What a relief!! I felt better yesterday and am even better today. That was scary.

4:14:00 PM

Thursday, July 18, 2002  

Well, the Prednisone worked because now the swelling is back and painful. I guess there's inflammation from the tumors, and that's why it hurts. It's a large area that seems bigger than it was when school was out. The swelling goes from the top of my ear to below my collarbone, from the middle of the back of my neck to my throat - only now it's moving to the right past my throat and spreading quite rapidly. It's difficult to swallow and open my mouth very far and hard to get comfortable enough to sleep well. It hurts to turn my head and raise it to turn over. I called Dr. Spigel's office. Since he's on vacation until August 5 when I start chemo, his nurse practitioner called in a prescription for a dose pack which is going to be much easier to deal with and will reduce the inflammation.

I hesitate to write this on here because I keep hearing that some people are saying I'm in really bad shape and can't go back to work. I don't know how that got spread around. I probably won't feel like teaching when I begin chemotherapy. Teaching isn't like some jobs where we can go in for a while, take it easy, and leave when we feel bad. We're either there or we're not and have to give it our best. It's stressful and demanding. Because I have the accumulated sick days, I'm taking them. Ralph (the principal) suggested that I do it, so I don't feel guilty or bad to use them. I earned them and need them now. Thank goodness for that and good insurance!

Let people know if they ask and are all gloom and doom, that I'm not an invalid. Cancer isn't necessarily a death sentence and is less and less so all along. What I have is changing and needs treatment now, so I'm having it. The prognosis is good for this. I'll keep you posted, so let's all stay positive! Thanks!

9:21:00 AM

Wednesday, July 17, 2002  
Last several days

Jackie's sister Cheryl's funeral was Friday. Jackie (Weaver) and Ed Jonas came by a while Friday night and then again Saturday when we drove around to several places they wanted to see. One of them was the Renaissance Center ( where we saw one of Jackie's former classmates, Chris Norman. They were in forensics together when I coached it and reminisced and caught up as he gave us a guided tour. We returned later that night for the kick-off for the community theater and watched Joseph and His Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat which we enjoyed. Ned's son Curtis Southerland got the biggest round of applause for his Elvis impersonation. He was hilarious! It was good to see Ned's family and his new wife again. They seem really happy together, and I'm so glad!

When I saw the empty theater earlier, I could picture Jackie's one-woman show Middle Passage there. She performed it in Pittsburgh where they live, and it was wonderful! The first act includes drummers and dancing and showcases African stories. A church choir sang during the second act when she told slave and original stories. The emotional range was from laughter to tears and was so good. We met some people who were interested in her bringing her show here, and she's sending them her press kit and audio and video tapes of it. If this happens, please try to attend. You'll enjoy it!

Monday was dentist day for the temporary crown. The permanent one will be set in a couple of weeks. We think that will take care of all of that. I taught my last class for a while at Watkins ( and gave them their papers and final grade. I really do enjoy teaching there since I actually get to teach and not deal with discipline and all the other stuff that we have to put up with. It's what I hoped to do when I majored in English and planned to teach - read good literature and discuss it with others. Since the classes have been small, we sit around a table and have class. I like the informality of smaller classes and enjoy getting to know the students. I like being around creative people and seeing their artwork displayed in the school.

Wednesday was Aunt Ida's funeral. She's Mother's father's sister-in-law and was 102 and remained mentally alert! She was a remarkable woman. Afterwards I drove "Miss Daisy" all around Old HIckory and Nashville to see various places and had lunch at Belle Meade Buffet, Mother's favorite place to eat. We had a good afternoon visiting and seeing places.

Amy Nickens came by to bring me some of her books now that I'll have time to read for pleasure. She's going to Clark University in Mass. and got the highest scholarship they offer. That school is perfect for her! I am delighted she's going there! She brought me The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, A Widow for One Year, Wonder Boys, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I have some pleasurable reading to look forward to.

9:14:00 PM

Tuesday, July 16, 2002  
Helpful Information

I heard about this on NPR one afternoon. It's helpful for parents and their babies to save this in case they might ever need it for future use and/or to donate for others who might need it. This is an alternative to those who oppose the use of stem cells from other sources. I know people who have cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimers, and other diseases this might affect would appreciate the possibility of being cured.

SAN BRUNO, Calif., Dec. 30, 1999 /PRNewswire/ --

One of the newest industries to blossom out of the biotech boom is umbilical cord blood banking. Since 1988, doctors have been using umbilical cord blood instead of bone marrow to treat a variety of cancers and serious illnesses. Cord blood, which is usually thrown away with the placenta after the umbilical cord has been cut, is a rich source of stem cells, the "mother" cells that reproduce and create the human blood and immune system.

In 1995, private (family) banks began offering their services to expectant parents. By collecting and freezing their babies' cord blood instead of throwing it away, new parents are able to provide a "safeguard" in case their children or children's siblings ever require treatment for a disease that involves stem cells. The most common diseases treated through stem cell transplantation are breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Doctors have estimated the odds of the child ever needing to use the stem cells later in life at between 1 in 300 and 1 in 400. Unlike bone marrow, cord blood stem cells have up to a 50% chance of being a useful match for siblings; therefore, the odds of needing to use the stem cells are increased depending on the size of the family.

12:27:00 PM


I found this on a site and thought some of you might find it helpful.

What is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma are all blood-proliferative cancers. Lymphoma is a general term for a group of cancers originating in the lymphatic system - a vital part of the body's defense against infection. Lymphoma can be further categorized as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin's disease. NHL is a diverse group of diseases affecting many different types of lymphocytes at different times in their maturation. When a lymphocyte undergoes a malignant change and begins to multiply, cancerous cells start to outnumber healthy ones leading to tumors. Lymphoma results as the tumors enlarge, usually in the lymph nodes but sometimes other sites in the body.

Approximately 70,610 cases of lymphoma will be diagnosed in North American in 2001, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer. The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is increasing 3% to 4% every year. One out of every forty-seven men and one out of every fifty-seven woman will develop lymphoma in their lifetime. Over the past 15 years, the incidence of NHL has increased 50%, and its cause is unknown.

11:49:00 AM

Thursday, July 11, 2002  
Busy Busy!

Got the request for sick leave to central office today. It was good to see them and find out some facts I need to know about this. What it involves is writing a letter and providing a doctor's note. This will work out better for all of us really. This way I'm on leave and won't have to plan lessons and worry about my classes. Ralph can hire a certified teacher who can teach the way s/he wants to. I won't be around crowds of teenagers who touch my stuff! (had to mention that since students made fun of me for complaining about that all the time) I'm not getting much done on the house and am sure I'll do a lot of sorting later on. I guess I just need to make it presentable now.

I went to the dentist in Green Hills and the hygienist cleaned my teeth and gave (sold) me some mouthwash to use twice a day for a while and then once a day. She said chemo is hard on teeth and mouths. I went to get things done before that starts since it's such an ordeal during and after chemo. Infection is a big side effect. The dentist came in and looked at my teeth and the x-rays and said I needed another crown. This will involve three more trips there to get this done.

My friend Jackie's sister died, so she, her husband Ed, and daughter Chloe are in town until Sunday when they fly back to Pittsburgh. I'm going to the funeral tomorrow and will spend some time with them while they are here. Her sister has been through so many health problems and died from a heart attack.

Other things are going on too which are filling my schedule. I'm doing what I want to while I feel like it. :-) I decided to quit stressing out over the house. It's not like I'm going to be an invalid. I can sort through boxes, drawers, closets, etc when I need to stay home and get someone to help take them away and move furniture since I needed help with that anyway. I've been tired for a long time. They found what was possibly a goiter on my thyroid which I asked Dr. Spigel about. I wondered if anything needs to be done about it now and if that could have been making me feel tired. He said not to get it checked now and that it could have contributed to my being tired but that the lymphoma made me feel that way, too.

The Prednisone really did reduce the swelling in my neck since it's getting swollen again and is painful. This makes me know the tumors are growing faster now. This treatment is going to work.

12:40:00 AM

I thought you needed to know what I'm dealing with here. I got this email from Cindy Draper helping me out. Now you know why I don't have a comment page on here! We get a webpage on Comcast which I plan to use. I'm probably going to call in help from former students who offered to show me how to do it. I bought a book on how to use html and how to make a webpage, and when I do, I plan to have a comment section. See how brave I am!

This is what she sent! LOL She is a hoot!

I don't want to alarm you, but you are 6 days behind on the newsletter. I am going to start adding my own entries:

July 5, 2002
IM'ed with my best Boa Babe friend, Cindy. You might know her. She's the beautiful one on my circle. And so funny!!!! Love her!

July 6, 2002
Went out with Tom Selleck again tonight. We are so hoping his wife won't find out. It is so difficult to hide from the press. He wants me to marry him since Cindy won't be his wife. I guess he will just have to learn to settle for second best.

Woke up to birds singing "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" today. They sing almost as good as my terrificly talented Boa Babe Friend, Cindy. She has the voice of an angel. And a halo around her head. I am sure that when she is near, I hear the rustle of angel wings. I am so blessed to know her.

12:30:00 AM

Friday, July 05, 2002  
New Address

I have cable modem now and will probably get rid of AOL. For now both email addresses work, but this cable modem is great! It's so fast and has no spam in the email!

4:45:00 PM

Thursday, July 04, 2002  

Hope you all had a good 4th of July. I've been watching Wimbledon some and also watched Gosford Park and Life As A House. Both excellent!!

I want to emphasize that I feel fine right now. This cancer isn't at a point where it makes me feel bad, just tired more than usual. Chemo will very likely make me feel worse than the cancer does. I've been reading a booklet the nurse gave me which says to eat no fresh fruits and vegetables and not to have fresh flowers and plants in the house. It didn't say anything about cats. Mother and Kathy look for any reason for me not to have them. They are so much alike about animals in the house. The booklet also said not to lift anything heavy, to wash my hands a lot, and to keep things clean. I've been doing other things, but cleaning and moving furniture are going to get done now. Next week is pretty booked up with my class, getting my teeth cleaned since I can't do that when chemo is going on (and I'm sure they'll find something else to do since he usually does), a hair cut, and other things. Guess it's good to get all that done while I can, but the cleaning has to be done or else! I can watch movies while I'm recuperating.

10:46:00 PM

Wednesday, July 03, 2002  

I got some complaints for not writing in here for a while. I didn't really think about it but will try to keep up during the treatment part for sure since I don't want you to think I have fallen and can't get up.

12:06:00 AM


I had my last appointment before chemotherapy today. It will begin August 5 and be administered at Horizon on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings. Then every three weeks for six times. Dr. Spigel asked me about the Prednisone and said I definitely had the side-effects from it. Then he said he was glad to know I responded to it so well and that I might not have to take it again since there are other things that work well, too. I hope so.

12:02:00 AM


I went to Sam’s to get some printer paper and chocolate and sat in this amazing chair. It was a black leather streamline recliner that massages. There were several settings for type of massage, width, speed, and location. I almost went to sleep sitting in it. It was incredibly expensive ($1800 - can you imagine?). So no way I could rationalize it even if I could afford it. Sitting in it is free though.

12:01:00 AM

Movie Reviews

Linda and I went to see three movies Saturday (legally since Linda won’t sneak into them at multiplexes like I do sometimes). I rationalize this by buying food since that’s how the movie theaters make money. They only get a small percentage of the ticket sales. OK, OK, I know it's wrong! Actually 98% of the time I pay to see one movie and buy popcorn and a drink. Really! We saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Bourne Identity, and Windtalkers and ate at Calypso before the movie at 100 Oaks. I always like what they have at Calypso.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was really funny and entertaining. I liked it and laughed out loud many times. Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks were two of the producers. John Corbett was in it and always good to watch. His character on Northern Exposure was neat, and of course he played Aidan the Perfect Boyfriend on Sex and the City.

The Bourne Identity had some really pretty shots in it of Paris and Switzerland and was good. Matt Damon did well and it was suspenseful but not as good as it could have been somehow.

Windtalkers was really difficult to watch. I’m not a war movie fan but wanted to see this one and am glad I did. Special effects are too good now which make those battle scenes much too gory. I cringed through all of them, and some scenes will stick with me. Adam Beach and Roger Willie did really well playing the Navajo Code Talkers. Willie is Navajo but Beach isn’t. I read that the movie producers asked and got permission from the Navajo Nation for Beach to play a Navajo. The bigot in the movie who picked on Beach's character was Southern. Most poorly-dressed ignorant fools in movies and on TV are from the South. Hollywood changed the Muslim terrorists from Tom Clancy's book to Neo-Nazis in The Sum of All Fears so they wouldn't offend anyone. They don't seem to mind offending Southerners though. Off my soapbox now.

12:00:00 AM

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