Saturday, December 24, 2016

Focus on the blessings

      Wowzers, it's been well over a month since my last post. Let me apologize to those of you who rely on it for updates. Yikes!  I'm still here, doing ok. If you would have told me I'd still be functioning 1 1/2 years after my Metastatic diagnosis, I probably wouldn't have believed you. I'm a different person, but taking things one moment at a time has helped me to have more good days than bad. 

It been 5 Christmas's since I found that first lump that would change my life. Things would certainly be easier without this yuck, but here we are, chugging right along, one moment at a time, through all the ups and downs. 

For this post I will focus on what I have received from the yuck, instead of what I have lost. 

Blessings beyond my comprehension are still occurring on a daily basis, including cards, texts, gifts, and simple gestures.

I now have children who show more compassion and help out their momma in need. E will be sure to help me out of the car, guide me on rough terrain and carry my bags for me. Little Miss will help more in the kitchen, do her best with small chores I give her and she is a master cuddler. 

Friends go out of their way to shop, transport my children to their activities, take a walk, share meals and send sweet messages so I know they are thinking about me. 
I have family, including two caring and supportive brothers who would do anything I ask of them, along with a large extended family who continues to show they're fighting along side me and show their endless caring for me. 
Although I've had my soul sister for a long time, we are at a new level. Most times, I don't need to say a word, she knows what I need. I'm not always in the best of moods, but I try my best and she continues to encourage me, tells me I'm a fighter, sets my crazy brain straight and gives an endless amount of hugs and back rubs. Oh, and she does my laundry a lot of time, claiming it's therapeutic for her...I'm not going to argue about it. 
I have a husband who is by my side, on good and bad days, through laughs and tears. He is for sure my rock amidst this madness. 
Then there's my parents, the best there are, who spend more time with me than at their own home. As I said before, they are master givers, always putting their children and grandchildren first, before themselves. The list of things they do for me is endless: making chicken soup, taking care of the kids, picking me up from a funk, driving me to and fro, giving hugs, and knowing just what and what not to say. 

Love would be my number one! I am blessed enough to have an endless supply of it from all those who are part of my life. I am grateful beyond what I'm able to express through words. 

Christmas seems like the perfect time to Thank ALL of you who  share your love with me. I truly believe it's the strongest healer there is out there.

May this New Year bring us all continued Peace, Love, and Hope.

Much Love, Linda

"The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world's busy life and become more interested in people than in things."

Thomas S. Monson

P.S. And how appropriate that I wrap up this post as "It's a Wonderful Life" is ending on the T.V. Like George, I truly feel like the richest person in town.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Unknown Blessings...

Just like I always knew I'd be a teacher, I also always had this desire to adopt children. Although I had no idea of the circumstances that would bring me there, I just had this deep seeded feeling that it was something I was going to do in my lifetime, it was in my heart.

After being married for 7 years and trying to have children, our journey to adopt began, sooner than I initially thought. Since the start of the process we have grown in so many ways and since Saturday was National Adoption Day, it seems like a good time to celebrate all those who have been brought into our lives by this amazing experience, especially our beautiful children and their first parents who brought them into the world. 

Adoption is not a small or short term process. It is not easy or free of pain or sadness. It starts with loss.  For us, it began with the loss of us having our own biological children and for the birth parents of adopted children, it is the loss of the children they give birth to.

 It is, however, one of the greatest blessings I have experienced. Although I will never know the experience of giving birth to my own child, there are many more who are unable to know the experience of being a parent through the miracle of adoption. 
Adoption will affect our entire lives and the lives of our children and because we are blessed to have open adoptions, we hope to have contact with our children's birth families forever. It is truly a blessing to have them as part of our family. 
  E and his birth grandmother
 Little Miss and her birth mother
These two get along like typical siblings.  They drive each other bonkers on some days and on others they are best friends. They are so different, yet remarkably similar. Everyday is an adventure and we are always grateful, even on the days we struggle as parents. 

Happy Adoption Month to all those blessed by adoption. 

If you're interested in reading more, click on the adoption label on the right of this blog. There are several more posts that share our story. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The report I wish I had...

Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could write our own results? The last few scans I've had have been less than desirable. The little f'rs continuing to grow and not shrink are making me lose patience. All this work without positive results is not reinforcing.

Today's follow up revealed that there is more change. Although I'm not completely against things changing, I could at least use some things moving in the right direction.    

So this is what I'm wishing for at my next scans.

-some shrinkage with the brain mets
-no new brain mets
-less nausea
-shrinkage of little "f'r" in the lungs

I have many wishes, but maybe a few things at a time will help manage these temperamental pains in the butt. 

Today started another knew treatment. Let's all hope that this happens to be the magic tool that helps to slow this yuck down. I need a break...PLEASE.

My oncologist is optimistic about this newest treatment. Having her staying positive helps me to keep going.  

Thanks for your continued love and support. I'm certain my gas is close to empty some days, thanks for refueling me. xo

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The end of the month of pink....

When Metastatic Breast Cancer rudely entered my life in June 2015, I immediately went into panic mode and started predicting my morbid future, afraid that I wouldn’t even make it through the next year.

I’m blessed to have a huge support system and quickly I started to learn to take my life one moment at a time, hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. Just as though life has no guarantees, neither does the diagnosis of MBC. It’s been over one year now. This diagnosis is a full-time job that has changed frequently and continues to have too many bumps to keep track of. Some days are steady where I feel some moments of normalcy; other days I have panic attacks that take over the calm I try so hard to maintain. Having this disease is mostly scary and part of the fear is never really knowing what is coming next, but, when you think about it, none of us are able to predict the future. We can simply live the best life we can in the present. So although my children are still only 9 and 12 years old and I fear how much time I have left with them, I do my best not to waste any time worrying about something that I have no control over.

I wish I had the magic potion for surviving MBC but that doesn’t exist (yet) so I will tell you a few things that have helped me move forward, even on the days that are the hardest.

As my Memere used to say, “there is nothing so bad that something good doesn’t come out of it.” This is especially evident when living with a disease such as MBC. You can find something positive; sometimes you may just have to look at it with extra strength binoculars.

Try not to let one set back determine the future, perhaps it’s a bump in the road and not a death sentence.

I’ve been open with sharing my emotions and although it’s not always pretty, it’s always real. Let yourself cry if you have to, share your emotions and don’t feel like you have to fight those tears that come naturally. I would urge you, however, to only wallow for a short time, vent, journal, meditate and then move on. I personally benefit greatly from going to therapy weekly. 

So many share this disease, but each person’s story is different. My story is unique and how I react to it is as well. Learning to have hope and faith in my own journey continues to be a challenge for me, but with the love and support I receive, there has been some progress. 

I started this blog entry at the start of the month to post as part of raising awareness through Metavivor.  Because I don't always have the energy or stamina to write, I didn't quite make it to the deadline and thus it has become my own post. Hopefully it will be a source of some awareness for those who can benefit.

This Monday we will be driving very early to Dana Farber. It's that time again for more scans, definitely not a time I look forward to, in fact, it scares the poop out of me. It's actually a challenge for me to hold it together this weekend knowing Wednesday my oncologist will share the findings of the latest tests with me. This is when I do my best to remain hopeful and positive because it is not helpful to do otherwise. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Feeling defeated...

Have you ever worked your ass off at something and it just doesn't have the result that you want it to? That's how my appointment today can be summed up.  

We left the house at 6:30am this morning, was having my brain scan by 8:30am and by 10:30am, I had to hold in the tears because the results were not what the doctor nor myself were hoping for. Honestly, there were glimmers of progress, such as some shrinking, but he certainly thought there would be more and seeing his disappointment left me wanting to run out of his office in tears. He also saw VERY small new things (grrrrr). I can't really explain what it's like to have yuck growing in my's unsettling to say the least. Overall he said he would currently call the activity in my brain stable, which in the world of metastatic cancer is a good thing, however, like I said, his reaction left me definitely feeling defeated.

And, so here are my raw and ugly emotions when I write a post on a day like today. Honestly, I was thinking it wasn't a good idea to share yesterday's post with everyone because now I must fill you all in with today's less than Excellent news. I'm not one who enjoys people feeling bad for me.

Now I will end by saying I will get over this just like I do every other time. I will pick my butt off the pavement, carry on and keep fighting. But, truthfully if I didn't wallow in my own self pity now and then, I don't think I'd be human. The "bruise" from today's appointment will fade quickly and life will continue one hour at a time.

Thanks everyone for your love, prayers and positive vibes. Feeling the love in my heart certainly makes for quicker healing. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A quick update...

Hello all, first let me send out my heartfelt thank for all the love and kindness regarding my memere. As you know, loss is hard, no matter the age or circumstance. We all continue to heal and keep our priceless memories in our hearts. Once again, my family and I are so grateful and feel very blessed to experience the continuous love and support. So, thank you.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00, I will be having a brain MRI to follow up with the brain radiation I had a short time ago. I learned a new term since my last scan...scanxiety. The anxiety is not actually because of the scan itself, but the results they will reveal. I'm feeling optimistic, but I also continue to be cautiously optimistic, as that is my defense mechanism. The good thing is I will find out the result on the same day so I don't have to continue with the scanxiety for a long period of time. 

(By the way, I can't take credit for "scanxiety", another Metavivor came up with it and boy, could I relate.)

I will fill you in tomorrow with my results. Any positive thoughts and or prayers are always appreciated.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What could you do with 94 years?

When you think about how much each of us can accomplish on a daily basis, you can just imagine what you could do in 94 years of life.  I saw my memere for the last time in this world on Monday evening. I was able to spend time with her, think about her impact on my life, thank her for being who she was and squeeze as much love into her as I possibly could. She left this world on Tuesday afternoon, yet the ripples of her life will continue on for generations. It's an amazing accomplishment if you really stop and breathe it all in. So amazing that we should all strive to create ripples on a daily basis with the main ingredient being LOVE.

Although it has been about nine years since my memere was the same mem I had when I was a child, she still continued to be special and shine her influence on other's lives. I mention her when I speak about my drive to live each day. She became an expert at living in the moment, not due to choice, but to circumstances she was given. It is through her that I genuinely learned how to do the same. It was easy for her to see beauty. She loved walking around the yard to see the flowers, watching the glitter sparkle on a homemade gift hanging from the window, seeing her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters dressed in pretty clothes, and enjoying meals her sons brought over especially for her.  

Memere resided with my parents for the past 9 years and my family and I were blessed to share many visits with her. In her later years she continued to be a strong and funny woman who spoke with pride about her past and with love and affection for her family. She considered herself blessed on a daily basis. "Look at this, isn't this great to have such a family?"

Yes, Mem, it sure is.

Some may think it would be a burden to care for an aging parent, but my mother and father saw it as quite the opposite.

My mom would leave for work each day and consistently Memere would compliment her on how nice she looked. Daily, she'd thank her for the good food and again, consider herself lucky to have a family like hers. It's not to say that there weren't some hard days, but there were always blessings shared...and always "I love yous" exchanged each night.  

It was my mom's mission to help my memere live out the rest of her life as happily and contently as she could. She achieved just that, even to the very end. Anyone who knows my mom (and dad) knows they are expert givers; others are always the priority. Mom continuously loves with her whole heart and is happiest doing for others. To be a witness to such selfless love with my mem was certainly a gift to me and anyone else who saw it.

The younger memories I have of my grandmother remind me of how clever, creative and smart she was. She could create things without patterns just by looking at them. Things like Christmas Villages, my crocheted wedding bells, knit hats and scarves and an old childhood quilt will help to keep all the memories close to my heart.

 I remember making surprise visits on some Saturdays to ask Mem to make crepes. I remember the handmade raspberry jam we rolled in the middle and the watered down orange juice we were served. I remember how my grandfather would help with serving us and I especially remember how it felt so special to be a part of their day.

Hopefully I'll be able to get the recipe mastered and even be able to make crepes or pies for my own children one of these days, but I'm not sure they'll be as good as I remember them. 

Saying Goodbye is not easy, especially when you have a memere who's been part of your life for 44 years.

Mem, I will miss an infinite number of  things about you. 
I will miss hearing the pride in your voice as you talk about your parents and 10 brothers and sisters.
I will miss hearing about about how lucky you are to have such a "close family".
I will miss your spunk and sense of humor.
I will miss your compliments.
I will miss watching you find simple joy in each day. 
I will miss taking selfies with you.
I will miss my children getting to grow up beside you(but feel so blessed to have had you this long).

I will miss kissing your cheek and telling you I love you.

I will miss YOU.xo

Although you have so many fans here on this Earth, I believe your biggest fan has been waiting a very long time for you. Tell Pepere we send our love and kisses. There's no need to tell him to take good care of you, because we know for sure he will.

Rest in Peace Sweet Memere, I love you to the moon and back.  

And by the way, I hope I have inherited some of your kick ass strength. I've never met a stronger 94 year old.

"Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is - no matter what form it takes- you are still, you are at peace."

-Eckhart Tolle

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's my birthday!

Here we go again. It's been almost a month since my last post. I continue to heal from the brain radiation and it has become a bit more difficult for me to express myself. I'm a slower thinker, I have terrible word retrievel, my balance and strength are not what they used to be and I'm just plain tired most of the time. Using our brains is hard work, and for me that's even more evident and exhausting.  That being said, I'm doing ok and the doctor is confident that the procedure worked. We will know for sure in October when I have my brain scan.

But Friday is my birthday and we are going to celebrate...the everyday moments of life. And I will proudly announce that I turn 44, because folks, getting older is a privilege. 

 While thinking of my big 44 coming up tomorrow, I was also reminded of the gifts I have received from people on a daily basis. 
 I have been gifted by family, friends, and complete strangers since being diagnosed with MBC. Here is a short excerpt from the past 16 months. Maybe you're interested in continuing to spread the kindness? I didn't wanted to start with too extensive a list in one post, so for now, here are 10 ideas.  

 Gift Ideas 
(not in any particular order except for #1)
and maybe I should also admit that my favorite gifts are the ones that do not cost a cent, but maybe just a bit of time.


2. Handwritten cards and notes

3. Handmade gifts (from kids and adults)

4. Messages through email, Facebook and texting (short, long, or in between).

5. Flowers and plants (anything to show life's beauty).

6. Jewelry. Lisa Leonard is my favorite site.

7. I'm a quote girl and when it's paired with artwork, it's even better. Valerie Wieners and Kelly Rae Roberts are two of my favorites.

8. Organic Tea and Tea Cups are good for tea drinkers.

9. Comfortable attire is always a good choice. Things like socks, slippers, and pajamas pants are some of my favorites. 

10. Kindness...which seems to be a consistent theme with all these ideas. I'm a recipient of this priceless gift daily.

Happy Birthday to me, now go out and do something kind for someone...create ripples that are infinite, and spread the love. 

And, I have one last birthday wish for me, perhaps it's a tad selfish, but before ending your day tomorrow, educate someone about Metastatic Breast Cancer.  I'm wishing for many more birthday posts in the years to come, all written by me.   

Here is a great link to share. 

Thank you all for being the best damn support system a girl could have, much love. 

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."
-Oprah Winfrey

PS Look for information, coming soon, about our fundraising opportunities for MBC.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The art of living...

Fridays are usually my favorite days, but today, not so much. At 1:40pm this afternoon, I'm scheduled for stereotatic radiation. Basically, it's a precise radiation procedure to specifically target the two spots on my brain that are not stable. Although this is a routine and "simple" procedure for the radiation oncologist, for me, as the patient, it's quite intense and intimidating. I'll be happy when it's done and even happier when they confirm it worked. Last week I went in to have my mask made...I had visions of the movie Silence of the Lambs, right down to the part where I had to bite down on a piece of it so my mouth remains still during the procedure. 

Sometimes the yuck takes over my day and I can't help but focus on the way it's messed up things. Questions and concerns from my two loves tend to rip at my heartstrings the most, but we are all doing the best we can and helping one another to get through the hard moments. 

The Big C doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Every day is a challenge, some days more than others, but I'm still very much alive. I have learned to consciously choose to focus on things that are not part of the yuck...I'd rather not be defined solely by the big C because I'm more than that.

I'm still able to be a momma, show creativity, have conversations, and go for walks. I have a soul that yearns to feel at peace, love others, laugh and feel loved. 

Cancer can go screw itself because I refuse to let it overtake my life. It doesn't deserve that much attention. The biggest payback I can give it is to find happiness in the everyday and LIVE.


Friday, August 5, 2016


When my visit to the doctor ended with my oncologist hugging me, it confirmed the fact that the visit was emotional. The yuck in my body is not leaving me alone and there are some spots, specifically in my brain and lung that need to be taken care of. My doctor feels it needs a specific, stronger treatment to put a stop to it. Monday we will meet with the radiation oncologist to hear the options for the brain and Thursday I start intravenous chemotherapy. Although both areas grew only slight amounts, it is concerning because of where they're located.  

Although I enter each visit with a cautiously optimistic attitude, I kind of felt like yesterday I was shoved off the wave I was finally learning to surf. This has been a rough year, constantly full of treatments, medicines, stalking the Big C and making changes when it starts acting up. It's not only frustrating and exhausting to receive this kind of news, it is terrifying! Honestly, a visit like yesterday makes me feel that much closer to the end of the list from the tool box of treatments. Then what? Well, we all know the answer to that and that is why it's terrifying. Apparently, I still have a large list to work from, but it doesn't seem to make this any easier. I'd rather not become an expert surfer, having to ride all these wild waves everyday. I just want a smooth ocean for a good chunk of time. 

I'm probably working harder at this than I have ever worked in my life. Taking supplements, maintaining a healthy diet, using essential oils, vitamin infusions is more than a full-time job. I currently have multiple doctors weighing in on my treatments and I have to manage all of the them. When I have been working this hard and then I get news like I did yesterday, saying it's frustrating is an understatement.

Luckily the support system I have is supplied with endless kind words, hugs, and love and for that I am grateful. 

In the moment I don't always feel like I can do this, but somehow I'll pick myself up and continue to ride the waves and maybe even get better at it as time progresses. 

"Sometimes you just have to ride the wave you're given."