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One down!

It’s Friday Morning and I’m almost through my first week after starting Chemo.  It’s been a crazy ride this week!

Lets start with Monday Morning…  Lisa and I are driving to San Antonio so that I can start my chemo.  We were about 15 – 20 miles outside of San Antonio when my phone rang.  It’s CTRC (Cancer Therapy and Research Center) to tell me that I’m not going to be able to start Chemo this morning.  It turns out there’s a billing problem.

I immediately see red!  First off, I’ve been going to CTRC since April.  Surely they could have worked this our before.  On top of that, I had already been driving for a little over 2 hours when they called me.  I was pretty sure I was going to try to find an Oncologist in Corpus Christi, but this really sealed it for me.  Lisa immediately got on the phone with the VA.  I got on the phone with CTRC and within an hour we had the two of them talking and got things worked out.  In the mean time Lisa and I were sitting in a Burger King not sure if we should go home or proceed to San Antonio.

Once we got to CTRC it was fairly uneventful.  Once they start giving me Chemo, it only takes half an hour.  I wait longer for the blood tests results to come back than anything.  It’s all very comfortable though.  The people are wonderful ,the recliners we sit in are very comfortable.  Best of all, in my mind we’re moving forward.

The ride back to Corpus Christi was uneventful too.  I was just about ready to chalk this whole Chemo thing up as a piece of cake when it hit me (about 8:30 or 9:00 that night).  I’m not sure I can describe the feeling..The sensation was as if the whole room were spinning.  It only lasted about 15 – 20 minutes, but I was sure that if this continued for a while it was not going to end well.

The next morning I felt OK, just weak.  I managed to be a productive member of society, I just moved a little slower than usual.  That night I even managed to run a music rehearsal for the cast of The Producers.  I’ll admit, I was wiped out afterwards.

Wednesday Morning I woke up relatively early because I had to see my Radiation Oncologist.  Wednesday was my “Fitting”.  They create this form-fitting pillow that will cause you to lie on the machine the exact same way each time.  They also marked up most of my body with black magic marker.  That way they can line me up in the machine a little easier.  Then top it all off, I got three little tattoos.  The tattoos are in case the magic marker comes off.  That way they will always be able to tell how I should line up.

I had a talk with Dr. Stewart (My radiation oncologist), I explained to her that I really needed to find a medical oncologist in Corpus Christi.  She agreed to help me find one.  I’ll tell you, this is one of the reasons I really love Dr. Stewart:  Once she found a Doctor for me, she didn’t have one of her nurses call me.  Dr. Stewart actually called me herself.

Wednesday afternoon I developed a fever.  Now Lisa and Rachel and the entire cast of “Full Monty” as well as the cast of “The Producers” have all been sick.  I’ve done everything I could to avoid it, but you can’t forever.  I wasn’t too worried, but my instructions were to call if I ever develop a fever of over 101.  I was at 101.6.  I called several numbers at CTRC and kept getting voice mail.  Eventually I just went ahead and called Dr. Mahalingham’s cell phone.

The doctor told me that he didn’t actually believe that my blood counts would drop that quickly.  After all, I only had one treatment so far.  He did think that this was worth watching.  He told me to take 2 Tylenol and see if the fever dropped.  If it didn’t then I had to got to the emergency room.  Fortunately it did drop and I didn’t have to go to the hospital.  It spiked once or twice more during the night, but then it was over.  In the morning I got a call from my nurse at CTRC.  She also told me that if it came back at all during the day I was to go directly to the Emergency Room.  Fortunately it never did.

I did really feel run down all day yesterday.  I attributed that to the fevers and general crud.  At the end of the day, I finally forced myself to sit down and have a meal.  I had really lost my appetite all day.  Strangely, once I was done eating I felt better.  That’s when it occurred to me that my blood sugar had bottomed out.

You know, between the surgery, the chemo, the crud, the emotional anxiety involved with all of this; it’s really hard to tell sometimes what the causes are for feeling poorly.  As it turns out, this was a lesson I learned (or thought I had) right after surgery.  I’ve got to keep eating or I’ll feel bad.

Well it’s Friday Morning and it’s time to get ready for work.  This weekend, as all of them are, is really busy.  That’s why I’m taking Chemo early in the week.  So that I can make it through the weekends.

If you’re in town, come see the Full Monty at the Aurora Arts Theater.  The show it terrific and we still have plenty of seats left this weekend.  Don’t wait though, there are only 3 more weeks to see this show!!  Let me know if you need tickets.


Mom’s Home!!!

I made it back yesterday around 3pm……leaving him behind in that hospital…that just felt totally wrong…..we have a “no man left behind” kind of attitude here in our family and it just……let’s just say I am glad it’s only for 24 hours.

Of course there were lots of sloppy puppy kisses and hugs and a few tears when we all reunited. My home was clean and neat and there wasn’t even a DISH in the SINK! I was so proud of them and it appears everyone held up pretty well. I have some concerns about my daughter but I prefer to leave those private……I worry about her so much…..this sweet child loses her mother to cancer at age 9 and now she has to watch her father go through this too? My heart breaks for her every day…..over and over……but she is doing MUCH better than we expected but there are just a few things I am keeping a special watch over…..I am such the mother hen……

So we got to spend some time together, the children and I, until it was time for me to go to my first dance rehearsal for The Full Monty! I had missed the entire first week of rehearsals but am confident I can catch up! Since my character Jeanette doesn’t show up until the end of the first act it looks like I might also get to play a dancer getting a lesson early in the show! There will be random couples dancing while Debra sings “Life with Harold” , one of my favorite songs! Cyndi’s choreography is terrific and with some practice we are going to look GREAT! And it was so nice to see so many friends and get hugs and I didn’t break down and cry once! It really recharges my soul!

Even though the house looks great, we still have food (I am SHOCKED!) and I am forever grateful to my incredible mother in law for the kid care services, it’s easy to see “Mom’s HOME”. I was greeted with ride requests, $ requests (of course) “I need this from the store”, “Mom I forgot my band uniform!” at 7:30 AM….thanks Daniel!

 (-_-) …..*SIGH*………..Mom’s Home………

You know, the part I didn’t anticipate was how much my body would hurt…..physically……I mean, I feel like I have been run over by a truck….and this was BEFORE the dance lesson! ha ha ha! The dancing actually helped me feel BETTER! But I wasn’t really prepared for what spending 12-14 hours in a hospital room for 7 straight days would mean….they had a lot of construction at the hospital and I would thank God every morning for the gorgeous weather for my one mile hike thru barriers and fences to get to the hospital entrance….

San Antonio reminds me so much of home….Cincinnati….and it comes with better weather! Here on the Gulf Coast it’s flat…now we have gorgeous palm trees and beautiful water but I always enjoy the rolling hills and huge oak trees of San Antonio. And I relished every walk to and from the truck…..because hospital air sucks……it makes me tired and it’s so artifical…it has to be of course….but it isn’t natural to be in that environment for so long without breathing in fresh air…..you just can’t believe the difference you feel sucking that into your lungs the minute you hit the doors….it’s like my body was desperate for it……but I have never been very comfortable in hospitals over all…..but that is changing….

So not only does the air suck but, for me anyway, I have muscle soreness all over. I have this habit of tensing up when I get nervous. After a few minutes I will realize it and relax but then minutes later I will be doing it again…..unconcious habit…..toss in the fact that I am handling IV’s and tubes and plugging things in and out and helping him in and out of bed has left me feeling like I fell down a flight of stairs…..missing 2 weeks of my Zumba class didn’t help either and a hotel with no workout facilities….I can’t imagine what I would have felt like if I hadn’t been taking those classes for the last two months…..

But I am home now and Paul is right behind me! Provided no fever shows up, he is scheduled to be released today!! He really progressed over the weekend and shaved 2 more days off his anticipated release date! Such the over achiever! Even better it looks like he is HITCHING a ride home to see his girl! My good friend Margot, who came and sat with me while Paul had his surgery, happens to be in the area today and said she would be happy to bring him home and save me the TRIP!! Can you believe? God is so good to send these wonderful people into our life to help us out! At almost $4/gal (WTH??!!) for gas we appreciate the ride!!

I will be really happy to get him home. He is going to heal even FASTER being able to sit on the back porch with his little dog by his side…..or working at his desk and listening to his music on his stereo……it’s just a better environment for healing…….and then I can relax……a little…….

Day 6 – Pathology Results

One of Paul’s surgeons stopped by with his pathology report and it’s very GOOD! It looks like the tumor was about 2 cm wide and they got reports of clean margins (That means they removed ALL cancerous tissue!) They removed 21 lymph nodes for biopsy and all but 2 came back clear so Paul WILL be having chemotherapy.

Truth be told, we were having chemo regardless of the pathology reports because Paul is determined to hit this thing with all we got so this is no surprise. We will have a short meeting with the oncologist tomorrow to discuss his treatment and to see when we can get started.

We anticipate being able to start in another 3-4 weeks. Paul is healing very well and should be strong enough to start in about that time frame. We will make arrangements with the doctors here for Paul to receive his chemo in Corpus Christi. They have already indicated that wouldn’t be a problem. That way we won’t have to drive to San Antonio 3 times a week.

the worst part is…….

………………..PAUL IS GOING TO LOSE HIS HAIR!…………………………..

Devastating news I tell you 😀

As far as prognosis, you know, this is one of those types of cancers that really can’t be predicted. His doc said he has seen HOSPICE patients come in here, get treated and 10 years later are still going strong…..another patient  younger than Paul was back in 3 years with issues again……you just can’t tell….

Diligence is going to be our best bet. Paul will go for checkups in 3, 6, 12 and 18 mos. so only time will tell…….we will just have to stay on top of it and continue to live a good clean life and make sure he has the BEST SHOT POSSIBLE to beat this thing once and for all!

Besides the pathology results I am also happy to report (no farting or peeing reports…I’ll save those for Paul!) that Paul is starting on liquids and doing very well. He has had some broth and ice chips and juice and is tolerating it just fine. They are also starting him on some oral medication and tomorrow the epidural will be coming out along with 2 of his drain lines! That will leave him with only an IV in the arm for the duration of his stay and one “bile bag”. That will stay in for about 2 more weeks. They need to continue to drain the pancreas a little while longer. Really, Paul hardly notices it it’s such a small tube…..so that won’t be such a big deal…..

So we spent our day working on my music for “The Full Monty” and we took a nice afternoon siesta like we have done almost every day! 😀 I LOVE my afternoon nap! ha ha! We also took several walks around the floor with “Let It Go” and “Big Black Man” playing on my phone so we could sing and do some grooving down the halls! We had fun with it and he is making rounds on this floor pretty regularly! Oh course, the nurses love him!

I will be checking out of the hotel tomorrow morning and will be leaving for home around noon or 1pm. We both agreed I shouldn’t stay any longer. Really, he is getting along so well it’s not like he NEEDS me here…..but there is no one else he would rather hang out with than “his girl” so it will be a little lonely here for a couple of days……GOOD!….get you out of here all the faster!!

So I will go home so Grandma can go back home and I will just zip back up here to drive the get away car!! That way I can go home and care for the children, make sure the household is moving along as usual and I can start attending rehearsals for “Full Monty”.  I can’t even imagine how crazy my dogs are going to go tomorrow when I come home….I plan on just laying on the floor and letting them get it all out of their system! There is sure to be lots of jumping and happy puppies when Mom gets home tomorrow! I imagine there will also be a couple of happy and jumping children too 🙂

Day 4 – morning update

Well someone is all full of sunshine this morning! Paul had a good nights sleep and feels GREAT today! When I got here his nurse was getting him into a fresh gown and capping off some tubes so we could go for a morning stroll! Paul is getting stronger every day and had very little difficulty getting up and down out of his chair. We made it PAST the nurses station down to the doors and back then went up another hall a little ways too! 😀  His sugar continues to behave itself and his blood pressure is good. Dr. Halff said he was a little baffled by Paul’s fevers (been hovering between 100 – 102 degrees) since everything looked good but todays temp is 99.6 with no Tylenol so he is starting the day good where that is concerned.

Paul has always run “hot”. He has battled strange sporadic fevers his whole life so we aren’t TOO terribly concerned…especially since they aren’t very high….I just think it’s his body’s way of helping fight any infection. But again, it’s under 100 now so everyone is happy 🙂

Paul is very excited  because he is having visitors today! Some of our friends from church are coming to make a day of San Antonio and they are going to stop for a little visit and take me out to lunch! Yay! ‘Cause I am OVER hospital food! The only thing I eat is the chicken tenders! I am sustaining life on them! So I am looking forward to a nice fresh salad and some sweet tea!

So now he is resting comfortably in his chair and surfing Facebook and doing some work on The Producers score. Once I return from lunch we will take another walk and then work on-line for my role as Jeanette in The Full Monty!! He is looking pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so I think we will have a fun afternoon!

Have a great day everyone and thanks again for all your prayers and well wishes! We really feel them!!



Settling Down Now……

WHEW! That was a wild ride!

For those that don’t know, I have NEVER been involved in theatre….other than being a huge fan……so this has been quite an experience so far! I am not a stranger to performing though….having been in bands and singing at church over the years…..but I am really “kicking it up a notch” by scoring the part of Jeanette Burmeister in The Full Monty.

I have to give a huge shout out to the wonderful, incredible Aurora Arts Theatre for welcoming me and my family with such open arms! Last summer my husband tripped over this new community theatre at the corner of Everhart and Holly. He walked in one day to see about booking it to have a concert for his flute quartet Absoflutely! and it changed our lives FOREVER!

Paul became a member of the House Band playing in “Cabaret”, “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Footloose”.  My mother was in town at the time and I loaded up Rachel and both Grandmas and we went to see Paul play in Cabaret. The show was incredible……and I was HOOKED!

Paul would come home after rehearsal and performances telling us what fun he was having….I teased him about his Russian girlfriend he was shuttling back and forth to rehearsals……I heard all about the Band Lounge and the incredible cast and I kept thinking to myself….


So I came with him one weekend and they put me to work! I took tickets, I worked the bathroom line, sold popcorn and beer and wine! I got to see Cabaret a few more times….just enough….leave her wanting more! And boy did the Aurora deliver! Next was “The Rocky Horror Show” and it was pretty much over for me…..

As a teen I went to see Rocky Horror at a midnight cinema in downtown Cincinnati…..one of my fondest memories being there with my best friends who I loved dearly and doing this completely CRAZY thing! Have you seen the show? Talk about a culture SHOCK! Here I was…sheltered little suburban girl….surrounded by dudes in DRAG! It was amazing!

I KNEW that was going to be one of the craziest things this town had ever seen so I became a “Professional Volunteer”. I wasn’t going to miss a minute of that nutty show and I was there every weekend…..then something strange happened…..the show has “shout outs” see…..audience participation is one of the BEST parts of the Rocky experience. The audience plays against the characters on stage…of course the goal is to do your best to get the actors to “break character” ……. and that’s where I really became “vested” in this experience…..

Being there every week I inadvertently became part of the show……people were telling me how hilarious some of my shout outs where and that was pretty much all I needed…..I became a woman on a mission……most of the shout outs are classics that have traveled with the show over the course of the last 30 or so years……you always yell ASSHOLE when they say “Brad” and you always yell SLUT when they say “Janet”……. that’s tradition……but there are a few places where you can throw in some new material and God…we were KILLING THEM! I would search the internet, try material on Paul, worked with several other crew members to get just the right line……all the while dressing up in crazy, slutty outfits……it was one of the most fun times of my LIFE!

I can’t even begin to express the love and affection we feel for the entire Chapa family. They are the heart and soul of this place……you come in and you feel at home….and it isn’t the decor…it’s because this building is filled with love.

“Footloose” was next and I was desperate to audition……but things got a little sideways at home and just felt I needed to spend time with my family. I have no regrets at all………that show…….*sigh*……..it was rough. Plagued with issues like multiple directors, stage managers, choreographers…….it just seemed like it was having difficulty “coming together” you know? But the cast was young, some inexperienced and it was a little shaky there for a while…..but by opening night it was pretty well pulled together and really had a very successful run…sold out almost every weekend!……despite a horribly designed set, awkward and clunky transitions…..we saw a round of double or triple laryngitis……lighting snafoos…..pieces of the set falling mid act (great save Bryan Davis!)…..and a character had to be replaced in the middle of the run for personal reasons…..our wonderful technical director lost his father……my husband was diagnosed with cancer……it was like this show was CURSED……

……and it ended with the tragic loss of our beloved leader Mr. Ed Chapa…….the man who started this theatre only the year before….named in honor of his mother Aurora……his life cut short at the young age of 55 by a brain aneurism…..

Of course the last show, scheduled for the next day, was canceled……..it was one of the most tragic things I had ever witnessed and the pain we all experienced is a thousand blog posts worth……

But we preservered….just the way Eddie would have wanted……and oh, he would be so PROUD of the current show “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”. Eddie’s hands were all over this production and it is brilliant. The director is young and fresh, the actors are some of Corpus Christi’s BRIGHTEST stars and they deliver an incredible trip down the road of love, dating, marriage and children every weekend! the show only called for piano so Paul and I have been going every weekend to work the concession stand together.

Can I tell you what a blessing this has been to us? To go see these wonderful performers, be surrounded by people who love and care about us, and to laugh our asses off every weekend while we are dealing with his cancer diagnosis? I don’t even have the words……seriously….I get all choked up thinking about how much my husband loves this place and how much fun he has talking to patrons, getting a million hugs, talking music and watching this show week after week…..

……..things like this support our soul…….

So is it any wonder I HAD to audition for Full Monty? I mean, the show is LOADED with parts for women my age…..so of course Paul and I started researching……he ordered a copy of the script and we began searching the music online…..and that  just gets us going even more……then we got the soundtrack and it was all over from there…..I was falling in love with this show! But the timing…..I just wasn’t sure…..I mean, Paul’s surgery and treatment isn’t going to be a walk in the park……but we discussed it and prayed about it and just felt there probably wasn’t a more PERFECT time to do this…..

Talk about a fun distraction for us during one of the most stressful times of our LIFE! Can you imagine what his hospital stay is going to be like??!! We are going to be showing up with scripts and lines and music and scores and the sassy Jeanette Burmeister, out of retirement Broadway accompanist to the boys of The Full Monty! Oh good Lord….someone better call UTSA and warn them……

You know, the Lord provides in so many ways…..you just have to look for the blessings you have in your life….



The part I was hoping, dreaming and practicing for is ALL MINE!! Jeanette Burmeister, the rusty old Broadway accompanist who just “shows up” at the boys rehearsal, piano and all! She is brassy and sassy and has a FANTASTIC song in the second act called Jeanette’s Showbiz Number! Wanna hear?? Here it is!!!

The Full Monty will be OPENING the middle of MAY! Watch for it and come see the show at the Aurora Arts Theatre!


Ok so now it’s MY turn to wait! Day 2 of auditions went great! We had several more people show up, especially more MEN, who weren’t shy about some preliminary shedding of clothes so it was a lot of FUN! I am totally convinced this show is going to be of EPIC proportions! There were some incredible voices there last night and some serious shaking of some BOOTIES! I hope I get to be involved in some way!! Worse comes to worse I will be singing my little heart out behind the concession stand! Not such a bad place to hang out! (They know me there! ha ha!)

Today they will be assigning roles and doings lots of other things to get prepared for the beginning of The Full Monty!! We were told they would have the cast list posted on the website www.AuroraArtsTheatre.com by midnight tonight! I don’t know if I can wait that long!! ha ha!

Boy, for two racehorses, Paul and I sure find ourselves stuffed into the starting gate and left there pretty often……and that’s not a good place to leave us for too long! You can’t put an idea in our heads and leave us….WAITING……ugh…..we hate it! ha ha ha! We are thinkers and planners and we EXECUTE! We aren’t the ones standing around the water cooler wondering how we are going to do something…..we take the bull by the hornitoes and MAKE IT HAPPEN BABY! So yea….this waiting…….

and waiting……

but I will find ways to occupy myself…….there is dog food to make and some treat orders to send out…..and some pacing to do……with my phone in my hand….fully charged….and ON….so i can wait for my call……from my director….so she can tell me…..

Oooohhhh I hope I get the part I want! ❤

Stay tuned!!

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