Welcome to my world

I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I've learned that who you have in your life matters more than what you have.
Thank you for stepping in to my world!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1574

Friends are the siblings God never gave us. - Mencius

My mother grew up with brothers.  No sister.  I grew up with a brother.  No sister.  We have both been blessed to have friendships that feel like a sisterhood.  Last year my best friend of over 30 years had to say goodbye to her mom right after Christmas.   Today, right before Christmas,  my mom will say her final goodbye to her friend of over 40 years.

Last night I had dinner with a dear friend and we exchanged Christmas gifts (something we don't always do).  The gifts we gave each other were thoughtful and showed just how well we know each other.  It reminded me of my mom's friendship with Nancy.... the kind of evening they would spend together.

In this day and age of temporary and immediate gratification, and people relocating everywhere, how many friendships last almost half a century?  My mother still lives in the house I grew up in.  Up until she passed away, Nancy lived in the house she raised her children in -  a house right up the street from my mom.

Gail and Nancy shared a special bond, a bond that began as neighbors and strengthened into a close, loving, supportive friendship that stood the test of time.

I wish so much I could be there today..... to support my mother.  To honor Nancy.  To comfort her family.  Instead, all I can do is pray for them, send my love, and honor her here.

My mom sent this to me this week.... something she wrote and read to Nancy during one of her visits with her friend before she passed.  (Obviously I inherited my writing talent from her).  I asked if I could share it on here, because it's beautiful.  It's from the heart.  It's touching.  And it honors a friendship that lasted almost as long as I've been alive.

Beautiful Nancy…….my friend for 42 years…..instant connection, friendship, kindred spirits.

I always will be texting two cups of coffee with you on Saturday mornings – you in your kitchen, me in mine;

Always will be walking in town with you….sharing thoughts, dreams, feelings, loves ….. many people asking us over the years if we are sisters;

Always will be toasting each other with Champagne Truffles in front of the chocolatier on The Channel Gardens in Rockefeller Center…awed by The Tree;

Always will be sitting in the Garden Café with you…..talking about life and our precious children and grandchildren;

And, always will be sitting in the outdoor bar at the Lazy Swan…..laughing, drinking wine, drinking in the views of our majestic Catskill Mountains, singing along as Frankie plays “Summer Wind.”

I have not lived my adult life without you ….. but, I will find my way…..knowing that you are watching over me as you sit on the “God shelf” and your spirit is forever surrounding me.

Nancy sent me this quote on October 17, 2017 and it defines how she lived her life.….full of Grace:

"Grace is a power that comes in and transforms a moment to something better." -- Caroline Myss We are all better human beings because Nancy came into our lives.

I can no longer see you with my eyes but I will feel you in my heart forever.
I love you, Nancy

Nancy was a kind, gentle, incredibly beautiful woman inside and out.  The world is a better place for her having been in it.  My life is better for having grown up with her in it.  My mom's life has been enriched beyond measure by the kind of friendship most people never get to experience.  I'm grateful, and I'm so sad.

Rest in peace Nancy.  You were appreciated, you were loved, and you will be missed.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1558

What a difference four years makes.

Aside from giving birth to my two children, December 5, 2013 is probably the day I am most proud of. 
For me, the beginning of my treatment meant 8 biweekly infusions, which was 14 weeks of chemo (that's 99 days!). 

Compared to a lot of people I know who've gone through it, my experience with chemo wasn't that bad.  But even "not that bad" when you're talking about chemotherapy is pretty damn awful. 

Hours spent in the infusion room, chewing on ice or drinking a Sonic grape slush to help prevent mouth sores.  Pulling my IV pole behind me as I paced the room because the premeds gave me restless legs.  Hundreds of dollars wasted and hours spent freezing my head in an attempt to save my hair with cold caps (it didn't work).  Pills, pills and more pills.  Having to go back the day after each chemo to get a $10,000 injection (thank God for insurance) to boost my white blood cells.  Migraines.  Having no taste buds.  Being queasy 24/7 and only having a handful of foods that were anywhere near tolerable.  Rinsing my mouth a hundred times a day with Biotene to try to get rid of the nasty yuck taste.  Feeling so damn tired every minute of the day.  LOSING MY HAIR!!! (and my eyebrows... and eyelashes).

But you know what?  I'm grateful for every one of those 99 days because I'M STILL HERE!
I'm happy and (relatively) healthy.  I'm living my life.  I'm loving my family.  Aside from the routine checkups, I no longer spend hours at the doctor's office.  My life doesn't revolve around blood draws and Germ-X.  I'm able to work, go to football games, hug whoever I want, spend five days in Vegas with one of my besties, focus on a book for more than ten minutes, eat what I want, take my daughter to concerts, keep score at her softball games.

Chemo is harsh, and it's effects are awful and some never go away, but it killed my cancer and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1555

Happy December!

It doesn't feel like December.  I know I live in Texas, but a little bit of winter weather would be nice.  Hubby and I went to a high school football playoff game last night and we didn't even need jackets!

Our beloved Wylie Bulldogs were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, so we went to cheer on another local team - the Cooper Cougars.  It just so happens that the Cooper head coach is part of our Lady Diamonds family.  His daughter is our catcher.  We had dinner with Sheri and another Lady Diamonds family and then we all went to the game.  Fun times, even though it was a heartbreaker of a loss for the Coogs.

In more happy news, I have to confess that I've been stepping out on Hubby.  
I'm in love with NED...... a.k.a. "No Evidence of Disease"

I had my six month checkup this week with Dr. H and everything looks good.  My weight is steady (not going down, but at least it's not going up!), blood pressure was fantastic, and other than a few pesky low numbers on my blood counts, I got the "all clear, see you in six months".  My white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, calcium and albumen have all been low since I finished chemo, and this time was no different.  Those numbers were low enough to get flagged, but not low enough to worry or do anything about.  

So.... no news is great news!

In some unhappy news...

I'm still dealing with lymphedema in my left hand and arm.  I know once you have it, it's something that never goes away, but sometimes it can get better.  So far mine hasn't.

This is my normal hand:

Notice my wedding rings.... on my RIGHT hand..... because they don't fit on the left.
Here's why:

Looks awful and uncomfortable, right?  It is.  Wearing my compression garments seems to make it worse, which sucks in a lot of ways.  There aren't a whole lot of treatment options for lymphedema... compression, massage, more compression, exercises.  I'm doing all of that.  In fact, that pic of my swollen hand was AFTER I'd had my custom sleeve and glove on for six hours.  

I've spent a lot of money (A LOT) on treatments for this.  My pump that I use daily (60 min at a time) was almost a grand.  I have several off the rack compression sleeves and gloves that were over one hundred each.  My custom sleeve and glove (which oddly enough make everything the worst) were $300.  Not to mention doctor appointments, physical therapy and even a CT scan.  All of that money with NO results.

Very frustrating.  

But, in the grand scheme of things, it's just something to deal with.  It's uncomfortable and painful and increases my risk of infection (hence the standby antibiotics in my medicine cabinet), but it's not life-threatening.  It's a result of cancer, but it's NOT cancer, and I'll take that.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1553

30 Days of Gratitude - day 30

What talent or skill do I have that I am most grateful for?

I'm grateful that I can remember the words to just about every song I listen to.  Music means a lot to me, and most of the time the lyrics touch my heart. 

I can't carry a tune in a bucket, but that won't stop me from belting out the hits when I'm alone in my car.  Ha!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1552

30 Days of Gratitude - day 29

What friend/family member am I grateful for today?

Today and every day, I am grateful for my mother. 
She was here for Thanksgiving and J's birthday, but had to leave this morning.  I'm always sad taking her to the airport, but especially this time after only a five day visit.

I'm thankful we had this time with her, and that she made it home safely.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1551

30 Days of Gratitude - day 28

What small thing that happened today am I grateful for?

This is no small thing, but my son, my baby boy.....

He was nervous, I was nervous, his Grammie was nervous.  He lost points for a few things, but he passed his driving test the first try. 

AND he drove himself back to school.  BY HIMSELF.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1550

30 Days of Gratitude - day 27

What small thing that I use daily am I most grateful for?

This is probably the easiest one.... my cell phone!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1549

30 Days of Gratitude - day 26

What form of expression am I most grateful for?

I don't know if this counts, but I'm grateful for being able to share my life's story on Facebook.  I'm especially grateful for the "On this day" feature, which lets me relive special moments that I felt needed to be shared with my world.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1548

30 Days of Gratitude - day 25

What moment this week am I most grateful for?

I am grateful for the moment we saw my mom at the airport.  I'm grateful for safe travel, and that we get to spend the next few days with her.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1547

30 Days of Gratitude - day 24

What challenge am I grateful for?

I am grateful for this Gratitude challenge.
I'm grateful for so many things and I often forget to express that.  This 30 day challenge forces me to concentrate on all of the good in my life.

Blessings are abundant.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1546

30 Days of Gratitude - day 23

What tradition am I grateful for?

I'm grateful for the tradition of Thanksgiving at my brother- and sister-in-law's house.

This year we had 33 people!  There were grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, boyfriends and girlfriends.  Big kids, little kids and even a little baby. 

Lots of laughs, delicious food and treasured times.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1545

30 Days of Gratitude - day 22

What story am I grateful for?

I'm grateful for my friend Allyson Hendrickson's story, and the fact that it is being kept alive by Ally's Wish.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1544

30 Days of Gratitude - day 21

What song am I most grateful for?

I am grateful for Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.

It is my all-time favorite Christmas song and I have several different versions on my playlist.

This is the one I love best:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1543

30 Days of Gratitude - day 20

Who in my life am I grateful for?

I am grateful for everyone who makes me and my little family a priority.

I am grateful for a mother who is one of my closest friends.
I am grateful for the man she married two years ago who makes her happy.

I am grateful for a husband who loves me in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part (hopefully I long time from now!).
I am grateful for the two beautiful children he gave me, and the bonus son I got when I married Hubby.

I am grateful for my dad who sounds more and more like himself every time I talk to him.
I am grateful for the lady who loves him so much and dedicates every single minute of her life to taking care of him.

I am grateful for a brother who I commiserate over the Cowboys with, a friend that bitches and moans her way through a 5K with me (and indulges me without question when I suggest going to an oxygen bar), a softball family that makes me laugh and has given my daughter some wonderful friends, and an incredible team of doctors who help me kick cancer's ass. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1542

30 Days of Gratitude - day 19

What touch am I grateful for today?

Not the "touch" that this is probably meant to be, but I'm grateful that music touches my daughter's heart as much as it does mine.

She's my country music-singing, concert-loving musical girl and we had a GREAT time front row at Billy Bob's tonight!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1541

30 Days of Gratitude - day 18

What piece of art am I grateful for?

I'm grateful for a lighthouse painting that my sister-in-law's sister painted for me a few years ago.  It was an unexpected and beautiful gift and it hasn't moved from my wall since I put it up.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1540

30 Days of Gratitude - day 17

What knowledge am I grateful for?

I'm grateful for knowing how to use a computer.  I'm not a techie, but I'm fairly computer-savvy, and I spend more time on my computer than I do sleeping!

I keep up with everyone on Facebook, I run a softball league web site, I shop, pay bills, order prescriptions and borrow books online.  I keep spreadsheets for fundraising, bills, Christmas lists and more.  I write this blog.

Hubby thinks I'm addicted to my computer.
Maybe I am, but there are worse things to be hooked on!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1539

30 Days of Gratitude - day 16

What about my body am I grateful for?

That's a tough one.  I've always had a healthy dislike of my body.  I have always been too chunky, my hair too frizzy, my skin not clear.  Self-esteem is not my strong point.

In many ways I feel like my body has let me down. 
I've had two miscarriages.  I've had Lyme Disease.  I've had cancer.  Now I have lymphedema.  I'm not strong or fit or thin or athletic.  I am scarred.  I have a ton of gray hair.  My skin still isn't clear.

What I am most grateful for is that despite all of that, my body is healthy!  I may not be a size 2 or have long silky hair, but I am alive.  I am able to do everything I want to (except play golf..... need to get back out there!).  I was able to walk dozens of miles in Vegas.  I have no blood pressure problems, no cholesterol problems, no digestive problems.  I DO NOT HAVE CANCER!

So while my hate-hate relationship with how I look continues, even at age 44, I love the fact that my body is able to endure what life has thrown at me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1538

30 Days of Gratitude - day 15

Oops.... I just realized that I read the picture wrong and I used today's on day 12.  So today I will do day 12. 

What texture am I grateful for?

I'm grateful for fleece.  When it's chilly outside and I'm just lounging around the house, my micro fleece pants and/or my fleece blanket are SO cozy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1537

30 Days of Gratitude - day 14

What sight am I grateful for today?

I'm grateful for the sight of my husband and children waiting for me at the airport.  When you are a wife and mom 24/7, and then you are away for 5+ days, it's relaxing to be away but a relief to come back home.

I'm so thankful to have this time away with my friend.  Eating what I want, going where I want, sleeping as much as I want, with some fabulous food and some gambling thrown in..... absolutely divine.  S and I have had the BEST time.  Even though we haven't seen each other since last year's trip, it doesn't matter.  It's like no time has passed.  We are great travel companions and fun roommates. 

There's only so much time "off" I can take, though.  Literally and figuratively.  I couldn't wait to see my children's smiling faces and get a hug from my Hubby.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1536

30 Days of Gratitude - day 13

What abilities am I grateful for?

I am grateful for the ability to walk.  I'm in Las Vegas for my annual trip with my girl S, and part of that annual trip is walking the Rock n Roll 5K.  (We tried walking/jogging last year and that didn't go over so well!)  Despite the fact that we are both NOT conditioned at all and have done zero "exercise" walking in months, we did the 5k AND we got faster each mile.  Rock on!

We did not rent a car for our trip, so aside from a cab ride to the hotel and a few trips on the monorail, our feet are taking us everywhere we want to go.  It's a good thing, because I need to walk about 10 miles a day to burn off the food and drinks we're consuming! 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1535

30 Days of Gratitude - day 12

What season am I grateful for?

Autumn is my favorite season, by far.  I love crisp fall weather.  I love football season.  I love wearing boots and jeans and sweaters.  I love baking.  I love the holidays that fall leads up to.

I live in Texas.  Spring starts early, is WINDY and rainy, and doesn't last long.  Then summer blasts in, and it's just HOT and WINDY.  For a long time.  Winter is a crap shoot.  Sometimes it's mild and dry, sometimes we get five inches of snow. 

Fall is the best, hands down.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1534

30 Days of Gratitude - day 11

What holiday am I grateful for?

Since today is Veteran's Day, I am grateful for that.  My dad is a Viet Nam veteran.  My stepson is a veteran.  A lot of my friends are married to active duty military or veterans. 

There's a lot of hate in the world right now, and there's a lot of craziness that makes me worried for the future... but one thing that remains the same is that I'm forever grateful to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Those are not just words from a song to me.  Even on a bad day, compared to other parts of the world, we have it so good here.  I'm thankful for everyone who serves our country so we can continue to live free.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1533

30 Days of Gratitude - day 10

What taste am I grateful for today?

I'm grateful for mint.  I love everything mint.... gum, chocolate-mint, life savers, candy canes.... but most especially MENTOS!

Mints saved my bacon during chemo.  Did you know when you get your port flushed, you can TASTE  the saline flush?  It's horrible.  I learned about halfway through if I popped a mint in my mouth before, I could make that better.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1532

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 9

What place am I most grateful for?

This one is easy today. 


I love Vegas.  I love sightseeing and people watching and eating good food and gambling. 

Hubby loves Vegas, too, but he won't fly.  And we have kids at home.  And he has a full time job.  So know what that means? 

GIRLS TRIP!   ðŸ˜ðŸ˜ðŸ˜

I'm meeting my good friend S there and rooming with her for a long weekend.  I haven't seen her since our Vegas trip last year, which is way.too.damn.long! 

I'm hopefully seeing some of my KCA girls while I'm there.

I'm hopefully seeing my brother.

And I'll be running the Rock n Roll 5k (ok, let's be honest, I'll be walking it and complaining the whole time) in honor of my friend, my fellow warrior, my KCA sister Nichole.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1531

30 Days of Gratitude - day 8

What book am I most grateful for?

Can I just say that I am grateful for books.... period?
I can't narrow it down to just one.  I'm a reader.  I've always been a reader.  I used to be able to read hundreds of books each year.  Then cancer happened and chemo brain turned me into a tween with ADHD and Alzheimer's.  It's incredibly hard to focus for any length of time, so my progress on my to-be-read piles is very slow.

I don't care.  I still love to read, and unless it's football, Dancing with the Stars or the CMA Awards, you will always find me reading instead of watching tv.   It just takes me a little longer (ok, a lot longer) these days to get through a book.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1530

30 Days of Gratitude - day 7

What memory am I grateful for?

Memories are made much easier to reminisce about thanks to "On this day" in Facebook!  ha ha   For someone with chemo brain who can't usually remember why she walked into a room, looking back each morning on what happened that day in previous years is a neat little time travel trip.

Today my "On This Day" was filled with the high school state marching band competition from last year.  It was an incredible experience.  For my son to participate and compete at such a high level with his band in his freshman year was amazing. 

They didn't make it to the finals, but just to make it there, experience the trip with his bandmates, have his family there watching...... incredible.

Unfortunately there is a dumb UIL rule that bands can only compete every other year.  So no state competition this year.  Something to look forward to.... and more memories to be made!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1529

30 Days of Gratitude - Day 6

What in nature am I grateful for?

I am grateful for sunshine.  On that note, I make a lot of jokes about "godforsakenwesttexas", but I'm grateful to live in Texas where sunshine is abundant.

I have a lot of friends who live in the pacific northwest, and I honestly don't know how they do it.  I know it's gorgeous up there (they've told me).... but when the majority of your days are cloudy at best and it rains all of the time....I would be so depressed.

The only time I'm not thankful for the Texas sun is in the summertime.  One hundred degrees in the sun feels like two thousand degrees.  No thank you!