Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grateful Sunday

Sundays. Usually reserved for God. I am thankful to God every single day and I am so thankful that He has placed so many caring hands all around us. All of you have blown us away with your cards, messages, notes, comments, emails, phone calls etc. You are all our angels. I wish I could name all of you but I am going to dedicate Sundays to highlighting a few special and perhaps unexpected angels.

Today I am sending a big thank you to one particular person. I get so much support going through this but I think in many ways it is much harder on John. I can not even imagine how I would be dealing with this if the tables were turned. The "what ifs" would drive me crazy. John's father passed away 21 years ago but I know he still keeps him close to his heart. John's father had one brother - Uncle Hugo. We rarely see him - in fact I believe I have only met him once. He and his wife live in Ohio and our paths don't get much of a chance to cross - but he is family and we always know he is there. He called John the other day and afterwards John came in the house and told me "some people just 'get' it". He went on to tell me that Uncle Hugo had said all the right things. John felt supported and loved and renewed. He was able to tap into that much needed side of his life - the one that includes his Dad. Thank you Uncle Hugo. That little phone call made a big difference in our world.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


As many of you know or have gathered, I am a fitness instructor (although not for the past couple of months). I teach many classes - pilates, dance, yoga but I would have to say my baby is BodyFlow. BodyFlow is a compilation of yoga, Thai chi and pilates set to beautiful music. On many occasions when I have been teaching and we have come towards the end of class I see people brought to tears. I have always wondered what it was that made them do this. Was it the music? Did something release in them while stretching? Is it a sad moment or a happy one?

I have always anticipated getting the new music and DVD in the mail so I could anxiously open the package and see what new things I could learn to teach our members. Yesterday the new release came in the mail. I just threw it on my desk. You see about a week ago I ventured into the gym - it wasn't to work out or take a class - just to help decorate the group fitness room. It was the first time I had been in there since I started Chemo. I became very emotional and had to leave. I was so frustrated that I could not be there to teach classes - something I love so much. It was a realization that my road ahead might be long before I can get back to "normal". So, the arrival of these materials just frustrated me.

Today though I was board and sitting at my computer - my eyes kept glancing over at the box. Finally I opened it. I thought - "well maybe I can look at a few tracks". In the last few weeks I have tried to do an entire class in my living room and could never make it through - my body rebelled. Today though I started at the beginning and did not hold back - I made it to the end - and without warning tears started streaming down my face. I was overcome. Thrilled with this minor accomplishment - "I made it through a class". Maybe this is all anyone feels when those tears stream down their faces. Maybe it is something altogether different. All I know is that today - I feel hope.

Friday, February 26, 2010


After successfully putting off chores as long as I could today (bath while reading a very fluffy book and watching recorded figure skating from last night) I decided to tackle my 9 year old daughters room. This is NOTHING new. Usually I have to really gear up for it and it takes a very long time - even if I had cleaned it only a week ago. This time was pretty bad - it has been awhile since I really deep cleaned her room. The first few minutes started out with the "are you kidding me?" phrase actually leaving my mouth out loud. After awhile though my perspective started to change. This was an amazingly clear window into my daughters soul. I started to cherish each little find - a miniature pine cone, recycled Gatorade bottles filled with colored liquid and shells, homemade musical instruments, pieces and parts from multiple games and Lego sets that made up a pretend world. This was my daughter - reaching into her creative outlet and imagination to entertain herself. I started to regret all of those times when I just walked in there with a trash bag and started stuffing things into it. You see we have a son and a daughter. I always think my son is a bit more like me and our daughter is so much like her father. Sometimes I have trouble relating to her. I really started to appreciate what an extraordinary person she is - and of course a bit more like me than I thought ( wink wink).

Here I am sitting around with nothing to do whereas before I was rushing to get from place to place. Hurry, hurry, rush, rush. Wanting, needing, going...... where? All this time there was this amazing treasure - right underneath my nose - and I never even bothered to look.

Cancer - humph. Who would have thought this was exactly what I needed to give me the slap in the face "hey you! yeah you, this isn't some monopoly game where the more houses, hotels and property you have make you the winner. It is not a beauty contest where if you suck in your belly and smile your pearly whites and say all the right words you get a crown and a bouquet of flowers. This is your friggin' life - LOOK AROUND YOU! You already have everything you need".

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Holy Cow

A few weeks ago I woke up out of a completely sound sleep with a HOLY COW! idea (the picture kind of looks like me just imagine NO hair). I have to believe it was divine intervention because it did not seem to come from me and was very detailed in its nature. Perhaps it was the chemo talking but from what I understand chemo (at least this chemo) does not reach the brain (although you could have fooled me). I have been tossing this idea around in my head for a bit and I think I may try and make it come to fruition (I mean what else am I really doing anyway). I may also need your help with it. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There is something to be said for living in the moment. Sometimes that is all you can do. Just breathe in and out and move through your day minute by minute without worrying about the next minute. I am not a big worrier - if you know me at all you know this. I don't worry about much of anything under normal circumstances. What is the point really. If things are beyond your control the only thing you are doing by worrying is stressing yourself out. That being said - I have plenty to worry about... think about... ponder. It likes to sneak its way into my brain - sometimes without me even realizing it. Like a slow, dark cloud moving across the sky and before you know it the warmth of the sun has turned into a downpour. This is when I say to myself - breathe - just like in bodyflow or yoga. Count to 8 as you breathe in and count to 8 as you breathe out. You are alive. You have people who love you and you have people you love. There is a bigger purpose for all of this that you can't see nor do you need to see. Live right now, in this moment, in this minute and breathe. The heart rate slows. The brain calms. The body settles. Life then becomes living.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Insult to injury

I woke up this morning to find that not only is my whole body swollen ( can't get my wedding ring off ) but I have a pimple on my eyelid. Yes, my eyelid. And everywhere else on my body. This happened last time and I thought it was a fluke but apparently not. I feel like I am 14 again. I don't think it is acne in the true sense of the word but more like my body is trying desperately to rid itself of these toxins and my skin can not handle it. I think I am going to build a cave in my house and hide in it until I can stand the sight of myself again. Seriously, do I need to be tested this much?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stupid People

Me - minding my own business at the grocery store looking at the organic peanut butter - stupid lady who I have never met approaches.....

Stupid Lady (SL) - "Oh! How are you doing" (very pitiful voice)

Me - "fine"

SL - "Did you have chemotherapy? Are you a survivor?"

Me - "I am going through chemotherapy"

SL - "Oh my Aunt had Cancer and the chemotherapy killed her - not the cancer"

Me - just looking at her amazed with a what the ? look on my face.

SL - "That probably wont happen to you though"

Me - " I will be fine"

SL - "How awful for you"

Me - walk away before I say something I will regret.

Seriously, if I ever say anything that lame to you please shoot me and put me out of my misery - I have heard that people say stupid things but this was the first and it was REALLY stupid.

It takes a village.....

Two children - two schools - 5 amazing families that get them there and home everyday.

We live in the most unbelievable neighborhood. It is one of those neighborhoods that you think of from the 50's only our trees are not as big and our front yards are not quite as long. We have block parties and all pretty much get along and care about each other. Both of my children have best friends on the street. I have neighbors that bring us dinner, leave little treasures by our front door, send me messages of encouragement and love our children as if they were their own.

A few years ago we turned in our big Expedition for a much smaller and more fuel efficient Jetta. The bad news is that with one carpool existing of 5 children and another with 7 I don't have the space in my car to carry the little munchkins. Instead my kids get a personal chauffeur every morning and afternoon. I can't begin to tell you how much this has helped me during this time of treatment. Some mornings the thought of rushing to get out of the house makes me want to curl up in a ball and never come out. Knowing that my children are safe in the hands of these generous people gives me peace of mind. Thank you my carpool angels - this may not seem like a huge gift that you are giving us but it most certainly is.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dreaming of......

Do you think my Cancer Card would pay for this in my back yard? Maybe is doesn't work like MasterCard or Visa. I have heard it is one of the better perks of having cancer - this card you get to use whenever you want. I have a feeling it doesn't work on swimming pools or kitchen remodels though......

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Sometimes I think we fail to see the miracles hiding in our daily lives. There are things that just pass us by without notice of their significance. Little things that most certainly were orchestrated and in no way could be considered chance. I happen to see many of these things every single day lately. Running into someone who says the exact thing I need to hear that day. The letter that comes in the mail from someone I have been thinking about. The quick hug from one of my children. The sun coming out at just the right moment. Food tasting especially satisfying. The message in the lyrics of a song on the radio. I feel like I want to pick up these morsels and put them in my purse. Save them and remember them. I call them morsels because they are small but oh so satisfying. They also help me get through the day. They carry me on days when just getting through is challenging. These morsels are most certainly from God and the Angels that surround me - lifting me up above the water right as I begin to sink and panic that I wont be able to breathe.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This is one thing there is a LOT more of around this house since diagnosis. We laugh daily and often and sometimes enough to cry. I don't think any of us could make it through this without laughing at it sometimes. John cracks me up all day long with his new nicknames (one for when I am bald, one for hats, one for scarves - you get the picture), his impressions of several doctors we have NOT chosen , and just generally goofy things he comes up with to make me smile. Tonight we had a fashion show with the wig and apparently I was not the star. If you are feeling down just head on over to our place for a pick me up - it is a guarantee.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Roll Reversal

I am having a bit of a hard time adjusting to this new physical body. I know the cancer is NOT making me weak (I wont let it) but the chemo definitely is. I am having an even harder time adjusting to my mental roll through this treatment. I am so used to being the "strong" one both physically and mentally. I enjoy pumping people up and making them feel strong, encouraging them. I also am very stubborn and love to do things myself without any help. I don't like doing anything half way and always want to do my best or better and I am extremely competitive. Now things have changed. I do need help. I need to rely on others to do things for me and sometimes my best is not that great. The other night I was sitting down and stood up too fast and almost fainted - that threw me for a loop. I needed to wait a few minutes to try again and had to rely on John to steady me. I guess I am learning to let people in. Let them enjoy being strong for me. I am learning what it is like to be meek and need help. One of the harder lessons I am learning but obviously I needed to learn it. Another gift - not wrapped in pretty paper but a gift no less.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hind sight is ......

What a difference going through this second round of chemo. Today I feel very blah but it is so much easier knowing that it wont last and that I will feel better again soon. I can recognize all of the symptoms from the chemo and they are repeating themselves almost like clockwork which gives me peace of mind. I see the light - although it is still quite dim it is there. I can do this.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wishing you a moment. Just one today. One with someone you love. A child, a parent, a friend, a neighbor, a spouse.

My moment came yesterday when my children painted my head. They were having trouble looking at me in all of my baldness so I thought if they could touch and play with my head it wouldn't be so scary anymore. I think it worked. They had so much fun with all of their creativity they didn't want to stop. They are quite proud of their artwork and so am I. Now they can see their mom - not the bald skin. They rub my head now and I love it. Happy day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cancer Gifts

Just a few.....

Sudden creative surges at 2:00 in the morning.

New friends.

Deeper more rewarding relationships with those close to me.

No shaving, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryers or straighteners.

When your hair goes - so does the vanity.

Snuggle time on the couch with children who might not cuddle at their ages.

New hats.

A deeper appreciation for all things.

A complete trust and almost non-verbal emotional bond with God.


Thursday, February 11, 2010


I will be writing a lot about all of my angels - and I have many. Today I am writing about a big one. Her name is Liz and from the first moment I spoke to her on the phone I immediately felt comfort and complete confidence in her. She is my nurse navigator. She calls to check on me and has given me her cell number in case I need things after hours. Mostly she listens to every silly question I have and answers every one with care and detail - like she has nothing else in the world to be doing. I absolutely love this woman. She is the reason I chose my set of docs - they were all recommendations from her. I would hope anyone going through something like this would have a nurse navigator - it makes all of the difference in the world! Liz, the sound of your voice on the phone brings me comfort and I always look forward to talking to you and seeing you. You are an angel - put here for me (and all of those other people ) - you have an amazing gift and you are using it exactly as you should. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Today was chemo #2! Yay! Of course nothing seems to be routine for me in this. I am a special case through and through. The good news is that the doc could not feel any of the tumors and has ordered an ultrasound to take a look. He said that means the cancer is VERY responsive to the chemo! Woo Hoo! I also had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs I am getting. It was a bit scary for a minute and came on very quickly - super hot in the face and chest and tightening in the chest and throat. They turned it off and gave me some benadryl and then gave me the drug again and I was fine. From now on I will just get the benadryl before and it shouldn't be a problem. All in all I feel pretty good for being so drugged up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I don't think so....

That is what my body is saying right now. Believe it or not - my hair is GROWING again. I think my body liked the way it was and basically said "screw you" to that chemo. I am hoping that those lame cancer cells were so late to join the party they didn't get the message and just decided to leave for good. I am glad to be going in tomorrow to shock them again. I have not doubt that this body is strong and can recover after the #%&%*#)#$%% cancer is gone for good.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Food glorious food!

John's mom Adele and her husband Alex have been here for 3 days. They have been cooking and entertaining my children non stop. Alex told me I have a built in nanny and a cook! I have a freezer full of wonderful food to tide us over until I am feeling better after this next treatment. I am ready to get in that chair and have them plug me in - bring on the poison! The kids also have wonderful hand made valentines to give to their friends. They have been officially spoiled by their grandparents - as they are entitled to be. I feel very blessed to have such amazing in-laws that I call family lovingly.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Better today

Thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts. I woke up this morning in a much better frame of mind. The bald thing will take a bit of getting used to but I feel like myself inside and that is what matters. The fam was planning on camping for Jack's birthday yesterday but it rained like crazy. This is what happens when you leave kids alone to figure out what to do. If that doesn't cheer you up I don't know what will.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bad Hair day - good birthday

Today is my sweet son's birthday. 12 years ago today he entered my world and changed it forever. He was the sweetest little baby - always smiling, babbling and goofing around. He made us laugh and we adored him from the first second. He is exactly the same 12 years later. This little man has the biggest heart. He has been taking such good care of his mother - always getting me blankets or drinks. Helping out without argument and lifting my spirits when he should be thinking about himself. His birthday was not quite up to par this year. I usually go all out - decorations, themes, amazing food. It just didn't happen this year - but that didn't seem to bother him. He is just so happy to be alive and I love that about him. I love you so much Jack - you make us so completely happy and we are so proud (and lucky) to be your parents. He was thrilled to get an electric guitar (little did he know I would have probably bought him a Ferrari if he had asked for one this year) and our house is filled with noise, er music already.

I also lost ALL of my hair today. It fell out in the shower and let me tell you this was WAY harder than shaving the long locks. I was not prepared for what I saw in the mirror. There was frustration and tears but I had my family here and they helped me through it. I am so glad to have Jack's birthday to counter act this event. I am sure he will remember his 12Th birthday as the one where his mom became bald but I am hopeful that his 13Th birthday will be one where he remembers his mom was cancer free and life was normal again.

Friday, February 5, 2010


It might seem silly to you but I miss my little job SO much!!! A day didn't go by that I didn't appreciate that little job - I knew what I had. It is a big motivation for me to kick this thing and get back to teaching. I just love motivating all of those people and seeing their faces at the end of class when they feel they accomplished something. They became my friends and we motivated each other. I love moving to music too. Dance or yoga - it takes you to a different place. I am trying to do these things at home but it just isn't the same without all of my friends. I am going to have to get a "real" job when this is over too. Our health insurance is going to skyrocket so we will need a group plan and that means me working at Trader Joe's or Costco or Starbucks (unless of course by some miracle our income significantly increases). That is Ok, I will cherish my few classes that I can squeeze in even more. So enjoy the little things - be happy for the random smiles and the groovy song on the radio when you are driving. Take time to appreciate the smell after a rain storm or the warmth of a fire. These are the things that make life great.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I have had a lot of people tell me lately how courageous I am. Many people have said "I could never do what you are doing". Well, yes you could. All of us, when faced with something unimaginable, can not only face it but look it in the eyes and understand what needs to happen. Sometimes it feels like I am looking in from the outside and this really isn't happening to me - but it is. It is happening to me, and my family, and in some way it is happening to you too. I think it is all about how you look at it, how you view the situation, that effects the outcome. I am not courageous, I am not brave. I have to do this, I don't have a choice. My strength comes from God and family and friends. There is something pretty humbling about being stripped of your outer shell and you are left exposed and weak. It is at this point that you realize that we are all just people, normal everyday people, trying to get along in this world and we are nothing without each other.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gone Baby Gone

Well, that was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be! John and I can be twins for awhile. Don't be sad for my hair, I'm not. Feels quite liberating and was actually really fun to do as a family - go figure. The blonde will be back someday!

Monday, February 1, 2010


I don't think we were put on this earth to sit around and eat bon bons all day. I think we were put here to learn and to grow - prepare us for what comes after this. Remember those first grade spelling tests? They seemed so hard at the time. Then in third grade we looked back at first and said "that was SOOOO easy" (insert 3rd grade voice). Our lives seem to be a series of tests. Some might come easily - you don't even realize they are a test - and then there are those like the ones on college prep tests. You know the ones with multiple choice and all of the answers seem to be the right one. Sometimes our immediate first choice is the right answer but sometimes it requires more thought, more evaluation before the answer becomes clear.

My faith was tested yesterday.... the circumstances don't really matter but the fact that it was tested at all scared me. My faith has been rock solid for as long as I can remember and this had me up last night wondering, and wondering. I did find an answer today after a LOT of thought and my stars are starting to align again. I think I am playing with the big boys now. Recess is over and it is time to head into that AP class. It is time to get serious. I don't think that yesterday was a one time occurrence. In fact multiple hairs are falling like rain from my head as I write this so a big test is right around the corner. It is not comfortable, it is not easy, but I am ready. I will take a deep breath and focus on the growth.