Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Dimensions

This past month has presented new dimensions of life. Margie is nearing the end of her second round of chemotherapy and continues to manage her life well. The chemo may be a monthly routine for a while. She has various aches and pains, some certainly related to her living with the cancer, but overall she is chipper and vital. Each day Margie lays out her plans, dresses in style, has her meals in the dining commons. Sabrina comes twice a week for her Pilates exercise, she has begun swimming to help the lymphedema related to her original surgery, and maintaining her social schedule.

We were at an appointment with her surgeon, Dr. Kim Grafton, who is helping to keep a watch on the skin rash, with is the main evidence for the cancer’s spread. We have seen no advance, which is good news, and it seems that there may be some changes that could be a retreat. Grafton was very positive about the review. We do not want to get too excited about it, Grafton is an eternal optimist, yet the fact is that we are looking for a way to live with this cancer and this could be it. Margie is scheduled for the third round of chemotherapy on the 19th November.

As Margie has finished her manuscript and Steve prepares to get it published, the protagonist of her true story, and Margie’s children’s father, Joe Ford, died on 12 October. While he had not been in great health, he seemed stable so this came as a surprise. When Ceci is out for Thanksgiving, we will have a small remembrance with our family and the wonderful caregivers at Villa Alamar, where Joe lived.

Life goes on relentlessly and there is always more to handle.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Margie’s own spirit that accentuates the positive

The past month has been field with variety of new encounters. Margie has had cataract surgery now in both eyes and is an the last weeks of the drops. The surgery was an immediate success and her vision in both eyes is clear and bright. She will be getting a refraction for new glasses within two weeks. This will give her great reading ability to add to her good long distance vision now.

On the cancer front, there have been downs and ups. Her valiant resilience to the difficult chemotherapy of the beginning of the year coupled with the challenge of radiation that lasted through June did not succeed in mitigating the advance of her triple negative fast growing cancer. Ceci had found a nodule in the midst of the radiation and the redoubling of the radiation effort only burned Margie’s skin. The nodules were reappearing by the end of August.

As she prepared to meet her wonderful surgeon the last week of August to attend to the nodules, an unusual rash appeared on her right side. This the surgeon intuited was the cancer reappearing in the skin. A biopsy confirmed this. In the meantime, Steve found a laboratory in Long Beach run by Dr. Nagourney that would perform tests on cancers to determine reactions to standard chemotherapies. In addition, Margie went in for a CT scan to determine if there was more than just the skin involved in the spread.

Margie’s attitude was straightforward and her daily life was unchanged. In fact she indicated that she felt fine. She continued with her personal trainer, Sabrina, twice a week as well as her active social life. And of course her positive view and her laugh prevail.

The first week of September, in combination with her first cataract surgery, Margie had a nodule removed and packed in dry ice for shipping to Dr. Nagourney Lab. The results came in the following week and showed several options. Margie’s oncologist, Dr. Greenwald, studied the results and had several options that he presented on 14 September, just before her second cataract surgery!

At this meeting we learned the first piece of good news: the CT scan showed that all her solid organs were looking good and were healthy and well. Margie’s resilience was showing here. Her daily life reflects this good news. She awakes daily felling pretty good overall, her strength is good… she can walk around the whole of her complex within 10 minutes and estimates that twice around is about one mile. With Sabirina, she scales all the stairs in her apartment complex helping the strength of her legs.

The cancer skin rash is there, but the CT scan showed no the major organs were affected. Dr. Greenwald said, at this first meeting, that we can see the source of the problem now in the skin and the strategies we could embark on will be visible. His solution would be a new round of chemotherapy, just exactly what, was yet to be fully determined. There were options based on the lab results, but the exact path was not clear. He order that we do no more surgical removal of nodule and to simply watch the skin. In the meantime, Dr. Greenwald felt he had to study the data more, and to talk with Dr. Nagourney’s lab in Long beach to clear up subtleties of the results. We scheduled a meeting for the following Monday.

Ceci arrived for a short 5 day visit over the weekend and was able to be with Margie for her next meeting with Dr. Greenwald on the 21st. Here he presented his solution. He had weighed in several options, but after clarifying details with Dr. Nagourney, Dr. Greenwald felt that he had only one really viable solution. He was anxious to move ahead immediately because, just in the intervening week, he saw the advance of the cancer bloom on Margie’s skin. He felt there was no time to waste. She would go in on Wednesday.

We were told to monitor the rash and see if there was a reaction to the new round of chemotherapy. This was a challenge, as we had reason to think there would be something positive, but did not want to bring out false hopes. To track the rash, Ceci and Anabel reviewed the situation on the 22, the day before the chemotherapy, looking at the extent, the limits, and the nodules (described by Margie not like a pea but like the head of a corsage pin!). Being dispassionate in the observations is important so that the realistic measures are monitored. It was hard. We decided on photography as a way to gauge the changes, and this was later affirmed as a great strategy by the surgeon, Dr. Grafton.

We are two and a half weeks out from the new chemotherapy. There is great news to report:
1. Margie is “tolerating” the chemotherapy very well. Daily rhythm is steady!
2. Margie’s blood work is great, no anemia, no fatigue!
3. Most significant, Margie’s cancer rash is not growing!

Combining these three factors adds up to a strategy to manage Margie’s cancer and maintain her good quality of life. She is hail and strong. Her daily activities continue unchanged, her quality of life is ever improving! One week after the chemo administration, Margie was entertaining 10 wonderful girlfriends she has traditionally lunched with. She arranged the whole event at the Vista del Monte dinning area. They made a exclusive table, decorated it specially for her, and put on nice table settings with wine glasses for her group. Not only was she looking forward to this wonderful event, but she was energized by it. She brought her group up to her apartment and Andreya, one of Margie’s helpers, had her famous Polaroid handy to document the cheer. The best part, Margie exclaimed, was there was no clean up! This past week, the thank you cards poured in acclaiming the luncheon a great success.

While all this medical intrusion weaves through Margie’s life, she has met another milestone, and this with the steadfast support of Steve. Margie’s manuscript, A Quintet in Asia Minor, is complete. Margie is going over a final reading of the nearly 300 pages of text chronically the 10 years between 1956 and 1966 where she reminiscences about our family travels in Europe and the Middle East. It is a tour de force, well written, engagingly paced, and full of her own reflections. Steve has taken his absorbing interest in our family photographs to compile them for the manuscript. He has also worked with Margie’s good friend and artist John Rindlaub to bring to life the numerous maps that help visualize the geography of her memoir. The whole compilation is to be assembled and published as a limited edition by Steve. Expect to hear of the book signing soon!

In sum, we find ourselves cheering the day on a positive note. Our recent meetings with Dr. Greenwald and Dr. Grafton conferring on the state of the cancer rash have been constructive and optimistic. Dr. Greenwald was very encouraged, agreeing with Anabel’s assessment that were not seeing any progression of the skin rash. Ceci reminds us that this is a cancer that grows at an astonishing rate. To see no change is remarkable and noteworthy, and so deemed Dr. Greenwald. We were all very relieved for this news as well as by the good lab results. All of this tallies well with Margie’s own spirit that accentuates the positive, eliminates the negative, latches onto the affirmative and never messes with Mr. in-between.

Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive

Marjorie had a role in the 1944 movie: Here Come the Waves

Here are the specs and below please find a rendition of the wonderful song many know from that movie. A good theme for our Margie!

Director: Mark Sandrich Writers: Ken Englund and Zion Myers (writer)
Genre: Comedy | Musical Nominated for Oscar
Release Date: 18 December 1944 (USA) more
Tagline: They're in the NAVY now!
The hit song of the movie Ac-cent-chu-ate the Positive, by Johnny Mercer, was one of Bing's biggest.
Complete credited cast
Bing Crosby ... Johnny Cabot
Betty Hutton ... Susan / Rosemary Allison
Sonny Tufts ... Windy 'Pinetop' Windhurst
Ann Doran ... Ruth
Gwen Crawford... Tex
Noel Neill ... Dorothy
Catherine Craig... Lt. Townsend
==> Anabel Shaw ... Isabel (listed at that time as Marjorie Henshaw)
Paramount Pictures, Inc. Production Dates 11 May--5 Aug 1944
Premiere Information New York opening: 27 Dec 1944
Release Date Jan 1945

Bing Crosby and Bette Midler
Aretha Franklin
Andrew Sisters

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

News update

Courageous Marge forges on.... Strong of sprit and ready for the next challenge! Details forthcoming

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Margie off exercising in the Vista pool!!!

Ceci is visiting Margie this week. As I (ceci) write, Margie is off at the pool for exercise. Now that's a great sign, no? She does exercises with her Pilates instructor, Sabrina, a couple of times a week and always enjoys errands, cleaning up, and just visiting with her home companions Kara and Andreya (5 afternoons a week).

Ceci stays till the 6th of August, when Linda and the kids arrive from San Diego. Linda, Steve, Ellie and Tyler will all enjoy time with Margie (and Margie with them!), plus more fun at Fiesta.

Anabel has been home from Mexico for the past week. She as Estela (who worked for our father in the San Fernando Valley for several years and has been an enormous help for Margie on weekends during cancer treatments) -- anyway, they have been feverishly clearing out every last thing from Margie's condo so that the realtor can make it shine for showing.

Love to everyone,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

another song for Mom

Remember that this blog sometimes works for Ceci to share with her mom, Margie. Also remember that the other videos that YouTube offers after you watch this one are not my choices. Who knows how YouTube comes up with these associations?

So here's a song for Mom/Margie today:

(click here)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book excerpt- featuring Margie!

Just a snippit from Bob Fulmer's fantastic writing. Bob is one of Margie's dear friends and fellow Santa Barbara walker. You will see that he features our beloved Marjorie (AKA Anabel Shaw) in this part of a book project:

Walking with Tom is more intellectually stimulating than physically challenging. He doesn't walk quite as fast as he used to, but his mind hasn't slowed down at all. He reads Scientific American from cover to cover and points out the articles he thinks that I might understand. We swap books, usually agree on politics, and discuss his philanthropic interests in encouraging early reading opportunities for disadvantaged children in the United States and around the world.

The “Beach Walkers” group has become a community unto itself. Muriel collected e-mail address for about 40 some-time participants and circulates information about events like a pot luck holiday party at Linda and Pete’s townhouse or breakfast at Dotti’s clubhouse. At least once a month, Albie will bake cupcakes or brownies to celebrate recent birthdays after breakfast or someone will send out an invitation to stop by for ‘tea and crumpets’ or ‘beer and pretzels.’

Not long ago, Antonia invited everyone for “an evening of entertainment.” She and Raul live on a spacious lot with ten chickens and a variety of exotic fruit trees. They had cooked a ham and turkey for the main course. The rest of us were encouraged to “bring your spouse (if you have one) and one other covered dish.” Tonia had been mysterious about the plan for the evening, but after filling our plates and glasses, we sat down to watch a black and white movie from 1947. There were a few raised eyebrows at this choice for the entertainment until we recognized that Anabel Shaw, the stage name for the star of Killer at Large, was Marjorie Henshaw, one our walkers who had been on the cover of Life Magazine in 1940. Marjorie had turned down a couple of movie contracts until she could graduate from college, and discovered that, at 22, she didn’t have the same choices as had been available just three years earlier.

By Marjorie’s admission, her starring role was in a “B Movie” that took a whole week to film and for which she was paid the grand sum of $1000. Although more than 60 years had passed, Marjorie still had the “good bones” and vivacious personality that had attracted Hollywood talent scouts. In my opinion, the film slowed down when she wasn’t on screen, so I looked around the room and realized that most of these ordinary people had enjoyed extraordinary lives because they took responsibility for how those lives evolved.

Seated next to Marjorie was Mylene, the youngest member of the group, who in her 40s, became a retired Philadelphia litigator, and now studies and gives lessons on the harp and organ. Mylene lives simply, rents a small guest cottage in the upper Eastside and maintains only one vestige of her former demanding profession, a 2000 Porsche Boxster which she alternates with a ten-speed bike for local transportation.

Mike now spends much of his time volunteering for the Red Cross, and travels to problem spots around the country to help facilitate the organization’s fabled disaster response efforts. He attended 11 colleges before completing an undergraduate degree in business and an MBA that qualified him for a good career in the aerospace industry. Once, as I was about to leave for Peoria to facilitate a “Leadership Quest” program with high potential leaders at Caterpillar, Mike confided that he had worked for CAT when he was only 15 years old.

“I’m not saying that you didn’t work for CAT,” I challenged, “but I am pretty sure that they observed child labor laws even back in the dark ages when you were a teenager.”

“Oh, they wouldn’t have hired me if they had known my age,” he explained. “But my family needed a wage earner and I was the logical choice so I took a bus to Peoria. When the hiring agent questioned that I was 18 and told me to come back with proof, my uncle helped me modify my birth certificate, so I was suddenly three years older. I’m still grateful to Caterpillar because they paid me well, taught me good work habits and inspired me complete college no matter how long it took.”

“Did they encourage you to take classes at Bradley College?” I asked.

“Actually, I wasn’t even in high school yet, but during the orientation session, they introduced us to man who had been at the same inspection station for 35 years. The thought of standing in the same place and doing the same thing for more than twice the time I had been alive made me a believer in higher education.”

Mike went on to complete high school, and found a job was in the mail room of the CIA in Washington. After proving himself trustworthy, he was promoted to become a secure mail courier, and soon he picked up assignments throughout the Far East as a security assistant. I would have asked for more details about his adventures, but am still afraid he would have to kill me if I knew the whole the story.

Nan is the only person I know who is able to hear because of an cochlear transplant. She works for the deaf at the California Department to Rehabilitation, and coincidentally, before we joined the walkers, had purchased our East Beach townhouse.

Before I finished circling the room with my rumination, the movie ended, so we talked about Marjorie’s performance and what being a ‘star’ was like in the 1940s. When the conversation lagged a bit, I shifted the topic, “Tonia, that’s a very unusual statuette you have on the mantle. Can you tell us where you found it?”

“Oh, that,” she replied, “It’s one of my grandfather’s Oscars.”

“Don’t tell us, “I said, trying to gauge the correct timeframe, “Let me guess, your grandfather was Alfred Hitchcock.”

“No, but gramps did work with him on a couple of pictures.”

We finally learned that Tonia was the granddaughter of Frank Lloyd who was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the first Scottish Academy Award winner. Lloyd received three Oscar nominations in 1929 for his work on a silent film, a part-talkie and one of the early all talkies. During his distinguished career, he worked with most of Hollywood’s legends and is probably best remembered for Mutiny on the Bounty, which he produced, scripted and directed.

As we prepared to leave, I looked around and realized that our little group included three Canadians, two folks from the British Isles, one person from Peru, one from Tennessee, and even one from Alabama. There were two former civil rights workers, one peace corps volunteer, and at least three republicans. I suspect that each of us is a little surprised when we look in the mirror and wonder who that aged stranger can be. Sally kiddingly comments, “When I was young, I was always interested in the latest, hip joints, and today, I still am. It’s just that the definition of ‘hip’ has changed for me.” Yes, hip replacements may account for the speed and mobility of some of the group. Tom may skew the average a bit, but the median age is probably getting close to 70.

Everyone is ordinary, and everyone is special, with a unique story of how they came to be who and where they are.

The walking group doesn’t impose many rules, but Tom and I have one inviolate requirement for our stroll. Each day, usually after we’ve reached the half-way point and turned around and started back toward the Grill, we look ahead and see friends who have a slightly faster pace as we all head toward a reward of coffee and conversation. To the left, we look over the red tile roofs of downtown and the Rivera to the purplish peaks of the Santa Ynez Mountains. To the right is the curving coast line of the Pacific dotted with palm trees. The weather is almost always perfect. We alternate the responsibility of picking the point to turn to the other and say sincerely, “Aren’t we lucky to live here.”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Last day of Ceci's visit (july 2nd, '09)

First: I just noticed that I didn't list Margie's fantastic surprise last Friday when we arrived at her East Beach Walkers' group. Not only did they greet her with applause, but they then produced a delicious cake with "You Go Girl!" on a flag flying from the top. What at joy. I do have some little video clips of this to put up on the blog when I get back to Madison.

Okay, so... the last day of my visit with Margie/Mom ( I will be back at the end of July, plus Anabel returns next week, and Steve, Linda and kids will visit again soon and particularly at the start of August).

Today, Thursday, Mom and I had both a busy and a relaxing day. I went cat-food shopping at Lazy Acres while mom got herself breakfast and visited the Vista Clinic. I then stopped by the condo to look for a few things that mom has been missing (including her beloved guest bathroom watercolor, plus vases, trays etc.). She was delighted to see these precious and familiar things.

After lunch, Mom's pilates teacher came by, and they worked hard. Then came Andreya, one of the lovely care givers Anabel arranged through Home Instead. Andreya and Mom did things around the apartment, while I rode my bike back to the beachside rental place, and Andreya & Mom drove down to pick me up.

Then we all relaxed, with Andreya guiding us in a yoga relaxation and breathing exercise (Andreya is also a very very skilled yoga teacher). I recorded the guided meditation and made it into a CD for mom to listen to at other times.

Finally, Mom and I shared a nice little meal, watched PBS, and are now preparing for bed!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Radiation has come to completion!

Margie is overjoyed that both chemo and radiation treatments are now finished.
She still feels the effects from the last radiation (June 25th), but she is looking forward to better days. Imagine not having to go into the Cancer Center every weekday!!

Margie has yet to talk to my little video camera to greet you all herself, but I am working on that.

In the meantime, you probably know that she celebrated her 88th birthday this week. Lots of cards and calls. A delightful lunch with some of her dearest Santa Barbara friends. And the festivities haven't stopped. Her care companion, Kara, brought flowers on Friday. Saturday night we had dinner in the apartment with Helen Frederick, old friend and fellow Vista del Monte neighbor. Steve took Mom/Margie on an excursion to Ventura for lunch today, and tonight Fred and Cheryl Haddock (upstairs neighbors at the condo and dear dear friends) hosted us both for a fantastic dinner at the Biltmore. Tomorrow, we have lunch at the "Spanish Table" in the dining room with her new friends from Honduras, plus others who like to speak Spanish. They will celebrate a couple of birthdays. Finally (I think it's the final plan), Andreya, another care friend, will take us on a drive up high on Camino Cielo, ending up in Montecito for a cup of tea.

Margie sends love to you all!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Whew! This is the remedy????

Margie is tired of radiation!!!

But... she still calls her sister, Jane, as often as she can to old favorites together. Here's what they sang over the phone together today:

(remember that the other videos that are listed when this one finishes are not my choices. They are plugged in by YouTube)

[PS Margie sends thanks to Vicky for the sweet comment on her last post-- many hugs!!]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Margie: Good spirits but pain from radiation

Margie is still just Margie: Loving life, talking on the phone, walking the grounds, getting together with the Spanish language table for the fun of practicing her rusty Spanish.

She was disappointed that her sister Jane couldn't visit this past weekend, but she really knows how hard travel can be when you are weary!! She took the weekend to finish up the small edits on her book. She finished on Sunday!!!!! Steve has been being a huge huge help by working with her and connecting her to a professional editor. Hooray!

Okay, on the downside, because her radiation treatment has been extended and intensified, she is now acknowledging significant pain at the site. You can imagine (some of you may have experienced it) the pain of a deep and persistent burn. Donna (not only my partner but an expert in paliative care) recommended that the DR prescribe something more effective than Tylenol. On Sunday, Dr. Weissenberger interrupted his liturgical reading at church to call in a stronger med for Mom, and by evening she was feeling much more comfortable. She may be less steady on her feet at first, since the drug has that effect. If you visit or talk with her, please remind her to be especially cautious. Controlling pain is important and very possible, but watching out for those side effects goes hand in hand with the process. Another thing to remind her of is lots of water as well as Miralax to counter the constipating effects of the medication.

Another good side: Along with Margie's birthday coming on the 24th, at that time she will be within a day of completing the radiation cycle. YAY!!!! Call to congratulate her on both.
She will have the joy of a visit from the San Diego family (Steve, Linda, Ellie, Tyler) over the weekend just before her birthday, though this will be mixed with services for their friend Bob Sinclair, who recently died after a long and difficult cancer journey. Steve will speak at the service.

Ceci (moi [actually je]) will arrive on the afternoon of the 23rd to be there for Margie's Birthday and to celebrate the end of the radiation treatment. The healing and pain from the treatment will last longer, of course, but this marks a time for mom's body and spirit to regenerate the way we know it can.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Margie good....

Margie is doing well. Still tired. Happy to get your messages and visits.
Here's another song she loves:

[Any videos you see *after* this one plays are from the "YouTube" site. I did not chose them!]

Sunday, May 31, 2009

For Margie (and also about her and her family)

Another tune for you, Margie! And anyone else. Bits of news follow:

Margie is feeling well-loved these days, with Anabel up from Belize for a week and Steve and the family up from San Diego for a night over the weekend. She is also simply delighted to see the Haddocks again. They are her neighbors at the old condo (upstairs) and are just like family.

She feels weary on and off, needing nice restorative naps.

If you visit or talk with her, please remind her to drink lots of water and to keep moving as much as she can. She's been taking walks in the past couple of weeks.

Ceci and Donna are in Kauai. Here are a couple of photos. One is the condo and the other is the view:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Margie keeping up radiation

It's the 28th of May, and Margie is continuing her radiation treatment.
She's not hungry enough, but can be tempted and encouraged.
Margie is excited about Anabel arriving today and about all the San Diego Ford's coming this weekend. Her granddaughter, Ellie, has a special event to attend so everyone will come up to see Margie/Mom/Grandmom.

Ceci and Donna are off to Kauai on Friday. More sunshine there than in Wisconsin right now, but those of you in San Diego and Santa Barbara don't have that problem!

Speaking of sunshine, here is a song for today (and maybe tomorrow, since I don't update this blog everyday). love, Ceci

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Margie!! May 25th

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Special message to Ellie in Mexico! Also more video of Margie!!

Special Message to Ellie from Aunt Margie!


Monday, May 18, 2009

set back but margie strong in spirit but weary in body

Well, we got a bad report on the small small, pearl-sized bump that Ceci found near the site of the mastectomy.  The pathology report identified this growth as the same cancer as Margie's original breast cancer. This small tumor must have grown rapidly, because there was no evidence of cancer growth in the PT Scan just 3 weeks ago.

 Ceci and Margie will see the chemo-oncologist tomorrow. The doctors appear to agree right now that Margie needs to continue radiation treatments to reach a level of radiation to reduce cancer growth around the original tumor site.

What is not clear is what the next move will be. Dr. Greenwald (whom I call the chemo man) is a very thoughtful scientist.  We meet with him tomorrow to explore options for what to do next.  Certainly a scan is in order, now or after the radiation is finished.  The scan will tell us whether any other tumors have formed.

If you pray, meditate, or send positive energy in other ways, this would be a fantastic time to turn on that spirit.

Margie is both strong and weary.  

Love to all...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Margie tired but good

Margie is starting her 3rd week of radiation tomorrow (Monday the 18th).  She has a bit over 4 weeks to go, and she's starting to feel pretty tired.  She is literally counting down the days till she's done with this treatment.  She is also on some heavy duty antibiotics for the "H. Bacter", the cause of her ulcer (recall her hospitalization midway through the chemo).   The antibiotics are also take the fun out of eating since they are hard on her digestive system themselves.  

Margie hopes that anyone she's talked to on the phone, at dinner or at the East Beach Grill (walkers) will forgive her for incoherence.  The fatigue is taking a toll on her concentration, and she is self-conscious about that.

She loves all the notes and the calls, and she misses her schedule of riding the train to San Diego to  stay with Steve, Linda, Ellie and Tyler, along with visiting her sister Jane and niece Kit.

Margie also wants to share her excitement about the siting of a Jaguar and her pups at El Pilar, the archeological and ecological preserve that Anabel has devoted her life to for so long.  It is surely a wonderful sign that this mysterious animal is comfortable in that very special place.

Other news: Steve was here a week ago and showed mom a wonderful time.  She is still glowing from that.  She talked with Steve today and reports that he attended Tyler's graduation from.... well she couldn't tell this reporter what exactly Tyler graduated from, but she was happy to report that there'd been a celebration.

By the way, Linda's Aunt Jo stopped by after attending the wedding of one of Margie's neighbors, a resident at Vista del Monte.  Ceci (your reporter here) enjoyed meeting this tall, elegant and energetic woman.

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 8th-- update

Marjorie is fine. Some ash around, but she's calm.
One of her care-companions took her to radiation today, which went easily and quickly.
They then went to see Joe Ford, Margie's former husband.
He had been evacuated from a care facility that was closer to the fire. Today, Joe was move to another center in Montecito, where Margie visited him
There is no stopping this woman!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Margie okay during fire

Margie is not in an evacuation area for the current SB fire, though her former residence, the condo, is just within the evacuation zone.

I (Ceci) have talked to Margie a couple of times today (Thursday). She is in good spirits, had a 4th day of radiation treatment, and also had a lymph massage to work on her right arm, which is having some swelling from her surgery.

"My children's father" -- as Margie sometimes refers to Joe Ford-- has been evacuated from his care center to a facility quite near Vista del Monte.

This is a good time to use whatever connections you have to protective and calming powers in the universe to send them toward our loved ones and all those affected by this fire.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Margie is doing well. Busy busy busy. She's insisted on taking a driving refresher course starting today (Monday the 5th) (3 hours!), and she starts radiation today as well.  She's been doing pool exercise.  Her right hip popped out last week. It's awful when that happens with those hip replacements, and she feels some aching and weakness with that, but it's not stopping her.

Ceci will be staying with Margie for 10 days starting Tues. the 12th.  

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Brief update and beautiful music

Margie will finally start her radiation treatment on Monday, May 4th.
She is doing well, despite having her right hip pop out on Friday as she got out of the car at the Cancer Center. 
She had Andreya, from Home Instead (companion, helper, etc etc) with her and got right to the ER and fixed up.

Here is a lovely music video that expresses how we all feel about one another as we come together and love one another through life's challenges:

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Margie doing well but tired

Sorry for the lack of updates lately! 
Anabel has been in a whirlwind as she prepares to leave for her field season in Belize, and Ceci is catching up with classes and writing after her time with Margie.

Margie is doing well, but as you can imagine, she wishes the treatment were really finished right now. She is ready to move more energetically into her new dwelling and community at Vista del Monte, and she misses walking on the beach with her walker group. She misses her regular theater and music evenings with her dear friends, and she misses just feeling like herself.

Her next phase of treatment will start in the next couple of weeks. It will involve radiation to the immediate area around where the tumor was removed. This treatment causes fatigue and it will also aggravate the swelling in her right arm (lymphedema, due to lymph nodes being removed).  However, even though there are these unpleasant side effects, the nature of the aggressive form of cancer she is fighting requires this further attack on the bad cells.

Margie has had visits from Steve and from Ceci and Donna. Anabel has been there all the time as a constant source of logistical support.  Margie continues to do exercises with her pilates teacher, Sabrina.

We are all grateful for all the wonderful calls and prayers and good energy you are sending Margie/Mom's way. She has especially loved the applause of her fellow walkers on the mornings she has arrived just in time for a stack of pancakes as they all get together at the end of the beachfront walk.

love and many blessings!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Margie is holding her own.  This is the 4th day of the last chemo cycle, definitely a down day.  But look at our Margie/Mom!  She's hanging in there! Tomorrow (Monday) is Ceci's last day before returning to Madison to complete the semester.  Donna will stay till  the end of the week, when Estela, our dear friend, will take over for 10 days.

So tomorrow will be a special day. Though Margie is tired and is having stomach pain, she wants to join her walking friends for breakfast at the beach.  We will then contact her GI doctor to be sure that he knows her current symptoms. We will also get a prescription for the Prilosec that helps her tummy (prescription = possible insurance coverage).

Ceci and Donna look forward to more relaxed and healing time with Mom on Monday.

love to everyone!

March 29th (Steve Ford's Birthday!)

Margie got up at 7:30.  Her blood pressure and temperature were in good shape.
Margie, Ceci and Donna are going for breakfast at Margie's old haunt, The Tree House (part of the Pepper Tree Best Western on State).  We will meet Donna's sister-in-law, Carol, and two nephews, Mark and Cole. Mom will call Steve to wish him happy birthday before we go out.

Mom's tummy is aching a bit, but she is in good cheer. She's taken her acid fighting medicine and is ready to eat. Yesterday she was a reluctant eater, but that's to be expected on the 4th day after chemo administration.

Ceci will stay with Margie today. Ceci has lots of papers to comment on for her graduate class. Margie has letters to write and resting to do.  Donna will be off with her family having fun.

Anabel returns from Berkeley today.  Ceci leaves for Madison on Tuesday, very early.

Margie wants to have Monday breakfast with here walker friends.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27th

Marjorie is tired after 5.5 hours of chemo yesterday. 
She had lovely foot reflexology at 9 Am this morning.  She then returned to her home at Vista del Monte and had the clinic check her blood pressure. It looks high, so she is adding to her blood pressure medications (she had cut back on these when her blood pressure dropped due to the internal bleed a couple of weeks back).  Margie napped through the lunch hour, but Ceci and Donna went to the Vista del Monte dining room and picked up a great salad. 

We have just mixed the salad with Margie's leftover chicken teriaki from Edo Masa last night. She is enjoying her chicken salad on the balcony, taking in fresh air as well.  She says it is a fabulous salad (a pretty good review for a woman on chemo).

So all is quiet here. 

Ceci leaves on Tuesday (early early), and Donna stays on till Saturday.  Estela (a family friend and a woman who cared for our father in the last decade of the time he still lived in Northridge) will take over from Donna.  Estela will stay on for 10 days. 

Then,... at last!... Margie's chemo will be behind her!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

At last the final chemo treatment!

Margie will have her final round of chemo today, Thursday the 26th.  Her blood worked looked good and safe for the last treatment, and her stomach has been doing well with the right medication.   

Donna and I will trade off keeping Margie company for the 5 hours she'll be sitting with the drugs filtering into her.  

We expect her to have the same kind of slump over the weekend and through next week as she has had in those stages during previous rounds. However, we do not expect that there will be the very scary symptoms that alerted us to her blood loss two weeks ago.

Margie cherishes hearing of all you good wishes, and she delights in the notes and cards you all have sent.  I am sure that you know this, even if she's not had the energy to write or call in thanks.

Margie does her exercises

Marjorie's pilates teacher, Sabrina, was leading her through some quad strength exercises yesterday (March 24th). 

Notice how Margie cheats in her counting. How'd she jump from 3 to 5 there?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22nd and all is well...

Marjorie ate a hearty breakfast and lunch.  She visited with Helen Frederick, and took a 30 minute walk with Ceci. All this before 3 PM!   For the afternoon, she plans to call Steve and to nap a bit. Ceci and Margie will watch "A Mighty Wind" tonight. If you haven't seen this funny "mock-umentary" yet, we recommend it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 21, 2009

Marjorie is doing wonderfully. 
Time away from the blows of chemo is precious and even delightful. 

Ceci and Margie went to hear Sandy Thompson in a choral recital today in Santa Barbara at the Methodist Church on Anapamu and Garden... beautiful! 

They then got the DVD "Best in Show" and laughed as they ate a light dinner and watched this funny "mockumentary" spoofing dog shows.  

Marjorie is tired but in great spirits. Full of laughter, as ever, and sending love to all her relations and friends!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

no chemo this week

The oncologist decided yesterday that the 4th chemo will be delayed till next week (March 26th). Margie is healing from the weekend procedure (cauterizing bleeding ulcer) at home and sounds pretty good, though still weary. We hope the 4 units of blood she got at the hospital strengthens her.

Her daughter, Ceci, arrives in SB on Thursday. She will stay through next week, and Ceci's partner, Donna, will come to help Mom through the next chemo and the week that follows.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Margie back at Vista

We are happy to report that Margorie is home in her apartment again at Vista. Steve and family are visiting, but mostly Steve is caring for Mom.

Anabel has been on duty 24/7 taking care of absolutely everything. She will continue with this till Donna and Ceci arrive on Tuesday afternoon.

We will let you all know what the oncologist says.  Margie is scheduled for the last chemo round this Wednesday, but after so much blood loss this past week, we don't know if another treatment will be advisable right now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Margie has now had an upper GI exam. They did find an ulcer and have cauterized it. Margie is getting a 4th transfusion. Steve and Annie have been with her at Cottage hospital. She is in good spirits and happy that it was her regular GI DR who did the job on her.

Taking no aspirin during chemo is one move she must make. Another is to take Prilosec to reduce the GI problems. Chemo does affect all fast growing cells, and stomach lining is one of those cell types.

Margie may be going home Sunday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The latest news is that Margie is being admitted to Cottage tonight (,March 13th). She has been very weak; her blood pressure was falling; and finally Vista insisted that she get to the ER.  She has incredibly low hematacrit (5!  you and I would be low 11, 8 is the baseline before transfusion).  It maybe a stomach ulcer.  They will do GI work ups tomorrow.  Of course, we wish we were there with her already.  
Annie says Margie still in great spirits -- and the nurses at Cottage can't believe she looks so good with such terribly low red cells.  That's our Margie!
I don't believe that the oncologist will do the 4th chemo treatment next week.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9th
Margie continues to do pretty well.  She correctly identified that she had a urinary tract infection, and the Vista Health Clinic got on top of it.  Margie is now taking a medication for that and is responding well.  These infections can cause confusion and fatigue, so maybe she'll do even better in a few days.

In the meantime, she's still getting some time in exercising in the Vista pool, and her pilates instructor, Sabrina, has been keeping her up on other exercises. Margie is getting free foot reflexology and Reiki through Breast Cancer Resource Center. Donna reports that Margie comes out of those treatments in a fully blissed-out state!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hi everyone,(from Donna to kids - keep substituting Majorie for your mom!)
March 3rd

Your mom is napping peacefully at this time so I thought I send you all the latest.

After I wrote you that note yesterday your mom complained of feeling "queasy" and nauseous.  I asked her when it started and she told me while she was going through her mail.  She did not eat much for lunch yesterday other than an orange.  It was close to dinner time so I gave her a compazine/her antinausea medication.  We then both went to dining area and decided to bring the meal back to  the apartment.  When we returned to the apartment she leaned up against the wall and said "I feel terrible, I think I'm going to vomit."  We then spent about 5 mins next to the "porcelain goddess" without any results.  She decided to lay down in bed and was there for about 30 or 40 mins.  By that time her medication started working and she felt good enough to get up and eat some veggies and rice.  The remainder of the night she felt okay and stayed up until 10:30 doing things in her room.

I have a feeling that worrying about her mail is effecting her.  She says she "hates" to go to the mailbox because there is so much to deal with.  She is having a difficult time handling bills and appointment notices and feels at times very overwhelmed.  I am now sorting through her mail with her and trying to ease her mind.  

Today she had a Reiki appointment at 8:30 and afterwards she was soooo......... relaxed.  It's like a transformation in her.  We stopped at the bank and made a deposit of 2 checks she had received.  She had difficulties with making out the deposit slip so I did it for her.  I also sent a change of address to the company that sent her the checks.

We returned to the apartment and Sabrina worked with her at 10:30-11:30.  After that she went to the pool and then picked up lunch from the dining room.

While she was working out with Sabrina and swimming I took off and rented a bike in town.  Unfortunately I made a wrong turn out of a parking structure with a friendly policeman behind me.  He got me!  My first ticket ever.  I tried to tell him I was just a midwesterner visiting but, it went nowhere.  Oh well, at least I wasn't speeding and the bike ride was great!!

Tomorrow is another day with a full schedule, I'm sure you'll be hearing from me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1st Update on Marjorie

More news from Donna on Marjorie (just substitute her name for "your mom"):

Yesterday your mom started to feel what she calls "punk" and was more fatigued.  It was a day of rest for her though, she did go to the dining room for breakfast and to the pool in the afternoon.  She had less of an appetite yesterday mostly just nibbling on things.  I did get her some Miso soup from Gelson's  (which she asked for) and she ate a nice size bowl of it.  She says that "things just don't taste right" which is most likely related to the Chemo.  This morning she surprised me and ate a half of a Denver omelet,  a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of OJ, I praised her as she had a better appetite then I.

In the last day I have started giving her the Claritin, tylenol and Ibuprofen for her "aches."  She told me at breakfast that she feels "nervous like"  with "adrenilin flowing through me" .  Her BP, pulse and temp have remained normal.  My thought is she may be experiencing some anxiety and also that this may be another one of those chemo side effects.  If I remember correctly she described these feelings to me the last time she had chemo.  She continues to remain a trooper through all of these side effects and informs me now that she plans on going to the pool this afternoon.

The swelling in her right arm is almost gone but, her right hand still has some puffiness to it.   She has been wearing her support sleeves daily and holding her arm up in the air whenever she thinks of it:)

As far as her weight goes I do remember she was weighed in prior to her second chemo with her jacket and fanny pack on.  That definitly makes a difference!  But, I seem to remember that at one point maybe around her surgery she weighed close to 130 lbs.  I think maybe I'll skim through her medical reports here at the house and see what I can find.  If there is a scale down at the workout center/pool area I may just weigh her there.

Speaking  of the pool, I'll try to type up an easier schedule for her and Anabel to have.

Your mom's schedule of events for the week is as follows:  Reiki on Tues/Fri, Sabrina on Tues/Wed/Thurs, Sonja on Wed, and last but, far from least is lunch and a movie at Patricia's house on Thurs.   I here Patricia has a "fabulous place" so I'm looking forward to going.  

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2/25/09 Update on Mom/Marjorie

An update from Donna to the Ford kids -- Just Read "Marjorie" where it says "your mom" and it will work for you all too:

As you all know yesterday your mom had her 3rd chemo treatment.  Prior to her treatment Dr. Greenwald (oncologist) met with her and reviewed her condition and blood work.  Issues that were discussed are as follows.

1. Your mom has lymphadema in her right arm and hand .  Dr. Greenwald feels that her fall probably was the culprit.  He suggests she wear her compression sleeve for her arm and hand during the day and removing it at night.  Elevation of her arm on some pillows when she is laying down is also a good idea.  Your mom may also see Holly, the lymphodema expert she saw prior to her surgery for other ideas.

2.  Your mom's increased weakness/fatigue .   Dr. Greenwald feels that is very important that Margie get lots of rest and not load her days up with many activities at this time.   It is important that she keep her strength up with some exercise but, it should be followed by rest.  

3.  Blood work.  Dr. Greenwald reviewed the blood work from this week and determined that although there is not much change for the better or the worse your mom's hemoglobin and hematicrit are below norm which contributes to fatigue, balance issues, falls and oxygenation problems.  He does not believe a transfusion is necessary as her levels are not that low but, suggested an injection that would boost her red blood cells.  The name of the medication is Aranesp and she will receive this today with her neulasta.  Unfortunately Medicare does not pay for this med and it is about 960.00.

4.  Falling/injuries- We all talked about the importance of your mom reporting any falls or injuries she may have immediately to Vista (the place Marjorie lives) and Greenwald.  Chemo causes poor wound healing and Margie is more susceptible to infections especially if she has open cuts.

After our visit with Dr. Greenwald your mom had her chemo which was uneventful.  We went through more of her past Christmas cards, laughed and shared stories.   

From chemo we went and picked up Sushi which she had a craving for.  

Her appetite was very good yesterday although her intake of fluids was not.  She does love her coffee!

Her BP, temp, pulse were all in the normal range for the day.

She took all of her meds, including the Dexamethasone.

She is up now and we will be heading to breakfast, after that Sabrina (Pilates instructor and friend) will visit and at 3:10 we will go to the clinic so she can get her injections.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Report from late January 2009

Most of you know that my mom (Margie) has breast cancer and had surgery in December. Her wonderful surgeon in Santa Barbara (Kim Grafton) removed her right breast and a number of lymph nodes under her right arm.  Mom recovered amazingly well from the surgery and had my sister, Mike (her husband), Donna and me at her place eating dinner on the day after her operation.  As we all know, Marjorie is a very strong and positive 87 year old.  

The pathology report revealed a very aggressive form of cancer that was clearly in her whole system. But on the good side, there was no sign of tumor growth in the full body scans that were done before the surgery. This cancer is one that very often recurs, but the tumors that had grown are out of her body and she is moving on.

Even though Margie is at an age when many would not be fit for chemo (because of multiple other health problems), Margie/Mom's general health and her own choices convinced her oncologist to try some powerful chemo treatments (the kind of cancer cell that is growing in her body cannot be controlled by estrogen or progesterone deprivation).

On top of all this new and scary stuff, Mom got the otherwise good news that a lovely apartment at Vista del Monte ("view of the moutain") opened up. This is in a community where there are the options for assisted living and further health attention.  So, in along with starting her chemo last week, Margie (with incredible help from Donna, Linda Ford, Steve Ford, Ceci [moi], Mike --- and huge huge huge work by Anabel) moved to a new home.  A week ago (last Friday evening), Mom was nested in her new dwelling and finding herself exhausted by chemo but feeling well-cared for and loved.  From her balcony she can really see mountains (for those of you who know SB, mom is looking out at the mesa that is above Hendry's beach).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Marjorie Henshaw Update Mid-February '09

Marjorie is healing from her second round of chemo, with two more to go.  

Her head is bare and her spirits are strong.  

She had a fall as she prepared to go to the pool a week ago, but besides some cuts and bruises, she is doing well.

She loves hearing from friends by phone, and she'll talk as much as you can imagine.  

Her son, Steve, and his wife, Linda, plus kids, Ellie and Tyler, are visiting Santa Barbara and giving her lots of love this weekend (February 21+).  

She is enjoying her new scene at Vista del Monte but is not sure about how our society segregates the generations.  She does not fit in any age-stereotyped category, our mom/Margie!

Donna (long-time member of the family, partner of Ceci) will be back to stay with Margie for her 3rd round of chemo, which starts on Wednesday, February 24th.

She sends big hugs to everyone who is keeping her in their hearts as she manages life with breast cancer.