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Still Waiting…

21 Jan

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I am still waiting. Yup, that’s right…I go from scanxiety to results-anxiety and it isn’t fun. I have to say that in my whole, almost 10 year history of PET scans and CT scans this is the longest I have waited for results. Typically I have gotten the results by the end of the next day, even if the next day was a Saturday but now it’s been 3 LONG days. The mind is a funny thing, it has the ability to take you down a bad path and your body actually feels it. In the past 3 days my thoughts have run the gamut from best case scenario to the worst and the longer I wait the more my mind and thoughts rollercoaster. It’s nuts. I have desperately been trying to occupy my mind on other things but it always comes back to the silence and the wondering. This weekend I have learned how to play the ukelele, have looked up different recipes in an attempt to meal plan for the week, I’ve read half of a book I just started, we went out with friends, I’ve been to the gym, and here I sit, tired from not sleeping well and staring at my phone with hopes that my doctor will call. I know, I know, I have no control over when those results will be done. Yeesh.

This past week I listened to Rob Bell (I know he’s controversial but he’s still interesting and makes you think) being interviewed on a podcast. He spoke about the time he had a concussion and could not process anything except the ‘now’. He said in that state of mind everything ‘now’ was beautiful, to the point that when his kids entered the room he would cry. That is mostly how I feel. Historically I’ve never really been a person who looks too far ahead; I never bought sale clothes at the end of the season for the following year, or clearance Christmas decor for the following year, etc. My reason would always be that I didn’t know where I’d be the following year, or what I’d be doing, or regarding clothes, what size I’d be the following year. Welp, cancer has magnified this trait of mine…everything is NOW. When I look at my kids or sometimes even think about them I cry. When there’s a beautiful sky, I tear up. Shoot, I can look at my dog and burst into tears at how beautiful and loving he is. I was speaking img_1191to a coworker a little about my grief and anxiety (which I really hadn’t felt to this extreme before) and he asked what made this time so different than the last few rounds with cancer. Outside the obvious ‘this time it’s stage 4’ I realized that I’m more anxious because right now my life is great; I have an amazing husband that brings me so much joy and laughter, my kids are great, I have great friends, I work with amazing people at a great company, everything is good and fun and peaceful and all I want is more time to rest in this good. I just want to rest here awhile…in the good. So I wait here in the good and (semi)patiently continue to trust in God’s plan.

‘I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.’~Joyce Meyer

Today I wear Sephora Collection Lipstick in Yum Yum. I wanted to try one of these lipsticks by Sephora because of the packaging, it helps that they’re fairly inexpensive. This is a good color for everyday and I love the name..yum yum (plus it has chocolate chip cookies on the package). Cheers!

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Scanxiety

17 Jan

For the past few nights I haven’t been sleeping that well. I’ve also been waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares; nothing specific and not really monster/death dreams, but you know the ones, when you’re late for something important but your feet are like lead and can’t move or no matter how fast you’re packing it can never get done? Yup, I wake up anxious, sweating, and not being able to catch my breath. There’s a term in the cancer world that’s been thrown around a lot but I can’t ever remember feeling it (although I’m positive I probably have felt it)…scanxiety. It. is. Real. So real in fact, that it was written about in Time Magazine in 2011 and mentioned again on medscape.com last February (just a couple places among the many). Author Bruce Feiler refers to his scans as his ‘regular date with digital destiny’ to show whether his lung nodules had grown. He goes on to say, ‘Scans are like revolving doors, emotional roulette wheels that spin us around a few days and spit us out the other side.’ He’s right, my dreams and lack of sleep are from the emotional roulette of my upcoming scans only to end with some result which ‘starts the calendar again’ til the next one when you have metastatic disease. It is so strange because during my normal day I’m very conscious it’s time again and don’t feel super anxious about it, then night hits and the need to sleep hits, then…enough about that, by the end of the week I’ll be all done 🙂

In my quest for chasing joy this year I have started something different in my daily journaling life. I have started writing the absolute best part or parts about my day along with at least three things I’m grateful for. When I say the best part, I mean every single detail of why it was the best part of the day including full description of event(s), who I was with, what it was about, how it made me feel, etc. After reading back a week of events it did not fail to put a smile on my face. I would recommend this practice to everyone. One thing I am so grateful for and has been a part of some of my best events are friends. A beautiful thing this cancer life has opened my eyes to are the great people and great friends I am surrounded by; people who have stuck with me through not just cancer but divorce, raising teens, changing jobs, moving, etc. Friends who have not ceased to believe the best. I have met some of the greatest people and I don’t believe in coincidence. Friends are God’s special blessing and a really great friend is a soothing balm to the soul. If you remain heart and hand open and can be a good friend to those God has placed in your life you can still see the beauty of people and have hope despite this crazy world.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.’ ~H.Nouwen

I am unbelievably grateful to all those who I have crossed paths with for a lifetime or if even for a moment. We are all connected. Today I wear Fresh Sugar Lip treatment in sugar Berry. these are really pigmented lip balms that are super moisturizing. I chose this because it’s winter in Michigan and this helps keep lips moisturized and the color is perfect. Cheers!

Blessings and Battles

7 Jan

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Rick Warren says that he used to think that the Christian life was a succession of battles and blessings but now he thinks of life as being on two tracks. At any given time there are usually blessings, but also battles to face (from bibleinoneyear.org).

There’s a lot of grief to process when you have cancer. I honestly don’t remember the feelings I had when I had cancer the first, second, or third times…I guess it’s like giving birth; you don’t really remember the pain until it’s happening again. All I can speak to is now and now my cancer is Stage 4. Ever since I declared joy as my word for 2018 I’ve been processing and working through all of the grief and sadness I’m feeling, mostly if not all, revolving around lost time. This past week I grieved my voice again. I have not over the years post cancer really thought too much about the fact that my voice was altered from a paralyzed vocal cord after my first cancer surgery, but the fact that I no longer do something I was able to do so well and was so passionate about for most of my life is sad; church, weddings, radio jingles, guest appearances, and even a Broadway stage one time…gone. Imagine something you feel was your special gift, your love and your passion, but you really can’t do it anymore, it’s a little heartbreaking. Then there’s the years of trying to please different people that in the end could never be pleased, the years of trying to be something for someone while giving up pieces of yourself, time wasted. Then there’s all this time looking at my life wondering if there was/is more I could do for my kids, my social circles, for humanity in general. I grieve and I fear that I have wasted so much time. I guess I’m a little angry too because I feel like I’m always battling my body. Maybe it’s normal. ‘Grief does not change you,… It reveals you.~ John Greenannabeach

I read what Rick Warren said about life being a series of battles and blessings, or I should say blessings with battles interspersed, and it really resonated with me. I also met with an incredibly wise woman who told me to be gentle with myself and to sit and think about all of the blessings that have come along despite the trials. I do know that my past has made me stronger and wiser and cancer has given me hyper-awareness of time and being intentional with time and relationships. I am still sad about lost time but it’s ok because we bend and grow through our experiences. I am a ‘feeler’ according to Myers-Briggs personality type and with cancer, my ‘feeler’ personality is magnified. Hurt is doubled, pain is doubled, but so is joy and happiness. When one of my kids says something hurtful it’s hard to bounce back because my hurt is magnified, I know my daughter is graduating soon and leaving for college and I think in normal circumstances I’d be sad, but now that sadness is magnified. It’s so strange. Blessings? Too many to count but with any health issue the battle part is always in your face. This week I shed a lot of tears but I still found that joy. I decided grief and tears are ok.

‘There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love’~Washington Irving

‘Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.’~Leo Tolstoy

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice lipstick in Backdoor which is a really cool metallic brown. There are a ton of colors and finishes available in this lipstick line and most are pretty moisturizing. I chose this color because I felt like I needed a little sparkle! Cheers!

Chasing Joy

30 Dec

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What a week. For Christmas we hosted almost 30 people, had 2 dogs (plus my own), a puppy, and a cat. Not super unusual for a large family gathering but most of those people and all of the animals also stayed at my house for 3 or 4 days. As annoying and chaotic as that sounds, it was a blast…and this is coming from an introvert! There was so much joy and laughter in my house that for the first time since my cancer’s return I forgot about it. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I cried and this was a regular occurrence over the long Christmas weekend. Did you catch what I said? The overabundance of joy and laughter made me actually forget I had cancer.

This is the last week of 2017 and boy has it been one freaking great year. Looking back I see mostly happy times surrounded by people I love and have tried to focus (as much as possible) on doing things I enjoy and spending time with people I care about. My focus of course dramatically heightened this past July when I found out I had cancer again. I saw a post on instagram that asked the question, ‘How have you changed or grown in 2017?’ It’s a great question and one I think we should all reflect on as we look forward to a new year. For me, the biggest area of growth was my voice which I had lost some time ago (figuratively of course and for reasons I’ve never written about). I am an introvert, people-pleaser which makes it tough to say ‘no’ and also tough to express your needs (easy target for people to take advantage of). 2017 gave me my voice and my power back…well, I’m still working on it but it’s been transformational. Also, I have become more laser focused on certain goals thanks to age and probably cancer. At the beginning of 2017 I chose the word ‘joy’ as my word for the year, recurrence of cancer has challenged that a bit for me but after this past weekend I know it’s still bubbling inside of me so for 2018 ‘joy’ is my word again.

‘When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?’~Ann Voskamp

This year, I will be chasing it. The moments I forgot about the cancer were monumental for me and I know there are so many possibilities out there for those crazy joy moments. Life is hard, teens are hard, work is hard, but what was it about those moments that made me forget? Telling stories, laughing, being myself and at ease with people I love, that’s one. What else? That’s my pursuit for 2018.

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.’~J.R.R. Tolkien

Joy like swords. Today there’s no lipstick. I img_1055bought a mascara from a great cosmetic company called Thrive, visit their website and read what they’re about. Anyhow, with my recent purchase which I just received yesterday, they sent a makeup bag (gift with purchase for holidays) which was perfect. Joy is the best make up! Happy New Year, cheers!

Christmas

17 Dec

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Christmas is coming and I don’t feel ready. Last weekend I returned home after a week in paradise to snow and the onset of Christmas rush; no tree, no presents, slight panic. I have to say my mind is in a constant state of blur. Despite the fact I went on an amazing vacation in a beautiful place with fun and lots of laughter and am basically functioning like normal with work, kids, etc., I have this underlying sadness that infuses itself in everything. I can’t help having cancer as the backdrop of my daily life, it stinks but I am trying to make the words ‘stable disease’ my favorite as I navigate forward. The knowledge that cancer is present in my body is this dark undercurrent that draws me away sometimes and on occasion, that undertow img_0959forms a geyser that breaks through the surface and I find myself bursting into tears at random moments. Yesterday was my first day shopping for presents and I couldn’t help looking around at the frenzy of shoppers looking for the perfect presents and at the same time feeling like ‘things’ really didn’t matter because moments and time is really all we need (how do you convince kids of that?).

Anyhow, at church today our pastor challenged us to focus on moments of love. We are inundated with bad news, bad politics, and bad people and it’s easy to get cynical and miss the love moments around us. I believe there are more love moments in our lives that we miss or forget about because we so easily get derailed by bad news, bad people, and even social media posts we disagree with. Maybe if we become more intentional about seeking love or creating moments where others feel loved, the negatives will roll off a little easier. Personally, I need more peace and positivity. So for now I will focus on love, time, and moments, and of course I will still buy Christmas presents but without the pressure of finding the perfect ones because when it’s all said and done, things don’t really matter as much. ‘The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died…Only instead of stones they’re made of memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like monuments. img_0900Built with memories instead of stone.’ From the book Wonder, R.J. Palacio

Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy every moment with family, friends, and people you love. Look for the love moments and focus on the joy. ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ Luke 2:11

Today I wear NYX Pin-Up Pout Lipstick in Red Haute. Cheap, creamy, moisturizing, and red. Cheers!

Grateful?

25 Nov

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How do you stay grateful when you are living with Stage 4 cancer? It’s an interesting conundrum and it’s not that easy. I’ve read a few blogs on how people are grateful they got cancer…umm, no. My mind is tossed between living each day as if it’s your last yet being a little stuck in a place with many responsibilities. There are (many) days that I wish I could quit my job and conquer, or at least try,  to do all the things I wish I could have done or have wanted to do or to just be there for each of my kids following them around, holding their hands and hugging them (I’m sure they’d all love that, haha). Unfortunately since I am not independently wealthy I have to modify…a lot, and sometimes it gets sad for me because there are so many things I want to do with the time I have left whether it’s a little or a lot. Time is a funny thing. I was grateful to read this from author Ann Voskamp this week, ‘You have only one decision every day: how will you use your time? Sometimes the best use of your time is to stand and listen to a clock. We’re all terminal-and we all just want a number. What size is this bucket of time? How many days will I actually get? The hands of the clock are bound by the decisions of our hands.’ Day to day, minute by minute we decide. Yes we have to work and earn a living, but in that space of time is there something or someone to be grateful for? We have today. Can we be that something or someone for another person? Contentment stems from gratefulness, being grateful leads to joy and joy can change the world.

For this Thanksgiving weekend I’m not thankful to have cancer again but God has been so good through it all. Lately I have to say my heart’s been hurting a little because the days fly by so quickly and I feel like time’s just slipping away. ‘Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desperate, urgent need. God is never closer than when your heart is aching.’~Joni Eareckson Tada. I know I have to focus on gratitude for what God’s done through the cancer because it’s what gives me hope and I have to say that many of the things I’m grateful for today are because cancer has opened my eyes to them. I’m grateful that from the constant and consistent prayers of family, friends, and even strangers I have experienced the peace that passes all understanding. ‘Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’~Phil 4:7, MSG.  I’m grateful for the people I am surrounded by who lift me up and encourage me and for the strength to let go of toxic relationships and focus on life giving ones. I am grateful that I have found a love that brings me joy and lots of laughter. I’m grateful that having cancer helps me focus on what’s truly important and therefore helps me more readily release the stupid things that stress me out. Through any adversity there is opportunity to grow in faith and in character if you see it that way and I am grateful that I have peace and joy and that my faith and dependence on God grows stronger because I have no control over circumstances. I am incredibly grateful that I have a God that I trust who offers me hope for not just me, but for my family; He knows my joys and my heartbreak and I know He hears my prayers and loves me. Whatever happens in the future, He’s got this and that is the greatest reason for gratitude.

Today I wear Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer. Of course I had to try something from the popular new Fenty Beauty by Rihanna brand and of course it had to be a lip product. I chose this because she literally only has this one gloss which is supposed to look great on all skin tones, well, it does. It is called Fenty Glow and it is a soft rosy gold color, great shine, great moisture, great color, and yes, universal. Gratitude looks great on everyone. Cheers!

Beauty and Terror

16 Nov

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I had to do something last night that I truly dislike. If you are a parent that has a child involved in Jr or Sr high sports or even musicals or whatever kids try out for you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s the time when you as a parent are sitting in your car on the last day of try-outs waiting for your child to come out and tell you whether or not they made the team, got the part, etc. All of my kids play sports so sitting and waiting in the parking lot behind the gym is a pretty regular experience. I hate it because not every child makes the team and as they come out one by one you can see joy or disappointment on their faces and lots of times tears; heartbreaking even if it’s not your child. I personally have experienced both joy and tears and as a mom you feel double–double the joy and double the heartache.

Last night I had a different experience and I hate to even mention it but it’s real. Last night as I was waiting for my son to come out of basketball tryouts I was completely overcome with emotion. The one thought that shook me waiting in silent darkness was that I didn’t want to die. Even though I was not liking the experience of waiting to hear about Alex and the team, I wanted to be there; not just for that day, but for all days, for all life lessons that continue on into adulthood, for all the joys and disappointments, for the tears that we would share, for all of the hugs, for proms, graduations, and for birthdays. I want to be mom and I want to be there for all of it. ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.’~R. Munsch. Last night in my car I got incredibly sad and angry at the same time knowing that cancer was trying to purposely shorten my days and there I was crying in the dark in the back of the parking lot. I don’t want to die but I guess none of us are guaranteed our days.

It’s been just a couple of weeks since finding out my cancer was stable and my mind has wonderfully helped me deny I have cancer at all. From finding out in July until my last CT scan in October I struggled with the sadness that comes with finding out my cancer is back and has spread, but then literally after finding out it was stable my mind did a complete turnaround and everything for me was back to normal, no problems at all. Last night I was reminded that life is fleeting and I still have awful cells trying to take me down. Grrrrrrr, it stinks and I’m ticked off and sad at the same time so I’m back to my ‘oh yeah, I still have cancer’ normal…sigh. ‘Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror.
Just keep going.’~R. Rilke Sometimes that sums up exactly how I feel right now, loving the beauty of life and the people I’m surrounded by while also feeling terror and heartache of what’s next and who I may leave behind. ‘What day is it?’ ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh~A.A. Milne  Today is my favorite day because I’m still here. Oh, and he made the team!img_5339

Today I wear Lorac Alter Ego lipstick in Daydream which is a plum/fuschia color which is a little brighter for me but who cares! The formula is between a matte and satin finish so it’s a little drying but goes on smooth. Overall a great one to try! Cheers!

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