Friday, October 31, 2008

halloween

So, we might have played a joke on our freshmen student workers. We told them we have a Halloween party every year and dress up. We told them what we were going to be. They showed up at lunch for our party...and were the only ones dressed up.

This one came as one of the counselors who is preggo!

So, fitting, this one was a jester!!!

And, another came dressed as a different female counselor. They were great sports and we had a fun lunch!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

marathon

My sister sent out this email today:


This is Maresa Pittman and I am raising funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as a participant in their Team In Training program and I'm asking you to help by making a donation to my fundraising campaign.

I'm training to participate in an endurance event as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Team In Training, a marathon which is 26.2 miles. All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing this event in honor of my sister, Keisha Pittman, who is now in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma and for all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!

Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission.

Please use the link in this email to donate online quickly and securely plus learn more about my progress. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.

http://pages.teamintraining.org/ntx/rome09/mpittman

Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and
myeloma. More than 823,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers. I
am hoping that my participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.
On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thank you very much for your support. I greatly appreciate your generosity.

P.S. I would appreciate it if you would forward this email to as many people as you can to encourage them to donate as well. Thanks again.

~Maresa Pittman
1905 Standish Dr.
Irving, TX 75061

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Friday, October 24, 2008

pandora

ok, I have a couple new obsessions.

1. Pandora Radio online. It has kept me going today. (it is the reason my play list on my blog keeps getting longer)

2. Meredith Andrews. Her music plays on my current Pandora Radio station. She sings the first song on my play list...probably the one you are listening to right now. But, I cannot find the song I love of her's to add to my play list. Stink. I'm going to have to make an investment in a CD I feel.

3. Travis Cottrell. Old obsession that I can't shake.

I'm uneasy today. Clearly, since it is 6:55 pm and I'm still at the office on a Friday afternoon.

But, I can go home in peace. My desk is cleaned off (well, as much as it can be), my to-do list has been written for next week, I got my pc's written, everything is entered from the week, I created a new Publisher document today, I cleaned out my inbox and I deleted my deleted's :) and I could go home right now and say there is not one more thing I could do today. I even made a new flower arrangement for my desk...yes, I'm just that good.

I'll leave you with these thoughts for the weekend:

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised. So, shall I be saved from mine enemies. Ps. 18:3

You thrill me Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what YOU have done. Ps. 92:4
I voted yesterday, have you? It is a right and privilege. Don't miss your opportunity!

But, here is a word of warning. Make sure you know what all will be on the ballot. I was going in there to vote for President...there were other things on there. And, it is all in political, constitutional, amendment jargon. Be ware.

And, know that a for vote is not necessarily for something to happen, it could be be for something not to happen. Go figure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

just down the road

Ok, so I had a life lesson moment tonight and I wanted to share.

I came home to my hotel tonight from a different direction. And it got me thinking:

1. There is a different way to reach the same destination. Some are quicker than others, some are easier than others. Some make more sense and some are more involved. But, in the end, you arrive at the same destination. Think about that for a minute.

2. Last night, I traveled from North to South to get to my hotel. Tonight, I traveled West to East. When I came in from the West, I came down a road perpendicular to the one my hotel is on. I passed several restaurants and stores on the way. This is where I found my new favorite store...Gordman's. (there has got to be one of these closer to me) Anyway, as I pulled onto the street that my hotel is on, I thought, "you know I would never have known what was down that road if I was not given the opportunity to travel that way".

Give me a minute and let me explain. Last night, I turned on this road to find something to eat and a gas station. I went with the first thing I came to, because I was too scared to go too far down and get turned around. How much do we do that same thing. We are too scared to venture to far from the familiar, mapped out road, that we miss opportunities...I mean there was a Target, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, TGI Friday's, Best Buy, Nail salon and boutiques this way! Had I not ventured this way tonight, I would have never known.

Now, I know this is a very weird way to get to a truth. While each of us has a point A and a Point B, there are many routes in between. Do not be afraid of the bends and the turns. Do not be afraid to take a road that you are unsure where is may lead...there just might be a new favorite store at the other end.

May you feel encouraged tonight to step out on a limb. To live in the moment. To stop and shop on your way to an appointment. To leave early so you can drive slow and take in the scenery. To eat out by yourself and take moments to reflect. I promise you will learn something. Even if it is to realize that you are surrounded my the most amazing people right where you are.

I've heard a quote several times and I cannot remember the beginning of it, but it ends with these words, and I will too:

"and trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be".

Nest a little, it's ok!

road ramblings

Below is a list of things that indicate to me, that life is getting back to normal:
  • I'm not a huge Memphis fan ( that is, of the city, and not related to any specific sports team here, I do not really have an opinion toward any of them)
  • However, I do love a few things here...
  • a loop that takes you all the way around town, if you get lost, just get on it.
  • Zaxby's sauce, so good.
  • Gordmans...why have I never found this place before
  • I exerted the greatest form of self control tonight...I did not get pumpkin cheesecake at dinner.
  • Everywhere you go at night has a security guard, whether it is a restaurant, a furniture store, or your hotel lobby...there is a security guard....feel safe?...not me...there is a reason they have to be there.
  • Private School kids are like everyone else, they just don't know it.
  • Bartlett, TN may be my least favorite fair of all time.
  • There was a Auto Diesel College set up next to me tonight.
  • Also, I am fully aware of what form of underwear the lady across from me was wearing tonight...because I saw all of it (well, there wasn't much there..so I saw even more than I wanted to)
  • I used the computer at a high school visit today and all the adults were impressed...since no students stopped, I'm going to guess, they were not.
  • I might have spent too much money on things I did not need at Tuesday Morning...but there were a few Christmas Presents involved.
  • I got lost yesterday on my way in and looked up at the stop light I was at and it said "Beale"...yeah, I might have been better off just staying there instead of going to college fairs.
  • I'm not really sure where the kids who live in all these nice houses go to school, but they are not at anything I've been to. Maybe this is where people who don't have high school kids live after they put their kids through college.
  • I might come back here to trick-or-treat and ask them where their kids go to school...I can assure you they have deep pockets...or they did before they bought these gigantic houses.
  • I'm addicted to Karen Kingsbury and my waitress tonight actually seemed to care.
  • I pulled a big girl move, I chose to eat at the restaurant by myself instead of getting the meal to go.
  • A drunk man in the lobby tonight called me "baby". He got the courtesy smile.
  • I love Candlewood Suites.
  • I bought new pjs to help me sleep better tonight...and left them in my car.
  • Some girls I walked past at Starbucks made a comment about my suit last night (not a nice one) and I continued with my order and did not confront them...dad would be proud...I was too tired to share my thoughts with them.
Ok, I think that is enough for now. Fall, my favorite time of year, is happening in front of me and I any not even enjoying it...although I did make a pumpkin dump cake last week which made it somewhat real.

Have I told you I'm moving to a new place? Not a new city..just a new house...well, new to me...more to come on that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

boss's day

Yesterday, I had the best day. It was boss's day and my staff totally came through. When I got to work, there was a big poster card on my desk and pink balloons blown up all over the floor. It was so fun.
They had made the card from color papers and each had written a message. They even got messages from the one's out of town (or made it up to sound like them..either way, I loved it).



Then, in the afternoon, they brought in these amazing cookies we love from Brookshires. They are so good to me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

hit me

While the fact of all that has occurred has not really hit me, I'm making strides. Today I was on the phone with a woman and words rolled off my tongue before I could realize what I was saying and after it was said, they hung in the air like a dense morning fog.

I was asked "What service or charitable organizations do your find you align yourself with or would consider contributing to?" There was not even a breath between the question mark at the end of her sentence and my response.

"Well, since I am a cancer survivor, I would align myself with The American Cancer Society and more specifically, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society." Yes, I said it just like that, just as quickly as you read it. I'm a Cancer Survivor! That is the first time I think I can honestly say that I have said that in such a frank, quick manner.

After I said it, I don't really remember what came next. I think she asked some more questions.

The next one I remember was, "If you have had one, what would you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment?"

Again, I thought for a bout .5 seconds and responded. I told her about this summer and how I really feel like I have formed "my team" at work and that together, we accomplished amazing things. I told her about my award and then I told her that I helped lead all that while going through chemo and radiation treatments.

Again, it rolled off my tongue without even thinking.

So, I guess it is starting to hit me and to register. Somewhere deep inside, where my brain and my mouth work together (yeah, that is a scary thought) there is a consistent story forming. I'm sure in time it will only continue to change.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I promise I'm still around...it's homecoming week and campus is busy...but oh so good...weeks like this is why I work at a college.

Hopefully I will see some of you this weekend on campus!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

this is it

Thank you for this verse Kevin....

Ps 86 : 7-10

I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me. No pagan god is like you, O Lord. None can do what you do! All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name. For you are great and perform wonderful deeds. You alone are God.

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Psalm 17:15, "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness."

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

in the end

Well, I must say it ended quicker than it started. That first day and the first few moments were so slow. My time in the lab went too easy and I though this could be too good to be true.

I will be honest. I went in to this like a regular, routine appointment. It wasn't that I felt this crazy overwhelming peace, I just didn't feel anything. For me, that was peace. I just wasn't worried. If it was not good news, then I knew what to expect and if it was the news we wanted, then that would be even better. There is an explanation of these feelings, but this is not the forum (at least not right now).

So, they called my name and we went back. And sat for a long time in the room. That's always what happens. He came in and told us the good news. He is always kind enough to come in with a pleasant attitude, which helps so much. He said that as far as he was concerned, everything cancer related looked good (like it didn't look, 'cause it wasn't there). There wasn't anything that the scan showed. So, that means REMISSION. No way, did he really just way that?

I know that is the word I have been waiting to hear, and you would think that I jumped up off the table, but everything just stopped. Really, I wasn't sure what was going on or what happened after that moment.

He told me I didn't have to come back until January (yeah, like 3 months from now). So, that's it.

Yeah, that's it.

Nothing here until January. I have to go every month and have my port cleaned out, but no treatments, no lab, no random appointments, no Neulasta shots, no super tired Saturdays, no wads of hair falling out, its over. That's just crazy.

Yeah, I'm sure at some point it will hit me. I'm not sure when. It is coming though, I can feel it. Every time I talk to someone who I haven't seen in a while and they ask how things are, I get to tell them. The word is beginning to spread and I get random emails. It's nice.

Dr. Mendelsohn was so nice to play along and let me take a picture.
Ok, this should have been a new blog, but since it happened on this day, I thought I would include it here.
There is a tradition that they have at chemo. I witnessed it several times, but it is something you get to do once! (no surprise, I cried every time it happened...but it was different when it was my time. Maybe because there wasn't anyone there.) Ringing the bell. You ring it on your last chemo. Well, when I had my last chemo, I wasn't sure it would be the last, so you don't really get a "false" ring, just in case. There was still a possibility that I might have more chemo, but this was something that was one of those "markers" to it being over. So, I'm glad I got to do it.
We took a Big Cookie by and no one was there. No really, there was only one nurse, Mrs. Linda. She was kind enough to humor us and let me ring the bell and take pictures. So, here is my moment, Enjoy.


We went to Mimi's after our shopping spree (imagine that we are in LR for appointments and went on a shopping spree...I am going to miss that!) Dad's birthday was on Monday, so we went to celebrate his birthday, but dad mentioned that we were celebrating something else as well and they were so sweet to bring out two celebration desserts....one for me and one for dad. That really was one of the most thoughtful things. And, it was probably the best combination of my favorite dessert parts together. Really, I've got to find out what that is! So, a good ending to a good day.



Sunday, October 5, 2008

it's over

Ok, I have an amazing story from Friday to tell you, but I dont have all the time I want to take right now. So, here's the deal.

REMISSION was the word we heard on Friday. I'm done until January!!!

Yes, you read that correctly. I am so excited and so relieved. I'm not really sure it has hit me yet or if it will. But, it was so good to hear.

I'll share more later. But, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

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scan

Wednesday I went to LR for my PET scan. That was a new experience for me. A new building, a new scan, a new process, a new procedure, so I took a new book. Little did I know how familiar things might get.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I was guessing something similar to the scans I had had before. I arrived early, so I started my book out in the car. A lady came and knocked on my window and told me that I couldn't park there. (The imaging center has reserved spots). I told her that I was supposed to park there and that I was there for a scan. After a few minutes, she realized that there was a possibility that I could not be lying to her. I told her my name and then it hit her. The LR Hematology/Oncology Office has just purchased a new PET scan imaging machine. So, up until the last month or so, their office only saw medicare patients. While things might have changed, I don't possess the "characteristics" that constitute me as a medicare patient. She quickly realized what she had done and apologized profusely for being so pushy with an actual patient.

When she brought me out a pass to put in my car it was very apparent that she was embarrassed. I didn't care and I did appreciated them being so good about keeping the convenient parking spots empty. But, I do think it is time to change their signs!

When it was time, I gathered my book, new fall magazines that I had purchased just for today and my jacket (it is always cold in the scan rooms). I signed in, filled out the pertinent paperwork and waited my turn. All the while getting super involved in the story unfolding in my book.

A lady in a white coat came out. I totally recognized her from across the street. Let me tell you how relieving this was for me. I've never been one really excited about needles or the whole taking blood thing and honestly this has not made it any better. I'm not afraid of needles or even weirded out by blood( I mean I don't mind it and I don't mind looking at it on TV), but after the day that I fainted in the lab, I have always been a little on edge that this time might be the next time that something happens. Surely it cant be as simple as it usually is for me. But, when I saw this lady, I remembered the specific day she set me up for my IV in the CT room. She was great. No pain, really quick and really nice. So, when I saw her I was relieved knowing the person who was taking care of me.

So, they fill out some paperwork and since I'm a girl and they are using radiation, I have to do the "pee-in-the-cup" pregnancy test. I still laugh in their face every time they do it. I could tell them way more information that they need to know, and they would still have to do that, so I just laugh, make a joke and then do what they tell me to.

Maybe its the 1+1=3 thing that they don't get, but really. Another reminder!

Each patient has their own room. It has low lighting and a big, fluffy, brown, leather recliner. So, they have to put a small gage IV in so they can put the radioactive dye inside you and then you get to work on your dye job.

As always, they ask where you want to be stuck. I really have only one vein that cooperates and is easy to get to. Left arm, inside elbow. So, I offered it as the option. Another lady has come in and I totally recognize her as one of the CT scan techs from the other place as well. So far so good. I like the ladies, we are having a pleasant time, everything is going right.

They trade off duties and go in for the IV. Well, it didn't really get in my vein good. So, the hunt begins for another. Let me just go ahead and tell you that the one in my hand that would typically be the next option is shot from the day of chemo. So, they start SLAPPING, not the usual tap, but SLAP on the outside of my wrist. Yes, right here on top of the ball bone. I'm squeezing as fast as I can on a stress reliever in the shape of an 18-wheeler and they are slapping on my vein trying to get it pop up. (I'm not really happy about this being the option. Can we say OUCH! Really a vein right on top of the bone. Not my idea of a "good one") So, the other lady starts on the right hand, inside of the wrist. I swap off hands with the 18-wheeler and we go for that one. Who knew. As long as they didn't pull my feet out and go for that, I was fine.

She gets the vein pumped up and finds the one she wants. It worked. Because of what the dye does, they really wanted to make sure they were in a good vein. The first time, I could feel the saline seeping out of the vein, which means the radioactive stuff would pool up around that spot in the vein and just produce weird results. I was relieved that both of them were perfectionists and clean freaks. As you can imagine...we were instant friends.

So, she got me stuck and taped down the IV and went to get the goods.

The next scene really was from a movie. She returned with a vile inside a steel metal cylinder. When she said it would be cold and heavy, she wasn't kidding. That was weird. Kinda makes you wonder what they are putting inside you if that is what they have to bring it down the hall in. Next, comes the even better news. Because the scan looks for everything down to the smallest little atoms in your body, you cannot read while you are in there because you would be straining your neck and upper back muscles to look down at a book.

NOW THEY TELL ME! (The book was just getting good and I had two Fall magazines....come on, you're killin me!) Instead, they cover you up with a warm blanket (it was nice, it had been in a warmer with fabric softener sheets, so it smelled like fresh laundry, my favorite scent) turn down the lights, kick up your feet in your big recliner and lock you in the room. I really did feel like I was being quarantined, but it was not as I had expected, you know the whole sterile room thing. There is even a cord you have to pull if you need them, or even to get up and go potty. Which, became an issue because you had to drink 40 oz. of water before you went in there.

As you can imagine I did not really do well as this point. When I close my eyes, my brain starts doing its most activity. Probably because it can actually work now that my mouth is not running. Usually my mouth and my brain do not work at the same time. You would know this if you have had a conversation with me lately. You never know what is going to come out!

So, i thought through a lot of things, including this post and all that is to come in the next month. Too bad I couldn't help Congress come to a conclusion on the economic mess. And hour and half, surely I could have thought through something!

I was about to pull the cord...and I mean no more extra cord left when the door opened. Finally, relief. So, then I gathered my entourage of activities that I brought to keep myself busy and moved into the scan room. They make you potty first, so your bladder is empty and doesn't appear as anything in the scan. Then, you get up on the board (this one was a little wider than normal). They get your pillow set, and one under your knees. Get you covered up with another blanket, strap you in (I guess so you don't fall out) and then make you put your hands up over your head. First, they do what amount to basically two CT scans and then, you roll all the way through and they do a scan ("eye to thigh") of your entire body that takes about 20 minutes. All the while, your instructions are to lay there and be still. Here's the problem. I would typically be able to relax and not worry anything, but somewhere about your nose, the ball and joint sockets of your shoulders go numb. Notice I said nose and that I still had the rest of the body to go (they start at the eyes). So, I'm supposed to be still, but since they didn't strap my arms down and they are now numb, I had to consciously think to keep my arms on the bed. Yeah, not so fun. They are kind enough to put "galaxy" light covers over the light in the ceiling so you have something to look at.

Then, its over and you go home. Lots of anticipation and then...done. So, yeah I get to wait until Friday to find out what happened.

Off to find something to eat, I'm famished. I couldn't eat this morning.