Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I'm flying out tomorrow moring early for Dallas to attend my sister Suzie's 40th (really her 41st) class reunion in Duncanville, TX. My sister Diane will be joining us as well - this would be her 40th reunion. It would be my 35th. I am staying with my classmate from Duncanville, Margaret Park Thomas and her daughter Taylor (thanks ladies). It'll be fun to see people from Suzie's class and some friends my age as well.

I was able to have chemo last Friday. Blood counts were good or close to normal. We went to a movie afterwards, Becoming Jane, about Jane Austin and spent the night in Grand Junction. On Saturday, I was able to attend my retreat, and Robert ran errands and saw The Bourne Ultimatimum. We liked both movies very much. I went down with chemo side effects on Saturday night and couldn't do my radio show on Sunday. I started coming out of it on Monday. I think I got psyched about a trip to Montrose to see my radiation oncologist and his nurse who are awesome.

I saw my radiation oncologist on Monday. I told him that I thought my "radiation recall" was due to my bowling last winter/spring. He said to continue doing the things I love. So I hope to get back into bowling this fall. With my physical therapy, I think my leg should bend enough to bowl or I can request that the Elks let me use a wheelchair. I got one of those big plastic balls at physical therapy and I really like doing PT on it. I can do otherexercises, too, lying down.

We have friends in town from Delaware - Steve & Ruth and their boys Chad & Ryan. Steve is going to let me borrow a bass guitar of his which I've always wanted to take up. The boys are really good at baseball, and Chad is an expert on trains. Steve & Ruth are great parents.

We also had friends in town that I know from Duncanville: Clifton and Bobette (Brattis) Hyman and Jim & Phala (Bryant) Watkins?.

I still have a bunch of packing to do. We have to leave by 7 am tomorrow morning.

Thanks again to everyone for your love and suipport.

Sincerely, Caroline

P.S. My radio show is 1pm-4pm CDT on your dial at 98.9, KURA, Ouray, Colorado or can be streamed at (I have no idea how to do the stream.) The phone number at KURA is 970-325-7289.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Good Afternoon -

We will head to Grand Junction (GJ) first thing tomorrow morning. Blood draw is at 9 am, we see Dr. Bergen at 9:30, and hopefully we'll have chemo for the rest of the day. We are spending the night at a motel that the American Cancer Society got us a discount on. Hopefully, I feel well enough to go to the retreat just outside during the day on Saturday.

Another person is going to run for mayor which take a lot pressure off us. I told Robert today that we rarely have leisure time together and we both tend to be cranky, given our busy summer. He will remain on city council. The current mayor who can't run for mayor again due to term limits may run for a council seat. That leaves two seats from the other ward to fill. I am releived. The stress of having cancer is enough. It takes all day just to take my meds and manuever around the house with my bad leg.

My heart goes out to the Dave Hoskins Family whom I know through Dave flung himself into life as long as he could, and his wife Edith was incredibly supportive. He lost his battle last week.

That's the news for now.

Just up here in Colorado trying to get things done.

Sincerely, Caroline

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


First of all, I've been trying to blog all last week and it wouldn't let me change some things on the dashboard. I want to set up permanent photos and web links, and I just can't get it do any of that . If anyone can help me with this, please let me know. I need to contact the help desk, too.

Hairless Photo in front of Mt. Abrams: Here I am about 5 miles north of Ouray. I may have cancer, but when I look at these mountains, I sure don't want to leave this earth. The cemetery is on the left of the photograph. Thanks to Glenda Moore, whose husband has done well on my current chemo regimen of FOLFOX, for taking me out to the cemetery today to check on the headstone. Just a little bird poop and a few weeds grown up around it. We've had so much rain lately that it gets washed quite often. The view across the valley was incredible today. We've been having clear weather. And how 'bout my raccoon eyes! I've always had dark circle, but chemo really brings it out. If anyone knows about a great concealer for under the eyes, I'm all ears!
Old Time Photo: This other picture was taken about four years ago - my stepson Ian give us a gift certificate to the Old-Tyme Photo Gallery in Ouray. We sure had fun doing these pictures, and this is my favorite. THAT IS my husband Robert in the photo without his glasses. I do miss my hair. It is coming in and quite dark brown with some curls, but it's still awfully short and thin. It is cooler in the summer without a wig, but then again my head will get cold at night. I have several caps in which I can sleep. I guess that's what they did in the old days. Thanks to Polly Griggers for my latest red crocheted hat and to Maude (80 years old - I'm so jealous) from my support group in Grand Junction (GJ) who sewed me up a more traditional one. Robert doesn't like the wigs, but I'm going to have one re-styled. Sometimes I just want a break from the Sinead O'Conner look. I do have plenty of hats and scarves.
Last week, I played Verena Jacobson, a school teacher from the 1920's here in Ouray, at the Ouray County Museum's "Walk Back in History". Because of the rain, we couldn't be posted on the sidewalks around town - we held it all inside at the Museum. Verena taught mostly up at the Revenue Mine above the Camp Bird. She has great stories to tell included in many books, but I got to view her last week on a video from the Museum's archives, so I adjusted my voice to try to sound more like her. We first did this performance last fall at the Wright Opera House as a "Women in Colorado History" type performance, and we're taking it to Montrose to the playhouse there the last weekend in September. This will be the big stage for me! I didn't think last winter I'd be alive for either last week's performance or the one in Montrose, but surprise, I'm still here.
We have friends here this week from New Zealand, Ross & Pauline. Robert went rock-hounding today at the Upper Camp Bird Mine. They didn't find much, but Robert was able to point out some ore specimens today to Ross who is a professor of geography from Christchurch. (Boy would I like to go there someday - don't put your vacations off. I'm not sure I'll ever get overseas again, but there's plenty in our back yard here in the Four Corners area. Ross and his wife both deal with geography, and they say there's a statistic that the closer you are to your cancer center/oncologist, the better your odds of survival.
Robert is going to try to go out in the mountains tomorrow with George Moore to do the second volume of Mines, Mountain Roads, and Rocks which has been a bestseller for us.
Okay, I have to go to my bedtime meds and hit the hay. If Robert wakes up and finds me on the computer, he'll have a fit. I did get to go back to physical therapy today, and it helps so much. I am determined to bowl again this fall.
More tomorrow. I'm scheduled for chemo this Friday, and plan to attend a support group retreat on Saturday if I feel up to it. I am looking for a ride home from GJ Saturday afternoon if anyone is going to be in the area.
Robert may possibly be running for Mayor this fall. One of the city council members from the other side of town resigned at Monday's council meeting over a lodging tax/affordable housing issue. We liked her very much and hate to see her go. That leaves only Robert who holds a seat until 2009 of the four council members plus the mayor. The Mayor is term limited and can't run again: however; she can run for a council seat on our side of town (called a ward). The other council member from our ward is up for re-election, but he is moving out of that side of town and has chosen not to run again. One of the council member from the other ward, up for election this year, is not running again as he is battling cancer. Anyway, if you are reading this and you're a registered voter in our ward, Robert needs signatures on his petition.
Just up here in Colorado taking advantage of the local organic produce and appreciating every extra day I get.
Sincerely, Caroline

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quick Update

I have been feeling better this week, but it's been very hectic with work and fun stuff. I did have chemo last week on the 9th, went to Buena Vista on the 10th (last Friday), went into a slump on Saturday, and started coming out of it on Tuesday or so.

I have an appointment with the tumor board at CU Denver-Anschutz Center on Monday, Sept. 17th. I get to go back to PT next week on the Aug 22nd. I started giving myself shots again this week so I can do it when I go to Dallas and meet my sisters for Suzie's 40th reunion. My dear friend Margaret Park Thomas is letting me stay with her.

I miss my hair more than I thought I would, but it it slowly coming in.

Delaney - I'll try to get back to you first thing tomorrow morning. Jody - I owe you a phone call and need to pick your brain about something. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you.

Darlene - I'm sorry I didn't get back to you today. We got wrapped up in some business stuff this afternoon we didn't anticipate.

Good new is that my left leg is working better. Still a little sore, but better and I'm encouraged.

I have to go to bed. I'm dead on my feet. I could not sleep last night.

Just up here in Colorado, blowing and going. I"m sleepy now and need to give into it.

Thanks, everyone for your support. Sincerly, Caroline

PS I found out my new boyfriend from senior meals, George Swift,is more like 100 years old than 90. He's 98. What an inspiration!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wish Me Luck! (Chemo Scheduled Tomorrow)

This is a quick note as it is late and I need to hit the hay.

I'm scheduled for chemo tomorrow or actually today, so we leave early for Grand Junction. We hope to head over to Buena Vista aterward for the Contin-Tail, a rock swap. I told my husband Robert I can just as easily recover from chemo in the back seat of the car and a motel room as easily (almost) as I can at home.

I have two requests of the universe: better non-alcoholic wine and designer Depends. Is there some wine-maker out there who can do a better job with non-alcoholic wine? Fre is not so bad. Non-alcholic beer is pretty good. My friends tell me they're sorry that I can't drink - the oncologist said no alcohol while on chemo, and besides it's bad for your liver. Anyway, I remind them that with all the drugs I'm taking, I'm having a better time than anyone. Drugs can be fun, but I would give anything to have a day when I get to be "straight". Save drugs for when you really need them.

Okay, I have to go take a pill. Actually about six.

Thanks again everyone for everything. It's been a little hard staying positive this week, but I usually win that battle. Sometimes I just have to talk myself into it.

I owe a lot of people cards, calls, e-mails and I am so behind. I just wrote three postcards and can't find them. Chemo brain. My nose (septum) and esophagus hurt. If those tissues have worn away, it really worries me about what is happening to my brain. I have becmoe a real clutz. I drop things constantly or knock them over or catch things on my sleeve. I miss having hair more than I thought I would. Robert doesn't like me to wear wigs, and they would be hot now. I'm going to get one of them restyled. Okay, enough whining. I do know lots of people who have it worse than me.

Don't tell my husband this, but George Swift from senior meals is my new boyfriend. We've sat by each other on the bus to senior meals the last two weeks (the bus is really the senior van). Last week George kissed my hand, but he also kissed the new lady the week before. George is about 90 old, but he doesn't mind that I have a walker now.

Well hell, it's time to get up and go to Grand Junction, and I haven't slept. I can sleep on the way. That'll make Robert happy because he doesn't really like me to talk in the car.

Sincerely, Caroline

P.S. I tried to download some photos, but I couldn't figure out how. Google wanted me to sign some agreement, and I'll try to figure that out later.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Couldn't Do Chemo Yesterday

Tuesday, we drove to Grand Junction to spend the night so I could be ready to go for chemo first thing yesterday morning at 8:30 am. My platelets, white blood cells, and neutrophiles were too low. I've probably been around too many people and germs, although the oncoologist said you can infect yourself at home. So I've been cleaning things with a bleach solution and throwing out old sponges, expired foods, etc. As much as I hate to do it, I'll probably have to avoid crowds. My tumor marker is back up to 5000+ but Dr. B said my liver didn't feel enlarged.

We had a writing workshop here in Ouray last week which I participated in, plus I've been atttending other things at night like Shakespeare in the park last Sunday. Looks like I'll miss book club tonight - we're reading The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. I haven't gotten to it yet, but everyone says it's excellent. I've been reading lots of medical stuff plus things from the writing workshops last week. The short, short story seems to be all the rage right now in literary journals.

Thanks to Moosie, our friend in GJ for putting us up Tuesday night and the wonderful dinner you cooked, particularly those feta cheese & peach-stuffed poblano peppers. We did go see Hairspray on Tuesday night and Harry Potter on Wednesday afternoon both of which I really enjoyed.

I'm going down to one steroid split in half per day which I try to take as early in the day as possible. I also picked up a blood pressure medication today. My blood pressure has been running high which is unusual for me - it's usually perfect. It's also for edema, or swelling in the leg which can be a side effect of cancer, but it's probably more from the meds. My left leg is bruised and swelling really bad. The blood thinner for the blood clot has a lot tod do with bruising. I fell off our porch one morning last week. I had overslept due to taking several things at night to help sleep. The next morning, Robert thought I should just rest, and I was late for Pam Houston's writing class. So I was in a tearing hurry and just bounded off the porch. But I picked myself up and got to Pam Houston's class and didn't think twice about it. I was preoccupied with all the good writing of the other students. Pam also critiqued a work of mine and what she had to say was very encouraging. I have taken Pam's class three times now and always gotten something out of it. (She wrote Cowboys Are My Weakness, Sight Hound, Waltzing the Cat, and has a new short story collection coming out. She has been anthologized in many literay journals (most notably Best American Short Stories of the Century), and won many awards.

My left leg is somewhat unreliable. It's usually fine in the morning when I try to do things like laundry or housecleaning, but then I have to sit with it up in the afternoon with ice. I also use Lidocaine patches. This is from the radiation recall caused by Gemzar. I have to use a cane, and I even got a walker today with a seat. (I like to go around town like Hugh Laurie's character on the TV show House and smack poeple with my hat and tell them to quit smoking.) I did walk four blocks down from our house to the Bon Ton last Sunday morning to be at brunch with some people from the writing workhshop. Then I did my radio show, then I went to Shakespeare in the Park. I have to face it - I can't fling myself into life like I used to. That's okay because I have lots of writing, reading, and knitting to do, and really there's some great stuff on TV. I just upgraded our package so I can get more movie channels and Animal Planet. I usually watch PBS and the History Channel.

I get rather combative at night when I have to go to bed. We're learning to use any stimulating drugs or vitamins in the morning and leave the painkillers, Neurotin (for neuropathy), and sleeping pills for night. I do get obsessive about staying up late due to that fact that I don't know when this cancer will overcome me, and I have so much I want to get done. I could throw a blood clot anytime. And I have been fighting this shit for almost two years now. I told my oncologist I wanted to be one of best statistics, and he said you already are. Before cancer, I used to stay up late just because I enjoyed doing so much, but now I do feel much better when I get a good night's sleep. (Hear that sister Suzie! We're old. We need our sleep.)

Drugs are wonderful, but what I would give to be straight for a day or longer. Save your drugs for when you really need them! I do try to take advantage of the creative rush from steroids and the ability to remember things from the long ago past. I do have chemo brain and can get confused.

Hopefully, the FOLFOX will work. It has worked for our friend and author, George Moore, who wrote Mines, Mountain Roads and Rocks, a local road log for Ouray County and one of our bestsellers. Robert is helping him do the second volume of this book. They are covering the area near Silverton. George used FOLFOX six times and his colon cancer is stable. Many of the treatments for liver bile duct cancer are the same as for colon cancer.

I'm looking into clinical trials again. If it doesn't work, I'll go for one of the "Hail Mary" trials such as stem cell research. Maybe I will end up in Mexico for treatment. My doctor says you can't "out-eat" cancer with nutrition, but I am trying to eat a better diet with little or no sugar or gluten, yet I've read that many people die of malnutrition. I did have two Krispy Kremes today, but I'm phasing those out. I spent all my adult life on a damn diet, so being told to eat more calories is one of the upsides of cancer. After that, I'll try hospice, possibly go live with my sisters in Prescott, or go to a place that deals with cancer patients at the end of their lives. I do get tired of having my loved ones put their lives on hold for me. But I have too much invested in this Folfox to fullfill my duty to die.

Thanks again to everyone for your love, support, prayers, kind thoughts, positive energy and so on. I have to go to the bookstore for a while, but I hope to come back and post some pictures. Jody & Delaney, I got some pics back of Coop from her birthday.

Sincerely, Caroline.