Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Cancer Journey Week 17

Although Kathy's body is sore and her hands/feet are numb, her mood is good as we finalize our house sale, pick out the chickens we'll raise on the new farm, and prepare for the life ahead instead of looking back on our old life and the events of the past 5 months.

She lost her last eyebrow hairs this week and the toenails on her big toes will likely fall off soon.   She cannot open jars or water bottles because of diminished grip strength and today she visits the orthopedist for followup of her probable right knee medial collateral ligament tear.  But she's happy.

The chickens we've decided to raise are Buff Orpingtons, Jersey Giants, and Brahmas  - all docile large breeds.    We'll likely raise a small number to start with, ensuring we learn chicken care incrementally.   We have local farms and grain mills as well as web-based chicken farming resources to help us.   This Summer, we'll build a portable chicken tractor, then design a permanent coop for Winter.

Just 4 more treatments of Taxol and then hopefully Kathy's weakness/numbness will resolve as we move onto surgery and radiation.

Milestones ahead - films/orthopedic examination today, MRI of the breast on April 25 to determine if any detectable tumor remains, then a breast surgeon appointment on May 31.   Although lumpectomy is a long shot and mastectomy is likely, Kathy's response to chemotherapy has been so good, that there's a possibility for minor rather than major surgery.   We'll know by June, just about the time our chickens will be old enough to enjoy the long Summer days outside in our meadow.


Anonymous said...

You are vegan; what will you do with the eggs from the chickens?

John Halamka said...

Kathy has replaced soy with eggs to reduce her intake of estrogenic foods - here are the details

Healthy Mary said...

Thank you for sharing this story. How cancer ravages Kathy's body and your lives is horrifyng and heart breaking. Your courage in the face of it is inspiring. Learning chicken types and that a chicken tractor exists... Well, that's a public service! Truly, thank you. My prayers are with your family.

Will Snow said...

We're looking to get some chickens as well - let me know how the varieties you picked fare - and send a link to the chicken coop you settle on (likely going to be a bit different for me - we don't get quite the weather you get! Check out and of course for some good ideas (or coops!)

Nonna said...

I've been following your blog for several years when your friend Jessica L. shared it with me. While I've always taken away great info pertinent to my own job, it's been so relevant following your cancer journey and I wanted to thank you for sharing. My husband and I have been on our own cancer journey since Nov. 2010 (his, not mine). I appreciate the way you approach it, and it validates for me how we've attempted to navigate our own journey.

Anyway, I wanted to drop you a note to let you know of a friend of mine who runs a hobby farm here in Rochester, MN, and she has a great blog and frequently blogs about her chickens - especially in the early days of setting up their farm. You can probably find some interesting ideas and great references on her blog. Good luck with your farming, what a great idea. Personally, I will only eat eggs that have been farm raised like this. They are so amazing. The yolks are deep orange, not that pale yellow stuff, and the whites taste so pure. I look forward to following along on your farmland diary as it transpires! Here's her link.


Nancy P from Dallas said...

K. and J. - You may enjoy my 30 day packing calendar, written from my experience.

DAYS 1-5: We are lovingly admiring and discussing each of our material possessions while discarding what we no longer use. We’ll have a garage sale and make trips to Goodwill to donate unused items. I’ll wash, dry and organize objects to be sold or donated. We have plenty of boxes, bubble wrap, Sharpie pens and packing tape. Boxes are organized in categories based on their contents. We write a detailed list of the items in the right-hand corner of the top of the box and carefully seal it with packing tape.

DAYS 6-10: It is not realistic to cull through all of our belongings in 30 days. We’ll cull and reflect when we unpack. We’ll also have a lot more time when we unpack to plan a garage sale or make trips to Goodwill. A detailed list of contents of each box is not needed, so all boxes are now labeled only with a general category in the upper right hand corner. I’m segregating my son’s possessions so he can go through them himself. Things are starting to look a little messy around here. I need a GPS to locate that cup of tea I keep misplacing!

DAYS 11-15: It is increasingly unproductive to sort and categorize items before boxing them. So with the miracle of bubble wrap, we’ve taken a new approach: We can simply dump the contents of an entire drawer in bubble wrap, stuff the bubble wrap in a box, and label the box with the location of the drawer, like “Master Bathroom: far left cabinet, third drawer down.” We’re able to safely pack in bubble wrap the entire contents of drawers and closets in no time at all. We’ll just sort and categorize the contents of these boxes when we unpack.

DAYS 16-20: Bubble wrap is overrated. You can only fit about ½ as much stuff in a box when you use it. And it takes forever to cut the size you need. Plus - you pack items between the bubble wrap layers, and many of these things will fall out from the layers and break as you unpack, so what’s the point? I’m trying to be more pragmatic. After all, these are only material possessions. As Bertrand Russell so eloquently stated “It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” And as I so freely and nobly state “Do we really need two full sets of martini glasses, anyway?”

DAYS 21-25: Rather than box up and move things of value that we don’t want, we will simply leave them behind for the new proprietors. I doubt the new owners will mind that we leave them items with inherent use and value - like that 30 pound Folgers coffee tin full of nuts and bolts in the garage. The value of the nuts and bolts aside, the tin itself is an antique. And we haven’t even opened those tubs of frozen yogurt in the freezer, which would make a thoughtful housewarming surprise. We’ve also learned that we don’t need to tape every box, because they are just being stacked on top of each other, so we only need to tape the top one.

DAYS 26-30: The realtor stopped by and declared that we can’t leave anything behind for the new owners. “It all has to go,” she said with that little smug look that I have grown to dislike. So all the rest of this stuff is going out on the curb, and whoever wants to pick it up can have it. And if my kid wants his things…well…he’ll just have to come get them, or they will also be out there with the rest of our clutter. How did we accumulate all of this worthless stuff? What could we possibly have wanted with 73 packets of soy sauce? The realtor also found my misplaced cup of tea somewhere in the front hall. I did not appreciate the face she made; very unprofessional, if you ask me. And by the way, you do need to tape up each and every box –but I’ll spare you the details - and before I tape up my next box, I’m just throwing the Sharpies in there with them. Because at this point what am I going to write in corner of the box, “Lots of other crap”? I’m overwhelmed…I really need to take a break…Damn it, I packed the martini glasses!