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Tag Archives: survivor

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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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!

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!

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!

Can We Change?

14 Nov

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Recently I had a conversation with one of my coworkers about personality types and whether people could change or if we just are who we are; a deep topic but spurred on by another conversation I had with my boss. We are in sales so we talked about our specific personality types (defined by Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc) and how they relate to selling style and if one may be better than the other. In the end my coworker and I decided that we were created a certain way at our core and there are enhancements we can make to our specific types like being a little more aggressive or being a little more extroverted, but at our specific personality type stays the same. There’s a saying ‘fake it til you make it,’ can you fake kindness? Then there’s ‘this is how God made me.’ Is it? Is there a ‘bad’ personality type? I don’t believe there’s a bad type but maybe life experiences, disappointments, and our own insecurities make us ‘hard’?  Can we soften? Can people change? All tough questions.

I read this today and it really resonated with me: You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.Why did you spill the coffee? ‘Well because someone bumped into me, of course!’Wrong answer. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.*Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.*Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.*So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?” When life or business gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and impulsive reactions? Whoa. When faced with adversity who are you because that is when your true thoughts and heart show. I have been around people who have raged and placed blame outside of themselves in troubling times but who does that hurt? It shows a core of anger and insecurity and the ‘ugly’ that rolls off their tongues is truly the ‘ugly’ that’s in their hearts. Matt 15:18 ‘But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart..’ Can they change? Nothing is impossible with God but first they must look in the mirror. I am no saint but with all the challenges life has thrown over the years all I can do is fall to my knees, cry out for peace, and be grateful for another day. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t depend on personality type because at all of our cores is love and the need to feel loved. Maybe it’s all about control. We go through so much in life; illness, hurt, broken relationships, etc and maybe we become hardened because those are the things we cannot control. So here’s what must change…not our personality type, but our need to control every circumstance or person, or in other words, our need to be God. Just my theory. ‘All is not what it is-it is always more. What seems like your story is but a line in the whole story’~Ann Voskamp.

This weekend I was blessed by an img_7380-1unbelievable surprise. My son’s recreational basketball team comprised of most of his closest friends surprised me by wearing t-shirts especially made (by the moms) in support of  my cancer journey. I cry thinking about and looking at the pictures. The beautiful thing about releasing control over whatever situation you may be in is that it frees your heart to love more, to be more authentic and to be kind. You get to be more of your authentic self because you also release the need to control people and reactions and crap in general and you get to live the golden rule ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’~Matt 7:12. What you put out into the world comes back 10-fold and those shirts on those boys created by the moms was a HUGE 10-fold bounce back. My grateful heart is once again mush.

img_5039-1Today’s lipstick is YSL Rouge Pur Couture Dazzling Lights Edition Lipstick in Le Rouge which is blood red. These lipsticks are a little pricey but super moisturizing. For whatever reason the lipstick just feels luxurious on your lips but I’m not gonna lie, the color slips off my lips pretty quickly. Never the less, if you want to splurge, YSL and Tom Ford are the two brands that are splurge-worthy. I chose this color because it’s red and a great color for the holidays! Cheers!

Still Here

9 Oct

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It’s amazing what music and the right song at at the right time can do. Many of you may not know that I started college as a music major, I was mainly focused on performance and music theater but finished with a science degree. I used to sing, dance, play the piano…all fun stuff for me (here’s me and one of my doctors after my 3rd cancer a few years back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deEFC2IQLWM&feature=share) . Music has always played a HUGE part of my life. Last week I heard a song during one of my meetings that not only made me tear up but also gave me the shove I needed to turn the corner on my sadness (plus I got a ton of funny stuff and jokes from last week’s blog so thank you!) if only just a little bit. The song is called Sound of Surviving by Nichole Nordeman.

This is the sound of surviving. This is my farewell to fear. This is my whole heart deciding I’m still here and I’m not done fighting.’ 

‘I’m still here. Say it to the ache, lying there awake. Say it to your tears I’m still here. Say it to the pain, say it to the rain, say it to your fear…I’m still here.’

Hearing this song and soaking in the words shifted my heart and mind because yes, I’M STILL HERE. The simple words and verses helped change my sadness turning into cynicism just enough to restore the hope and strength I needed to fight a little harder and focus on being grateful a little more. Despite the cancer, despite the broken world, despite the sadness, we are all STILL HERE! What does that mean? While we are living we can still change the world. The Las Vegas shootings happened this past week and it was awful. We can be sad, we can be angry, but we are still here. What can we do differently? We can love more, do more, be grateful more because we don’t know what tomorrow brings. No one knows how many days we have on this earth, cancer just gives you a clock, but still, who really knows? Love, give, be intentional, be someone’s magic because you can be. We are still here.

I spent most of last week in San Diego for a meeting…don’t be jealous, we didn’t  have very much free time. I arrived a little early so I could spend some time exploring. I ended up eating dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant and since I have cancer and I’m all about YOLO, I ordered everything I wanted from guacamole to Tres Leches cake. The bill was not small!  When the waitress came back with the bill I asked if she would take a picture of me with the beautiful painted mural wall as my background for my blog. When she asked what type of blog I wrote I said ‘lipstick and cancer’. She snapped the pic above. A few minutes later she came back to the table and said ‘I’m taking care of your bill. My mom just beat breast cancer and you remind me of her; you have the same fire and spirit in your eyes.’ She walked away and I broke down in tears. I ordered $65 worth of food and beverage for just me and I was blessed by this young and beautiful waitress. I’m still here and there are still awesome people in this world.

I am so grateful. ‘Always pray to have eyes to see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.’~ Curiano 

Today I wear Stila Color Balm lipstick in Elyssa. These are a newer formulation and are super moisturizing which I love. I chose this color because its a deep brown berry which is great for fall. Cheers!

From my teen son on Mother’s Day…

14 May
2014
Al
I got this letter/story today written by my youngest son who is 14. Parenting teens is such a challenge and sometimes we have to hang on to just the occasional bits of love and affirmation we get to feel like we’re doing something right. Sometimes we don’t even know what affects our kids or what they hang on to. This made my heart melt and made me ‘love cry.’ (I asked his permission to publish):
Ahhhhhhh! I let out a yawn as I wake up to the soft sound of a piano. Momma! I rush downstairs to the living space where medium-sized black piano was placed with my mom sitting there playing. I sit in a chair next to her along with my dog Roxy. We both enjoyed whenever momma would play and sing beautiful melodies. I always pressed pause on my life to listen to her beautiful music. “On my own….” she begins to sing one of her favorite songs from one of her favorite musicals “Les Miserables.” This was one of my favorites too.  She sang it so many times that she perfected it by now. The way her fingers moved on the keys made it seem like my mother was a wizard of some sort. I closed my eyes and imagined floating up and relaxing. Pure relaxation. That’s what it was. As the song went on it brought tears to my eyes just knowing how much my mom really loved to sing and how beautiful she was. I told myself that one day I’d do something that I love and show my kids what happiness is.
     
Afterwards I made one egg over-medium along with a piece of toast and made one for my mom too. She walked me to my bus stop and I waited to embark into another day in 2nd grade. Every day was an adventure for me at that age; I was a pirate or ninja or something of that nature during recess. The bus arrived and as I was sitting there next to my fellow pirate, I realized how much singing meant to my mom. She sang all her life and I wondered if she would travel to the places I did while she was singing. Places high in the sky or beautiful meadows or… I went on in my head thinking of the beautiful places on Earth which matched my moms music. I eagerly awaited going back home to another concert.
The next day was mothers day and I woke up bright and early with my siblings to fix up some breakfast with love to serve to my mom in bed. As we served her breakfast along with many hugs and kisses she began to cry. I never understood why she would cry at moments like these. Were the eggs not cooked right? She claims it’s because she loves us so much. I never cried for loving someone but I just went along with it. Today was her day. I remembered always begging God for a “Children’s Day,” like mothers day and fathers day, but when I told my mom she said “Children’s day is everyday.” That always made me mad.
 
It wasn’t until 5th grade I learned to appreciate my mom more and more. Divorce. That was the word brought up in conversation for the next 2 years. I could see that mom was more stressed than she had ever been. I had a hard time as well but had to fight through it to help my mom fight through it. She was stronger than I was, so we just helped each other along the way. She didn’t sing or play piano as frequently anymore, but when she did I would still sit and listen. She put ten times more effort and emotion into playing this time. I guess this was when her true colors came out. It was gorgeous to hear and I finally understood why you cry when you loved something. Sometimes I would hide in other rooms and listen because I was having a hard time and would often cry too. I routinely closed my eyes, forgot everything, and travel to another world with nothing but the sound of the piano playing in the background.
As I grow older it seems sometimes like I am growing apart from my mom, apart from myself and who I really am. Teenage years are a struggle for both of us and it must get worse before it gets better. I’m thinking back to my 2nd grade years trying to remember the relationship I had with my mom, then versus now. Trying to give her the tears of love again. She rarely plays anything anymore. I wish she did but I don’t wanna tell her. Just listening makes me set aside all my troubles for a brief moment. I will love my mom and her music forever. I’m always a momma’s boy at heart and I know I’ll never forget the music she played. It forever plays in my heart.
Happy mother’s day, love you❤
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