Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baby Steps, again...

Casey gave me a pep talk this morning. Sometimes I need one. The gist of it is that I need to take on smaller goals. When I do manage to get up, I overdo it and then I suffer a decline. Today is Tuesday. Tuesday is Cathy's noon yoga class at Yogaflirt. I look forward to it, and every weekend I promise myself that I will be there. Lise will probably be there, I told Elaine about it and she was excited...I want to go.

However...this morning Casey asked me to get up and spend ten minutes with him while he had coffee. I even agreed to a cup of milky coffee and some toast. I started out sitting at the kitchen table, staring sightlessly at my computer. Next my head drooped to the table top. Casey suggested I return to bed, but instead I got down on the floor, using Bella as my pillow. (Remember, I Spent a great deal of time on the kitchen floor on Dolbeer St!) Anyway, I was up long enough to take two sips of milky coffee and I was back in bed before the toast popped. My heart was pounding and I had to just lie quietly until I started to feel better.

Here's the thing: I feel pretty good when I'm in bed. So good that I'm often bored. If I get up, a walk to the kitchen feels like I ran full speed around the block. My energy is so low that I don't really feel like talking. Or moving.

Anyway, that's where I am at this moment. No yoga for weeks. Jean is unavailable right now. Cathy, I had the best of intentions but I just can't make it to class today, and if I did I doubt I could do much. I'm pretty weak and wobbly. Come see me when you have time, OK? Love you. Jean and/or Rachel, If you're reading we miss you terribly. Sending big love.

Mike Lang, retired art teach from AJHS. I love this photo - it captures the spirit of the event and of Mike, AKA "Langer:"


Namaste, Jill

Friday, June 24, 2011


Casey came in bring me dinner last night but I was asleep. I vaguely remember watching Jeopardy. He woke me at 7:15 and insisted I eat some breakfast and drink some water, which I did, without leaving my bed. I promptly went back to sleep and woke up again at 10:30 when he came in to change for a run. I slept close to 15 hours last night. No bad, for a girl who suffers from insomnia. It has been hot this week, so the dogs and I are hiding out in the dark, air conditioned room. It could be January out there for all I know! I feel myself getting stronger. Did some bed yoga yesterday!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doctor Visit

we saw my oncologist today. He said that radiation is like getting a sunburn, and that it will take me 4-6 weeks to recover. Excessive exhaustion is normal. I see him again in a month, and in the meantime he just wants me to rest and recover. He said it's like being 8 months old again: I need to focus on eating, sleeping, walking and pooping. What an exciting life for me! It's nice to have no appointments for a month, and it's always nice to see him. He's always so positive.

Afterward we went by the store for a few things and I had to go sit in Stella Blue and wait for Casey. I don't even have the energy to walk around the grocery store. Ugh. So, that's where I am now, ans this is all I feel up to writing. I'm going back to sleep now...


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ups and Downs

It has been twelve days since my last treatment, and I still feel like hell. My stomach hurts - actually, it's not really my stomach, it's more my abdomen in general. Once again, I slept all day yesterday. I'm so thankful for the AC in our bedroom, since it was 103 here yesterday. Every day I think, this will be the day I can get up and stay up because I'll be feeling better. Every day I get up, read my emails and such and end up right back in bed. At least I have been feeling well enough to read - I have been reading a book a day lately. TV is especially bad in the summer when all of the seasons end. So many channels, so much crap. They make one show that does well and suddenly there are ten of them and more coming. Lately I've been watching Ghost Whisperer on Netflix. I do enjoy those supernatural shows!

I have been eating, but it's difficult. Nothing sounds good, which makes it hard for Casey. I am unable to finish more than half of a meal these days. I had to cancel with Jean Monday and I didn't make it to Cathy's class yesterday. Actually, I slept through it. I went back to sleep around 11 and didn't wake up until almost 4! I hate feeling so weak and useless.

I'm sure I will be feeling better in a day or so. I need to get started on building up my immune system and just generally getting stronger. I need my energy back!

I've been up for half an hour, I ate a piece and a half of toast, and I'm going back to bed now. I love my bedroom but I'm really getting sick of it - I'm going to have to repaint and make some changes at some point when this is all over.

Casey, loving on Bella:


Monday, June 20, 2011

Feeling a Bit Better

This morning I'm feeling a bit less nauseous. It has been ten days since my last treatment. I felt better after twelve days last time, so hopefully in the next few days I'll be back on my feet. So far, I've only managed about an hour out of bed in the morning and then I'm done for. I retreat to my room, turn on the AC, and hibernate. Yesterday was the first time I have been able to read in awhile, so that was a big improvement. Nothing like a little Jodi Picoult to stave off the boredom. I will be so glad to get back out into the world again.

I see both my radiation oncologist and my regular oncologist this week. I'm hoping the plan is to do nothing, except maybe start taking the estrogen inhibitor, and then do blood work again in a month. I'm putting it out there that, after a month of yoga and a clean diet, my CA125 will be in single digits and I will be classified as NED (no evidence of disease.)

Right now I am so looking forward to our trip to the Smith River. I can't wait to take my Bella hiking in the redwoods. She deserves a vacation even more than I do!

This is Ben's way of saying it's dinnertime:

Namaste, Jill

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Howard A Pentoney

I wish I had a picture of my father on my computer so I could post it here. I don't, nor do I have a scanner. I would love to post the one taken with John Wayne, because my dad was much better looking than the Duke. He had movie star good looks. He looked a bit like Cary Grant. He was larger than life, in many ways. He was 6'3", strong and imposing. He was also very lovable, and the huggiest man I have ever known. He sang a lot, he laughed a lot, and he loved his family fiercely. His passion was the outdoors. He taught us to be conservationists years before people talked about it, and I suspect he got that from his own father. Fly fishing was his first love. He also loved to hunt ducks, but it was the fishing that made his spirit soar. Standing in the Eel or the Klamath river in his waders, surrounded by all that beauty, was all the church he ever needed. When he was a kid, his dad took him to Northern California to fish. They lived in Riverside, and my dad fell in love with the rugged beauty of the north and the fishing. He moved us there in 1964, and I will forever be grateful that I grew up a Northern Girl, not a Southern California Girl.

After WWII, dad went to UCSB and majored in sociology. He lived in Santa Barbara when it was small, and so was the school. Next he attended law school at Hastings in San Francisco, where he met his lifelong friend, John Rhoades. After law school he moved to San Diego, and so did John Rhoades, who eventually became a Federal Judge. Dad met mom in Dallas, and she looked him up on a family trip to San Diego. They ended up married, and she had to return to Dallas to break up with her fiance after she was married! They lived at the beach, in the days when San Diego was small and not the concrete jungle it is today. They made friends with John and Doris Starkey, and John married Carmel. The Rhoades had 5 sons, and they became like brothers to us. After we moved north we visited them often, and in the summers we used to switch houses. They'd go to our beautiful summer home on the Smith River, and we'd stay in their beautiful home on the bay side of Mission Beach, right on the beach. Many times we were all at one of those two places together, and that was the best. The Starkeys had a daughter and a son, and Doris was my mom's dearest friend. Every Spring Break mom would take us to their house in Point Loma, and to me a house with a swimming pool was paradise. In August we'd join them for a week at their house in Del Mar, which is right on the beach. With Desi Arnaz living on one side and Jimmy Durante on the other, there was never a dull moment. Doris Starkey is the only one of the group left now. It's hard to watch a generation disappear.

Daddy died in 1999, close to 15 years after suffering a major stroke. It changed all of our lives. Our big, handsome, strong father spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, his brain a fragment of what it had once been. In one instant, the stroke took most things he loved from him. He could no longer practice law, fly fish, enjoy the outdoors...he was left with a family who loved him and a wife and a daughter who sacrificed their lives to care for him.

I never think of him that way. I have no pictures of him in his wheelchair. I have pictures of him the way he wanted to be remembered. He had so much love in his heart I can feel it now. After he died, I went back home and came down with a bad case of the flu. One morning I was awake but had not opened my eyes yet. I could feel my dad, sitting on the bed next to me, holding my hand. He had big, strong hands and their touch was distinctive. I could feel his presence; it was palpable in the room. I knew in that moment that there is an afterlife. I also knew that is doesn't matter if your church is a cathedral, a synagogue, or the Great Outdoors. My father was a good man, and I know he is somewhere, fishing alongside my mom, his dad, my cousin Ricky, and all the other avid anglers who are there with him. I have felt his presence on other occasions, just like I've felt my mom. It gives me peace to know they are together, and that someday I'll be with them.

Not for a long, long, time, however. I have roads left to travel and it's not time yet for my journey to end.

I love you, Daddy. Thanks for taking me to beautiful Northern California when I was 4 and for giving me an idyllic childhood. Thank you for teaching me to respect the environment, how to hug, how to laugh and smile. Thanks for all of the times you kept me safe. Thanks for marrying my mom and giving me such a strong, powerful example of womanhood to emulate and to love. When I think of you both, I picture you laughing, singing, hugging and dancing together. I would give anything if you were both still with us and I was at Dolbeer st house this Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day and Namaste,

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeling Better and a Decision

Thanks to everyone for all of the words of love and encouragement yesterday. You have no idea how much it helps me. After much soul searching and discussion with Casey, I have decided to stop the radiation treatment. I accomplished 15 treatments, and it's enough. I feel like it's counterproductive to do this much damage to my immune system, let alone the damage the radiation is doing otherwise. I haven't had a treatment for a week, and today I feel as bad as ever. It took two full weeks before I felt OK when I took a break from this, so I have about a week to go. I feel I need to spend the summer building up my immune system, juicing, practicing yoga and just generally taking care of myself. This decision has eased my mind and my spirit.

I booked a private with Jean for Monday, and I plan to drag myself to Cathy's Tuesday class at her studio no matter how I feel. This is the path to wellness, I'm sure.

It's rare to do radiation for my type of cancer, because it targets the entire abdomen and it's so harsh. Plenty of women have survived using other therapies. The next thing is to start taking an estrogen inhibitor. I hope I don't grow a mustache...

I'm going to watch Charmed this morning (it just ran its course and started over. I'm such a geek) and then take some Ativan and sleep the day away. Ativan is for nausea but it's also a sedative. Yay for sedatives that work. Hopefully after a day and a night of sleep I'll feel better tomorrow.

This beautiful African princess belongs to my sister. She's wearing the flowers the teachers gave me at the benefit. I dried them and they turned out beautiful:


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeling Blue

This morning I am sitting up at the kitchen table, writing, for the first time in awhile. I have not been out of bed in a week and a half. I felt good going into the radiation, after my two week break. I did five days worth, and then my doctor called and said my counts were too low and said I should take the day off unless I felt good. I felt terrible, so I declined. I felt worse the next day, and worse again the next day...I haven't had a treatment this week and yesterday was the worst day of all. In addition to the nausea I now have abdominal pain. Every time I see the doctor he asks if I have any, but up to now I haven't. I feel a bit better today, but I doubt I'll be up for long. I'm going in to see the doctor this afternoon to discuss the treatment and how I've been handling it...or not been handling it, actually.

From the time I was diagnosed in 2008, I have remained strong most of the time. I only cried a handful of times. I have felt confident that I can, and will, beat this. as I've said many times, the love and support of my friends and family have greatly contributed to this in a big way. The biggest tool available to me has always been yoga. I haven't practiced for 12 days. I am too nauseous, too exhausted, too dispirited. I just read a blog of Cathy's where she wrote about what you lose if you don't practice for two weeks and how long it takes to get it back. I can't help but feel that yoga is more beneficial in my fight than radiation. That going from rarely crying to crying every day is detrimental to the fight. Lying in bed, too sick to read, to talk to anyone, to take a walk, to practice my guitar...well, you can imagine how difficult it is.

Throughout the chemo I was able to still do many of the things I love to do. A simple walk in the sunshine with Casey and the dogs does wonders for my spirits. I absolutely can't do it now - it just intensifies the nausea too much. It's too hot for Casey to take Bella running, and my poor doggy is getting fat and crazy. She is about to go out of her mind with pent up energy. She has been my cancer companion - I brought her home to live with us just four months prior to my diagnosis. While doing chemo I could read, I could practice my guitar, practice yoga several times a week and often go to a Cathy or a Jean class at one of the studios. These simple things kept me happy, positive, sane...Without these things available to me I feel my spirits sinking. I don't feel like a warrior goddess defeating cancer right now. The radiation makes me feel so bad that I feel like the cancer is winning.

I have been dealing with this now for going on ten months. I'm sick of it. It's summer, I missed the whole school year, and I want to be well. I want to take my dog on the trail. I want to practice yoga every day. I want to conquer that guitar. I want to drink fresh veggie juices and eat cancer fighting foods.

I want my life back.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Still Sleeping...

I have to be up this morning to have my blood counts and a CA125 done. We have to be in SLO at 8:30 and Casey laughed at me when I grumbled about having to get up so early. I've been in bed for a week and a half, sleeping like crazy. Taking a shower this morning exhausted me and reminded me of how difficult it was to shower after the surgery. This whole radiation experience is similar to the aftermath of surgery. Too sick to get out of bed, exhausted and sleeping constantly, hibernating...I haven't even been practicing my yoga. Too nauseous. I am eating well, though. I eat small amounts but frequently - or when I'm awake! My weight is pretty steady and although I constantly feel like it could happen any second, I haven't vomited. Small favors...

Anyway, just checking in to say I have not been writing because sitting up at the table is a challenge and I dislike writing in bed. Sorry if I missed your call but it's OK to call - I turn my phone off a lot when I go to sleep.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Self Talk - It Works!

It's amazing what self-talk and a weekend full of friends, love ans fun has done for me. I went into Monday's treatment feeling strong, happy and confident I could handle this. I was struggling with my morale before the arrival of the Rock n' Roll boys, and now I am so much better. Instead of visualizing the rays zapping the cancer, I have been giving myself a "self talk" (Sound familiar, former students?). I tell my body that the radiation is good for us, it is killing any remaining cancer and we are strong enough to get through it without being sick and nauseated all the time. I speak to myself in 3rd person because I see my spirit as lecturing my body. It is, after all separate entities. One will live on someday while the other withers and dies. It seems to be working. I told Casey yesterday that I'm putting 150% of myself into this, and containing the nausea with my will. The Haagen Daz and Ben and Jerry's is helping, too. I'll get back to my anti-cancer diet when this is over, but right now it's about getting through it.

Joanne and Peter brought us a chicken casserole (I asked her for it and it's already gone!),Susan brought us lasagna that is almost gone, and Linda sent us, via Susan, a meatless shepherd's pie that is waiting in the wings. It helps Casey, so much to be able to pop something in the oven instead of cooking a full meal. Thanks ladies, your rock!

Anyway, still riding high on the love and music of my dear friends. Now I'm onto planning my 50th birthday party, which will be September 24. I missed the real one due to surgery. Save the date, details to come. It will also be on the one year anniversary of Mom's passing, and I'd like to do something to commemorate my beautiful, feisty mom and her loving spirit.



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Rockin' Down Memory Lane"

I love reunions. I've had a great time at every high school reunion I've attended, and I've only missed one. I love when the Pentoneys get together. I get this from my Dad, who was the huggiest, most nostalgic man in my life until I met Danny McRenyolds! The reunion this past weekend was, to use Jean's yoga word, epic. no, make that Epic. It was our Big Chill, only bigger much more special. Music is the tie that brought us all together, but it's the music mixed with the decades of friendship that make the magic. Danny, Jack Hayward, and Chris Dunne all arrived Friday in the early evening. Eric Peterson came and brought his bass and his stick, which is amazing. It's like a double wide guitar neck that you play with both hands in a way unlike the guitar or conventional bass. Eric makes it sing. Jack set up his rig in front of the windows, Casey brought out his PA and a few guitars, Chris had a few guitars, Danny sang, Casey sang, Eric sang, sometimes we all sang. Richard, Mary and Christine were also here, so pool was played and fun was had. Saturday was the Morro Bay Music Festival, but Casey and I opted out because it was raining and because there was a lot more weekend to go for me. I slept all day long, until Casey and Bella left to go running at 5:30.

Saturday night began when Troy O'Shann was the first to arrive. I met Danny, Troy, Jack, Eric and Tommy Shanahan when Sydney and I went to see their band at Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos in 1981. The reason this reunion came to be is that Tommy was coming to town and hasn't been here in 25 years or more. At the peak of Saturday night there were probably 40 people at our house, including all of the musicians from the night before, plus Tommy, Troy, Brett Merrill, and Ted. I invited Ted and Janice because they had a gig I thought they would enjoy coming by later? Who knew that Ted played in Magnum Force in the '80's and knows all of my friends? So cool! Classic moment when Janice got up to sing and asked for Zepplin, then nailed it. She impressed the boys, she did. Not an easy feat with these boys! We all stayed up until 1:30, when I told everyone to either go home or go to bed.

Sunday was the really big day, the official reunion day. All of the bands were going to play at Sweet Springs, just like the good old days. It looks exactly like it did with really no changes, and in the dim light everyone looks the same and it felt like 1983! Casey and I went at 1:00, because that's what time Tim Jackson was playing, according to his web site. I assumed I would stay an hour or two at most. I admit I wore the same dress I wore to the Pomar benefit, but this time I sassed it up with my very tall, very strappy gray heels. They don't show up in any photo, so I'm going to have to reproduce the moment. I even danced! Felt good, after 9 months without. I had my sunglasses hanging on the front of my dress, and at one point they fell off. I bent down to pick them up off the floor, and somehow my center of gravity shifted backward and I started going down on my butt. Casey was looking at me, caught my look of panic and literally swooped in and saved me. It was a heroic, if slightly embarrassing, moment! Casey and I got sandwiches and went back to the van with Casey McDonald and Mary Gross. Sitting in Stella and escaping the very LOUD music helped me to regroup so we could stay longer. Apparently they were calling for Casey to come onstage while we were outside and everyone assumed we had left. When we returned to the dance floor they immediately asked Casey to come up and play. He played Dave Miller's guitar, and he sang "When she's sad, she comes to me, and a thousand smiles, she gives me for free." At that point I had to don my sunglasses like all of the rock star boys in the room who wore them all day, because I pretty much cried from then on out. I suspect it was a bit like when a small child gets overtired and loses control of their emotions. By then at was about 5:00 and we'd been there for four hours. Every song after that made me cry because it was just so cool to see Troy, Danny, Jack, Eric and Tommy up there together sounding so good and having so much fun. The drummers, Brett and Greg Jackson, were also great but those 5 boys were in my line of site, making me cry. We were home by 6:00 and I was sound asleep at 7:00 and didn't stir until Casey woke me up at 7:30 the next morning and pointed out I'd been asleep for 12 1/2 hours!!

One of the top weekends of my life, and it sent me back into treatment brimming with love and confidence. My doctor said I should take a break more often - my platelets are up and I gained 4 lbs. I had a treatment yesterday and so far I feel OK. Maria, bless her, is coming to clean my filthy house, and I'm going to Cathy's yoga class at noon.

I forgot - we had a Yoga Party with Jean and Rachel Sunday morning with me, Casey, Jack and Troy. What can I say, except Epic? I do regret not taking a photo of all of us. Here are a few I do have:

Jack and Casey, both wearing a green T under a white button down...what can I say?

Friday Night Rocking in the Living Room:

I love Troy!

More tomorrow....writing this made me tired! Now I have to read it and try to catch all of my errors!

Namaste, Jill

Friday, June 3, 2011

Scar Tissue Yoga Poses for my Ovarian Cancer Sisters

This blog is for my sisters on the Ovarian Cancer Alliance site. Many women end up with painful scar tissue from the debulking surgery, and what some call the "front butt" where the tummy gets large. Thanks to Cathy and to Jean I have solved both of these problems. This blog is for my sisters, and it is going to be a series of pictures of me and Casey in yoga poses designed to deal with these issues. Thanks for the help, Jean and Rachel. Love you!

The first pose is a simple Bridge Pose. The next step is to put a block under your sacrum at the lowest level and then graduate to the higher level. The higher you go, the more you stretch out that scar tissue:

Casey gets into Child's Pose, I put my sacrum on his, he grabs my wrists over his head and pulls gently:

Next, Casey does Cat/Cows and we breathe together:

Jean calls this "Backpack Pose." Casey bends his knees, I put my sacrum on his, and he lifts me up and bends forward:

Backbend over the ottoman - took awhile to build up to this one:

I don't have a picture of this one, but Jean has me Backbend over the edge of the chaise lounge. It's intense and I can only hold it for three breaths, so far.

Partner Work: Casey is helping me to deepen my twist, which gets those nasty toxins out:

AAAh.....Savasana, Corpse Pose, or final relaxation:

My scar tissue is no longer "crunchy" and my belly is flat. Ovaca sisters, I highly recommend finding a yoga teacher or two to do privates with. Jean, Rachel and Cathy keep my spirits up, they keep me positive, they keep me strong, they keep me healthy, and they fill me up with love. I love all of them, I love Casey, and I love Yoga!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy June, Everyone!

One of the purposes of writing is to vent, and it's cathartic. This radiation is tough, but not as tough as another surgery. I would do anything to avoid that, so I am going to focus on that. This all started two weeks into the school year, and now there are 8 days of school left and I'm nowhere near finished with treatment. I just keep reminding myself that, if it's this hard on me, it has to be harder on the cancer.

I need to get myself out of bed and practice my yoga to keep my strength up, as hard as it is. It's important to my fight. Sometimes it's probably not the best thing that I have the world's most comfortable bed! You'd think I'd be sick of being in it, but every morning I don't want to get up. I've been operating on one set of sheets since the second pair wore out months ago, and I recently bought new ones. Now that it's so easy to change them, I think I'll do it twice a week. Fresh sheets are so lovely!

I didn't have a treatment yesterday because I couldn't do my blood work Monday - outpatient surgery was closed for the holiday. We went in to do the blood work - port behaved itself - and we actually had lunch at The Guest House Grill. Huge for me. Probably not wise with my low blood counts, but sometimes you just have to get out. This is what passes for a date for us, these days.

We have a big weekend coming up. The 30 years later Rock n' Roll reunion. Unfortunately I won't be well enough to attend, but some of the friends will be staying with us. Danny, Troy, Chris and Jack. Yes, Jack - my ex-husband. He and Casey have never met, and they have a lot in common. Same profession, both musicians! At least I will be able to be a part of the reunion in a small way.

Local friends, my Casey and Casey McDonald will be playing music together at Sylvester's Saturday from noon until two. Go on out and have a burger and appreciate these two talented musicians! They have veggie burgers, too - and great fries.

It's June. Hopefully by July 1 all of this will be behind me and I will be on the mend.