The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During My First Month of Chemo

When I last posted, it was the eve of my first chemo treatment for Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). There have been many MD Anderson visits since then for chemo, transfusions, clinical studies, reviews, and blood draws. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my family, my friends, and the hospital since then.

In the true David Letterman style, here are those top ten things starting with number ten.

TEN        A great place to eat while at MDA is the Rotary House. From the main building, on the third floor by elevator A, you cross the sky bridge to another building. It’s pricey, but very nice dining. We entertain all our guests there.

Holly and Lindsey spending the day with us.

Holly and Lindsey spending the day with us.

Nine     I cannot stitch during the long hours of transfusions. The IV line prevents me from being too active. I can’t listen to Audible books either as there are too many interruptions. The iPhone has given me many hours of diversion.

Eight     Some technicians are better than others at finding a vein from which to draw blood or give a transfusion.

Seven     When my pulse rate rises and I’m so short of breath I can barely walk any distance, these are signs I need a transfusion. Don’t wait for a sign of bleeding.

Six     My PA reads my blood results and knows what to prescribe. My Research nurse is my record/appointment keeper and constant contact. When my PA says I shouldn’t be going to Minneapolis Market for eight days without any blood work, believe her.

Jane, my research nurse

Jane, my research nurse

Five     If a technician is in training and you’re the guinea pig, you can refuse to have her perform such services as putting in a Central Venous Catheter. Ask for the expert.

Central Venous Catheter

Central Venous Catheter

Four     Thoughts and prayers from Facebook friends are uplifting and encouraging. I love getting messages while I’m spending the day at the hospital. I don’t feel so alone. Thank you, friends.

Comforting Facebook friends

Comforting friends

 

Three     Having our older son with us when we meet with the oncologist is reassuring, comforting and supportive.

Todd lending moral support

Todd lending moral support

Two     Our children, their spouses and grand children give me a boost when I’m with them. I forget I’m tired or worried about my cancer thanks to their love and distractions.

Beach with Ashton, Sydney and Lindsey

Galveston beach with Ashton, Sydney and Lindsey

Madison's graduation in Dallas

Madison’s graduation in Dallas

One     My husband is a trooper. We drive to MDA many days every week. Most mornings we are on our way at 6:00 AM. He’s behind the steering wheel and ready to get us there. We’ve had some laughs and some bored moments, but somehow we know this is the way it has to be for now. He never complains and sticks with me all day, each day we are there.

My man. He calls himself the driver.

My man. He calls himself the driver.

Bonus to come     Our youngest son, Troy, and his wife, Michelle, are in Long Beach, California expecting their first baby. Her due date is today. I have chemo all this coming week, but hope to get there for a couple of days the following week. I can’t wait to hold our newest grandson in my arms. Now what better peace could there be?

Little Mommy, Michelle

Little Mommy, Michelle

 

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52 Responses to “The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During My First Month of Chemo”

  1. bbquiltmaker Says:

    Great list, Judy! You will conquer this and teach us grace and dignity while you do it. And our daughters-in-law look very similar–we will both get new grandbabies this week! Hugging you gently…

    Like

  2. Rebecca Says:

    I think of you every day and of course a prayer is running along-get well soon!

    Like

  3. sandy malone Says:

    Judy, love, hugs, and prayers for you and your family.

    Like

  4. David S. sims Says:

    Wish we were there to give you a hug. You’ve got a great “team”, especially with my role model “Big Tom”!
    PS: I still think of you on that Laurel Hgts. Methodist hayride with Jimmy Schnabel. I was very jealous!

    Like

  5. Carol Doak Says:

    I loved reading your list and it sounded so like you. I am sending you prayers and hugs and lots of positive vibes.

    Like

  6. Teresa Duryea Wong Says:

    Hey Judy. Love your Top Ten list! So creative, as usual! Love seeing all the love and support you have around you. What a blessing. Our prayers continue!

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Thanks, Teresa. It was fun thinking of the top ten things to post. Just keeping my mind active as the little drops of blood make their way to join my puny ones.

      Like

  7. Laroyce Coy Says:

    Great information. So glad you have your family to help get you through this. Sending hugs.

    Like

  8. Carol Luther Says:

    Judy, u are in my thoughts & prayers. I know it could get boring not able to do anything. Just rest and dream about that new grand baby. Let me know when the baby get here and what’s the name. Carol

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  9. Linda Jenkins Says:

    Judy I can’ t imagine Market without your sweet smile Prayers for you .

    Like

  10. tweetychixs Says:

    Awesome post Judy! One step at a time and it will all be behind you soon! And what a wonderful gift coming soon!!!!!…. A grandbaby!!!
    Sending love your way!

    Like

  11. Terri Burton Says:

    Judy, had no idea what was going on. Love, hugs &a prayers to you & family. lOVED the top ten…

    Like

  12. Connie Wood Says:

    Judy, you are right on target with your top ten list. I too (unfortunately) learned many things while we were there with our precious Chip. It is a horrible place to think about UNTIL you are in need. Then it becomes THE PLACE TO BE! It truly is a wonderful facility for what they have to do. As all care facilities- some caretakers are better than others. Hopefully you get THE BEST😘. Chip had some of both but mostly purely incredible, genuine and very caring. Judy, please know you are in my thoughts & prayers. Hold on to what matters – Family, friends and your faith😘

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Connie, I have thought of you many times as I’ve been a patient in the Leukemia department. What a sad, sad time that was for you and your family. Yes, indeed family, friends and my faith are the key. Thank you, Connie. Love to you.

      Like

  13. vcmquilts Says:

    Love you Judy Murrah! I pray your treatments will be successful and you will be as healthy as can be soon. Great post!

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Thanks, Vicki. That’s my plan. Thanks for your prayers. They are much appreciated. EC tomorrow in LG and then chemo starts again at 7 AM on Tuesday at MDA.

      Like

  14. leslie Tucker Jenison Says:

    Judy, you have been in my thoughts so frequently. I know you are getting such excellent treatment at MD Anderson. You have many people sending you positive thoughts! I loved your post. I hope you get news of then newest grandson very soon. In the meantime, take care of yourself and I hope to see you this fall!

    Like

  15. Trish (Pat) Says:

    Even tho we haven’t been in close proximity for a long time, I feel as close to you as when we walked to Horace Mann off W. King’s Highway. I added your name to our prayer list this morning at church. You look so great it is hard to realize what you are going thru but I know you have great faith, great family, great friends and prayers for all as well as the medical teams that are taking care of you. I love you ” my sister” and the time since 1957 seems like minutes. Love to you and Tommy (he’ll always be Tommy to me) and can’t wait to see pictures of that new baby. Was just in LB last week. Love and hugs always, Pat

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Thanks for adding me to your prayer list. You know my faith began at Laurel Heights Methodist Church sitting in the balcony with you one Sunday. I was a member of First Presbyterian with my family, but went with you to church and MYF. I was so moved one Sunday in church that I walked down front all on my own and joined the church. I think I was 13 years old. I had no idea what I was doing or what it meant until my mother was shocked. I will never forget that feeling. Yes, my faith is great. He is my comforter. Love you, Pat.

      Like

  16. D'Anne Parker Craft Says:

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I have just finished 6 months of chemo at MDA and am so appreciative for all the dedicated personnel there. You are in good hands. I agree with you – grandkids really do take your mind off scary thoughts. Enjoy each moment with them!

    Remember me from SWT days?

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Hi D’Anne. So good to hear from you. Do you live in Houston? Hope you are doing well after chemo. It’s always reassuring to hear good things about MDA. Thanks.

      Like

  17. Cheryl Dancak Says:

    What a great list! I think you nailed it with your top 10 and once again inspired us all. I appreciate so much that you keep us updated!! And of course thought about you in all the stormy stuff. We managed to avoid any difficulties with the unbelievable monsoon season May became. Hope you and Tommy didn’t have any problems as result of the flooding and power outages, etc.that resulted. You stay in my thoughts and my every prayer. A big cyber hug for you and your dear Tommy.

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Thank you so much, Chi O Little Sis. That was a thousand years ago. I still have the scrapbook I made then. There’s a picture of the two of us on the steps of Retama Hall that I’ve always loved. Pretty bad rain coming home from MDA yesterday, but no flooding for us here. Glad you were OK in SA.

      Like

  18. indexlady Says:

    Judy– that was a lovely posting about your chemo sessions. We live a short distance from MD Anderson if it would help to come stay with us the night before those early morning rounds. I have so enjoyed all of your blog postings over the years about your creative endeavors and about your family. Vicky Agee, Houston– Southgate neighborhood 713-703-8909 I will be praying for you. I am a cancer survivor myself so let me know if I can support you in any way.

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Vicky, what a kind offer to stay in your home. We live in Missouri City and can take the Fort Bend Parkway into MDA. We plan on an hour, but it is usually shorter than that. How fortunate we are to be living in Houston.

      Like

  19. indexlady Says:

    Just have to add– nothing more healing than having your family with you during this walk and holding those grandbabies in your arms. Hope you will be able to hold Michele and Troy’s baby soon.

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Sixth grandbaby was born this afternoon. I see my PA on Wednesday. I’ll check with her when I can schedule to be gone for 3 days. I want to hold that hefty 8 pounder. God is good.

      Like

  20. Linda Carlson Says:

    My very best thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful, supportive family, Judy! I know you will beat this and be a very strong survivor. Can’t wait to hear of that first hug of your new grand baby!

    Like

  21. Mary Says:

    Dear Judy,
    This is a beautiful posting. Thank you for sharing your family pictures and your positive thoughts as you move forward on this life
    journey having faith in your medical team and I know an even deeper religious faith in God. Count me in for saying daily prayers for you and your family. I look forward to seeing pics of the new grand baby. Hugs, Mary

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Thank you, Mary Jane. Baby came this afternoon. He and Michelle are doing fine after a long, long labor. Troy is so pleased. I can’t wait to see him next week, if only for a couple of days.

      Like

  22. Betty Jo Elder Says:

    Love you and praying for you and your family.

    Betty Jo Elder Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  23. pati2015 Says:

    Your strength and positive look forward instead of backwards has proven to be the best and true testament of healing love that I’ve heard in the past 2 months of my medical journey.
    We are survivors and have alot more to give and do in this life! Mine was not cancer but very destructive and is taking alot of time to heal.
    I always loved your talent but now I love you more!
    Get well soon….Pati Akers

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Such kind words, Pati. Thank you. Hope you are on a healing path and feeling better every day. We just have to move forward and enjoy all life still has coming our way. Best of luck to you.

      Like

  24. Kay Smith Says:

    Judy, you are a dear to write the Top 10 Learned Lessons! I so agree with 5,4,3,2 and 1. Family has always been my life and having them with you and the quiet, loving support they provide is what is needed to get through the trials of our life!
    I read your response to Pat and did not know your “belief” began at LHMC, I took that same walk down to the altar when I was 11. I attended with Mary Elizabeth and her family and continued until we moved away in 1978!
    It is odd but the first thing I thought of when I read your list was Mrs. Pyka and Senior Hostess Class. She has so many lists for us as she taught us how to prepare for “adult” life! I still have the book we used in class and often fix the $1.00 Hamburger Meal, but, of course it cost alot more than it then did!
    Your #3 is a very sweet picture that warms my heart as I have always felt the friends we made when young remain in our hearts forever…we might not travel the same roads and may not talk often but I do feel a warm connection.
    I read your words, see the photos of you with your family and know that that connection is still with the Judy I knew and enjoyed being a classmate with just a few—several years ago!
    I know you are in good hands with an abundance of caring, loving support and for that I am very thankful!
    Congratulations on your new grandson! I know you are eager to have a visit with Mom, Dad and Baby T. I am very happy for you and your family!
    Take care my dear friend! You are kept close in my heart and always in my prayers!

    Like

  25. judymurrah Says:

    You warm my heart, Kay. I always love hearing from you. I didn’t take Home Ec. from Mrs. Pyka so I probably missed something. When you mentioned Mary Elizabeth I thought of Mrs. Bell who gave many hours to rambunctious little Brownies and Girl Scouts. I loved those Wednesdays after school in Troop 315. Thank you for your prayers. They are much appreciated.

    Like

  26. Mary Sue Baker Says:

    Judy, you are such an inspiration to us all. Your mention for all the things dear to most of us is such a profound satement, without those we Love or care about, there seems to be few things left for us to ponder. My husband, children and dear friends are my life. What would we do without them. Your family holds you close in their hearts and all of your friends are there with you, if only in prayer and thought. Been making your vests forever and love it. God bless You.

    Like

    • judymurrah Says:

      Thank you, Mary Sue, for your kind thoughts. Glad you have found pleasure in making my vests. I added a kit to my etsy shop today using an unpublished design that might interest you. Keep stitching and enjoying your family and friends. Hugs.

      Like

  27. Kay Smith Says:

    Yes, perhaps you did as I really enjoyed that class and still use many of the learned lessons.

    Funny you mention Troop 315…another path we walked together as I too was in her Troop and do remember fondly our Wednesdays and camps and of course many sleep-overs at the Bell’s as we shared growing up, Church and High School!
    We were a dedicated Brownie Troop as we sold our quota of cookies and got badges for doing that!

    I had an “attic” party last month here when my daughter Kelly and her family came up for dinner! We had a great time looking through all the boxes of “treasures”. Kelly found her 1st baby doll, “Sally” and in a box of saved buttons there was my Troop 315 button and a button for Top Sale of Cookies for our troop! It was a fun afternoon going through containers of treasured toys and other “gems”. The grandchildren looked through all their played with toys to include Barbies, Lego’s and Thomas the Train but my old home movies with the Kodak camera, projector and screen seemed to be of more interest as they carried all that home with them!! We did have a fun day! I took pictures of everyone with their treasures! Wonderful memories!

    Kelly’s daughter Sarah graduates next week from high school in San Antonio and is busy getting ready to attend Texas A & M, College Station in the Fall. So, as Grandmothers, our sharing of happy celebrations and events can and will continue!

    I hope you and Tommy are on your way to California! Have a wonderful gathering with your Son and his sweet, new family!
    Make alot of new memories!

    Keeping you in my prayers!

    Like

  28. judymurrah Says:

    Hi Kay, I thought I remembered you being in our Brownie and Girl Scout Troop. I love the idea of an attic party. I look around the house at all we have accumulated over the years and hope someone will want it someday. My granddaughters need to get a little older and on their own before their moms would dare let them cart home all the fabric, lace, ribbons, buttons and beads, ephemera, etc. I have stashed in every upstairs closet plus my studio. Next blog post will be about our visit to see Thompson Yeung Murrah. That’s a lot of name for a little guy. Bye for now.

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