Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I love this song! It seems appropriate to post on my blog this morning, since smiling is one of the "small things" that are essential to life. These are what make life worth living. I have so many memories of doing these things with my family over the years. This song will be in my head today as I go to my second day of chemo round 4. If it sticks in your head, too, I hope you'll thank God for our many blessings.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Good News!

I've been pretty tough all along, but this past week has been a long one for me, emotionally that is. I struggled to sleep, focus on work...all the problems one has when worried. I have truly been optimistic about God's power to heal me the whole time. I was just anxious to meet with my doctor to know exactly where we are in this fight. Friday was the day of truth...to find out if the chemo is doing its job, conquering the cancer.

When I was diagnosed, Dr. Reed explained that it was bad and that IF my body didn't respond to the chemo I only had a year. I realize that these numbers don't apply to everyone. If that were the case, I would never have had this cancer in the first place...I'm too young, statistically. In quiet moments, I found myself sitting in the swing wondering if I would be here for Jack's 5th birthday. What about kindergarten and all those other benchmarks of childhood? My heart would break as I thought about Kevin and Jack and how their lives would change if I were gone. This strengthened my resolve and brought me back to reality each time. The truth of the matter is that I'm not promised tomorrow even without cancer. So, let that be a reminder to live in the present. Don't waste your day. Enjoy ever moment of it.

The hour long drive to the cancer center was agonizing for me. Kevin had to stop for me to use the restroom two or three times in the first ten minutes. I was so nervous. Then the headache came, a terrible one. I reclined my seat and closed my eyes to focus on being calm. I was just so nervous. Kev was very patient with me, as he usually is. The drive to Corinth is a pretty one, but the road isn't so good right now. The spring floods have really torn up the asphalt and the work they are doing to improve the road for Toyota and new supplier plants in the area doesn't help right now. So I felt even more miserable with my nervous stomach, killer migraine, the heat and bumps in the road. Honestly, it was like being in a "Shake n Bake" commercial, only I wasn't the cook. I knew God was in control, but I was just so nervous. I had not expected to be so nervous or feel so terrible.

Everyone at The West Clinic was friendly as usual, happy to see me. This was the first time I've ever said, "I feel puny," when they asked how I was. Same Friday routine...weigh in, blood pressure, blood work, wait forever for Dr. Reed. Kevin went back with me. When Doc came in, he was visibly excited when he said that he had my test results. This was encouraging. We had prayed for anything at all positive during this trip and didn't know what was realistic to expect. Dr. Reed explained that of the 11 spots originally on my lungs before starting chemo, only 1, yes ONE, is left. Seriously? That is amazing! I wanted to give him a high five, but said, "Thank you." He instantly replied, "No, Thank God!" Dr. Reed was as relieved as I was to have this news. Additionally, my blood counts were good. We will continue on my planned course of treatment, since it is working, to complete all eight planned cycles of chemo. I expect to finish up in October.

Dr. Reed is a little concerned about my daily headaches. So, I'm going for an MRI next week to make sure it isn't cancer related. I get stress-induced migraines, and chemo is hard on the body. In my heart, I really think it is the stress from the chemo causing headaches. We shall see. Either way, God will help us deal with it.

This weekend, though, we have some celebrating to do! My friend, Kim, has begged to keep Jack so he can play with her boys. So, Jack's going to play with Tristan and Ike tonight while Kevin and I go out. Thanks Kim! We are looking forward to it! Grandma and her friend, Mary Jo, took Jack to see Toy Story 3 yesterday afternoon while we were in Corinth. He came home with a brand new Buzz Lightyear from Toys R Us. Thanks Grandma! Jack loved it! It was WAY too much, though. Sunday evening we are looking forward to dinner with the Hanby's and Vaughn's. Monday, it's back to chemo. I'm hoping that I'm up to seeing Luz's friend, Marie, Thursday night before she returns to Germany. That's my goal after chemo.

I close with a scripture Brittany shared on my FB.

Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him."   John 9:3

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hair-raising Thoughts

Since I've lost almost all of my hair, even my eyebrows and eyelashes are starting to come out, I thought it might be interesting to share some random thoughts about not having hair...for those of you who don't know what  it's like.

  • I've shaved almost a half hour off my morning "get dressed" routine...no conditioner, no styling products, no hair dryer, no straightener!
  • I can go swimming without worrying about my hair looking ratty afterward.
  • Hairs found on dinner plates do NOT belong to me. 
  • My head sweats much more than I realized. I just don't have hair to absorb it.
  • I can ride with the windows down in the car anytime I want...not a hair out of place...or IN place for that matter.
  • Wigs are fun!
  • Wigs are HOT!
  • Square scarves are difficult to find these days, and tying them isn't any easier.
  • The sun is hotter on a bald head than dark brown hair. 
  • People really pay attention to your earrings when they are visible. 
  • Ears are easier to fold forward on a pillow when you don't have hair to reduce friction.
  • People are actually bold enough to ask you what happened to your hair. CanNOT believe that one. 
  • It's important to alternate the way you lay your baby the crib. My mother made sure I did that for Jack. You never know when others are going to see the TRUE shape of your baby's head. Better safe than sorry!
  • For some reason, I'm still holding on to my old hairbrushes. Seems like I deserve new ones when I have new hair. 
  • Remember when your mom told you that you'd end up wearing glasses one day if you called others "four eyes?" Well, the same is true of giving others a hard time on their receding hairlines. 
  • Hair doesn't define you. You do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poo on you!

Since I had such a good week last week, we decided to trek home to visit my family for Father's Day. For the most part it was a good trip. Papa cooked his special breakfast for us each morning...yum! Jack got to go swimming with Aunt Manda and the girls at the Y. We had a comfortable evening at Aunt Manda's house eating dinner in and playing. We got to visit with Uncle D's family briefly for breakfast on Sunday. Mom had to work this weekend, so we saw her in between shifts. Dad met our new puppy, Bogey. I don't think he's a fan, though, because Bogey isn't housebroken yet. In fact, he stepped in one of Bogey's little surprises while we were out one night. Jack and I enjoyed meeting Kevin's boss, Traci. 10 lb. Bogey met a new best friend at the Egans, 150 lb. Samson; and Jack got to hang out with all of Patrick's college buddies. Bogey is a big dog in a little body, and I think the same can be said of Jack sometimes. He thinks he's a big kid in a little kid's body. Jack had a blast all weekend. :)

While we were gone Mrs. Jane of Wiggles and Wags took care of Biscuit for us. He's just too big to travel with us. There is a bird's nest over our front door. We've been waiting for the birds to hatch to get rid of the nest. Poor Mrs. Jane! It happened while we were out of town. She went to let herself in the house Sunday morning and bird poo landed on her arm. She looked up and saw four baby chicks peeking over the nest. I love Mrs. Jane. She never got angry. She thought it was the cutest thing and snapped a picture of it. Isn't it awesome when some someone is able to find pleasure in moments such as these? When life sends you poo...clean it up!

Being home in our nice, cool house on Sunday afternoon was so peaceful. After the four hour car ride I had energy to help with laundry, Jack, dinner, and a few other things. As I age, I'm discovering that  while I LOVE to travel, I am such a homebody. Thank God for that nice cool evening, because one of our air conditioners went out on Monday, the one on the north side of the house where my office, Jack's room, the living room, and our guest room are located. It was 104* yesterday. All of us locked ourselves up in mine and Kevin's bedroom last night to sleep comfortably, but the north side of the house was 86*. The air conditioned side of the house was 80*, except in the bedroom where we were able to shut the door. Jack and I hung out upstairs for a little while before bedtime. Hopefully, the AC man Kevin called yesterday will be able to make it out today. Pray!

I went for CT scans and echo-cardiograms yesterday to evaluate how my body is responding to the chemo. This is the first time since I started chemo in April. I'm anxious to find out the results. I visit Dr. Reed on Friday. Kevin is going with me. We are praying for a positive report. I'll update the blog as soon as I have it. I was comforted by the following scripture posted in one of my exam rooms yesterday:

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Is it really already Wednesday? This week is really flying by! I'm so happy to feel like myself again. Jack's been silly, and we've all been busy. I'm still sensitive to the heat and sun, but who isn't this time of year? After work yesterday, Kevin, Jack and I ran some errands, and I still had energy to cook dinner when we got home. Cooking dinner for my family is one of the things that truly gives me joy. Don't misunderstand, I do love eating out in restaurants, but cooking for my family makes me feel whole. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, though sometimes it is. There is just something about preparing food from my heart that I know my family will enjoy that makes me smile, gives me a sense of satisfaction, the final brush on a painting. It reminds me of my Aunt Doris (Dad's sister) and Aunt Linda (Mom's sister). Last night wasn't much, just what I call homemade hamburger helper, but Jack made a happy plate. :)

I was able to go outside a few times yesterday, which is more than any day the previous week. Mainly, it was just because I was trying to train Bogey, our new puppy, on where he should to the potty. We're still struggling with that. He's a good puppy, but it's difficult to train him when he's so small I can't tell when he is going. Any advice is much appreciated. Biscuit is trained. So, that gives me some hope that Bogey will eventually be, too. Bogey was supposed to be Jack's dog. He's been hot on my trail, though, never more than a few feet away. He and Jack had some fun playing inside yesterday afternoon. Actually, it was more like Jack harassing Bogey by chasing him with pj pants. Bogey was good-natured about it, and Jack burned some energy.

Medically, we have a big week or two coming up. I go for a CT scan on Monday to find out how my cancer is responding to the chemotherapy. This is the first check up of this kind since beginning chemotherapy. Please pray for a favorable report. I don't feel the tumors in my side and below my ribs as I did originally, and they had become uncomfortable. So, I think that is good news and hope the tests will confirm so. I will also have an echo-cardiogram to be sure my heart is holding up well to the stress of chemo. Kevin and I are optimistic that we will receive a good report, but the confirmation will be nice. 

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. ~Psalm 91:4

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I am SO thankful to have this weekend behind me. It wasn't easy, especially for Kevin. Luz Andrea went home Saturday morning, or at least left her American home Saturday morning. She didn't make it to her Mexican home until very early Sunday morning. It was an exciting day for her, and I have no doubt we will see her again. Jack easily settled back into his "only-childness." The house was exceptionally quiet, and I'm not sure why. Luz isn't usually a loud person. Maybe it was just knowing she wasn't present. I was so tired and completely washed out that all I did besides sleep and eat was go to church Sunday morning. We had breakfast with Mr. Myron and Mrs. Rita afterward, and it was difficult for me to be a part of the conversation. I enjoyed visiting with them and being out of the house, though. The rest of the day was filled with sleep, until the NBA championship game that evening. I was able to sit up and watch that with Kevin, while texting Luz Andrea. Very proud of my Celtics!

Today began with a terrible headache. Those are no longer surprises. I was able to focus, though, and make some progress at work. I always welcome the routine of the week after chemo. I don't know why why. I think I've always been the kind of person who can handle the tough stuff, if I just know to expect it.  I can deal with it, if I know it's coming, like a lineman bracing himself for the hike of the football.

Jack had a great day at school, followed by an even better evening at t-ball. He was ready to be part of the team, despite the extreme heat. He stopped a couple balls, batted well, didn't leave the field mid-inning, and had a great attitude. I don't expect one season of 4 year old t-ball to turn him into an athlete, but I do expect him to learn to do his best. He did that tonight, never complaining of the heat. He even managed to pick a few weeds for mommy while manning 3rd base.  :)  

The highlight of my day was on the way to the ballgame. We took Bogey, our new Scottie puppy, for his first public outing. Jack has been calling Bogey a "her" even though he is not. On the way there, he referred to Bogey as a "her." I explained to Jack, again, that Bogey is not a girl. Bogey is a boy. I explained to my sweet little four year old what makes Bogey a boy dog, and it's not his blond hair. Jack has two blond cousins, Mallory and Savannah. I think that's where he gets it from. He started to connect the dots, saying Bryce has blond hair. "Yes, that's right, and Bryce is a boy." He jumped in his mind to, "Mommy is a girl, and she doesn't have blond hair." (Right now, I have don't have any.)  The cutest part was when he said, "Mommy, you don't have blond hair. You just have blond skin." Precious moments. I guess my fair skin is blond compared to his. I'm so glad I was able to make it to his game tonight.  I would have missed out on this whole conversation. Again....it's the small things that make life special.

The second surprise of the day was when we returned to the house after the game. Kevin found a package outside! Inside were several cool Cindy surprises from Traci M. Thank you so much! First of all, you were right ON with the red and polka-dots. I absolutely love the little travel bags and Lindi lotions, right up my alley! I'll definitely be able to use them when I travel to SLC in July. Jack thought the picture file was was "awesome," his own words. Even the little luggage tag was fun. I resisted the urge to buy one just the other week when I was window shopping with Luz. My favorite surprise inside was the sunhat. SO cute! I can't wait to wear it! You know me SO well! I'm hoping we get to meet face to face in Alabama later this week. You were so sweet to think of me. Thank you. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Round 3...DONE!

These weeks are really slipping by. I don't know where all the time goes! Chemo number three has been a little more difficult for me than the previous two. Perhaps it's just because my body is a little worn down. I'll catch you up as best I can. 

Kevin and I went out on a "hot date" for the first time really since his birthday in March. We had a great time, dinner on the roof at Park Heights during the Elvis Festival. We really enjoyed the fresh air. When we pulled into the driveway we were surprised to see one additional car already parked there. My dad surprised us for a weekend visit from Alabama. We talk on the phone often, but this is the first time he's seen me since the cancer recurred. I was so glad to see him. I know this isn't easy for him. I think it was good for him to see my resolve in person, though. I love you, Poppy!

Jack had an ultra busy weekend. Saturday, he went to a water birthday party at a neighbor's house from 10-12. He rested from 12-1, then hit party number two from 1-3. Kevin took Jack to the morning party across the street so my dad and I could spend some time together, and so I wouldn't be so wiped out from the parties. Thanks KJ! I enjoyed the chance to talk to some of the other moms of Jack's friends. If you are ever curious about how to clear a room of four year olds...just light up four of those trick cake candles to blow up. They were used by accident on Daniel's cake. You know how the spark when they are lit? Well, virtually every kid propped on his elbows with his face about a foot from the cake jumped back immediately. Too funny! I wish I had a photo of it to post. Hilarious!

Monday was the first day of Chemo round 3. It went pretty well. I read some. I was a little put off by a man across the room with his laptop who talked about himself all day. I could tell you all about his life as a big wig at Fed Ex...but I'll spare you. Plus, I'm sure chemo brain will fumble it in some way. One older man asked me about my hair. Duh? Who asks about hair in a chemo treatment room? I don't think he was right.  My red and white blood cell counts were a little low, but not enough to keep me from chemo. I need to up the red cell count with red meat and green veggies. The Nuelasta shot should take care of the white cell count. By nightfall, I had a terrible headache. My bunco buddies, Kathy and Mary, brought homemade spaghetti by for the family for dinner on Monday. Thanks ladies! It was YUMMY! You should sell that stuff. It was a hit for the whole family.

I woke up with the same headache on Tuesday. Grandma took me to chemo for the first time on Tuesday. Everyone loves Kevin there. So, they were excited to meet his mother. I'm afraid to say that I wasn't much company. I was nauseous by the time we made it to the cancer center. I think it might be riding in the smaller car. I do better when I ride in our Traverse.  Thank goodness the room was nice and quiet that day. I could tell that Jerri and Jill, the nurses, were watching more closely because I was less like my animated self. I managed, and Grandma Joyce was awesome. Thanks for taking such good care of me, Grandma! Crystal Whitfield, a neighborhood friend and Jack's buddy's mom, brought pot roast and cream potatoes for dinner Tuesday night. What an angel! It was wonderful! 

I took a good nap when we got home Tuesday afternoon in hopes of being able to go to Jack's tee-ball game. It was also picture night. I mustered the energy to go, and Jack was not his usual happy-go-lucky self. He had an embarrassing four year old meltdown all because he didn't want to stand in the team picture. The coach, kids and photographer were extremely patient with him. I could hear him crying across the field. This was no time to reason with the unreasonable. He could not calm down. His team picture was made without him. We were able to get an individual one first, though. His teammates commenced to warm up, and Jack was still back at the fence crying with Kevin. It was really sad, and I was just too exhausted to deal with it. The situation wasn't productive for any of us. So, Kevin and I apologized, packed him up, and brought the family home. Jack ate dinner and went to bed. I am pleased to say that my sweet little boy was back Wednesday. 

Jack has vacation bible school at the church this week. So, he went home with Mrs. Susan, Wren's CeeCee, after church festivities. He had a blast playing with Wren and Andrew. His happy spirit lasted the whole day. Thanks Mrs. Susan! Jack had a blast! His positive and playful attitude lasted all night, even into bedtime. 

We were excited to bring home a surprise for Jack Wednesday. We lost our precious little Birdie back in August. She started getting ill in May, and we just couldn't save her. We still have Biscuit, but Jack has been wanting another doggie for sometime now. I have resisted the temptation to get one, until now. I know...what was I thinking? Well, I figure if Kim M. can handle chemo with a newborn, I can handle it with a pup. A lady who breeds Scottish Terriers goes for chemo at the clinic the same days I do. She was telling us about her wheaten colored liter. I asked her wasn't she interested in just getting rid of one. She agreed to talk to her husband and it all worked out. So, Jack is the proud new owner of an AKC registered Wheaten Scottie. :)  We call him Bogey, and he answers to it pretty well already. Jack LOVES Bogey, and Biscuit gets along with him just fine. Luz Andrea goes home Saturday morning, and she finds it humorous that she is being replaced by a dog. I think the timing is perfect. So far, Bogey has an excellent disposition. He loves to be held and petted. He's explored the backyard as much as I let him when the grass was wet. He's doing rather well. Jack has been quite the big boy taking responsibility for his new little puppy. Pray for us! I'm gonna need patience, I remember what Biscuit was like as a puppy. 

The highlight of my Wednesday, besides Jack's homemade pizza and new sidekick, was when Luz taught Jack how to do a "Hawaiian Dance." They were having a ball. It was fun to see them play together. I should have them perform it again when I'm feeling better so I can video it. They were so cute. Then, they used Jack's little "picker upper" toy (picture the kind you see folks using on the side of the road to pick up trash without touching it) to grab the other's wrist and toss them into jail (my bathroom). Jack's a great pretender, and Luz loves to play along with him. It was fun to see them play together, but also sad. We are really going to miss her. She will forever be a part of our family.

Before my fourth round of chemo, I will have another CT scan to see how the cancer is responding to the treatments and and echo-cardiogram to make sure my heart hasn't been damaged from the chemo. 

I'm really glad Kevin is in town this week. I needed him here.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Yesterday was a really hard day for me at work, emotionally more than anything. Tears were shed. I'm ok, no one was rude or hurtful to me, but some great minds and friends of mine were shocked to hear that they were no longer needed. My heart breaks for them and their families. So yes, I was angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed...all those things. When I sat down to blog this morning, there was a cross beside my computer that was sent to me from Father Henry, via floral arrangement from Mrs. Rita...beautiful brown and green glazed. I love it. It's small enough to leave on  my desk. The back of it says "Jer. 29:11." I took the time to look the scripture up this morning and it says, "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Wow! How relevant is that? Relevant in so many ways...my work, my health...

We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Friday evening we went to a barbecue at our friends, the Millers, house. Jack swam and played with Andrew and the other kids; and we had fun chatting with the adults. Chicken and hotdogs were the menu. Gotta love it when you fix your four year old a plate and he says out loud, "Mommyyyyy, I want pizza." What is that? Where does THAT come from? In the end, we were the first couple to leave, because I was tired. We had a great time, though. 

Saturday, Kevin played in a golf tournament for the American Cancer Society out at Big Oaks in honor of John Sowers. He had a great time. He doesn't get to play golf as much as he once did. I'm happy he was able to go. He deserves it. Meanwhile, Jack and I went to a birthday party at the fire station. So, Jack was surrounded by two of his favorite things...sugar and firetrucks. He was in hog heaven. Luz was too, as she did what makes her happiest...shop. In the afternoon we went to mass, which is much easier for me at night right now than in the morning, and then dinner at Kyoto. Since Luz arrived, I am crazy about sushi. I don't eat the raw stuff, though. We had a fun dinner with Grandma at the hibachi table. 

We had a nice, family cookout on Sunday afternoon. Father Henry joined us. I always love it when he comes. He's family. Kevin grilled Smithfield ribs, sausage, and chicken. I made corn salad, green bean casserole (Luz's favorite American food), rolls, and peach cobbler. Afterward, the girls made a trip to the cinema to see Letters to Juliet. I loved it. I think Grandma liked it. Luz, not so much. Definitely a chic flick.

Monday, we spent some quiet family time together. I took Jack and Luz swimming at the Miller's house. We had a great time. Dinner was low key with leftovers. Kevin and I actually got to sit down together and rent a movie off the TV. Just the two of us. We NEVER have a chance to do that anymore.  Jack played and watched cartoons, and Luz was busy doing teenager stuff in her room. We rented Law Abiding Citizen with Gerard  Butler and Jamie Fox. Loved it!!!

So, life was pretty normal for us this past weekend. What a blessing! I cherish the routine of everyday life now. I love feeling like me, being in my kitchen, reading on the back porch, watching Jack play, laughing with Luz. It's the small things...

Maybe you get the idea that we never worry about my health. Most of the time we are optimistic, but we are human. There are moments when Kevin and I have quiet time together and we talk about what the future may hold. I can't stand the thought of not being there for my guys as Jack grows up. It's scary, overwhelming. I try not to let myself dwell on the "what ifs." God has always taken care of us. Whatever happens, I know Kevin and Jack will be alright, because He will take care of them. I think that these moments of fear are ok. I still have every faith that the chemo will work, and we will conquer this cancer through God's grace. I believe that these moments of fear remind us what we are fighting for. They strengthen our resolve and stiffen our chins. Whatever happens, know this...I have had a wonderful life. I have everything I have ever dreamed of having. Now, I don't want to live for me. I fight to live for my family. Let's face it...if I'm not around Jack could end up eating ice cream for dinner. :)

Jack is doing well. Cancer has become part of his vocabulary. He knows the cancer makes mommy sick. He asked me last night if I was going to buy a new dress when the cancer was gone. Funny how little minds work. His sense of humor is really developing. He cracks me up all the time. I'm afraid we've got a class clown on our hands. He's beginning to understand that he's adopted. It has become part of our conversations. He sees his skin color is different. We talk about how beautiful it is. He told me the other day that he was born in another mommy's tummy and then God gave him to me to be his mommy. We talked several months ago about how some mommy's don't have beds in their tummy and another mommy takes care of them until they are born. He's thinking about it and seems ok with what he understands. Thank you, God.