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Tag Archives: thyroid cancer survivor

Never Forget

28 Apr

cancer poster

I had a mini breakdown this morning. I couldn’t get the clasp together while putting on my necklace for at least 10 minutes and out of anger and frustration I broke down and cried. After a few surgeries on my neck and external beam radiation to my neck and shoulder area because of cancer, I had some damage to my brachial plexus which, since most of my cancer tumors were on the left side of my neck, means I have lost some feeling to my left arm and hand. My doctor said that the effects of my radiation treatment could last up to 10 years with scar tissue continuing to build. Well, it’s been almost 7 years since my last treatment and over the past couple of years my left arm and hand have gotten progressively worse. Additionally I carry stress in my neck and shoulders so if I’m under any kind of stress I lose even more feeling in my hand so besides the breathing issues that bother me on occasion, my arm and hand are a constant reminder that I had cancer and it changed me. I don’t feel confident holding a cup of coffee, or a paperclip for that matter, and my left arm is significantly weaker than my right. Besides the loss of feeling in some of my fingertips and thumb, there is a constant tingling all through my arm. You know when you sit cross legged on the floor too long and your legs fall asleep? That is my arm 24/7. I’ve tried physical therapy and I work out fairly regularly but the damage has been done and it cannot be reversed. Playing piano is just about out for me, typing is more difficult, but putting that dang clasp together…almost impossible when you can’t feel your thumb or your fingertips. Of course I’m grateful I’m alive and if this is all I have to deal with the rest of my life then so be it. It just gets frustrating sometimes.

radiation

Me and my radiation mask

A couple days ago I was invited to join in an online discussion about cancer and stress through an organization I have been a part of since 2009 called I Had Cancer. One of the questions they asked was ‘After diagnosis did all your pre-cancer stresses seem trivial?’ (paraphrased). My answer was absolutely yes, but since it’s been 7 years since the last cancer diagnosis for me, I have started to forget what I went through and am back dwelling on some of those pre-cancer ‘trivial’ stresses. I never want to forget. I don’t want to forget that after battling cancer 3 times in 3 years I was more fearless, more grateful, and less stressed about inconsequential things. I remember being more observant; the colors of the sky and of flowers and trees were more vivid, and the air itself filling my lungs was delicious. I craved life and living and never wanted to waste a single moment. What happened? Life, kids, work, time. My clasp and the ‘stress’ discussion reminded me once again of how far I’ve come and all the blessings and moments in between since then. I’m thankful for the reminder and now I know I have to be more intentional about living and truly stopping to breathe life in and smell the roses. ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’ ~ Oscar Wilde

Today I wear Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Wonderland.  These lipsticks are great and I have a couple colors. They come in several colors and formulations but I tend to stick to the satin formula since it’s the most moisturizing. This color is a deep pink-red which is a serious pop of color pretty great for spring and I love the name. Life is a wonderland, cheers!

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Blue Christmas No More

18 Dec
yellowdog

Christmas morning with one of my favorite presents ever, ‘Yellow Dog’. Yes, that’s what I named him. Circa 1979, one stocking the Christmas before my brother was born.

Christmas is coming and if you’ve been reading my blog awhile you already know that while most are in their best mood of the year I get a little sad-ish/melancholoy during this season.Part of it is from my parents; when they immigrated here from the Philippines when I was young, they left behind all of their family and friends so I mostly remember them having a little sadness listening to Christmas music missing their extended family. Don’t get me wrong, I have MANY happy memories of Christmas as a child including always going to midnight mass followed by tons of people coming to my house to eat until dawn along with Christmas caroling and lots of joy and laughter but in the stillness sometimes with music playing in the background, I could tell my parents were missing ‘home’. Then of course there was the time I got the call from my doctor the eve of December 24th letting me know that my cancer was back for the third time. He didn’t call to ruin my Christmas, but by then he knew that I would want to know as soon as he knew, hence the call, that was back in 2009. It has been 7 years and I just noticed something the other day while I was working and listening to Christmas music in the car…joy. There have been so many changes to my life since that time and joy has crept in so slowly in the years following that I barely noticed that underlying sadness had shifted. Despite the mess in between then and now, the absolute heartache and brokenness I experienced and the more than occasional sheer chaos of my life now, there is peace and joy.

Last week I was able to enjoy an awesome vacation far away from home. It was a great time to just relax and be far from work, laundry, cooking meals, and teenagers who always seemvaca2017 to need so much(it’s all good of course). Vacation did a couple things for me, helped me relax but also made me miss home. The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.~Maya Angelou  My son just finished his first semester at college and came home a few days ago. It’s been great having him here awhile before I have to once again say good bye and let him go practice ‘adulting’ again. Like the quote says, home should be a safe place, a place where we feel loved, where we can be who we are with no judgement, where there is no fear (unless you’re talking about teenagers then yes, they should fear me…haha). Home should be that place that when you’re far away you think about and smile,that safe place where the people you love and care about the most, live or come back to; not just the location but the relationships. The people in it don’t have to be perfect, just honest, loving, and safe.  I read the best quote published from an unknown 7 year old the other day, ‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents Christmasand listen.’  Isn’t that the greatest? I am so grateful to have grown up in a loving home and to have a loving home now. By the way, family doesn’t always mean by blood, my parents didn’t have blood relatives around initially so our friends became our family. ‘Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.’~author unknown.

I pray you all have a beautiful Christmas and are surrounded by people who make you feel safe and loved and home. P.S. There are many who are alone or maybe feel alone especially in this season so keep your eyes, hearts, and hands open.Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Blu-Red which is a bright red. These are the BEST long lasting, non drying lipsticks EVER. If you’re curious you can send me a private message on the ‘contact me’ link on the side of my blog page. I chose this color because it’s the holidays and everyone should be wearing their bright red lipstick! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

The Best Is Yet to Come

25 Nov

annabeach

The class song for my high school senior class was ‘The Best Was Yet To Come’ by Bryan Adams which I had the opportunity to sing at my high school graduation. One of the lines says, ‘ain’t it funny how time flies when the best is yet to come.’ It’s been almost 30 years later and after celebrating my birthday last month and now headed into the holidays and a new year I find myself sitting and reflecting on those words; maybe because I heard a DJ on the radio say that phrase recently…the best is yet to come. Is it? After graduation has the best come, did I miss it? Do we live in some type of twilight zone of expectation and anticipation for whatever the ‘best’ is that’s coming? I think we do. Is that ok? I think it’s fine as long as we’re not missing the people and moments that are in our face.

Our country just went through one of the ugliest and craziest presidential elections of all time. There has been so much passion and negativity which has continued on; the country feels divided, some feel hopeless for a positive future. Well, what about the kids? When I was growing up I felt like the world was my oyster, my parents constantly encouraged me and told me I could do anything I set my mind on. They also taught me that nothing is ever handed to you, that you had to work hard and stay persistent. I believed the best was yet to come. I have teen kids and listening to them talk to each other and their friends is eye opening. Instead of the ‘best is yet to come’, their attitude is ‘live for today cuz it’s all we have’ along with ‘the world is on a downward spiral, who cares.’ During and post election along with all the other happenings of our country and world, if our children are listening to all the adults and watching the news than why would they believe the best was yet to come? Why the entitled youth, the instant gratification kids we get so annoyed with? I believe alot of it has to do with the negative news and adults they are surrounded by. Instead of anticipation for an awesome future we have ‘media-ed’ the youth into a fearful future with no jobs, no health insurance, no equality and really no hope for ‘the best is yet to come.’ I want to be positive. I want my kids to be excited about the possibilities of ‘next’. I want my kids to work hard and be kind and be positive for what’s coming with no fear. I have learned the opposite of being fearful is not just to be brave. The opposite of fear is trust and faith; trust in the ultimate One who has a plan and faith in the One who is in control of the future. Trust makes me brave.’Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.’~Jeremiah 17:7-8

So what did I find after graduating high school? Has it been the best life? Cancer, divorce, job changes, lay offs? Yes. Life is crazy, painful, beautiful, challenging, heart breaking, and amazing. I cannot say that it’s always been butterflies and unicorns, stonesactually quite the opposite but holy smokes, the places I’ve been, the emotions I’ve been able to feel to the depths and edges of my heart, and the people, all the people that have stepped into (and out of) my life…wow! I am so grateful. Teach your kids gratitude because every single day there is always a ‘best’ part. ‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, a whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God:See all, nor be afraid!’~Robert Browning

Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Gingerbread. I was introduced to these long lasting lipsticks by a friends and I LOVE them. I am usually sensitive to long wear lip products and I also have chronically dry lips. These are amazing. You can only buy from distributors so if you want to try one email me through the blog! I chose this color which is a light pinky brown mainly for the name. The color is easy to wear for most skin tones but gingerbread because it’s countdown to Christmas 🙂 Cheers!

How We Live?

7 Aug

FullSizeRender

I have a super talented brother, he’s a singer/dancer/actor who was on Broadway for years and has been in the cast of shows like Rent, Mamma Mia, and Miss Saigon among other things. Currently he travels the world as a choreographer, teaching master classes in dance and theater, and judging and emceeing national dance competitions across the country.  A couple weeks ago my brother was hired to teach a master class in theater arts at a theater on the east coast. During one of the breaks he had to return phone calls so he left the theater for a short bit and was walking around in the nearby park/neighborhood. He was in a t-shirt and khaki shorts and was not carrying anything except his cell phone which he was on. I say all of this because within that half an hour he was approached by the local police. Apparently someone had seen him and called them about ‘a mysterious brown skinned man walking around the neighborhood.’ For. Real. He said that the minute the policeman came up to him the officer put his hands in his face and said,’oh damn, I’m so embarrassed.’ Yes, even the cop couldn’t believe it. To follow up on the complaint the police had to go to the theater to verify his story about being there to teach and of course it was the truth.

kOY1

Does he look scary?

This is now the world in which we live. It’s sad and it’s unfortunate and at a time when America is probably the most diverse, we feel the most segregated. We are scared of each other, scared of who the next president will be, scared of our neighbor, scared to cross the city line. We talk big but talk from our comfortable little squares about how things should change. How will they change? Martin Luther King said, ‘Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.’ Easier said than done. Are we losing our capacity to love others? The bible talks about faith, hope, and love with the greatest being love. I recently read in another blog that many think that there can be no faith or hope without love but the author believed that there can be no faith and love without hope. I think that is where we stand today. With all the tragedies, terrorism, senseless shootings, etc, we are starting to lose hope in our futures which then creates cynicism and less faith then eventually less ‘love thy neighbor.’ This attitude then moves down to our kids who really haven’t yet experienced the world but now have the same attitudes and opinions we do regarding politics and maybe even race. It’s a vicious cycle. How do we stop it? I don’t know but how about starting with kindness and respect of others and their opinions. We all have our little circles of influence-start there, we don’t all have to win an argument, sometimes it has to end with agree to disagree. ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’ Gal 5:22-23.

Today I wear Laura Mercier Lip Glace’ in Blush which is a rose brown. I love how these glosses feel and the color is decent for a gloss. I have been using this for years and my absolute favorite color is Brownberry which has been a little hard to find but this comes pretty close. It’s always a great time to just throw on some gloss! Cheers!

 

Fear

30 Jul

pier Are there only 2 sides? Is there really only fear and love? One or the other? Does perfect love cast out all fear?

I admit, I have many fears ranging from the typical spiders and snakes to the large catastrophic events like earthquakes, fire, and of course cancer coming back yet again. Many of my fears are inconsequential and not really debilitating. In fact, since having cancer, I still feel afraid of things but most of the time I overcome by thinking either ‘who cares’ or really ‘what control do I actually have over the situation/thing.’ If I can be totally transparent I have been struggling for a few years with a specific fear which for me has at times been a little debilitating. It is the fear of a person. I won’t be specific but because of events from my past and how they have shaped me, along with actual events that have happened, this fear to me was warranted. Fear has had me looking over my shoulder, looking out my windows at night, locking my doors (which I do anyway), not going to certain places ‘just in case’, adjusting my schedule…you get the gist. Fear changed how I lived. It is a work in progress but now alongside of that shrinking feeling of fear is anger. Anger that I am still making certain adjustments and anger because I still have that fear (vicious cycle) because just when I think I’m about to overcome the whole thing, something else happens. I am finding that anger is starting to take over that fear and maybe that’s a good thing.

When exactly does perfect love cast all that out? I’m honestly not sure. Yes, I believe God is in control. Yes, I trust God has my back but in between fear and love there’s a whole lot of anger, frustration, forgiveness and exhaustion. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. What I do know is that fear steals joy, peace, fun, and takes parts of your life that you may not even be aware of. It’s the thorn in your side day to day. Fear turns life into the what if; what if I get cancer back, what if I really am not good enough, what if my child gets in an accident, what if those threats are real, what if, what if, what if? Here is where I have to land…“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.  A daily active faith and trust in God. Our lives can be made dark by many things but fear takes away the freedom to really live. There is a song we sing at church with the words ‘I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.’ Every time we sing it, I cry because I need that truth every single day. Fear> worry> anger> faith> trust> breathe> peace> free>repeat.bird

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.’~ Yann Martel 

Today I wear Bare Minerals Gen Nude Radiant lipstick in Panko. Did you know yesterday was National Lipstick Day? Uh yeah, my friend Adrienne had to tell me (thank you)! Anyhow, I picked this one up and I have to say I like it! All of the colors in this line are supposed to be ‘nude’ with just a hint of color. They are creamy but more on the glossy side, not the one to choose if you’re looking for hard core color. I chose this color because it has a coral undertone but it’s not too orange. Thank you for doing life with me! Cheers!

Letting Go

17 Jul

bus stop

My 16 year old daughter just came back from Africa a few weeks ago. She had a fantastic opportunity with our church to go to an area where a school is being built for 600 children. Daily they were there to play, teach, sing, and just love these kids. When she came home she had a certain glow about her; she has been more open, appreciative, loving, and as an aside is more willing to use public restrooms because of the ‘not so nice’ bathroom situation where she stayed in Kenya. She’s always been pretty stubborn and staunch about her future plans in regards to college and career (especially lately), but this trip has changed her a little and I see (and hear) some uncertainty now. It’s been great listening to her and what’s on her heart and I’m excited. I’m praying that she will remember this trip, the people she met, and that her heart remains soft to those in need. I think it’s amazing how just leaving your comfort zone for a bit can change your perspective, your opinions, and maybe even some of your goals and worldview. IMG_2574

This summer has been a little difficult for me. Not only has it been jam packed with just stuff to do but most of that ‘stuff’ has had to do with letting my kids go and that reminder that they’re growing and ‘going’. My oldest child graduated high school and will be leaving in a month for college, my daughter went to Kenya then came home and got her driver’s license, and my youngest finished his first year of Jr High, went to a weeklong camp, and grew 6 inches somewhere along the way making him almost 6 foot tall. Parenting is hard and as I watch them become more and more independent I realize that it’s just a process of teaching them some of the lessons you’ve learned, loving them, then letting them go and be who God created them to be. As much as I want to hold them captive and continue telling them what to do (I mean offer them guidance), my time is nearly up and now I watch, pray, and support. It. Is. Not. Easy. But change and growth is inevitable.grad

‘Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.’~K. Gibran

Today I wear Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Quench Lip Rescue in Rose. I chose this because my lips seem to be perpetually dry right now so I’m wearing lots of colored balms and lipgloss. It’s super sheer and not bad in terms of moisturizing but I was hoping for a little more color. I know the job of mom or parent never stops, just changes; it’s a privilege and a blessing. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged so thank you for bearing with me! Cheers!

 

 

Dad

19 Jun

dadbaby

When I was 2 my dad came by himself to the United States leaving my mom and me in the Philippines. My parents decided to immigrate to the US in hopes of a better life and more opportunities for their children, and to achieve that American dream. My dad came first to look for a job, save up some money, find a place to live, and essentially ‘set up shop’ for my mom and I so we could be comfortable and set when we arrived. I was told by my mom that I stopped talking the day my dad left because I was heartbroken he was gone. I’m not sure how long I decided not to speak but I know it was quite awhile.

My dad is an introvert like myself. He is a man of few words but he is also a man you can count on to be there for you when you need him, no questions asked. Throughout my youth there were times my dad had two jobs to help support us but he never missed a dance recital, piano recital, parent/teacher conference, athletic event, school play, etc. I grew up confident that he and my mom (who was also a working mom) loved me and supported my every endeavor. I don’t remember a time when I wondered if one or the other or both would be there, it was never even a question. In college, my dad would come visit once a month or once every other month for an afternoon to eat and shop with me, just to hang out. When I got cancer, all three times my dad was the one driving the car to take me to the hospital for my surgery with my mom in the passenger seat. Now my dad dadalexdoes the same for my kids. He tries to be at most of the games and he drives them around too. Yes, a man of few words, but his actions speak volumes of his love and support.

What makes a great dad? Someone who loves not just through words, but through actions. He lifts his kids up with support along with sacrifice. He makes sure his kids know they can lean on him and not question whether he will show up or not. He disciplines when necessary but also makes his child feel protected and safe. He does not compete with his kids for attention or accolades, no, he mostly takes the back seat. A dad is someone who is supposed to give us a glimpse of what our Father in Heaven is like. I know there are many situations out there out of our control. There are moms having to be both mom and dad, step dads, grand dads, uncles, and even friends  who have stepped up to be that ‘fatherly’ role necessary for some. God bless you and thank you, we all need you. Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad (quote from somewhere I heard). Thanks dad for being an example of love, commitment, and sacrifice. dadkoy

No lipstick today, just Chapstick because my dad usually has one close by. Cheers and Happy Father’s Day!

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