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Tag Archives: mother

Motherhood And Cancer

26 Sep

facetune_22-09-2018-17-18-00Last weekend my son went to his first official high school homecoming dance. He didn’t have a date but neither did most of his friends. Interesting times but I guess less pressure if you just decide to go with a bunch of friends. When I first found out cancer was back a little over a year ago my primary thoughts were of the kids not having a mom around to see them graduate, get married, have kids of their own, etc. Since I’ve been stable over a year some of those thoughts have faded (a little) but every time something significant happens like graduation, off to college, or this homecoming dance, my heart swells and I feel so grateful to still be here.img_4293

What can I say about being a mom with cancer? Many of my emotions I can’t even iterate on paper. This may be the hardest part. When I first got cancer the kids were 5, 7, and 10 and my thoughts were consumed with being able to raise the kids to at least adulthood when maybe they wouldn’t need a mom as much, but now that my kids are there or close to that ‘adulthood’ age I realize they still need a mom and maybe even more. Watching them grow up and being there for these moments is both heartbreaking and beautiful. I guess the best description of being a mom with cancer is ‘overwhelmed’; every event, every moment, every time they lay their head on my shoulder, every great conversation, every text or call just to say hello, and every ‘I love you’ is overwhelming, like my heart may burst into a thousand pieces with joy and love. On the other side, every harsh word or rude comment, every ‘you’re so annoying’, every time they make a bad decision, it is absolutely piercing heartbreak. Thankfully the negative is not often but it still happens and it’s hard. Having cancer has magnified every single emotion for me and as a mom, sometimes the emotions feel unbearable, both the good and the bad.

As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.~Rachel Cusk

Metastatic cancer generally has no cure, it’s all about time. Being stable means more time. Being stable over a year? Slow growing…more time. I don’t want to miss anything. When they were young, I wanted to see them through to adulthood. Now that they’re older teens/young adults I want to see the rest of their stories and how it all shakes out so I’m kind of mad about it. There is no good time to have cancer. The teen/young adult years, I have decided, are the hardest years to parent. This is the time when kids push boundaries, try to bend the rules, and try to shove their way into adulthood and oh yeah, they can drive away. Why am I mad? Because at a time when I want to hold them tight and spend every possible moment I can with them,  they are trying to push off into the world. It stinks. It’s hard in general to parent during teen years but even harder with cancer because again, it’s about time. So. Incredibly. Frustrating.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.

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How has cancer changed my mothering? I stare at the kids longer when I see them trying to memorize every feature. I move heaven and earth to be available for the times that they want to see me. I cry a lot more and not just when I’m sad, but when I’m ecstatic as well. I cry so.much. I hug them until they have to push me away and I pray for them and their future without ceasing. Motherhood stretches our hearts bigger and wider than we could have ever imagined and when you add cancer or any illness for that matter, your heart  stretches to the point of breaking. I read somewhere that cancer is not just a disease of the body but of the mind, body, and soul. So true. I will not let cancer break my spirit. I will take ‘stable’ as long as possible. I am a mom. I am strong.

Today I wear one of my favorite lips products of all time, Dior Lip Glow in Berry. I have this in 3 different ‘colors’. Essentially these are lip balms but each brings out a natural hue from your lips. I love these because they’re moisturizing and give your lips enough color to feel ‘finished’. Cheers!

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I am a mom

11 May

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Mother’s day is around the corner and I am a mom. I am a mom with cancer. What does that mean on mother’s day for me? How have I changed?  This is hard to talk about. The first time I got cancer my kids were young and all I could think of was to fight for them. I have to say, what lessened the urgency or ‘scare’ from the word cancer for me was that I had thyroid cancer which I read about and was told even by my doctors that it was the easiest and best cancer to have because of the high cure rate. When things turned out a little more complicated after the first surgery I was scared and yes, I cried…a lot. My img_1886kids were only 5, 7, and 10 at the time and I wasn’t ready to leave them (are we ever ready to leave them?). I fought, I cried, I prayed, I survived and for the next 2 years cancer came back again twice but same thing, I fought, I cried, I prayed, and throughout those years and the surgeries, and the treatments, I tried to make their lives as normal as possible. I continued to work, I volunteered at their school, I brought cupcakes and donuts to their classes for their birthdays. I rarely missed anything.

Today, 10 years later, cancer is back and it decided to spread. My kids are older, facetune_01-04-2018-18-00-11one is in college, one is headed there next fall, and the youngest is in high school. I’m older, teens are more difficult, life is rarely quiet but I fight, I cry, I pray. Life is funny because there are always things you don’t want to miss. When the kids were younger and I got cancer all I wanted was more time to get them through high school. Now that they’re older I want to see them become adults, get married, maybe meet my grandkids, I want to see them fly and flourish and know that they’ll be ok.

I am a mom. Like all moms we have img_1634pieces of our hearts walking and breathing outside our bodies. We feel their hurts, we cry when they cry, we’re happy when they’re happy. We worry, we discipline, we direct, we pray, we love, we do the best we can. There are no perfect people or perfect moms but we can love and we can teach them to love. I am a mom with cancer. I may not meet the grandkids but I am planning to. I want to see them make good decisions but I can’t control them. I want them to know that my home is a safe place and that there is love waiting for them here. My love language is time and unfortunately with cancer time is what is threatened the most so that makes my heart hurt a little. Here’s the twist, they’re all older and preparing and wanting to launch so while I try to grasp tighter and grab more moments, they are at the age of friends and freedom, and adulthood, how’s that for crappy timing…but I guess there isn’t really a good time to get sick. So that’s what’s a little different with cancer. I hug a little longer, and grasp a little tighter even though they’re older and they grasp for freedom. I stare at them more because I want to notice and memorize and soak in every nuance of their faces. When they ask to grab coffee or a movie or dinner, I jump at the chance because it’s more time. I don’t get too wound up over dumb things and I let go of simple annoyances quickly because I mainly see things in ‘big picture’ now. I listen more intently and I constantly tell them how much I love them and I fight harder, I cry harder, and I pray harder. To all the moms, stepmoms, aunts, mother figures, teachers, mentors and the village helping raise our children, Happy Mother’s Day.

Maybe every year needs one day to live wide awake to celebrate that we get to call these people ours, that we get to be the one who gets seconds and minutes and hours and days and maybe even years to witness the wonder of them…We get the gift to love our people-and what if we don’t get the wonder of another? Maybe getting to love is getting the best gift of all.~Ann Voskamp

Today I wear MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Habanero. I was looking for something a little bright after my radiation treatment. I needed a little pick me up and this color did it! I love the texture of this lipstick formula and the color is awesome. Habanero is a bright orange/red and I love it. Like the name, this color is spicy and fun! Cheers!

This Is Us

26 Jan

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I love this show and clearly millions of Americans love this show as well. I admit that I shed a tear or two or a hundred with every single episode. Why is this series so popular? I have my guesses; people have called it ‘real’,’emotional’,’accurate to life’. All those things are true but I think the main reason it’s popular is it validates us as imperfect human beings; it shows us that we are all human and our choices, good and bad, are a product of the experiences of our past and our current environment. Every person is wired differently and experiences things a little differently; three kids (triplets), raised by the same parents in the same home become three very different adults. Every single person on this show has a story, a ‘why’ they are the way they are and it opens ours eyes and makes us emotional because we can relate. We make mistakes, we make good and bad choices but it all comes from our story and just adds to our journey.

Anyway, I’ve been a little uninspired lately, partly being too busy partly emotionally drained from navigating teen parenting. Like my last blog said, parenting teens is soooo hard. I decided to look back at my story because sometimes we forget. The benefit of being fullsizerendera lifetime diary/journal keeper is that you can go back in time and discover what you were like. I recently pulled out and read my journals from age 16-19 and it was great because it really helped me understand where my daughter was coming from and allowed me to give her more grace and not take things personally. Reading my thoughts made me laugh, made me angry, and made me reflective of my life since then and I learned a couple things. Reading it brought me back and stirred up those same old feelings. I thought I was so smart and ‘adult’ and an expert at life (at 18) yet made some immature comments and decisions. I struggled with identity, wanting to be liked, be part of the ‘in’ crowd, and thinking no one understood me. Yup, confirmation I was in fact a teenager! Decades later reading my journals gave me clarity about who I was and why I made different decisions and mistakes and some of what I wrote made me want to shake the young me and scream at her but I guess that’s all part of our story right? It’s what makes living a life. There was also something I found beautiful, hope. I was so hopeful back then. I looked forward to the future with excitement and I believed the best of so many people. I was more carefree and surprisingly I was grateful. At the end of my entries I would write what I was thankful for, some of them dumb like ‘did 100 sit ups today’ or ‘took a long walk.’I take it back, those are not dumb because many days now I don’t have time for a long walk and I probably would throw up if I did 100 sit ups…or can I even do 100 sit ups?

Here are my lessons from me:

  • Stand back a little and let teens go through things as they transform into adults (a little more grace)
  • Be grateful even for the minutia of life because you may not be able to experience the same in the future
  • Be hopeful and look to the future with excitement (this perspective always makes the days better)
  •  Don’t forget other people have a story too

The show This Is Us is great but no show is as good and as complex as real life and no writer is better at writing your story than you. Today I wear Julie Hewitt lipstick in Jules. I was introduced to this lipstick by another blogger and it’s great. It feels like a balm and has ‘more than sheer’ color…not too heavy but just enough. I chose this color because it’s an easy everyday red/berry and because the owner made it for herself and pretty much named it after herself too. Her story. We have one life, one story to create, this is us. Cheers!

Tic Toc

30 Jul

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure, measure a year. In daylight, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, In inches, in miles, in laughter in strife, In Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure a year in the life”…Seasons of Love, from Rent.

Tic toc, all we have is time, how do we spend it?  I learned the news that I had cancer one week before leaving for training.  The last thing I wanted to do was leave my family and friends for three weeks and use those minutes with people I didn’t know.  I listened to this song on my way there and then again on my way back and I discovered that my attitude had changed.  On my way, I thought about the brevity of life and truly the limited time we have and wondered why I was leaving my family during such a critical time in my health.  On my way back, I thought about the new friends I had made and how those moments I spent on the new relationships impacted my life.  At the end of training we were given evaluations individually.  What my trainer told me was that in the beginning he couldn’t figure me out because I was so quiet, but in the end he said it turns out I was a quiet storm affecting one person at a time.  This made me cry.  Since cancer, my life mission has been to make a positive impact one person at a time and his statement was validation that I was doing something right.

You’ve heard me say this before but I will say it again and again.  We impact each person that we meet whether positive or negative, people walk away from each encounter feeling something about you.  Sometimes, it’s just a few minutes and in this case for me, it was three weeks.  What type of impact do you want people to feel after you walk away?  I choose to make it a positive one.  Yes, three weeks was a long time, but the moments I spent with certain people were not a waste of those precious 525,600 minutes.  People are not a waste of time.  So thank you to Michelle, Jennifer, Ashley(TX), Ashely(FL), Lauren, and of course, Fernando.  You have all impacted my life.

For my new friends I wear  2 colors, Chantecaille- Angel Skin ,  a soft pinkish nude, because you were all my angels during training; and Bobbi Brown -Burnt Red because it’s my reminder to live boldly (and because Fernando said he loves red lipstick).  Thank you for the shared tears and all the laughter.

No Fear

29 Jun

Here I am again in the PET scan room (written at 6:30am), waiting the 2 hours until the contrast they injected me with makes its way through my body so they can detect any cancer cells floating around.  Am I afraid? Of course.  Not so much for the test. this is probably my 10th or 11th scan in three years so I’m used to lying still with metal hovering just inches over my face and body.  No, I’m always scared to hear the results (they haven’t exactly been positive most of the time).  I also am seeing my laryngologist this week and that scares me too.  Mostly because I don’t really want to know how close or non-functional my vocal cords are.

After cancer, I don’t really trust my body.  Before each diagnosis, I have felt great (minus an occasional sore throat).  I would love to rejoice each time I get clean results or good news, but even when/if I do I am hesitant and suspicious.  Will I ever get that trust back?  I doubt it.  Will I let it control me and take away my joy?  I won’t let it.  Yes, I believe the fear of cancer coming back will always be there, but even if I don’t trust my body, I will always trust in God who created it and has a perfect plan for me.

All of us have our hesitations and fears but there are many things we cannot control.  happiness is based on our outside circumstances but joy comes from within, from trusting our Creator has a plan although it may be different from ours.  Fear is ok but don’t give it the power to control you and rob your joy.  Life is for the living!

I’m not wearing any metal for my PET scan, but one thing I am wearing is Bobbi Brown Treatment Lipshine in Rosy .  It’s a gorgeous warm pinky brown color that looks great on ALL skintones, not quite a full on lipstick, but also not quite just a lip gloss.  One thing I’ve learned is to live for today and today I choose to have a Rosy outlook on life!

I Love Birthdays

31 May

Survivor Lap

Last weekend I was able to walk and sing at my first Relay For Life event and it was an amazing experience.  The survivors were given purple shirts which read ‘Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back.’  What a great mantra because that is what we were all there to do.  There were so many survivors, all different ages, colors, genders, cancer knows no bounds. During my trip around the track in the Survivor Lap, I was overwhelmed with joy at the fact that my fight is currently over and I have won.  I couldn’t keep a smile off my face.  At one point my mom (who walked the lap with me along with my family) turned around and said, ‘I want to cry’.  I was walking with fighters; people given no choice but to stand up and fight for their lives.  We are told we are strong when in fact, we rise up and do what we need to do.  The sign that impacted me the most in that lap was one that read ‘I love birthdays.’  I was overcome with emotion and just couldn’t stop the tears. The thing is, is that I have always loved birthdays.  As a child, even though I didn’t have many birthday parties, my parents made me feel like the most important person on that day.  It was a celebration of me.  After cancer, birthdays are all the more important.  The first surgeon said my diagnosis was poor and wasn’t sure how much time I had left, and with the cancer continually coming back I wasn’t so sure myself.  Every birthday since that diagnosis has been a milestone for me.  I tear up every year at the significance of a birthday.  It has also been a time to reflect on the past year and its events.  After the survivor lap I was asked to sing which was overwhelming.  I made it through ‘Over the Rainbow’ and as the crowd of survivors, walkers, and supporters, all people touched by cancer, applauded, I wept.  I was told I would never sing again and here I was.

Me and Audrey (with her red painted hair)

Me and Audrey (with her red painted hair)

 

singing

singing

Something fun that I did this week was to go on my second lipstick consultation trip.  I shopped with a friend to help her find her perfect shade for this season.  It turned out to be a new Armani long wear lipgloss in Plum.  It’s a light plum gloss with great consistency and not too much shimmer…I bought one too!  That will be my color this week…light plum; highlighting your natural self and adding a little bling, enough said!

I love birthdays!

Contentment

20 May

Earlier this week I went shopping with a friend.  She, like me, is a lipstick fanatic (amongst other things).  We decided to go to a local upscale mall and played for hours at Nordstrom and Neimann’s.  It was so much fun and yes, we walked out with a few things.  It’s funny in a bad economy how everyone wants to help you find the right shade or the right scent.  Just a few years ago when the economy was a little better, no one behind the counters even looked at me while I played.

In sharp contrast, the next day I was at a homeless shelter with another one of my friends.  She heads up the children and youth services there because yes, there are many homeless families.  This particular home housed over 200 people; years ago predominantly men, now, the majority women and children.  They have a three year program that helps people from the inside out.  Not only taking them out of addiction, but bringing them back to health and confidence internally and externally.  My friend Melissa told me that many people come with just the clothes on their backs.  All I know is that the face of homeless has changed.  Some were former ‘suburbanites’, working class, who have either struggled with addiction or who have lost their job and have nothing left.  Many are single moms and some are teenagers who have lost their youth to drugs and alcohol.  The shelter is immaculate and completely supplied by donations, from the food and clothing, to the bedding and toiletries.  I wanted to weep at all that they don’t have and yet these people surrounding me were surviving, thriving, wanting and accepting change.  It made me ponder my trip to the mall and all the people who surrounded me just the day before.

A couple strange headlines this week; first, on CNN there was news that there may be a blood test that can determine how long you will live.  Would you take it?  Does it allow for things like cancer, accidents, or being struck by lightning? And second, apparently the world is going to end.  Both these crazy stories lead to the question, if you knew you were going to die would you live your life differently?  We all know our birthdays but if we knew our death date, what would we change?  Having cancer multiple times brought that question to the forefront of my mind and still does, but we are all survivors.  The people at the mall surviving and coping with the economy, the people at the homeless shelter trying to overcome and survive, and everyone else who is dealing with daily adversities.  Life changes in a minute, no one knows the day or the hour of the end, so celebrate and live your moments intentionally.

Today I’ve got to go with the red lipstick again because living boldly is incredible; but I’m going sheer (because it’s day time and I’ve got nowhere to go). I am going with Lipstick Queen-Medieval.  It is a sheer red that anyone can wear and it feels like a lip balm, how can you go wrong?

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