Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I'm not all that great at being a chemo patient.  I was going to say cancer patient, but my BFF always corrects me and reminds me that the cancer is G-O-N-E. 

I'm a planner, I like to know what's going to happen and prepare myself.  I'm learning that my body and chemo make that almost impossible.  There's no control over what the chemo will do to my body and sometimes there are other wrenches thrown in for good measure.  Things like blobs that suddenly take presence in one's armpit...grrrr...not fun.  So after a trip to the Dr.'s office and a prescription for antibiotics, we're back in the game.  I'm optimistic that the antibiotics will kick the foreign blob to the curb never to make an appearance in my armpit again.  It has not been pleasant.

Admittedly, situations like these scare the heck out of me.  My thought process goes whacko and it's hard for me to stay grounded. Especially today when I had the opposite of my  caring, compassionate, competent, intelligent, adorable surgeon.  She was lacking in the empathy department and I'm pretty sure everything that came out of her mouth sent me into a tale-spin of panic.  

"Hello Doc, can you see the rash all over my body? Yes, those are nerve related hives.  You may want to proceed with caution as to prevent me from erupting into tears of panic. Thanks for your consideration."  What the heck?  I mean really lady, get a clue-you work with cancer patients everyday.  

Moving on...

Someone smart said to me, 
"You should count your blessings before bed".  It helps to put things in perpective. 

Tonight I'm counting my blessings:

-I'm thankful my white blood cell count was A-Ok!
-I have Doctors, regardless of bedside manner, who are able to effectively treat me.
-My body is doing ok, even when the chemo beats the crap out of it.
-This is temporary-for some, it is not.
-I have a support system like no other.
-My family rocks!

and those are just a few of my many, many blessings.

Amazing things happen everyday right before our very eyes, we just have to open them.

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

-Og Mandino

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blah, blah, blah...

My parents have taught me that if I don't have anything nice to say, then I should refrain from saying anything.     I guess that's why I haven't blogged over the past few days.  I've been cranky and who really wants to hear non-stop bantering about my problems?  So, I'll give a brief synopsis:  The nausea monster reared its ugly head several times during the past week and things just haven't been all that great.  To make things even more interesting, I now have what feels like a tennis ball made of brick in my arm pit; it is very unpleasant and really hurts.  The appropriate term would be lymphedema.  Marc, my original PT has less hours at the office I visit and let's just say, I miss him and his expertise.  My sister-in-law came and worked her magic on me yesterday and I was able to get some temporary relief; unfortunately, though, it didn't last long.  I woke up this morning with lots of stiffness, pain, and very little range of motion.  I'm starting to feel like a certain purple dinosaur again. I'm hoping my appointment with the other PT today will help me out, at least until I see Marc next Tuesday.  

In other news, a certain little boy finally lost his snaggle tooth.  He got bumped in a pool and it was just enough that he could finally pull it out. Yippee...the wonky tooth thing was getting old.  Now the other one is loose too. Toothless grins=cuteness overload.
The sports' season has come to a close for now.  E started playing goalie during his last several soccer games.  I think he may have found his thing.  He certainly is not afraid to throw himself on the ground in front of the ball.

On the night of the relay, and E's last baseball game,  E's baseball coach wanted to wear pink in support of a certain someone.  I was so touched.  Thank you Coach Duncan; you really are the best! Not only do you teach the kids about the game of baseball, you teach them the importance of being kind, compassionate members of a team...priceless life lessons. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Friday already?

Where oh where did the past week go? Here is a glimpse via instagram.  It started off with these two "big guns" of cleansing medication. 
 And this, always, smiling face.
And then there was some nausea thrown in there for good measure...bleck...I can do without that next time.
 And, who knew potato chips were a remedy for nausea?...my BFF that's who.  Yesterday I was not too pleased that she pulled these out of the bag along with the ginger gum, but guess what breakfast was this morning....

I'm crossing my fingers, but I think the most of the nausea may be G-O-N-E for this cycle...whoop, whoop. We even made it to Del's for a mini last day of school celebration today. 
I'm also happy to report that I have a couple of guest bloggers for my next round of  cleansing...stay tuned...any more takers?

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” ― Robert Frost

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest bloggers? and Teacher Gifts

 Where did the school year go?  I can't believe it's the end of the year already and come September, we will have a kindergartner and a third grader.  For this year's teacher gifts, we used the same idea we used for Mother's Day (that I originally found on Pinterest).  We filled a jar with goodies for pampering and Little Miss decorated the jars for her preschool teachers.  She found some leftover Easter stickers, thus the eggs :).  Evan probably won't be as willing to personalize his, so a signature will have to do.

During my chemo weeks, I have some dry spells with my blog and it's sometimes hard for me to post.  So, I thought perhaps some of you, my regular readers would like to be guest bloggers.  Yes?  You could write about a recent house project, favorite book, and or just go off on a tangent about anything you wish (within reason of course).  Leave a comment if you're interested.  Come on, don't be shy.

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are?

We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move.

You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?

You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.

Pablo Casals

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Venting on The Night Before...

It has been 5 weeks since my last chemo infusion and tomorrow morning will be number 1 of 4 with the new cleansing medicine.  I am told that my liver should be happier with this one, but my stomach may not be....only time will tell.  The anticipation, of course, is always a struggle for me.  I do my best to go with the flow, live in the moment, and not anticipate anything, but it's not always an easy task.  It's not like I want to wish time away either, but it will be nice when I'm through this week after my treatment.

My original treatments were supposed to end next week on June 26th and here I am at the start of an eight week cycle.  I try not to get too hung up on that, but it is definitely annoying.  The Big C is a pain in my $%@!

Ok, I'm done.  Just had to let it out...feels good to vent.

Sometimes I like to vent.Victoria Jackson

Relay, Birthdays, and Father's Day...oh My!

 Sorry for the lapse in blog posts, but it's been a little busy over here.  All that excitement and preparation for the relay this past Friday night and Saturday morning put my blogging on the back burner.  But, I'm back.  

 What an experience the relay was! Check out this team photo...there are still several people missing who came out to support.  And then there are all those other people who support me daily in other ways....I've said it before, but I'll repeat myself once again.  I am blessed!!! Thanks so much to all of you who donated to our fundraiser. The Relay itself raised $97,000 to go towards the fight against cancer and our team raised $25,000...that means more than 25% of the funds raised was from Team Bosom Buddies...impressive math skills even on chemo brain huh?  My brother Jeff was the top fundraiser and I came in third.  
 My family.
Victor's family.
 Me and all my loves (oh, and roadrunner made out of balloons).
 I also need to give a shout out to my oldest nephew J who turned 11 yesterday.  It doesn't seem that long ago when I got the phone call saying "It's a boy!"  I still remember exactly where I was.  J, you are sweet, kind, helpful and compassionate.  I am one lucky aunt to have you as my nephew.  I love you very much!  xo  Thanks for still letting me hug and kiss you even though you just turned 11. Happy, Happy Birthday.
And, the other shout out goes to my younger brother who also had a birthday yesterday during the whole relay madness.  No wonder he has a son who has such qualities because he shares the same ones.  He is the person who started this whole relay rally and look (in the short time) what it became.  Thanks for sharing your big heart and putting a team together.  It was an event I will not soon forget.  I hope your birthday was a great one...I love you!!! xoxo
 Then there is my dad.  Where do I even begin?  Happy Father's Day to the best dad a girl could ever ask for and one that my children are blessed to have as their pepere.  You are the best dad.  I love you...to the moon and back! xoxo

Last, but not least.  Happy Father's Day to my Victor.  It goes without saying that you are indeed the best match for me and such a great dad to our E and Little Miss.  We love you so much.  xoxoxo
This post has waaaayyy too much sap for me....as I'm certain it does for you as well.  So, I'm going to stop now before we all drown in sweetness.   If you'd like to see more photos from the relay, click here.

Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development.

~ David Gottesman

and then one to end this sappy post with a laugh...

Never raise your hand to your kids.  It leaves your groin unprotected.  ~Red Buttons

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Looks like the course to the end of my journey is changing routes.  These unforeseen roadblocks do certainly make for an interesting adventure.  

I showed up at my scheduled chemotherapy appointment on Monday thinking I was almost finished with this leg of the trip.  I was sent home and asked to return on Tuesday to see my oncologist.  I was annoyed, upset and angry at the lack of communication I received ahead of time.  Although I've been to 4 treatments already, each one is anxiety provoking and I mentally prepare myself for the process.  Not to mention, I have to take steroids the day before and day of to help manage some of the side effects.  Steroids and me = irritable to the 10th power...not a good thing.  So, let's just say I was not in a good place on Monday when I was sent home.  I understand that things happen and people are human and make mistakes, but UGH...this is kind of important people...pay attention!

So....Tuesday, 11:30...It turns out that the chemo regiment that I have had for the past 4 cycles is now making my liver unhappy.  Although recent blood tests indicate that my liver function levels are almost completely back to normal, it would not be wise to continue with these medicines.  So, Dr. S. took out his pen and drew diagrams and did his mathematical equations to show us just how likely it would be for my cancer to return (that's always fun and uplifting).  When he said I could reduce the risk more by doing another chemotherapy for several weeks, I decided it was the right decision for me...one that would help me to go on without any regrets.  So, I was given the option to continue chemotherapy, but with a different drug.  This new regiment will be for 4 cycles and will take place every 2 weeks.  So, I went from being almost finished to only halfway done....3 steps forward, 1 back.   

With my crew behind me, I'll continue sailing forth on this (extended)  journey.

The good news, I start on Monday, and I'll be feeling great for the Relay on Friday.  

“The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Relay madness....

We are on the countdown as our relay is this coming Friday.  The response has been completely overwhelming and extremely humbling.  I'm even confident that we will raise the $20,000 my brother set out as our goal...AMAZING!  My other "little" brother raised over $4,000 on an event he organized and hosted this past Sunday night; I have a pretty amazing family! 

(my brother Jeff, me, and his love, Michelle)

$2,000 has been raised in butterfly sales at my BFF's school, the middle school where I work and my sister-in-law's store. 

 Victor and I have received numerous donations from friends, family and co-workers.  It is not too late to donate if you are interested.  Here is the link to Linda and Victor's Relay for life page.

My cousin Beth has also put together a fundraiser through Thirty-One Gifts.  Make a purchase and 21% of the sale will be donated to our relay for life team.  Thank you Beth!

If you are local and can’t make a donation at this time, but you’re hungry on Thursday June 14th, then you can support our team by visiting UNOs in either Attleboro or Warwick. UNOs will donate up to 20% of your check to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on behalf of our team.

Eat, Drink, and  Raise DOUGH for Team Bosom Buddies Relay for Life.

Just present the following ticket to the staff. It is good for both take out and eat in.

Thank you to everyone who has shown support in a multitude of ways.  The outpouring of love and kindness is truly humbling and at most times overwhelming enough to bring tears to my eyes.  xo

Thank you to my Relay Team...we Rock!!! I'm looking forward to seeing you all on Friday...whoop, whoop!!!

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.Helen Keller

Monday, June 11, 2012

Questions and waves...

A couple of weeks ago, E asked me, "Mom, are you gonna die?"

And after swallowing hard, I responded, "No E, remember Momma told you, I am going to be fine!  My cancer is gone because I had surgery and now the medicine I take is to make sure it doesn't come back."

And then came the questions about other people that have died and what did they die from and if they died from cancer, how come you're not going to die from it.  

And then a week later he said, "Mom, why didn't you go to the doctor's right away and get that blob taken out of you before it was big?"

And again, after swallowing hard, I responded, "I went to the doctor's as soon as I found the lump buddy."

"How did you find it?"  

Ugh, my curious, concerned thinker.  The words he speaks and the questions he asks are often what we all the think, but never say or ask.  They are fears we all have but rarely allow to the surface or utter beyond that of a whisper.  My little man thinks about them too and he inquires, making us deal with this tangible reality whether we want to or not.

There is such a dilemma with what to say to kids...how much is too much to say, will it just lead to more anxiety?  I've never done this and sometimes, as I've mentioned before, I don't feel fit to play the part.  We have been completely honest with the kids since the beginning, of course trying to give the facts without the scary details.  I believe this is why there is such a comfort with the open dialogue between us and our kids.

The thing is, when we're talking to the kids, we too have to be convinced of what we're saying to them.  When I say, "Momma is going to be fine!", I need to be convinced of this myself and well, honestly, sometimes I struggle with it.  Today is one of those days...the sea waves are rough today and I'm struggling to keep the ship on course.

This past Friday I went for blood work. I was due for my 5th cleansing today at 9:00.  I didn't receive a phone call about the blood work on Friday night, so I assumed I was in the clear....this assuming got me into some trouble.  After waiting for over 30 minutes in the chemo waiting room, they told me I had to go downstairs to see my oncologist...are you kidding me?  

We walked downstairs and 10 minutes later the nurse came out and said Dr. S wanted us to come back tomorrow to see him....she fielded our questions and concerns in a guarded manner, of course trained NOT to say too much.  We returned to the chemo ward to speak with the nurse....she was more empathetic and helpful and took it upon herself to have me get some more blood work...this will at least give me peace of mind to see that my high liver function levels continue to trend downward.

With all these unknowns, my mind spirals into a state of anxiety.  What next?  Will chemo be stopped at this point? If that is the case, the treatment is less effective. But the liver can only be beat up so many times.....  Oh, oh, oh...the questions, the anticipation, the unknowns....not fun!

However, even when things don't turn out as planned, this is the reality and what we know for sure right now in this moment.

-The cancer is G-O-N-E
-The chemo is precautionary
-I've had 3 cleansings at recommended doses
-I've had 1 additional cleanse at a lower dose
-I feel great
-I have amazing friends and family who pick me up when I stumble.
-The cancer is G-O-N-E
-The cancer is G-O-N-E
-The cancer is G-O-N-E

This list of known facts is what I will focus on today.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dancing in the rain...

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain."
Vivian Greene

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stumbling during the climb...

"So, what are you going to do to prevent any further weight gain?", said my oncologist to me this afternoon.  

"Well, I think I'll go home and contemplate that question over a large bowl of ice cream" is what I wanted to reply, but I didn't.  "Well, it's better than losing 15 lbs.", I said.

"Not necessarily.", he said.

I should have gone home and went to bed after my visit to the oncologist because the day really did not end any better.

It seems although I've been feeling really good this cycle, my liver is still not all that pleased with the cleansing process.  My levels are high again this cycle and it seems I'm delayed (again), probably for a week.  Yuck, yuck and double yuck.  Let me just say (shout) this...."CANCER SUCKS!"  Relatively speaking, this is really not a huge issue and I need to get over it, but in the moment, it's frustrating.  As I mentioned to some, the mountain climbing is one thing, but it feels like I'm climbing blind folded with high heels on and this time I didn't just stumble, I was slammed to the ground.  I really was so optimistic that things were fine because I feel pretty darn good, so, when I got the phone call, I wasn't prepared.  Generally, I like to be cautiously optimistic-a phrase I mastered after I was introduced to it by our social worker during the adoption process.  I didn't proceed with caution and so, I was a tad surprised when I saw the number come up on the caller ID.....I think I said something like @#%$#!

But, really...it truly is a bump in the road.  I'm so grateful for the overwhelming support and understanding I have surrounding me.  The hand delivered hugs from my mom and dad, the texts full of love and support from my friends, and the matter of fact, "it's going to be fine" from Victor, and I know I am not alone in this journey and that it really is all going to be ok.

I'm not really a fan of Miley Cyrus, BUT, the words are relevant to the moment...go ahead, take a listen.


"I am having a moment, taking some cleansing breaths, and thanking God that it is nothing more and I am moving forward." (Thank you friend for those wise words.) After all, that is the only way to make it to the top of the mountain.

"Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it."
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit.”

-Diane Westlake

Saturday, June 2, 2012

50 years...

 Victor's parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage...a golden anniversary.   
 Happy, happy anniversary to you Mae and Pai.  
We wish you continued blessings in the years to come.

 We love you. xo

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.Corinthians 13:13