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The Wall

22 Apr

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I hit my wall this week. After being on my special diet and off my medication almost 2 weeks my body is done wanting to move around. I basically feel like I’m walking around with the flu; achy, uncomfortable, slow moving, add to that an excruciating migraine last Wednesday, menopausal type hot flashes, and a consistent low grade headache that wakes me up every morning and stays there all day, well, I’m tired but so ready to get this week started. Here’s the lowdown on what’s happening this week. Basically I take a tracer dose of radiation on Monday and they take some measurements, measure/scan on Tuesday, measure/scan on Wednesday, then if my body shows any uptake and if my measurements match with what I need to kill the tumors, I get that dose of radiation to drink, yes drink, then I’m in isolation awhile. This is the typical treatment for thyroid cancer. What makes this a little complicated for me is that I’ve had this treatment before with a high dose the first time I got cancer, radiation, then external beam radiation the 3rd time I got cancer, more radiation, and this time my cancer is now in my lungs. FYI, every human body can only tolerate so much radiation in a lifetime before it causes some other bad things to happen so, the calculation has to be correct. Also, my body has to show uptake in the testing phase or this type of therapy will not even work for me and we’re back to watch and wait which honestly is not a terrible place to be.

For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point and does not break.’~ G.K. Chesterton

Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.’~George RR Martin

The first quote I heard from church this morning and it really hit home~ past the breaking point but not breaking. I love that. Here’s the thing, in my current exhausted and highly emotional state I am so grateful. One thing about being sick is you get to see the best of people first hand. A couple days ago a friend of mine researched every ingredient I could and could not have right now (which is quite extensive) and made me a ‘key lime’ pie among other things. It required so much research on her part and it was incredible. I have been on the receiving end of many prayers, texts and messages of encouragement, and just about every kindness out there, some even shocking but ALL appreciated. Last weekend I got to visit my son and his friends who campaigned and raised money in honor of me at their college Relay for Life. He had bracelets made and they all signed a giant card. img_2201img_2202There are so many great people. Another thing about having to slow down is you get to really observe and feel every single thing you’re surrounded by in your life; the people, your home, the plants, the sun, the rain, (the snow).I’ve been in this place before but sometimes life gets crazy and rushed again and you forget. Always take time to slow down and stop to literally smell the roses. I am so grateful for my life and everyone in it even all of you! Last week I got an amazing award by Feedspot, see the article here (or paste to your browser~ https://blog.feedspot.com/thyroid_cancer_blogs/). They ranked me in the top 15 websites/blogs for 2018 to follow on the web for thyroid cancer. I’m stunned, amazed, and again grateful. Thank you to all my readers!facetune_22-04-2018-17-18-39

This week I will be wearing Almay Smart Shade Butter Kiss Lipstick in Red-Medium. I LOVE this moisturizing, buttery lipstick. It’s a cross between a lip balm and a lipstick and does feel great on your lips. I chose this color because it’s red and I’m ready to tackle this week! Cheers!

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Trusting Through the Storm

11 Apr

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I’m ready, sort of. I am now in prep mode to start my radiation testing/possible treatment in a couple weeks; no meds, strict diet, I’m tired and it’s only day 3. I shouldn’t be tired yet but I am going through major caffeine withdrawal. Since I can’t have cream with my coffee, no cream=no coffee, oh well. I’m a little foggy right now because, hello, no caffeine and eating like a rabbit so I’m just going to ramble. I just came back from a beautiful vacation and it gave me new resolve. Prior to leaving I was unsure I wanted to do the radiation testing and treatment because of the risks involved but coming home after being away, spending time thinking and praying, I’m ready. It boiled down to me trusting the doctors’ expertise and ultimately trusting God and releasing control.img_9233

Our church is doing a series called ‘Riding the Storm’ and here I am, almost EXACTLY 10 years after being diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer the first time, back in an even bigger storm because of metastasis. Life is full of storms and at times it can be a lonely place because no one is in the exact same circumstances and their lives along with everything around you is still going on as ‘normal’. It’s like moving in slow motion while everyone else is going about their business (feels like I’m in The Matrix) . Also no matter how hard you try to describe everything you’re feeling sometimes the heart bears no words. Every morning on vacation I trekked out to the beach pretty early and each day was different; there were sunny, blue sky, peaceful mornings but a couple days started img_1948darker with a storm that changed the waves, the temperature, and obviously the sky. The one constant I knew was that the sun was behind each cloud and eventually it would break through the clouds and light up the sky. Similar to the storms of life, the Son is the constant and despite the clouds, I know He’s there. Ten years ago I did a video for my church during my first cancer diagnosis (you can catch it here~ https://vimeo.com/52232853). So much has changed since that video including more life storms like divorce and obviously cancer’s return a few times (including now), career changes but also rainbow moments like finding and marrying an awesome man who is caring for and supporting me through this storm. The predominant message from my video has sustained me through it all…trust. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a couple panic attacks leading up to this upcoming procedure but I’ve been able to breath through telling myself that God is with me and He is control. Trust. Today I will continue body surfingimg_1935 those big waves of this storm and trust God.

Today I wear Honest Beauty Truly Kissable Lip Color in Strawberry Kiss. I own this lipstick in a couple colors. They’re moisturizing, lightweight, and only use ‘clean’ products. They are kind of between a lipstick and a gloss and not super long lasting but nice. I chose this color because it’s red and I’m ready to fight. Oh and stay tuned…big things planned for my future journey!! Cheers!

The Great Unknown

26 Mar

I have something kind of big happening next month so my emotions are 50/50; half terrified and anxious, half optimistic. I am going through some tests to see if my tumors can still uptake radiation which if they can, the doctor has to measure exactly how much radiation my body can still tolerate vs. how much cancer I need to get rid of. If the two measurements work out I may be able to do radiation again and be done with cancer for awhile, if not I’m back to exactly where I am today, stable and waiting for treatment (which is not a terrible place to be). The problem is that I’ve already had radiation twice, once with a high dose I-131 which I drank and took internally the first time I had cancer, and the other via external beam the third time with cancer. Because of this, the doctor has to  make an exact calculation of a tolerable amount for me or there are not so pleasant side effects (radiation induced secondary cancer). Lots to think about yet really nothing to think about because I just have to go do it and that’s that. There’s a bit of prep work going into the test prior to the radiation that may or may not work. First, they changed my medication last week, a hard switch, so my body is freaking out right now and second, I have to be on a special diet and have no medication a couple weeks before this radiation testing happens, which means I’ll be beyond exhausted.

I confess, I’m a hot mess thinking about all this craziness, not to mention I’m already exhausted and I can’t imagine how much more tired and achy I’ll be 3 weeks from now. I am really trying to process all this and am going through phases of angry and sad that amidst family things, Spring Break plans, Easter, and trying to prepare my daughter to launch in this last half of her senior year, I have to think about cancer, radiation, and CT scans. It all really stinks but I’m reminded God is still in control. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God’~Corrie TenBoom

It’s springtime in Michigan and although it has still been a bit chilly the sun has been out for several days in a row (always a bonus). With the stress of the upcoming tests I have forgotten my daily exercise of stopping and acknowledging things I’m grateful for daily. It’s amazing how quickly perspective, mood, stress can change with the simple act of breathing and taking a moment to remember all your blessings. I have so much to be thankful for…ahhhhhh.  I heard someone call this weird in between stage ‘purgatory’, there was a life before cancer, then there’s the vision of the end because of the diagnosis, but mostly there’s the great in-between; between scans, between treatments, between inhaling and exhaling. Truly our responsibility is the same in all these stages, to love God and to love others and I’m adding this one…to leave space for people to love on you too. It’s spring and one of our bushes is already showing new buds. I read an awesome quote which said, ‘Spring is evidence that the God that breathed the world into existence is still breathing.’~Barbara Brown Taylor  God is still breathing, don’t miss the magic.

Today I wear Bare Minerals Gen Nude Buttercream Lip Gloss in Snarky which is rose with gold sparkle. These are super moisturizing and glossy but only have a little bit of color. I like the consistency because they’re not sticky. I chose this color because it’s an easy color to wear and the gold flecks are just enough pop. I also love the name because it’s kind of been my mood lately. Cheers!

Power of Story

16 Mar

I heard a cancer survivor speak recently and I have to admit I was a little annoyed. I am incredibly happy that this person was completely cancer free and that her treatment worked for her, it’s a place all cancer fighters hope for. I think it was her story and her ‘after’ story that irritated me. The presentation was to a large group so I can imagine it may have been stressful but what I missed was a little authenticity, the guts of her journey. Maybe the story was too simple; got cancer, got treated, got cured, stayed positive, doesn’t remember having any ups and downs emotionally. Maybe I’m being too cynical, that’s probably it. All I know is for me to share in her joy and excitement I needed to be able to connect to her story and being a Stage 4 cancer fighter currently, the expectations and probability to connect was high but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t inspired, and all I could do was sigh, ‘that’s nice, good for her,’ a sharp contrast to someone I heard speak last year. Listening to last year’s survivor story left me on the edge of my seat, I was in tears as I was brought into her journey with her words and I wanted to seek her out afterward and know more. I didn’t even have cancer then.

You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.’~Erin Morgenstern

Have you ever thought about that? The possibility that your story could actually take residence in someone’s soul and become part of their blood and self and purpose. Whoa. If that’s the case, would you be more truthful about who you are, your feelings, your purpose, your words? What I wanted from the speaker was authenticity, truth, and maybe her truth was just that simple. Maybe she didn’t have low points in her journey or maybe she just didn’t let herself get there. My truth on my current cancer path is different and that’s ok because we are all created differently. The authentic self is soul made visible. – Sarah Ban Breathnach  Be authentic.

Today’s page in my story is a jumble of words and emotions. My mind is all over the place. I have the consistency of work and kid rhythms but my mind and heart are still longing to save the world, to check things off on my ever growing bucket list, to see dreams become reality. I heard a fellow cancer fighter say that she tries to create such a big and busy life in order to shove down the ugly cancer stuff; in essence to make cancer just a small part in her mind. I feel the same, planning big, checking things off my bucket list and keeping busy helps me forget on occasion that I have cancer and it also helps me in a small way not to live from scan to scan. Faith. I recently read from an Oswald Chambers devotional that at the beginning of the Christian walk we are so marked by feelings, more by sight than by faith, but there comes a time when that joy is not what it used to be and that sometimes the soul gets dark but that is when God is taking the soul out of the realm of religious feeling and emotion into the realm of faith (all paraphrased). Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien. Deep faith. I’m right there now too. I have a sweet relationship with God that has deepened over the years through life, cancer, and other obstacles, and it’s what’s giving me hope. On Jen Hatmaker’s podcast she ends each episode with the question, ‘What is saving your life right now?’ I have to say for me, it’s my quiet time with God each day and the people I have chosen to surround myself with, my family and my friends; both give me hope, peace, and joy. My mind may be in overdrive but today I get to add another page to my story, I’m alive.

Today I wear Flower Petal Pout Lip Color in Chestnut Kiss. I was pleasantly surprised by these lipsticks from Drew Barrymore’s line. They are inexpensive, have great color, are pretty long lasting, and are fairly moisturizing as well. I chose this color because I was looking for an everyday brown that I could wear without looking ‘dirty’ on my brown skin and this was actually perfect! Cheers!

Fragile

28 Feb

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A week ago I was in India for a mission trip. I am still jet lagged, feeling blessed and grateful, while broken-hearted, but I had to get back on a plane and travel for a work meeting for my company and am here now, corporate America, the polar opposite of where I just came from. I am still processing last week while trying to get through this week and all I can say is I feel extremely fragile, like the thinnest piece of glass that could  break with just the slightest touch. My emotions are riding so close to the surface it’s crazy.

Let me start by saying that my journey back to India started a few weeks beforehand when I sent out letters for monetary and prayer support. The money trickled in for both me and my daughter but quickly came to a dead end so I decided a private Facebook post would be a last ditch effort to raise money. Backing up some more I was praying for a stable scan (or even healing) so I would be able to go in the first place which thank God, my scan was stable. One week before the trip I img_1502got an evening text from an old coworker and friend which opened with,’You will go to India…’. What followed was an incredible monetary contribution which brought me to me knees in gratitude and I couldn’t stop the tears (thank you BAS). Within the next couple days the donations were enough to cover me and most of Audrey and where they came from stunned me and filled my heart with love and gratitude.

What can I say about being in India? It’s difficult to articulate; almost 200 kids filled with joy. They have no cell phones, no television, no video games, and basically none of the luxuries the kids in suburban America have but they were all smiles, all laughter. Then there was the Agape Home for the elderly. This one was/is hard for me. These people have been through life, worked hard for their family, yet they find themselves here. Many abandoned by their family because they could no longer provide or work and they were just another mouth to feed in a country filled with poverty. Looking in their eyes was heartbreaking yet they were being loved and cared for and they had each other; simple joy. We played, prayed, and loved them and the kids for a week and they gave us joy, longing, and love back. The goodbye was tough and when they raised their hands to pray for us I broke. They have so little but they still have faith, joy, and love and as they prayed I looked at their faces and wondered why we complicate life so much.img_1677img_1587

On the plane ride home I watched a beautiful documentary called Human which can be found on YouTube. I recommend it to everyone. After watching I cried more and was overwhelmed with the beauty of people and their stories. The filmmaker asks the same questions to people from around the world from a remote African tribe to the US and he ‘confronts the realities and diversity of human conditions.’ Once again my heart broke and I came home desperate to figure out a way to somehow help the world.

So here I am. In my room after a day long meeting in a nice hotel still processing my trip; the poverty, the simplicity, and wanting to save the world but add to all of this…I have cancer. I can barely take it. Did I mention my daughter who is graduating high school soon was able to come with me to India? Oh my heart and for the who-knows-how-many-times since I found out my cancer is back, I am mad and sad and frustrated that right this minute, I. Have. Cancer. Life is fragile and fleeting. My emotions will adjust themselves and I’ll be ok. How can we love the world more? How can I make a change? How can we BE the change? Love God, love others with however much time you have.

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.’~Mother Teresa

’We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop’~Mother Teresa

No lipstick today, don’t feel like it…cheers 🙂

And other thoughts…

11 Feb

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You are a better Christian if you go to church every Sunday…and other statements that I ponder. I’m not sure which I have more on a moment to moment basis, thoughts or emotions. I can run from joy and happiness to depressed and anxious and back to joy in less than 30 seconds and the same goes with the various topics that pop into my mind in that amount of time. I can go from my cancer and what dreams and goals I still have, to the kids’ schedule for the week, to ‘I need a piece of candy’ in no time flat. Anyhow, I mentioned church because ever since I got the news that my cancer was back last July I haven’t really felt like going to church. People have asked if I am angry at God or have just assumed I’m maybe running away from my faith for now. No and no. In fact, I have never felt closer to God and felt more loved by Him. I’m not avoiding church, I still go, but sometimes I just don’t really feel like it. I believe there are seasons to our faith; seasons of discovery but also seasons when solitude is necessary and maybe that is where I am. I think also during this time when I’m trying to navigate my feelings of living with cancer I’m not sure I can handle that much ‘religious cheerleading’ (poor description and probably offensive but I can’t really describe it any other way). Bottom line, my faith has to do with me and God and we talk all the time. I know I couldn’t do cancer without Him and I see evidence of His love and grace daily from the words I read in the bible to the kindness and love I receive from friends and even strangers whether that’s in a church building or not. He gives me the peace to move forward and trust that everything and everyone will be ok.

img_1326Thought 2. I have heard many many times that I don’t look sick. It’s true. My cancer’s stable so in the meantime I work, go out with friends, go to the kids’ sporting activities and events, ‘normal’ life, and I look no different with Stage 4 cancer now than I did July 6, 2017 (the day before I found out my cancer was back). I don’t ever take offense to the comment, I’m truly grateful because who wants to look sick? Part of my thought process though is that none of us look sick but most of us are. The Facebook and Instagram pictures are great but don’t show sadness, depression, arguments, adversity, bullying, cruelty, or any of the things normal people struggle with every single day. REAL. LIFE. All of us are living, breathing novels with incredible stories and beautiful covers but we don’t see each others’ ripped and tear-stained pages, highlights, the worn out corners, etc…none of us really look sick.

Last thought for today…contrary to social media and what’s most highlighted on the news, people are really great. I am so blown away by the beauty and kindness and generosity of people. In fact, during this time it’s people and my interactions that have been magical and have given me a sense of wonder. I believe we all want the same thing, to know we’re loved and to know we matter. If we can give that much to another person the return is crazy. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, img_7380while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~Lao Tzu  Courage and strength, all of us need both. I read this quote from an unknown author and I really loved it, ‘Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried; but actually you’ve been planted.’ HOW AWESOME IS THAT? Planted for rebirth, planted for new, planted for breakthrough. I love it.

Today I wear NYX Butter Gloss in Red Velvet. I own several colors of this gloss for a few reasons; moisturizing, great color, cheap. If you’re afraid to dive in and wear a bold red lip color you can start with this. This gloss gives just enough color without being scary and it feels great too. I chose this color because it’s red and I do love a good Red Velvet cake! Cheers!

Stable, but…

30 Jan

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Stable again! My cancer is still stable! I have to say I am starting to love that word because well, I have to. What does it even mean? It has been such an interesting and emotional ride and just as quickly as the mood swings up it can easily make it’s way back down. Cancer just sucks. I read a blog written by another cancer warrior last week and it. was. perfect. It perfectly described how I’ve been feeling and I have used this analogy with a number of people already. The writer described her cancer as a bomb strapped to her chest not knowing when it was actually going to blow and that is pretty much how I feel. Categorized as stable is exactly that, still with cancer, but with stable and slow growth; practically speaking the tumors have grown less than 20% since the previous scan. I guess this is the goal if you are living with cancer so I try to be really happy about it. Going back to the bomb analogy and combining it with statistics for my particular ‘brand’ of cancer it goes something like this…in 5 years, 50% of the bombs will have exploded and in 10 years, 9 of 10 bombs will have exploded. Barring all scientific advances, that’s a little rough to think about and that is what keeps my heart heavy and my mind focused on time. The other side of the coin is this, science is advancing faster than the doctors can keep up with so it seems statistics change on an almost daily basis, hallelujah! For now, my mind wrestles with the bomb strapped to my chest not knowing when it will go off but every ‘stable’ buys me more time.

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photo cred: kensington church

I am part of a small, closed Facebook support group of people with the same cancer (both type and stage) as me. Since metastatic thyroid cancer is a little more rare it was nice to find a place with resources and people just like me. Today I heard that one of the moderators passed away rather quickly after he took a bad turn just after the new year. His posts were some of my favorite because he brought both quirky and lighthearted comments along with scientific articles. He posted after the new year and said he made it to where the doctors said he would but if he got to 2019 then he would beat that deadline. Yesterday he posted from his hospital bed that things were not good and today he’s gone. Boom. Sad. So just as quickly after rejoicing my stable scan I’m reminded that I still carry that bomb. It has definitely helped keeping my journal of positive moments and points of gratitude daily. It refocuses my mind and reminds me that we all just have today. Most if not all the moments and things I’m grateful for revolve around the people I’m surrounded by. Joy is still my word this year and I am pressing through; moment by moment seeking out things that bring a smile to my face and trying to surround myself with people that bring me joy, love , and lots of laughter. I am finally chasing old dreams and goals too which has been a fun and interesting journey! ‘The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.’ ~Thomas Paine
Stable is great! I will continue to smile, grow strong, and grow brave!

Today I wear Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Elyssa. I do love these lipsticks because they feel like a lip balm and have a peppermint taste and smell while also having great color. I chose Elyssa which is a deep brown berry because it looks fairly dark on me but still has the lightness of berry (so it’s not like I’m wearing black lipstick). It kind of describes my mood at times..kinda dark (because of that stupid bomb), but the brightness is still there shining through. Cheers!

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