Helene the Fighting Machine!!!

Hope 4 Helene

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Krafty Kim"

Yes, my friend Kim who started this whole blog thing has been up to some pretty nifty crafting and you my friends will be the receipients of her work. Kim ordered "Hope for Helene" wristbands in hot pink! She added a pink bling to them and also made mini magnets that say the same thing. She is so darn creative and thoughtful. I will give them out when I see you and if I forget- remind me! They are very cool- may not go with all of your outfits- but who doesn't love pink! She sent them in this box that I thought was a cool gift and I opened it up and out poured all of these bracelets and magnets in little pink jewelry bags. Thanks my friend. Wish you lived closer..AZ is kinda a hike!

Feeling just ok today- took some anti nausea medicine and it helped. Mollie Jo and I went for a little walk- her 8 lb. body can't make it very far- only to the front of the suvbdivision and back- with a few reststops..... That is about as far as this body will take me- still having quite a bit of back pain. The boys are working out and it is jice and quite- I should take a little nap but am in the middle of laundry.

Once again- thanks for all you guys do.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chemo # 16 today

Linda Sue, Rob, Tyler and I talked to the oncologist today. Some confusion over what to do next...I will have 2 more chemo appts. then a CAT Scan and MRI. Then after those results we will decide what the course of actions is- possibly start an oral medication- that would inhibit estrogen production. The IV avastin I get by IV every other appt. has been in the news lately... The FDA is saying it is possibly not working so then insurance and Medicare won't cover it....The dr. said out of pocket costs a year is about $100,000. YIKES.

I received a package in the mail from Tracy, my sisrer-inlaw, Billy's wife. She sent me 3 different comfy caps to wear around the house and possily to bed! I am having trouble keeping caps on my head when I sleep. Two of these caps Tracy sent have ties in the back- which might help with my small head. One of them is white and super soft. It looks so comfy!
How very thoughtful! I guess the hats are handmade at an Artisans Exchange in Oak Park. At home, I never where a wig around- too uncomfortable.

After Chemo today, I slept from 1 until almost 6 pm! Yikes- I have never taken that long of a nap. Mollie Jo isn't in to that long of a nap. I think the boys left at some time, left her out of her cage, tried to block the stairs, but that little devil dog (DD) got around the fence, made her way upstairs and was crying out side my dooor.....true love!

I actually got to go out lasr night with 3 girlfriends to celebrate one of their birthdays! Big news-I had a Blue Moon beer and didn't get an upset stomach! We walked around Oakbrook and I just felt so normal, like a regular person- that is what I am hoping for- just doing normal things with friends, being a mom, wife, sister, aunt, friend, teacher, mentor, friend-nothing special- just a normal everyday person.

Keep shakin' those rosary beads, banging on the gong, saying the prayers- I truly believe all of your positive thoughts are helping.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hi Helene!

Hi girlfriend, thinking of you. I love reading your posts. I'm so proud of you and feel lucky that I get to experience a little of your journey through this blog thing! I love that you share what folks send your way, whether it be food or trinkets. No one takes it as you want "stuff." We all appreciate hearing what is going on in your day to day!

I'm glad you are feeling good on your one week chemo holiday! I can't imagine what you are going through and I pray for you every day. You don't deserve this AGAIN! Kiss that puppy for me and enjoy the feeling good days!

Love ya, Julie

Monday, July 26, 2010

Appreciate feeling "normal"

Since last week was NO chemo- I realize how wonderful it is to feel "normal". No nausea, not as tired and even had a mimosa last night! I just dread starting a new cycle this Friday. I will be seeing my oncologist, too. I have had 15 chemo sessions since this all started. I gotta remember the "normal" days when I get to feeling so down. I know I have already over done it today, as my back is really hurting and I had to up the pain meds and ice. This is such a hard thing to do- remembering to take it easy- even if I am feeling semi ok.

I received the sweetiest pink bracelet from Kaleigh's friend Haley. Haley goes to MI with her family and rents a cabin close to Linda's. I think Haley is in 5th or 6th grade. The bracelet has the b/c symbol on some of the beads. How thoughtful of her. Our family rented a cabin at the same beach- starting when I was 7- and my parents went for about 25+ years. Some of my best growing up memories were from Gregory Beach. The beach is very rustic, the cabins are around 100 yrs. old and have pot belly stoves for heat! They added on indoor plumbing before we started going there. Anyway, Linda Sue brought me home the cutest light pink t-shirt with "Gregory Beach" sewn on it with the b/c symbol below it. So thoughtful- my sister. I don't write about people giving me stuff to get more stuff....... I just am so appreciative of what everyone does for me. I receive cards in the mail sometimes, and they usually come on a day or time that I really need a little tlc. I know alot of you are praying for me and that too, is very much appreciated.

I think I will follow suit with Mollie- she is taking a nap and I am running out of steam- overdoing things.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's Been a While

Hey there,
This has been a hectic week and I kinda forgot to blog this thing. With potty training, early childhood puppy school and having to get up early with Molly- I can see why my friend Karen Mo. wants an older dog! She(Mollie Jo- not Karen!) had a vet visit and is up to 7 lbs. but should get to about 18ish lbs.

Thanks to Jana for a wonderful meal that she cooked on Monday. Tyler sure chowed down! I have talked to Tia ALOT- about just acepting what people are willing to do for me, as I don't want to take advantage of my friends. So, thank you Tia for straightening me out.

Last week, Sharon gave me the most delicious chocolate for my "stash" for chemo day. This chocolate that she got locally, is better than Godiva! But as you all know my "boys", I have to hide my stash- literally!

I finished up my summer semester with students and just need to do grades and paperwork. I start back up Aug. 24. I was suppose to work 1 night and 2 days next semester but thought long and hard about those 3 days are the days I feel the closest to "normal". So I am not working on Thursdays for COD but am going to work at Jean-Marie's Resale shop on Thursdays for a few hours and try and see friends etc. I am limited to how much time I can volunteer with the chemo schedule. I am hoping that I can "drop in" and help out when I feel well enough. Remember to save your items for her resale shop. If you need to get the stuff out of your house, I can come and pick it up. Jean-Marie is still negotiating on a store site and is getting frustrated it is taking so long. My sister, Linda Sue, volunteered (kinda) to help Jean-Marie with the store floor plan and store arrangement. Thanks to Judy, Sandy P. and Doreen for donating their items for the shop already. The only items that Jean-Marie is not taking are electronics.

Once again, thanks for your continued support, prayers and + karma!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sandy, Scott and Luke

We were able to finally see the Pederson's who live in Oak Park. Between Tyler's baseball and football schedules and Luke's baseball and wrestling schedules, we haven't had time to get together. They came over Saturday loaded down with food! Like Sandy says, "That's how we show our love."..... I felt ok enough to go out to eat- had some trouble with my tongue- still burns a lot from the chemo. Sandy made this amazing desert-like a brownie truffle with Heath bars- to die for!!! Then Sandy had made us dinner for Sunday night and brought flowers on top of all that! We left and Luke at our house with a pizza (they were happy) and we went out to catch up. Just wish I could have a beer once in awhile.....I tried a few weeks ago and just felt really sick to my stomach. Booze and chemo aren't good mixers.

I think the extra pain meds are making me even more tired.....I am definitely in nap mode lately- esp when Mollie Jo gets me up at the crack of dawn. I am so looking forward to not having chemo this Friday- my week off!!!!! Hopefully I will get a lot of things done around here and get a head start on the fall term. I finish up summer term this week at COD.
Thanks again for the positive karma!

Friday, July 16, 2010


I literaly have a PITA......the nerve endings in the butt coming from my back are on fire and causing a lot of sciattica. I missed Lynn's going away party last nite and felt bad I couldn't go...but low and behold- Lynn came over after chemo today with her famous ham sandwiches made with pastry puff dough and rollie polllies! Not only did I get some good food I can eat - but I got Lynn to myself for an hour! (except for Mollie Jo who adored Lynn.) Lynn gave me her "sercret" recipes...but she just cooks with a little of this and that method...I don't think mine will turn out the same way. We sure will miss Lynn with her sense of humor AND all the wonderful things she cooks and bakes.

Linda went with me to Chemo today and we read our trashy magazines. I brought in the homemade caramel corn mix for the nurses and gave Linda a big container to take to the lake- also gave Lynn her own stash of the mix. That stuff with the cashews in it is so addicting!

I am wearing a new bright pink shirt today.... it says "Fight Like a Girl" with the b/c sign and boxing gloves! I love it - Denise found it and sent it. The people at the cancer center get a hoot out of Linda and I when we come in dressed in pink- with pink bracelets and me with my big pink polka dot bag with all my "babies" and pink blankie Shea made me! Whatever it takes people.....

I am hoping to find that you tube video Tia talked about. Don't think I have ever seen a you tube video- I am so behind the times...

Go to YouTube for Dance Video

Well, it looked like it would work for a minute there but I guess you need to go to YouTube for the video. When I clicked play from the blog you couldn't hear the sound of the music and you REALLY want to hear the music on this one. I'm pretty sure the file is just too big.

Just go to "So You Think You Can Dance FIX YOU" and its the 2nd one under chiclou that has the best quality. Enjoy...

Helene - we REALLY missed you last night at Lynn's going away dinner.

Thinking of you - through dance

I'm not sure if this will work right the first time but will try to figure it out. I don't know how many of you watch the show "So You Think You Can Dance", but its one that I actually record and watch on occasion. This last week one of the dances was to the song "Fix You" by Coldplay. The choreographer did this thinking of his mother who just had a major surgery. I, on the other hand, thought of Helene the Fighting Machine through every step they took. So I wanted to share it with you all.

So You Think You Can Dance - FIX YOU

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Feeling kinda okay

I guess my new normal is how I feel today. Tired- but not overly, no nauseousness and a little itchy. I wish I could feel this good everyday! The neuropathy in my feet is getting worse- which is not a good sign for continuing chemo. It feels like my feet are always falling asleep. If the neuropathy gets too bad- it could become irreversible. I see the dr. again July 30.

I actually did some cardio the last 2 days, but took today off from exercising so I could rest up to go to work this afternoon. I only have this week and next at COD and then I am off until the 3rd week of Aug.

Linda surprised me last night and brought over dinner! She made this summer salad with chicken, lettuce (she said it was argula???) strawberries, homemade dressing and cashews. Then, like she doesn't have anything else to do...she made desert. There is enough salad leftover for me to eat before I go to work. YUM!!

It is just so difficult to figure out a short vacation for this summer. With treatment, football, Rob working part of the time and Mollie Jo- it would take a lot just to get away. Plus, Tyler does not want to hang with us- he wants to hang with his friends that include girls. I am just not ready for all this social stuff with him.

This is just one thing I can not even believe: I had a lot of dental work done- major bucks that we are paying off a little at a time. This has been ongoing for the last 5 years- with implants, surgery, caps, et. (many many caps) I got a call from the dentist's office and the woman who runs the office said that Dr. Crombie won't be sending me any more bills- that my balance is zero! I was totally dumbfounded! We owe over $2000. !!!!!! I guess the dentist (who I really like) found out I had cancer and 2 weeks ago the office sent me flowers out of the blue! Then this phone call....I just teared right up. Talk about a random act of kindness. How do you thank someone for doing that? I know we have payed out thousands of $$$, but then to do this? SO....if you need a good dentist, let me know. He is a regular dentist, but does alot of cosmetic dentistry and is a little anal about how the caps look- which is great for the patient.

Linda is taking me to chemo Friday am- then she is off to MI. I bought us "treats" and the rag magazines to read....until I fall alseep after the drugs hit me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chemo Factory Day

I had an early chemo appt- 8:30. Tyler and Rob came with me, then Rob took Tyler to Linda's to cut her grass and Rob came back to the Cancer Center. Denise arrived with these delish turtle brownies, then Rob had to go pick up Tyler so Denise drove me home. I am lucky that they built the Cancer Center so close- less than 5 minutes away if you catch the light. Who knows how long if you catch the train.....

I made a decision not to work all 3 of my "good" days next semester at COD. I think it will be too much and I don't want to rest all the time just to work. This was difficult for me to make this decision as I really enjoy what I do and I like my students. Sooo...this gives me more time to help out Jean-Marie with her charity shop. Remember to save your stuff! If you absolutely need to get it out of your home, call me and Tyler and I will pick it up. Jean-Marie is currently in negotiations for 2 sites so we may be able to drop stuff off soon.

Yesterday Tyler and I went to "Early Childhood Class"- also known as Puppy Kindergarten! What a hoot- we have homework.... Mollie Jo is responding-as puppy treats (thanks to Sharon!) are a motivator. Hopefully this is the first step in getting her trained to be a therapy dog at Edward's. That is down the road but it is good to have goals.

Mollie Jo and I are home alone as the boys went to a bb tournament in Orland Park. I must have been sound asleep when they left, becasue Mollie was next to me on the couch in the sunroom napping with me.

Keep up the positive karma, mojo, prayers- whatever ya got going!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Over Did It

I think I over did it this weekend..... I so want to be "normal" but I think I need to remember that I have this nasty disease and can't do what I want to. I am paying for it now. Thankfully, Tyler got up at 6 am with Mollie Jo...of course I came downstairs at 10 am and he had his 6 ft 1 inch body stuck in a love seat, there was Mollie running in circles and a little pile of poop on the floor while he snored away. Too cute except for the poop!

I did have fun at 2 bbq's- one on Saturday and one Monday. I think the Monday one put me over the edge- energy wise. I had fun shopping with a friend- "Retail Therapy"- I recommend it! Denise came over with a frozen 2 lb meatloaf- my boys do like their meat! It is really helpful to have meals in the freezer. Leanne offered Tim (who is a chef) to cook for us Monday- but we went to Liz's for a bbq. I talked to my brother Billy- which was nice getting caught up with him and what his kids are up to. Linda is in MI but keeps checking in. I am glad she got it in her head that she could go away and not have to be there for my chemo appts. i appreciate all she does- but she needs a life!

Going to work this afternoon- hoping the pain meds take hold soon. Since I overslept- I took my meds late. On Fri. at the dr. appt- we discussed pain management. I am worried that I will become addicted- however, Dr. Kash isn't. He said he does not worry about his cancer patients and esp. with me as I am trying not to take the drugs. I take 2 oxycontin a day (with a vicodin chaser or dialudid) and can't imagine how people take up to 50 of these pills a day. I don;t really think the radiation was a true success....I still have a lot of back pain where the tumor is near the spinal nerves.....

Many thanks go out to Laura- as she is helping me keep track of all the medical bills! What a huge relief for me. She came over yesterday and had figured out what we had paid, what we need to pay and where I am with my lifetime $. Our insurance only has a 2 million lifetime cap- which is not alot when I am looking at long term treatment. We are at about $225,000 right now. I am hoping that Obama's lift of the liftime cap happens sooner than 2014. We may have to have some lemonaqde stands or bakesales....... The hospital charges about $45,000 per month for chemo treatment! After our ppo deductions it is about $25,000 which is what they count for the cap. A lot depends on the new contract that they are working on in
Rob's district....they still have not finished it.

Sorry I am going on and on.....Billy said that this is probably therapeutic for me to write things out- and he is right.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Up with the "Baby"

Once again, Mollie Jo got me up way before 6 am....hence the early morning blog. I feel like I have a baby in the house- just one that I want to pee outside!

Had a busy weekend which helps me keep my mind off of "stuff." Katie and Tom visited from Iowa Friday after my chemo nap. We went to a party Sat. night with neighbors from Linda's subdivision- I have to borrow her neighbors as we are somewhat limited where we live... Sunday we stayed home and watched fireworks from our backyard- where we saw about 5-6 town's going off. Much to my displeasure, Rob and Tyler bought fireworks coming home from a tournament in Indiana.....Fireworks must be a right of passage for boys or something. I was worried he would loose a thumb and then how would he pitch or throw the football?? Last night I almost felt "normal" (my new normal) and had a bbq at Liz's house. When I am busy I don't have as many "pity parties!"

I caught up with my brother Billy who lives in Oak Park. I haven't heard from my brother Jimmy in a while. Linda is enjoying her family at their cottage in MI for another week. She was at last Firday's appt which was good, since I never remember fully what the dr. talked about. The dr. did comment on my Notre Dame t-shirt that Meghan got for me when she went to basketball camp there. "The Fighting Irish Fight Cancer"- very cute.

Thanks again for all of your support, prayers and positive karma....

Monday, July 5, 2010

We love Shrinkage!!!

So glad to hear about the shrinkage!!! We love shrinkage!!! Keep fighting girl!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Alleluia, Helene!!!! That is absolutely wonderful!! You ARE fighting this thing and WILL beat it.

After visiting with you the other day, all three of us agreed that you have an incredible positive attitude and that is half the battle! You go, girl!!

It was so fun visiting with you on Tuesday. Let us know when we can do it again. Next time I'll try to get Linda Rosensteil, (Ooops! Make that Vandre.) to join us!!


Hey there,

Saw the dr. yesterday. Rob, Tyler and Linda were there- what a support group! Linda came in from MI and the news was positive! The tumors are continuing to shrink and he rec. 2 more months of chemo and then another scan. I think that will be the protocal for awhile. Rob asked if I could go on some kind of maintenance pill instead of the chemo.....the long and short of it is not likely but maybe down the road. We discussed pain management for most of the visit, then I had chemo. Tyler and Rob stayed until I fell asleep, then Tyler had to Cut Linda's grass and Rob came back to sit with me. We got out of there around noon (can't ever remember going home) took a nap and then Katie and Tom from Iowa visited for a couple hours. Then they were off to north Chicago to visist their son, daughter-in-law and cute as a button grandson

I am looking forward to going to a BBQ this afternoon in my sister's subdivision. Sarah invited her bunco group of which I am lucky to be a part of. The bunco girls (or thier husbands!) really have helped me out making meals on the Mondays after chemo. That seems to be my worst day.

Here's to a wonderful holiday weekend for everyone. I think the positive thoughts and prayers have definitely made a difference- so continue them! Thanks...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday July 1

Hey there,
I have been on the go all week- when I feel better I try to jam in everything I can in a few days. Monday night I got to go out to celebrate Doreen's birthday with Laura and Toni. The 4 of us enjoy catching up. It is difficult to schedule these nights out with my chemo schedule, Toni, Laura's and Doreen's work schedules, mom stuff, sport stuff, etc.

Molly Jo went to her first baseball game with me on Tuesday night. She did pretty good, but had trouble keeping score... She is still getting us up at the crack of dawn- Rob got up early today and I slept in. She has about doubled in size and doesn't seem afraid of much.

I taught on Wed. and that went much better than last week. Yesterday I was able to go with Jean-Marie to visit sites for her new resale shop, "Sweet Charity Resale Shop." Remember to save your good stuff that you would normally give to Good Will for this shop. We are also saving plastic bags, shopping bags and hangers that you might get from a store- the plastic ones with metal. Sometimes stores will let you take the hangers home. The name of the charity is "Hearts for Service" with ALL proceeds going to people in need. Spread the word!

Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow- I find out the results of the CAT scan I had on Monday at my dr. appt. Then it is back to the chemo regime......gotta keep the faith