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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

An Interview in Tricky Weather

I took this picture from the window of my kitchen. We were set up under the tree in the backyard for an interview. I was in the kitchen to grab a drink of water before we got started. As I walked out and talked to my two new friends Gretchen and Nicole we heard an airplane overhead. Nicole asked "is that thunder?" I assured her that it was not, airplanes fly over our house all the time.

Not a minute later the camera guys walked over and pointed to the cloud coming over the roof of the house. We all checked the radar on our phones "was it supposed to rain today?" None of us remembered that forecast. Sure enough, the thunder started and after a few minutes of debating we decided to move the interview into the house.

What interview you may ask? Well, a few weeks ago I got a call from Gretchen with Strands of Strength. She told me she was given my name as someone who has used Strands of Strength and would I be willing to sit down and interview about my experience so they can use it along with interviews with a couple of others for a promotional video they want to make? Seriously, that was a no brainer to me. Strands of Strength turned me into a "wig" person!

Let's face it, we have all seen a bad wig. My mom still gets teased that back in the 60's and early 70's wearing wigs were the thing. You could have blonde one day and wear your brunette wig the next and people didn't think about. But when you stop and ponder, wouldn't the success of a "good" wig be that none of us could tell you were wearing one? So, how many good wigs are out there that we never know about? After my experience I would say probably more than we know.

When some of us have to go through the ultimate bad hair day, it is wonderful to have places like Jeffrey Scott Salon and others who partner with Strands of Strength to help people see how a wig in the right situation can really change the way a person goes through their treatment process. If I didn't want people to give me the sad eyes when they looked at me out in public I would wear my wig to the grocery store. When I had a child who didn't want to see me without hair, I wore my wig. It really truly changed the way I went through my chemo hair loss experience for the better.

The crew was so great and we laughed a lot. Once inside with microphone set and lights shining, Gretchen asked questions and I was able to share my experience with my Strands of Strength wig. I got to put it on again after a couple of months of regrowth. I am still so thankful. We hope that by sharing, people will hear how something they may not have thought about can make such a positive difference in their cancer treatment experience.

I am always willing to help this great group to raise money for this great great cause. That is why they set up the cameras...twice after the threat of thunderstorm to get my story on tape. It was very fun to have these great people in my home to let me share what Strands of Strength has meant to our family. After all was said and done we had to laugh as they left. It never did actually rain!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Day With Dawn

Every so often I get to spend some time alone with a single kid. Dawn and I went out shopping for a few things last week and ended up with lunch at Chic-fil-a and a stop to our favorite second hand shop for clothes.

Dawn is a little bit like me. We both try on lots and lots of things that look good on the hanger but then just don't look that great on us. So...imagine our surprise when we loved every single thing she tried on! It was a strange experience.

She did decide that two of the items weren't her favorite but everything else came home with us. Score! I love this girl. Those of you who have kids know just how different each child can be and I will tell you in our house there is no lack of differences. I love spending time with each one and we enjoy time in different way

She went off to show choir camp in Nebraska this week. I think that she will say when she gets home that she had fun. It started off rough for my "non-peopling" girl but I know as every other time that she tries something new that she will make me proud. I am always proud of her and her beautiful voice. And just like this show choir singing girl who tolerated dancing in her day, she will too.

As our kids grow we get to know them better and better. As much as she has always been so much like me, I admit there are a lot more things different than we first thought. I love getting to know her for who she is and I love hearing her perspective on life. It is good but sometimes very different than mine. I am good with that.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Little Bit of Spittin'

A few weeks back I received a call from the genetics department at the cancer center. It seems that there are quite a few genetics tests that have become available since my last go round with cancer. We didn't even really think about genetics testing because the cost was just too high.

Now though, there are other tests that can be done inexpensively to help determine if there is a genetic link to all of this. As you can see, it was fun. I got to sit in the doctor's office spitting into a little tube until my saliva reached the fill line! As soon as I was given instructions on what to do, my mouth became abnormally dry of course!

I was pretty proud of myself when I reached the fill line and got to be done. The nurse packed it all up and sent it off to have it tested. They look at the DNA and determine certain markers at different chromosomes. I often think that genetics would be fascinating to get into but as of now, I have no idea how it works, just that we are testing for 23 different things to find out whether or not there is a genetic element to all of this. For example, they can now connect certain breast cancers to colon cancer through checking for a certain marker on one of the chromosomes. If that comes up positive that would mean more frequent colonoscopies to keep an eye on my colon.

Thankfully, on Friday I got a call from the genetics office and was told that every single test they ran came back negative. There doesn't seem to be a genetic component to my cancer. All of this is nice to know for my girls because there are some things concerning on the other side of the family through David as well.

Easy test that isn't supposed to cost me anything with the help of insurance. And good results. I like that!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shovels and Safety Glasses May Be Required

The boy's room! With Stacey, Zach and Matt's help we rearranged the furniture, filled an entire garbage bag, got them a new system for dirty clothes and rehung all of the wall stuff in it's new places. Once again, I did not take a before picture...Grr! We are hoping that Ryan will like it when he gets back late tonight. I now just have all of the things that really need to go in other places to sort through. I am looking for a way to organize storage on the top shelf of their closet and books they love to read. Everything that I pulled down from there had been just tossed up there in hopes it would stay.

I would like to report a HUGE breakthrough while cleaning for Zachary. He has had a shelf up by his top bunk that has been FULL of his gymnastic trophies. He was in gymnastics for four years until we had to take him out because of yea, my cancer and the cost. He has a very hard time throwing anything away and an equal amount of difficulty boxing something up and storing it. Trophies (and these I do say he earned and didn't just get for participating) when I moved the shelf over I asked him about the trophies. I about fell off of the top bunk onto the floor when he said it would be okay to box them up and store them downstairs. Now he has room for other things up by his bed. (And I am no longer worried that in the middle of the night one or more of them won't fall off the shelf and take out his eye or worse!)

I will have to write on a different day how I feel about our trophy "earning" children. Starting with my wrestler whose biggest trophies of the year (and bigger than any other trophy in the boys' room) is fourth place out of four. Twice. What do we do with all of these trophies? Ryan has soccer trophies and piano trophies, Zach has gymnastics, piano and pinewood derby trophies, and Matthew has wrestling, piano, and scout trophies too. Is it all necessary? Half of them aren't really awards, but participation. Maybe another day to ponder all of that. Today though, I have a box of gymnastics trophies that have sat very dusty on Zachary's shelf ready to go into storage. So you can see, on the way to our new normal we have a few minor victories. I think the boys are going to love their new room arrangement. I know I do!

Next up...my desk! (Ugh)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday From the Heart: A Year Ago Today

Invasive breast cancer recurrence. It was a year ago today that I got the news over the phone. The summer plans were changed once again as I was blindsided by a cancer that was supposed to be 98% sure to never come back. A year later and I am working my way back to normal.

I was in the oncology office this week getting set up for the clinical trial for the drug Ibrance. Funny, I saw a commercial last night on television for the drug. If there is one pet peeve that I have when I watch live (or DVR'd) television it is that drug companies have commercials. David and I were watching some Colombo on the ME channel that I had recorded. It is amazing how fast your thumb hits the stop button while you are zooming through commercials once you see a word that is newly familiar to you. Yes, there it was Ibrance...the name of the drug I am now taking. I hit play and watched the whole commercial. It is given to people who have had metastasized cancer as a treatment to stop the cancer growth. They are now testing it on people like me who have had a recurrence that was caught before metastasis to help stop the growth of anything that might have been too small to detect.

Wednesday morning they randomized me and I am taking the drug in this trial. There was a lot of education for me as this is a chemotherapy drug. No grapefruit or grapefruit juice for me, take it at the same time every day and wash your hands with soap and water after you take it. I will be honest, I have been perusing the packet of information on the drug since my first day of chemo last fall when the very friendly and fun nurse that works with the research group came and told me I qualify for a trial we will talk about when the chemo and radiation are done, here's some information.

I do remember once while reading thinking "wow, these side effects seem a lot like the chemo, I am not sure I want to do this. But then the other part of me says, "well, the trial will keep me under close watch of the doctor if anything were to happen in the next ten years". I was good with that. It wasn't til this week when it hit me, oh my, this IS a chemo drug! (I am a little slow, I know...I guess I wasn't paying much attention to the drug commercials before!)

My blood counts will be looked at closely as they have a tendency to go down while taking it. I have already had some lightheadedness and fatigue after two days. If I don't run into any complications I will be taking this for two years on 28 day on 7 day off cycles. Many of the typical chemo side effects can occur except I won'd lose keep my hair, it could thin some.

I am also getting used to a new hormone pill. The one I have been taking for the last three months made me feel like I had 90 year old joints. Shoulders, hips, knees, fingers, everything ached and it was hard to get anything done with all of the pain. So far I have been taking the new one a little over a week and although it takes a bit to get the old out of my system and the new working like it should, I have had a few better days as far as moving goes.

I am thankful to people who still ask how I am doing and sincerely want to know how they can pray. I don't necessarily love when the main topic of conversation becomes my hair. It is growing back nicely although I would love my bangs to speed up to the rest of my head. Time, it will just take a little more time. My main problem is mental right now I think. Life can be a little overwhelming and I know that is true cancer or no cancer. I am thankful for things to do.

So that is just a little look into how life is going a year later. As the "from the heart" part of this I have to admit I went through a few of the first posts I wrote the first week after hearing the news. I was reminded of some things I feel like I have forgotten or not pondered for awhile. That always helps me, going back in my journals or writings. Sometimes I feel like I was stronger in those early days than I feel today.

Mental...last time I went through treatment for my cancer, I was given a 98% chance that cancer is gone and won't come back. I didn't waste any time thinking about cancer coming back. That thought didn't cross my mind once. Until a year ago. Now that it has returned and been treated, I do think about returning cancer. It could. It did. I don't obsess with it at all. I know still to this day that God is sifting the things of my physical existence through His loving fingers. He has promised me so much. Long life though isn't necessarily one of them.

I am still doing everything that I can physically to be around for many more years to be with my loved ones, but I am also aware of who He is and how He loves me. I will always go back to a song I remember my grandma loving..."one day at a time, sweet Jesus. That's all I'm asking from you". I only need to ask for daily bread to face today. He is a faithful Potter who shapes each day of my life if I let Him. Strength for today with bright hope for tomorrow. I do want to make each day count and if this is the way that God uses to give me that perspective I will be thankful in this...all of it.

Pulling from a year ago...I share again:

I Corinthians 4:7-10 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Amusing Ourselves in the Sewing Room

So, lots of projects have been cranked out of my sewing room this spring with graduations and new babies. I perpetually have some kind of quilt going as well. After my niece's grad party and finishing up the things for her I took my Bernina into the shop to have its annual (or for me more like 18 month to two year) tune up. I probably wouldn't have then either but something a little problematic came up and I thought I better have it looked at.

Out came trusty number two. For those who haven't followed long, Trusty 2 is my Singer machine that Mom and Dad had refurbished as a high school graduation gift. The machine has sewn miles and miles and miles. It is a Touch and Sew from the 70's back in the day when Singers were good. Thankfully, I could sew because I had a baby blanket that needed binding.

















I had it in my mind that I would be doing a decorative stitch on the front side of the binding. So when I got to the machine I sewed the binding on the back so that I could turn it to the front and do the stitching. All was going well until I was pinning down the front of the binding preparing for the decorative stitching. Yes, that is when I realized I don't have my Bernina and my decorative stitch idea would not work. Or would it?

I opened up the top of my Singer. There it was, the zig zag disk. The only disk I have used on this machine since I got it! Are there more? Yes, but I have not ever tried to sew the decorative stitches on my Singer. I looked through the disks and found one that was fairly simple but still cool. Then I had to get out my manual for the machine and figure out how to get it to stitch like it looks on the disk!

I took some doing, and a lot of practice on a separate piece of fabric, but I did it. The decorative stitch turned out great and I learned a new thing on my old machine!














Stacey has been wanting to sew the last few times I have been down in my sewing room. It has been nice to have some company. She has made two covers for pillow forms to decorate her bed and we started on an apron that we have had the fabric and pattern for since she was probably 11. We worked on getting all of the pieces cut out on Sunday afternoon. She was able to get the front pockets sewn as well. All was progressing as it should when she asked me if the fabric has a right and wrong end.

At closer inspection, yes indeed, the fabric did have a top and bottom. The problem is, we cut it out so that now on her apron she will have owls with wine bottles flying upside down and kitchen mixers and bowls floating upside down when she wears it. Ugh! We did laugh about the drunk owls and she thinks she will finish it and wear it. I am just asking myself "how long have I been sewing to have known better than to just cut without paying attention to the pattern on the fabric"?

I think in my defense I was just happy to spend time with my girl and wasn't paying that much attention. We both decided in the end that it was a a funny thing and we doubt anyone would really look that close to notice the upside down owls. And, if they do, it is a funny story to tell!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ELEVEN Years! ELEVEN!

Someone is eleven today! Happy Birthday Zachary! I remember the day you came so very well and we have celebrated ever since!

Last night we started the festivities with his chosen meal at Oyamas...SUSHI! Everyone was in favor of that of course since we have a houseful of sushi lovers. After dinner we ended up at Dick's sporting goods to pick Zach out a pair of hiking boots. He has now been on three boy scout camp outs and last weekend he told about a five hour hike and how tired his feet were. He will be excited to have his boots for scout camp next month!

This morning he had cinnamon roll cake for breakfast and we sang happy birthday. He said it was a little weird since it didn't really look like a birthday cake. He blew out his candles anyway and had an extra piece after he ate the first. It was yummy!
















For the rest of the day he plans to go bowling and watch "The Secret Life of Pets" which brings with it arguments from almost every other member of the family. You see, he has watched it close to a million times. Matthew says it has been a million. Well, it is his birthday.






The hardest part was waiting to open presents until Stacey got back from basketball practice! We knew she would be made if we opened without her here. Zach is really good at waiting! He just spent his time writing some music. He is a composer you know. Thanks to Note Flight software we have found something he enjoys just as much as video games. His songs are good too. Just another little insight into his awesome mind I get to see/hear every time he says "hey Mom, wanna hear my new song?" Of course I do...and I love it every single time!