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Friday, December 30, 2005

Tax Season

Ahhhh...the dreaded tax season is approaching. While others involuntarily shiver, or say naughty words under their breath about tax season, I rejoice. I sing a song of hope, and do a dance of joy, and file our taxes by the end of January if I can. You see, for our family, this means we will be crawling out of a hole that medical bills have thrown us into for the past 2 years. A hole that likes to taunt and tease, and is just plain mean. So we crawl out, grab a shovel and fill the hole....until the bills start coming again. And again. And again......

Here's some factoring that I have done to give you an idea of how much we depend on our tax returns. Oh where to start? How about the miles I have driven this past year for medical appointments? That's a good place to start....try over 5000. 5000 miles ticking by in the car....tick tick tick (plus another 4997 ticks, but I will spare you). And I believe you get a $.485 deduction for each mile, which we all know is a crock since the cost of gas this past year has been horrendous. But, it's something.

Then there's the $4000 max out of pocket for my medical bills, which is awesome considering that each week that I go to Mayo costs over $1000, and that's if I only have treatment. No including any scans or blood work, or chatting with the doctors. Ok, let's chat about teeth, shall we? I have had quite a bit of work done to try and fix the damage done from chemo and bad genes. How much? How about close to $4000? Hmm. Can you see the money going down the drain? I can, I reach and reach, but there it twirls in a little tornado and SLURP! It's gone.

Drugs. I think we cough up over $100 a month for our every day drugs, then you throw in the good stuff from surgeries and such. I still have to get the final total on those, but I think last year we spent about $1500 on pills.

Now you figure in all the fun stuff, like contact lenses, the shower chair I got for after surgery, and the sitz bath. Things like that add up fast, my friend, which is why I save receipts.

Add in the cost of daycare, our deductibles and such, and I can't WAIT to get that refund check into our account!

So, now you can understand the anticipation I am feeling for tax season. Of course, all it will take will be a month before I hit my max out of pocket expense, and we will be back to crawling out of that hole. Oh well. It will be a nice month while it lasts.

Yup, those are my kids....

Christmas morning

The look on Claire's face when she saw all the presents....priceless

Monday, December 26, 2005

Where Did I Go?

It was a cry in the shower day yesterday. I think it was because of a book that I am reading, B.O.O.B.S. Don't get me wrong, it is a really good book, I can relate to the woman in it, and I think that is the culprit. It is a compilation of different woman's stories, so every time I read a new story, I am thrown back into the days of first being diagnosed. And here I thought those feeling were tucked away somewhere, but as it seems they are still pretty close to the surface. So why keep reading the book? Well, easy, maybe they can teach me something I haven't been taught yet. Maybe I can use some advise that I haven't been told. I don't know. Maybe I just like misery.

So I was thinking yesterday as I was reading the pathology reports of these woman and comparing them to mine, where did the old me go? What would I be doing right now if cancer hadn't blasted into our lives? What would I be thinking about all of the time instead of upcoming tests, treatments, doctor appointments, and recurrence? What will I do with all of my spare time when I no longer have to spend 5 hours each Tuesday going to and from Mayo?

I had a sense of panic in the shower as I took deep breaths to control my breathing and stop the crying. I have forgotten who I was! My mind raced as I thought and thought. Nothing. And I also know that I haven't been diligent in writing since Claire was born, so I can't go back and read that. I started my blog almost a year after being first diagnosed, so that won't help. I can look back at pictures, but all I think is "I wonder if I had cancer when that picture was taken?" Dang it! Not only has it invaded my present and future, but that sneaky little cancer crap crept into my past as well, and here's our conversation...

Setting the scene....Sue is looking through a photo album from three or four years ago....

"Ha ha ha! Look, Dion, there we are at the lodge with our friends a few years back. Boy, that was fun!"

Enter Cancer

"Hey Sue. Jeeze, that looks like you were having fun. I think I even may have been there with you, lurking around, challenging your life without you ever knowing it! Woo hoo! What a fun time THAT was!"

"Hey Cancer! I have given you a lot of my life and myself! You really should stay out of my past. Let me at least have that!"

"What? Are you kidding? What kind of effective disease would I be if I didn't screw with you in every aspect?"

"But that's all I have that hasn't been tainted with you!"

"That's what you thought....."

So there you have it. The closest memories I guess I have before my body failed me was that I felt safe. I felt optimistic. I felt strong. Oh sure, there are days where I feel all of these things, but more often than not, I don't. Last week at Mayo in the treatment room I asked a lady what her demon was, not really thinking about the words I was saying. But now that I have had time, can't get more descriptive than that when it comes to cancer. I don't care if you have had skin cancer, breast cancer, throat cancer, non-Hodgkins, whatever, cancer is cancer is cancer. The scare is the same, the feelings are the same, the demon is the same, just in a different outfit. My cancer wears a bright pink pant suit, with sequins, a hot pink boa, and pink Doc Martin shoes. You cannot ignore my cancer, she won't let you.

I will continue to try and remember who I was a few years ago, knowing that won't change who I am now. But every once in a while I miss the old me, and I wouldn't mind running into her and sitting down and chatting.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Up Down Up Down Up Down

That is how my day has gone. I was pretty busy this morning with the kids, I had to open at work, which means that I had to be there by 6:00AM and then I spent an hour or so getting these holiday pails together for the kids. Then as the kids slowly made their way in, I got even more busy, which is good. Busy is good. Then the kids went to school, and things slowed down a little for me, and I honestly don't know what happened. I just became almost overwhelmed with emotions that were really not going in any particular direction. I was sitting in our van at the gas station, waiting for the tank to fill, odd thoughts going through my mind, and I felt a tingley sensation go through my body. I heard the click of the pump, the tank was full, but it was as though I was unable to move. I just sat there for probably 2-3 minutes, which doesn't seem like a long time, but it kind of is, until finally I figured I had better get my butt out of the van before they call the guys with the white coats and they drag me out. I went inside, paid for the gas, and went back to the van.

I don't know. One minute I am laughing, the next, I want to just curl up into a ball and cry. It's been almost 2 years since I was diagnosed, 2 years of treatments, and I am still having a hard time accepting the fact that things will never be the same for us again. I am still trying to get used to the idea that not every ache and pain is from cancer. I am still trying to grasp the fact that I am alive, while others are losing their battles. I am trying not to drown in a pink riddled sea of fear, but some days, I really need a life saver thrown to me. I try to remind myself that I am very lucky, that things could have been so much worse. So much more painful. So much more despairing.

I am looking forward to the day that instead of dwelling on what has happened, it becomes a faint memory, a blip in my life that made me slow down. A pink speed bump, if you will. Is that possible? I have no clue. I have been told that it is, but......

So with the holidays approaching, I find myself having way too much to do. We have Dion's family coming in starting tomorrow night. Some are staying with us, others are in a motel. We have lots of food to cook, lots of wine to drink, lots of smiles to share. I am hoping this weekend will be an "up".

Insert Foot Now

We've all done it, we've all had it done to us, and it never fails to make at least one person involved feel about as big as a booger. Foot In Mouth Disease....ah, the disease that inhibits all of us at some point, some worse than others, but none the less...

So I am in the teacher's lounge (how awesome is THAT? I get to hang out in the secretive teacher's lounge where we sit at tables munching on whatever snack someone brought in, talking abut the funny things kids do. Wait. What was all of the hype about way back when?) and there's four of us at a table. Well, I have to be honest here. I was standing next to the table that three other people were sitting at. So there's a student teacher who was here for a semester talking about soda and the effects it has on the body, based on the notion that if you put a penny (or nail or something) in a cup of diet Coke, it will dissolve. She was saying that she felt guilty drinking the soda in front of the kids because they kept telling her what was happening in her stomach, blah blah blah. At this point I told her that about 8 years ago, I used to drink 10-12 sodas a day, to which she says, "And see? You're not dying of cancer or anything!" To which everyone at the table looks at each other, then at me, and back at each other. She was not around almost 2 years ago when all the fun started, so she had no idea of my history. Well, she was right, I am not dying of cancer, but I could not resist. "No, I have survived cancer." Suddenly everyone was VERY interested in what was on their plate, and this poor poor girl, I felt kind of bad, but not really, just covered her eyes. I thought for a moment she was going to cry. She just kept mumbling "sorry" over and over. After repeatedly saying that it was ok, I finally just left the treasured teacher's lounge. I guess I gave her a memory to take with her. Insert Foot Now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005



Wow, When I Couldn't Find the Words.....

I was looking through some blogs, and one titled Cancer, Baby caught my eye. Actually, it was the poem in it, that caught my eye. I have copied it, with the author's name, hopefully I am not being naughty in putting it in my blog, but I felt it hit the nail right on the head. I realised the other day, that I have been going through treatments for cancer for almost 2 years now. In fact, I looked at a picture of myself right after Nadia was born, and then looked at a more recent one, and I can see all of the aging I have gone through.'s the poem.

Try being sick for a year,
then having that year turn into two,
until the memory of your health is like an island
going out of sight behind you

and you sail on in twilight,
with the sound of waves.
It's not a dream. You pass
through waiting rooms and clinics

until the very sky seems pharmaceutical,
and the faces of the doctors are your stars
whose smile or frown
means to hurry and get well

or die.
And because illness feels like punishment,
an enormous effort to be good
comes out of you --
like the good behavior of a child

desperate to appease
the invisible parents of this world.
And when that fails,
there is an orb of anger

rising like the sun above
the mind afraid of death,
and then a lake of grief, staining everything below,
and then a holding action of neurotic vigilance

and then a recitation of the history
of second chances.
And the illusions keep on coming,
and fading out, and coming on again

while your skin turns yellow from the medicine,
your ankles swell like dough above your shoes,
and you stop wanting to make love
because there is no love in you,

only a desire to be done.
But you're not done.
Your bags are packed
and you are traveling.

-- Tony Hoagland, Sweet Ruin

What's wrong with this cat?!?

That Darn Candle

It keeps burning at both ends for me. I find myself some days in a whirlwind that doesn't stop until I lay down. But a positive in that is I no longer am on sleeping pills, so I guess that's good.

Tomorrow I am working my 12 hour day, and am actually kind of excited to be with the kids the day before Winter Break. That's right folks, it's WINTER Break, not Christmas Break, not Holiday Break, not Santa Clause Break, (ok I don't think the last one really is an option, but it's a fun thought, isn't it?). Anyway, I want to send the kids off in a good way so I have some planning to do.

Did I mention that I wrapped 107 presents this year? 107!! Come to find out that both Dion and I were buying gifts for the same people without knowing it, and well, you can figure out the rest. Ho ho ho.....just call us Santa(s). Speaking of Santa, we watched the movie Elf this past week, and while we both had doubts going into it, I think it will become a cult film of some sort. It was darn funny, starting with the Keebler Tree that caught on fire from baking cookies. Really, you should watch it. Dumb humor, but with a tender heart.

So yesterday was a Mayo treatment day, and I found myself close to tears a few times. Besides my port being touchy and not wanting to work, I met some new people. It's odd how I go every week and sometimes see the same people over and over. They treat well over 100 people each day, and yet I can see the same people each week. Anyway, I met a lady who went into the doctor for what she thought was acid reflux last Thursday. After tests, etc, by Friday she was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer that had spread to her liver. Stage 4. It's so unfair. There's almost not even a chance to try and fight the disease. But, she was there for her first chemo, and I could tell just by talking to her that she had a wall up, unable to accept the hand that had been dealt to her. Who the hell would want to? But, as she said, her daughter is getting married in the spring and she plans on being here for it. I hope she is, for everyone's sake. When I asked her what her demon was (what kind of cancer) I meant it. Cancer is a demon. I don't know how else to put it.

So, the demon....I have talked before about my co-workers daughter's pancreatic cancer. Things are not looking too good right now. I pray that she makes it through the holidays, and that her family is given the strength they need. I just....I don't know, I tend to shake my head a lot and say it's not fair. It's not fair to watch someone watch their child die. It's not fair that she is leaving behind 2 kids. It's not fair that the family has to deal with idiots along with trying to deal with this tragedy. I really want to just grab some people, shake them, and tell them to get the hell out of their lives. This family is dealing with so much, they don't need any added stress. I feel so helpless, I don't know what to do for them. We all know that no matter what, the outcome will be the same. The question really should be, how do we (we, meaning anyone involved in her life)make this as painless as possible for Annette and her kids. Painless. That's a joke. There is so much pain swimming around in that ocean, that the biggest fish net could not contain it. Ugh. I find myself thinking about Annette and her family often, and I always end up holding my head in my hands, hoping for a miracle, but in my heart, knowing it won't happen. Losing my faith? No, but there comes a time when you have to be realistic, and as hard as that is, we are at that point. My body hurts with sorrow when I think about them. I just want to help, but I know there is nothing I can do at this point, and it sucks. I want to be able to take the look of pain off of my friend's face and lighten her heart. I want to hug the kids and tell them that it will be ok, but it won't. I want to give all that I can, but I don't know where to start. I am hoping to go over to Annette's home tomorrow, just to be there, but I don't know if I have anything to offer her. And I guarantee that if Annette is awake and coherent, she will ask me how I am doing, and sympathize with me if I say anything negative going on in my life. That's just how she is. Her concern for others is overwhelming, and honestly, there are a few people out there who could take some lessons from her.

Ok, I have a stinky stinky child in need of my care. One day that candle will just have one wick.....

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shame on That Boy!

It's just wrong....I cannot get the songs out of my head! It would be one thing if they were songs about rainbows and butterflies, but they're not...they're totally inappropriate songs to sing in public, and I curse that Stephen Lynch for being the talented guy that he is. I catch myself humming songs all of the time, which is better than singing the words that go with the tune, but still.

I wake up, there's Stephen singing in my head. He really has no business being in my shower with me, but he's there! I drive to work, and there's Stephen singing in my head (and my car since I play his cd's...guess that isn't helping the cause). I sit at work doing crafts with the kids and there's Stephen singing in my head. Day in, day out, and just when I go oh, an hour or so without a Stephen Lynch song in my head, I hear Dion humming one of the tunes or emailing me a line from a song. Man! We suck.

One of the songs that Stephen wrote is called "Voices in My Head". I can now relate, for he is stuck there with his almighty vocal range and lyrical schemes. He's full of shenanigans and it would be best for one to be warned that the songs will NEVER get out of your head. Seriously, how can I sit making winter decorations with kids whilst singing "Damn, that's an ugly baby...."? I cannot. But it will not get out of my head. Get out I say! Ok, really, I don't want them out because the tunes are catchy, even if the "songs tend to push the envelope".

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Is it me, or am I just getting old?

Sigh. That is a sigh of defeat, a sigh of sadness, a sigh of dang-it-I-am-not-24-anymore. Why all of the hot air, you ask? Simple. I am not what I used to be, in more ways than one, I guess. But in this case, I am referring to my aging body. We found out the results of my tests, and the verdict is in....I am getting old(er). My chest x-ray was fine, my bone density test was great, my CT of my shoulder showed no cancer a brewing in there, and then there's my bloodwork. Ahhh....the bloodwork. My newly found arch enemy most certainly has turned on me. Everything came out fantastic, until the little numbers for my cholesterol found their way to my doctor. As one of my friends said, I am one of those people in the high cholesterol commercials who walk into a glass door. Yes, I am hanging my head in shame of the number that follows....250. EEEEKKKK!!! Normal is under 200. Yikes! We won't even go into my triglycerides. My oncologist blamed it on the pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving, and I really didn't have the heart to tell him that I didn't have any pumpkin pie. So, he has added another cholesterol check for my next routine bloodwork. I have some work to do I guess.

So my onc seems to think that it is possible that I have a partial tear in my rotator cuff. I looked at Dion when he said that, who replied, "Well that's odd. That usually happens to baseball players." There was a dramatic pause between us, to which I filled with, "My job." Dion answered with, "Too much Dodgeball." I will be seeing an orthopedic surgeon next week to see what he can see. Maybe it's not even a tear, but a muscle or something. I really don't have time for this kind of foolishness. We'll see....

Well, Dion is going out of town for work tomorrow through Sunday, so this is going to be a short one. Maybe the need to write will strike me when he is gone. Or maybe not.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Untitled Entry

I have no idea why I put that as the title, but I was under a lot of pressure to think of one, and I cracked. I could put "Thanksgiving" or "Dion is Sleeping on the Couch and the girls are Napping so I Thought I Would Blog" but I don't think that would fit in the space provided for me. So, there it is. Like I said, everyone is sleeping here, and I thought maybe I would tempt fate and start writing (the girls usually wake up about 5 minutes into my thoughts) and see what happens.

My mom lost her voice 3 days ago, so now every time I talk to her I have to try very hard not to whisper back. I have noticed though that people either whisper or yell when they talk to her. Dion loudly annunciated to her last night, which made me laugh. I don't think he knew he was doing that, but it was funny. We had a nice get together, a nice meal, a nice day all together. It has been lightly snowing all day, and it looks so pretty. I am glad that we didn't have to travel though. It's hard enough with a 3 year old and 20 month old, then you throw in bad weather and the fun begins.

I have been busy busy. Now that the weather has turned on me, I have started doing things on the inside of the house. I rag painted the living room, hung a border in the laundry room along with building shelves, etc for folding clothes. Literally. I had to saw through the pressed wood, which was not very easy. I got it all done in about 3 hours. Maybe I shall post a picture of it. I even hung up a closet rod. The system is working well, and now I am thinking of the next project to tackle. At some point I would like to build a workshop in one of our basement storage rooms. Maybe that will be the next adventure. I miss the workshop we had at our old house, but it would be nice to build one how we want it.

Ok, this is kind of a boring post. If I am bored with it, you must be ready to take me off of your favorite list....I am on your favorite list, aren't I? Ok, so maybe there should be a "I kind of like it, when I have nothing better to do" list. I shall write a letter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Oh....I don't know...

I was just in the mood to write, but alas, I have nothing to scribe about. I probably do, if I thought a little bit, but you understand that it is the day before Thanksgiving, the last day of the work week, the day before I gain an extra 10 pounds. Well, maybe not 10 pounds, but I am thinking of wear my old maternity pants with the elastic panel. No, I won't do that....maybe.

Have I told you that we belong to the elite group Netflix? It is so awesome. We get 3 movies at a time, for as long as we want (do I sound like the commercial?), which for us varies a bit. Anyway, one of the more recent movies we got was Airplane. What can one say about that movie? I think Dion was a little shocked that I could recite some of the less common lines of the movie. At one point he said "Gosh, I thought I knew a lot of the lines." I do know now though, that when I watched Airplane as a child, that I obviously didn't "get" all of the humor. Even when it was edited for television, I seemed to miss some of the humor. For example, when they said that the two guys were talking jive, I actually thought, as a kid, that they were speaking another language. Ahhhhh.....silly kid. So, I spent a good amount of time laughing at the old movie. Some humor never dies.

Tomorrow Claire's cousin Kaitlyn and her family are coming to visit. Claire and Kaitlyn are about 3 months apart, and love each other to death. Claire proclaimed to our daycare lady today, "My cousin Kaitlyn is coming tomorrow!" To say that she is excited would be an understatement. This weekend is the holiday stroll downtown, so I am hoping that we will have ok weather and maybe my sister-in-law and I can take the girls. I think there's a parade, they light up the downtown Christmas lights, there are carolers dressed up from the past, it could be fun. Or it could not. But there's only one way to find out.

Oh. I supposed I should do an update on my shoulder. On Tuesday, since the port study didn't really tell us anything about my shoulder pain, I was squeezed in to have an ultra sound of my neck, shoulder, and arm. They were on a mission of finding a clot, if there was one, and possibly that is what was causing my pain. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No clot, which is really good, but....Anyway, Beth came into the room to tell me that they found nothing and suggested that maybe it's because I am getting old and getting arthritis. My response to her was to throw the washcloth at her. Old. Whatever. And although she was kidding (kind of) it was still a Sue Flaska mystery on why I was having pain. So I go to Mayo for treatment. I talked to the nurse, who called my oncologist. He said uh-uhhhh to using the port and ok'd the nurse to use my left arm. He wants to find out what is causing the pain before they use the port again. Now, along with my bloodwork, chest X-ray, and bone density test this coming Monday, he has added a CT scan of my neck and shoulder. So instead of being crabby about all of this, I have decided that I will be thankful (thankful...get it? It's almost Thanksgiving...ah! What do you know about humor? Just are very funny.) that I have an oncologist who will search high and low to find out what is causing the pain. Arthritis? Broken bone? Cancer? He'll find it. I hope.

My most recent fear...ok, not most recent, but that it is the cancer returning. I keep repeating in my head what I have been told over and over. The type of cancer I had, if it were to recur, would most likely recur within 2 years. I am at month 20 right now. Now I know that it doesn't mean that it will never come back. If any doctor says that to me, I will run the other way. There's no way for ANYONE to know for sure. I know of some woman who were 10 years out and it came back, so I don't want to be fed any crap of you're cured forever. There is no forever. Oh. I got a little side-tracked. So there it is. It's out on the table. I am scared and worried, and will sleep better after Tuesday when I get all of my results. The well used line of "It's probably nothing" is probably what is going through your head. I hate that phrase. If you take anything from me, take this. When that is said to someone who has battled a life threatening disease and is now facing some more issues, we tend to get a little pissed. Now, we understand that it is being said to calm us, or even just to calm the person saying it, but in reality, what is going through my head at least, is this "But it could be something." I think I have said this before, I will never EVER go into another doctor appointment, NOT prepared for the worst. That could be seen as a negative thought, but I don't think it is. I think it is realistic. Like I told the co-worker whose daughter is battling pancreatic cancer with all of her heart and soul, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. That's all we can do. That's all that can get us by. I will NEVER be blind-sided again with a diagnosis. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be sad or scared or angry with whatever I had to face, I would just be ready. My foot will be at the start line, ready to take off running to whatever it is I have to conquer. Not running away, just running to. What is it that I am running "to"? Hell if I know.

Monday, November 21, 2005

go speed racer, go speed racer, go speed racer go!

fish lips

No Rest for the Weary

Have I mentioned how much I do not like my port? I have decided that once this object is out of my body, I will be keeping it and it will be going into my cancer box, right along side of my fake boobs, the baggie of my old hair, info books, all the cards and balloons I got, etc. What an odd thing this cancer box has turned out to be. But anyway....

I have been having shoulder pains for a few weeks. At first I thought maybe my purse was getting too heavy, so I cleaned that out a bit. Then I thought well maybe it's from playing gym games with the kids at work, but I haven't played gym games in a bit since we could not use the gym because of the school concerts. So hell's bells. Today at work while I was writing out all of the bills for parents, my arm started hurting, along with the shoulder and neck pain. Well, to make a long story short, I had a port study done today where they inject contrast into the port and watch it on an x-ray to make sure that it is flowing properly. The tubing was working ok, but at the tip of the catheter the flow had decreased and the radiologist described it as a trickle. So to make another long story short, I am having an ultrasound of my arm tomorrow to make sure that a blood clot hasn't formed. I'm not sure of what else could cause pain in my shoulder, arm, and neck, but I would be happy if it were to stop. How many more weeks of treatment do I have left, you ask? 20 long weeks. Ugh. Is it so wrong for me to just be tired of all of this? I just want to get on with my life and not deal with procedures, ports, treatment, hospitals, blood draws, tumor markers, scans, x-rays, aches and pains, blah blah blah blah frickin blah. Ok. I feel a little better after this mock venting. Baby steps, right? Little tiny steps to being a survivor. Every day is a new adventure. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

A Follow Up, if I May

You will be very happy to know that I am currently watching an item on ebay. The auction has 8 days left, and it is for a little CD titled, The Muppet Hits. That's it! That is the one that I have been looking for. I must will that auction, or there will be tears. The biggest thing is waiting though, like for everything else in life. I am so pumped! Hip hip hooray for ME!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Oh How I Want...

There's a new new sound, the newest sound around, the strangest sound I think I've ever heard, it's not a wild bore or a jungle lion roar,it's not the cry of any kind of bird....

So that is the intro to a song on an old Muppets record that I used to listen to over and over. To say that I loved it would be an understatement. I guarantee that if you were to play that record for me today, I would know all of the lyrics. How do I know this fact, you ask? Simple. One night in college in a dorm room containing a few people and a few drinks, the host pulled out a record, loaded it up on his record player (I'm not sure why he had one in college) and music filled the room. I about fell over, except for the fact that I was sitting down. Well, I guess I could have fallen over to the side, but I was too busy singing. The party stopped and all eyes were on me, everyone wondering how (and why) I knew all of the words.

So to say that I am desperately trying to find this old record on cd is an understatement. I cannot find it anywhere! If you happen across a Muppet cd that has songs such as, Worms, Time in a Bottle (by Ralph), Pigs in Space, I'm Four, Happy Feet, let me know, pick it up for me, whatever, it's just....oh, how I want!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I have no idea why they have to run around mostly naked all the time...I think they get it from their dad.

It's a little Britney Spears-ish/Catholic School girl, whatever. They look cute.

The Power of Comedy

So Dion and I have been pretty big fans of comedy shows, such as those you see on Comedy Central, etc, but for some odd reason, we had never actually been to a show until this year. Some of our favorites are Stephen Lynch, Dane Cook, Lewis Black, Ron White, the late Mitch Hedberg, Blue Comedy Tour guys, and some others here and there. I love to laugh. I love to laugh until it hurts, and I am crying, and breathing is a challenge. Now, please note here: these comics deal with adult, albeit not always pc issues. You have been warned, so don't come back to me and tell me that you bought one of their cd's for your 4 year old and now he's mumbling something about how Ed thinks he's a piece of bread, and how Bigfoot is blurry.

Anyway, we have had the honor this year to see not just one comic live, but TWO!! Yes, two of them. The first one we saw was Ron White. Ron White! Our cat's name is Tater, and if you know anything about Ron White, you will know what that means. I brought these little binoculars to the show, claiming that I was going to see the ice cubes in Ron's drink. I was made fun of. Repeatedly. But guess who saw the ice cubes....that's right....ME! Plus I remember looking at his shoes and thinking, those are odd, to which later in the show he pointed that out. Ha! I already knew that due to my highpowered nocs. Ok, they are not really highpowered at all, in fact I think if I use them in my living room, I can see the buttons on the phone from across the room. Not all that highpowered, but I saw cubes damn it!

The next comic....(I am taking a deep breath) Stephen Lynch....sigh...eye candy, great guitar player, quick on the humor draw, just someone I think I'd like to hang out with. I have to note here, that Stephen wore awesome shoes (yes, I took my nocs again, and I looked. There's something about the type of shoes....but I digress), tan cords, and surprisingly, a long sleeve shirt with a collar. And although he was not feeling too well last night, he put on a hell of a show. A little side note here, if you go to a comedy show, please don't be one of those people who don't shut up and ruin it for those of us who actually want to hear the show we paid $77 for. That would be great. So, from the opening song, which I cried because I laughed so hard, down to the last one, it was FAN-TAB-U-LOUS! It didn't even matter that we had seats that seemed like they were pulled out from the basement and brushed out...literally. Our row was didn't exist until the Fitz pulled the chairs out and we sat down. I am so thankful they added that row.

So, I am saying, here and now, that comedy has a way to heal. I have many cd's that I listen to back and forth to Mayo, and I laugh every time. I can do the routines...not quite as well, but I figure with a few more listens I could go on the road...yeah, right, I will leave that to the professionals. Anyway, comedy has seen me through a lot, and I hope to be a person at a show years from now that the college kids at the show say "What the hell is that grandma doing here? Does she not know the context of the show?" And yes, yes I DO know the context of the show, and I will be sure to wear my Depends and drink very little.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Falsies can refer to many things I suppose. False eyelashes, the prosthetic boobs I used to have to wear, fingernails, I am sensing a pattern here around things that females do to make themselves feel better. Interesting. Not really what I was going for, but it's ok to learn as we go. Anyway, I am not refering to any of these things, but to people. I had an experience at Mayo yesterday, and this is what happened.

There were two woman sitting together, obviously they came together too. I had seen the one who was there for treatment before. I see a lot of repeat customers at Mayo, but this one kind of sticks out for me. She has lost her hair and wears a wig. I am a little biased because I didn't choose to wear one, but it was all I could do not to say to this lady, "Take it off, you would look so much better." But, each person is different and has different needs and we have to support each other either way. But what caught my attention about this lady was something else. In fact, it wasn't her wig, her movements, her cancer, it was the woman who came with her. This woman I'm sure was meant to be a support system for her. Someone to keep her company, drive her home when the meds kick it, maybe make things easier for her. I might just be ultra-sensitive, or maybe I had some company-envy, but I noticed something in this woman who was there to support the cancer patient.

There was a fakeness to this woman. Almost a patroinising tone. Her comments were like those a person makes in passing, maybe at a store with the clerk, or some co-workers you don't know very well. And maybe that was the case. Maybe they didn't know each other very well, but I felt bad for the lady. She talked to her "support" like they had been friends for years, and the other lady just seemed to placate her with her words. At one point I listened to her complain to the cancer patient about how tired she was, and how she had trouble sleeping and the time change was hard on her body. Hard on her body. What I wanted to say, of course was, "Hey, do you know what's hard on your body? The poison that they pump through your veins to try and kill the cancer that has tainted you. That's what hard on your body." But I didn't. I don't know why I felt the need to be this woman's voice. I was getting so frustrated, and then I took a look at this support woman. She had on the perfect clothes, pink socks that matched her little coat, not one strand of hair was out of place, her cute little purse perched on her lap, perfect make-up and so on. Then I thought, that's the problem. Here is a lady who needs to have things perfect and in order, and she is here at Mayo trying to support someone who is not. How uncomfortable that must have been for that lady. How do you try and support someone when you can't handle the illness itself?

Ok, so maybe I am reading too much into this, but what else do I have to do when I am there? I have tried to turn my life into something worth examining. It's always good to question people and their motives. I grew up with that from my mom. She would always say, "And why do you think so-and-so did that? How did it make you feel?" That is how you start teaching people to think before they act, and that is SO important. I see that with my kids, with my kids at work, and even with some adults around me. Some of them, I can tell, were never taught to think about how their words would effect someone else. And yes, sometimes things slip out, but there's a difference.

I better stop for now. It takes all sorts of people to make this world go around, but there's no rule saying we have to like all of them.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Small Towns

There are a lot of people out there who have told me that they could not imagine living in a town as small as ours. I can understand that thought, hell, we moved here from Madison WI. It's hard to believe that a few years ago, we spent so much time in a car just to get across town. A trip to Walmart in Madison (from where we lived), 20-25 minutes. A trip to Walmart in Red Wing, 3-5 minutes, depending on if you hit the lights or if you sneak through the neighborhoods around them. I didn't think 7-8 years ago about how much time I wasted in a car, just to get to the store. I do now. Anyway.....

I was lucky enough to be included in a local benefit. I will admit that I have never been to a benefit before, so I really didn't know what to expect. I knew that I would do whatever was needed of me, and that they were expecting about 400 or so people. I also knew that there was a silent auction. I did not know, however, that there were so many people in this town, and so many companies in this town who were willing to help out too. I am still amazed, and it has been 2 days since the miracle event took place. My job during the benefit was to buss tables. I am still questioning the amount of people....I think we passed 400 people. The line for the buffet never stopped. People kept coming and coming, and there was a bunch of raffles along with the silent auction. I couldn't believe all of the donated items....a signed Vikings Helmut, beautiful handmade blankets, oil changes, tools, clothes, signed Twins items, paintings, and really I could go on for hours. We were honoring Annette that day. It was a celebration of her life, a celebration of the power of prayer and family and friends. Annette was diagnosed this summer with terminal pancreatic cancer. She has two great kids, Elysa and Damon, who worked as hard (and harder, in some cases) as any adult at the benefit. You could feel "it" in the room. What is "it"? You'll know when you get the chance to feel "it" too. It's really nothing that can be explained, but you'll know when it happens, then you'll say "Ah ha! That's what that crazy Sue was talking about!"

Anyway, I know Annette through two different avenues. First, about 3 years ago, Elysa attended the school age child care that I coordinate. Second, her mom and I work together. I may have found one of the reasons that I was chosen to fight cancer. I was able to listen and understand what they were going through, we could talk medical things, we could cry together and not feel ashamed, we could just "be" for each other. The power of small town strikes again! Pay it forward....I have to see that movie still. Annette, by far, is one of the strongest people I have met. This woman keeps getting fastballs thrown at her, and she keeps hitting them back. Not just back, but out of the park. She should be an example to all of us, and I strive to have her power, her positive energy, her heart. I am blessed to know this woman.

I just wanted to share with anyone who questions why we moved to a small town, now you know.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A little bit of something and a whole lot of nothing

I just decided that it had been a while since I last posted anything, so here I am. I should be doing the laundry, cleaning, putting clothes away, blah blah blah, but here I sit.

I got a book today in the mail from my MIL, "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy". It is at this point that I want to encourage anyone who knows a young woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer to read this book. Keeping in mind that everyone is different, I did feel that this was a very true, accurate, heartfelt walk in the author's shoes (which is Geralyn Lucas, by the way). There were sections in the book that I felt I had written, there were sections in the book that I did myself these past 19 months, and there were parts in the book that I could never dream of doing. Ok, enough said. It's a wonderful book, I read it in under 3 hours.

Since my last posting I turned 31. I spent a majority of that day at Mayo getting treatment and my study shot. Nothing like a shot in the butt as a happy birthday present! I took cupcakes in for the nurses that had Care Bear rings on top, which they all wore. I could not, however, convince Bill the custodian to wear his. Last year for my 30th birthday I was doing radiation. This year treatment, next year I'm hoping for the year off. I will say though that all of the "happy birthday's" I received from the Mayo staff were sincere. I was also point out here that the spouse of another cancer survivor did come up to me and say "May you have many more". That was nice.

So I have a staff member who is out on maternity leave right now and I have picked up some of her hours. In case you forgot, I am the coordinator of a before and after school aged child care. Usually I am stuck in the office doing paperwork and all that fun stuff, but now the fun starts. I get to be with the kids. I get to do craft projects, play gym games, and most importantly, I get to make an impression on these kids. I get to build them up, I get to help them make the right choices, I get to point out when they have made the wrong choice and help them figure out what the right choice would have been. I can see it working. Anyway, I digress. So we were playing a game in the gym, two teams, one on each half of the gym. A first grade boy was getting a little competetive, enjoying the game, being a little cocky like they get. And he runs up to the center line where I was standing and says, "Come on Grandma! Show me what you got!!" Grandma? Did that kid just call me grandma? In which I replied, "Grandma?!?" and threw the ball at him and got him out. Oh yeah! Score one for Grandma! I cannot tell you how much fun I have playing games with these kids. I end up sweating and they wear me out by the end of the night, but it is so worth it. You know when you see a kid in the halls during the school day and he says, "Are you going to be here tonight?" and you say yep and they do a little fist pump action and say "Yes!!!", you are doing something right.

Well, Claire is awake, so I guess I will stop for now. I have a lot more thoughts that I want to get down, but they will have to wait, like so many other things in life.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Power: vigor; force; strength; a person or thing having great influence.

It is amazing what we let have power in our lives. How much control do we have? How much do we want? When I heard the word "power", I thought of things that were not only strong, but positive. All-powerful God, being strong, in control and such. In the past year and a half, the definition of power has not changed for me, but the context has. I try to not let my cancer have power over me, but lately I have found that to be an easy thought to have, but much harder task to do. Power. Control. Influence. Cancer.

In the past two weeks I have had numerous tests done. An MRI of my head because of headaches, an endometrial biopsy, and a biopsy of an area on my cancer side boob that was thickening. I used to think that the actual testing was the worst part since I am somewhat of a big old baby, but the waiting is the kicker. Hurry up and wait. And while you wait, you feel the control slipping away and landing in the lap of cancer. The "what if's" add up fast, and you try to not think about things such as losing your hair, rearranging work to do chemo, how you're going to tell your family that once again your body has failed you and the cancer has returned. Go ahead and say that cancer does not have any power over a person, but you would be wrong. The big question is what can you do with that lack of power? I suppose there are volunteer programs, and even the simple act of this blog. I guess the goal is to try and move the power into a positive direction. I will be the first to admit that I really don't have any answers. I do know that this past year and a half has been long, and it has been hard to muddle through at times, but we've made it. Not without worry and doubt, but we still have made it.

As far as my test results go, everything came out fine. The MRI showed nothing in my brain (hold the jokes, I have already heard them...comedians), the endometrial biopsy came back negative, and the thickening in my boob was necrosis, normal from radiation and TRAM surgery. I remember being told when I was diagnosed that it will get better and I won't think about cancer every day. At that time I thought, "Yeah, easy for you to say, I will NEVER not think about it all of the time." I am happy to say that now, I don't think about it all of the time, but I still worry every day what the future holds for me and my family. I worry about my husband not having a wife, my daughters not having a mom, my parents losing a child and my brothers and sister losing a sibling. How's that for power?

Dion just said that this was not a positive ending, and usually I am more positive. So I will end with this....

Why females should avoid a girls night after they are married...

The other night I was invited out for a night with "the girls."
I told my husband that I would be home by midnight, "I promise!" Well,
the hours passed and the margaritas went down way too easy. Around 3
a.m., a bit loaded, I headed for home. Just as I got in the door, the
cuckoo clock in the hall started up and cuckooed 3 times. Quickly,
realizing my husband would probably wake up, I cuckooed another 9
I was really proud of myself for coming up with such a quick-witted
solution (even when totally smashed), in order to escape a possible
conflict with him. The next morning my husband asked me what time I got
in, and I told him "Midnight." He didn't seem pissed off at all. Whew!
Got away with that one! Then he said, "We need a new cuckoo clock."
I asked him why, he said, "Well, last night our clock cuckooed three
times, then said, "Oh sh*t.", cuckooed 4 more times, cleared it's
throat, cuckooed another 3 times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, and
tripped over the coffee table and farted."

Thanks for the joke Beth!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

From one extreme to the other

Within two days of each other I experienced such extreme opposite emotions that even as I sit here typing, I don't know if I should still be laughing out loud, or if I should still be so annoyed. Emotions....they're are interesting, no wonder there have been so many studies done.

Anyway, shall we start with Tuesday? Dion and I spent the day at Mayo. I had some extra testing done and any time I have that, Dion comes with me (everything came back fine, I just have a biopsy next week of my endometrial for all). Ok, so we swing by my new dentist in Rochester, whom I love. I have not had very many positive experiences with dentists, and I have to admit I was on guard the first few times I met with Dr Wadkins. He has, in fact, made such an impression on me that I am trying really really hard to floss on a regular basis. I hate flossing. Anyway, I stopped in to fork over some money, we ended up staying a little bit and chatting with the doctor and his staff. The first hour of parking is free, so we had plenty of time to get up to the car, and down the ramp to the gate. Now, I have to explain that this is no ordinary ramp. You don't drive straight, take a hard right, drive straight again to get down. Oh no. What fun would THAT be? In this ramp, they put a corkscrew down ramp.....around and around and can see all the marks from cars hitting the sides. Not just one here and there, but the whole blasted way down. I think it's kind of fun, even though sometimes I go a little too fast and come close to hitting the sides like many before me. We get to the bottom, pull up to the attendant and I put my window down. And I wait. Hmmm....looks like he might be reading something since his head is tilted down in a way that is common when a person reads. Or apparently, also when they sleep. I will admit for one split second I thought maybe he collected his ticket to "The Big Unknown", but then I saw him breathe. I looked over at Dion, who said, "What does one do in this situation" I laughed out loud, and for a moment felt bad because I thought IT WOULD WAKE HIM! Well, duh. So, do you poke the guy, do you cough a little, maybe throw a balled up piece of paper? I chose option one. I poked his belly with my finger and he jumped. I felt like I was in a Pillsbury Dough Boy commercial. I half expected the guy to smile all big and say "Hee hee." He didn't. But he did say, "Oh. Was I snoring?" I told him no, because well, he wasn't. I was trying very very hard to not laugh out loud, but I could not contain my smile. You should know that I paused for a moment just now, and realized again, I was smiling. So, that was my happy experience. Now we will change gears a little. Come. Join me on the dark side.

Today I went to Walmart to pick up a few things for work. I had a little bit of time before I had to get the girls so I thought, "Great, I can run in, find what I need, get into the express check out, and get to daycare in time to get the girls. I had 15 minutes. I was a mere blur as I sashayed through the isles, getting what I needed, spending as little time as possible picking out essentials such as a new pen (I love new pens. I don't know why). I was proud of myself, not only because of my speed, but I only talked to myself a few times. I think that's hereditary. Anyway, I see the line I want from a good twenty feet away. The magical sign above says "Limit 10 items please". It said please. Walmart was asking in a polite manor for only those of us with 10 or fewer items to pass through that lane. Sure. No problem. I fell into the "less than" category. I was safe. Now, I did notice that there were two people in front of me. I checked out the first person. She had a handful of items. She was following the rules, which is more than I could say for the woman directly in front of me. I was looking in her cart and watched in horror as she kept piling stuff on the conveyor belt. More and more and more. Now, I am as flexible as the next person, I could handle 13 or 14 items, but we were not talking an extra item or two. We were talking about 16 extra items. 16! I don't think I have stressed that enough. That is 160% MORE than the Walmart allowance for that lane! I did the shift from one foot to another, the pretend to look over all the useless crap they sell at the check out (ok, I did buy some breath freshener, but I was at a loss at what to do. I plead insanity since she was driving me crazy!), I checked my watch, and just felt the anger boiling. There was also an emotion of "Yuck" in there when I noticed that this lady who was probably in her late 60's early 70's was buying thongs. And I don't mean flip flops. Deep breath, deep breath. Ok, I was calming down, until the checkout girl was done and the sinner took out two gift cards and her check book. Checkbook! Everyone knows that you are supposed to write in all that you can in your check BEFORE they finish scanning your stuff, except this lady. So we did the whole "Ok, use this card, now this one, and how much do I owe now?" routine. Over and over I counted my 6 items...I had 6...I followed the rules! I watched as more and more people behind me left their spot in line because of the Cheater in front of me. I waited for the look. You know The Look, the one that says "Sorry, I know I have way more than 10 items, whoopsie." Not one look. I surely wouldn't get an "I'm sorry" if I didn't even get a look. Let me shed some light on this situation. By the time I had checked out and was heading for the door, this lady had just finished putting her stuff back into her purse. And yes, I am sitting here shaking my head (and my feet since Tater feels the need to attack them) just thinking about that woman.

So there you have it. Both entertaining in their own way I guess. I can't wait to see what happen tomorrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

really, what can a person say to this?

best friends, for the moment

Hear no evil, speak no evil....

Claire and her "favorite kitty"

What a goof!

Monday, September 19, 2005

A little story

How does one celebrate getting their life back? How can you even start to thank those who gave it back to you? I guess exactly how we did it, by saying "Thank you."

September 16th 2004 has gone down into the books as one of our longest days. After spending the prior 11 days wondering how Dion would raise the girls alone, wondering what would be nice for a funeral, desperately searching for my life insurance policy, calling some friends and asking them to help Dion out any way they could when I was gone, talking to my best friend knowing that she meant every word that she said when she said she would tell my girls all about me and they'd know me through her. It is almost surreal. We were off to Mayo to get a second opinion, and we had decided that maybe they could treat me with different drugs than my then current doctor was going to do. That's how we mentally prepared for that trip to Rochester.

To say that there was a lot of waiting is an understatement. It seemed like no matter where we went we had to wait and wait and wait, but I remember thinking to myself, "If it means that I could have a different outcome, I will wait and wait and wait." I will never forgot my first visit with my oncologist. I remember thinking that he was pretty young and he had a sparkle in his eye. And I loved that at one point when he was on the computer he was sitting on his legs. There he was, an oncologist, typing at the computer looking like a little kid. I liked him from the moment I met him. Then he said something that made me doubt him. He looked right at us and said, "I just don't think it's cancer. I've seen all of your scans and read your files and I am not convinced that it is cancer." Dion and I looked at each other. What do you say at this moment? We were told that I would have to do more chemo and if that worked I had 3-5 years. If chemo didn't work, I had 6 months to a year to live. How could he sit there and say that he didn't think it was cancer when that is all that we knew? He advised us to meet with the Thorasic surgeon and go from there.

We did. We sat in that office until about 7 PM that night. He told us the only way to be sure that it was not cancer was to do a medialstynal biopsy. I asked when he could do that, and he said tomorrow, I said, "Do it." Basically it was a biopsy of the chest nodes that my previous oncologist said had cancer in them. A simple incision at the base of the neck, sore, yes, but nothing I couldn't handle.

We called family and told them that we were staying another night in Rochester to have this test done, and what my oncologist had said. You could feel the prayers that night. We went to St Mary's bright and early and ended up waiting until I think after 5 PM before I even went into the O.R. It's amazing how patient a person can be when it means life or death. I remember the tube being pulled out of my throat, and then I remember being told it was negative. No cancer. I remember crying, and then falling back asleep. Dion had the job of calling family and some friends to tell them the news. I can't being to imagine how he felt doing that job. That was September 17th, 2004.

Now here we are a year later. I thought a lot of my new oncologist on Saturday. I thought about how I have been given another chance, how he was right on the mark when he said that he didn't believe it was cancer. It was in fact, an inflammatory disease called Sarcoidosis. Within 3 months my lungs and chest nodes had returned to normal, along with my tumor markers.

Life can be a pretty wild ride. You have to hold on tight so you don't fall off or hurt yourself in the process. I am still hanging on, and no matter what is thrown my way, I will just keep tightening that grip.

Happy 1st 2nd Chance Anniversary to me.

Friday, September 16, 2005

And now for some fun

This entry really I guess is for me and my lack of memory. I want to record somewhere the funny things that Claire and Nadia say so some day they can look and say to themselves, "Man I was weird". I do find myself having to turn away and laugh at some of the things that have been coming out of Claire's mouth lately. So I will share....most of these are from Claire since Nadia only knows a dozen or so words.

Key Key = kitty. Nadia says it now, and Claire used to say it.
door-a-sar= dinosaur. Claire used to chant that and stomp through the house
beets= feet
kuh-kuh= blankie (it was an odd sound that Claire made when she wanted her blankie)
scarey monkey= a little sling shot toy monkey at daycare that scared Claire
sprackles= spinkles on cookies or icecream or what have you
Shawn= my brother John
icky boog= any bug
moo-kick= music
dancing= the movie Annie

Ok, I am at a brain freeze, but I will add more when I think of them. Although lately Claire has been saying stuff like "Mommy, come on" (as in, "you fool") and "Just go downstairs and get it Mommy, ok?" These are the times that I have to turn my head so she can't see me laughing. I tell her she's sassy and she says, "I'm not sassy, I'm Claire." The other day she was scolding Nadia and telling her to stand in the corner, so I called her to me and said, "I am the mommy" and before I could say anything else, she claimed, "I am Claire." And boy is she ever!

I lack patience for people who don't think

I started with the title saying, "Untitled...that's the best I could do", then I had the above title with a different word meaning the same as "people who don't think", but I thought maybe that was a little too harsh, so here we are, stuck with the above title. I knew I wanted to blog today, now that the girls are napping, but I wasn't sure of what I wanted to blog about. I'm still not sure. I did know that I wanted to touch on the topic of people in general, which brought me to the subject of things that have chapped my hide. What an odd expression. I suppose it comes from the phrase "rubbed me the wrong way". Or not. Either way, I have found that as I have gotten older, my tolerance for what some people do has gotten lower. What do people do, you ask? Ahhh...I was waiting for you to ask that question. Come. Sit with me. Let's chat....

Why oh why are elevator manners so so hard? Do you really think that plowing through people trying to get off of an elevator so you can get on is ok? Then it kills me because they say every time, "Excuse me" after they have trampled every person they could to get on. It's not like a carnival ride where you want to get a good spot, or the bus when sitting in the back was cool. It's an elevator. It goes up and it goes down. It does make neat beeping noises, but you can hear that from every spot in the elevator car. So, if you are one of those people who plow through to get on....stop it. We don't like it. It's rude. And some day you might get shoved back (refer to my posting titled "Fight! Fight! Fight!).

Lying. Ok, now don't yell at me and say "Everybody lies sometime! Even you!" And yes, I have told the occasional white lie or lying by omission, I will not deny that. I can say that I am not a habitual liar, and when I do say white lies, it more often than not is to spare someone hurt feelings. For example, Santa Claus. I know some day I will be confronted by my kids saying that I lied because there isn't a Santa Claus. You know what I mean. And if you say that you don't lie, you fib, that is a lie in itself. A fib is a lie too. So now that we have that straight, we can continue. I am referring to lies that catch up to people. The lesson one who lies should learn is that it's hard to remember all of your lies and who you told what to. Hmmm...did you say one thing to me, and something different to another person? And oh my...what if that person and I compare notes? What kills me is that there are people out there who maybe you help out with something, or maybe you support them in decisions they make, and KABOOM! Wait, wait, I have to pull the knife out of my back right now. Grand. Isn't that just a shot to the gut? I also don't like liars who play games and try and play people off of each other. It's mean and really shows what type of a person they are. I don't like liars.

With all that has happened in our country and our personal worlds, it amazes me that there is still such insensitivity out there. I am guilty of it too, some days seem so rushed that I don't stop and think all of the time, but I am talking about the cold hearted insensitive people. And doesn't it seem like nothing bad ever happens to them or their family? Maybe that is why they are insensitive. They don't know what it is like to have their world come crashing in on them. I always say though that God has a sense of humor....

I also don't like it when people belittle my situation. Please don't assume that because I look like my old self that things are all back how they were. I was told recently "Now you can get back to normal." Normal. If when you say normal, are you referring to my constant thought of the chance that I might not see my girls grow up? Or is it thinking that now I can ignore that anything ever happened? Or maybe normal is thinking that every little headache, muscle cramp, lump, bump, cough, or hangnail is the cancer returning. Is that normal? It is my new normal. I have found that the more I fight it, the more they fight back. "But you feel good, right?" To which I say "Yes, but there's always the chance..." to which they respond, "But you feel good, right?" again and again. I finally said, "Yes, I feel good." and left it at that. But I will point out that I felt fine at the time the tumors were growing in my body. My oncologist now says that they follow symptoms. How do I learn to trust my body again when it failed me miserably last time? I had heart issues before, and had to wear an event monitor. Turns out that it was stress causing me issues, and the more events I had the more stressed I got. Now that it has been said it is from stress, I get little bumps in my heart rhythm, but nothing like before. I have been having headaches for the past 2 weeks. How do I determine if it is stress or something else? Hell's bells, I don't know.

I suppose we could all go on about things that bother us, and I know Dion would say that I should write about things people have done that I like. Which kills me because he has a tendency to be a little negative at times. Anyway, I have lately seen the system being used and people not even batting an eyelash over doing it. I know I end up paying one way or another for it, and it makes me mad. Being two faced is a hard act to stay on top of, which face are you today? That's what I want to ask some people. Ok, Nadia's crying, gotta fly....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I have Graduated

Strike up the band, I now get to go to the doctor for a check every three months instead of every two months. Whoop! Whoop! I had a good visit with my doctor, even though Dion and I were running very low on sleep. Claire had decided at 2 AM that day that she was "up and ready to go downstairs!" Fast forward to 4 AM when we went back to bed for about an hour and a half when we had to get up again to get ready to go to Mayo (we had to leave by 6:30 AM). Anyway, at one point during the visit, my doctor just looked at me and said, "Boy, you just look very tired." The understatement of the year.

Anyway, my next visit will consist of a chest x-ray, a bone density test, and thanks to Dion, a cholesterol test. They had run some sort of nutrition blood work and Dion asked if marshmallows showed up in them. My onc said "You too? My wife is the same way." So I had to share my secret of putting marshmallows and butter in a bowl and microwaving them, then adding rice krispies....warm krispie treats RIGHT THEN AND THERE! Apparently my zest for the treats showed, and he said "Maybe we will run a cholesterol test too." Dang it.

So that's that. Today is supposed to be about 90 degrees. How crazy! Once we finish the playset that we have built for the girls I will add those pictures. We have a few more things to do though, so I will wait until we can say tah dah. And it will be a hearty tah dah.

Monday, September 05, 2005

One Day at a Time

From the One Day at a Time TV show......

This is it. (This is it.)
This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball.
This is it. (This is it.)
Straight ahead and rest assured you can't be sure at all.

So while you're here enjoy the view.
Keep on doing what you do
So hold on tight we'll muddle through
One day at a time, (One day at a time.)

So up on your feet. (Up on your feet)
Somewhere there's music playing.
Don't you worry none we'll just take it like it comes.
One day at a time, (One day at a time.) (4X)

So when I was doing radiation, I found that the two hours in the car, Monday through Friday for 5 weeks, were eased by listening to music. I have this CD that has 70's and 80's TV theme songs on it, which by the way I LOVE, and I listened to that a few times. Although I didn't watch One Day at a Time all that often, years later that silly theme song has brought me comfort. That and the American Hero theme song, but that's another story for another day.

Why is this coming up, you ask? Simple. Tomorrow is another 2 month check for me. Same old same old, blood draw, meet with the doctor, treatment, yadda yadda yadda. I know I must drive my poor doctor crazy because I know I ask the same question over and over, just in different ways. Recurrence, the cancer coming back, if it comes back do I lose my new boobs, how do you know if it's there, blah blah blah. And he patiently answers me every time with "We have to go by what symptoms you have." Ok, that satisfies me, for that month. Then I start to think, well hell, symptoms?!? I look back a year and a half ago and the only symptom I had was a lump, if that's even thought of as a symptom, and I am the one who found it. Hells bells.

I try to keep a positive attitude for every visit, but there's a part of me that fears if I let my guard down like I did for the first biopsy, something will happen. I vowed never to go to another doctor appointment blind like that again. My quote is "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best", and so I do that. I think I have said if before, but I think it is too important to not repeat. Cancer does not go away when you are done with treatments. Yes, I do have hair (what to do with all the curls?!?), I do have new boobs, I look healthy, but that damn cancer lingers there, and rears it's ugly head every so often. Like this weekend....

It has been a while since we have gone to a wedding. Maybe two years or so. We went to a wedding this weekend, and everything was perfect. The weather was great, the bride and groom were beautiful, the pastor's sermon was truly amazing. You could feel the love and support in the church. But here was the hard part for me. The bride's mom had died of breast cancer years and years ago. I could not help but sit there thinking "I hope that I see my girls get married." Her dad has since remarried, but her mom's presence was there. So much so that in asking who gives the bride to be married, the answer was all of them. How neat. How compassionate. How moving. How important.

Dion and I went to the State Fair today (We dropped $75 and all we have to show for it is a big Nemo stuffed animal). We used the Park and Ride system, which worked out quite nice. On the bus was a pregnant woman, and even though I have had 3 pregnancies, I couldn't help but stare at her big belly. I guessed she was about 7 months along. I watched as she rested her hands under her belly, watched as her husband looked at her and smiled, watched as she shifted in the seat trying to find a comfortable position. Dion looked at me and said, "The last time we went to the fair, you were pregnant." That was true. I was about 3 months pregnant then. I also had cancer and didn't even know it. Talk about putting a shadow over everything...."Oh, that's before I had cancer, oh, that happened when I had cancer, hey remember that? That was before cancer had invaded our lives." That seems to be the way I classify everything now a days. Pre, during, or post cancer. I even look through pictures and think in my head, "Before cancer". Will that ever go away? Who knows? Back to the pregnant girl. Part of me was sad looking at her, knowing that it would not be wise for me to get pregnant again. I don't even think my stomach could handle the weight of any more massive babies because of the reconstructive surgery. I look at Nadia, and think to myself, Nadia is the age Claire was when she was born. Weird.

I have been thinking about the meanings of our children's names. First we had Casey, our miscarried child, whose name means Brave. Next came Claire, whose name means Brite. And last is our little Nadia, whose name means Hope. I knew that I wanted each of my children to have names with special meaning. I never knew how much they would effect me, and never have names caused me to think as much as these three little ones have.

So, I am off to Mayo tomorrow with lots of thoughts and fears going through my mind. I just might have to pull out that CD and listen to it, for old times sake. One day at a time......

There's something about Nadia that they don't know.....(theme song from "There's Something About Mary" know the scene.

our little Harley girl

Claire blowing milk bubbles

Nadia likes her food

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Cancer Walk

We survived the walk! What a wonderful two days it was, spent with wonderful people, for a wonderful cause. The Mississippi Shuffle broke some records this year by raising a little over $138,000. The bags with names and candles are called luminarias, in honor of, or memory of someone. This year there were 7100 bags lighting the walk and park. It was amazing. Words cannot express how it feels to be a survivor and participate in this walk.

Prior to cancer-fun days, we did the walk and knew it was for a good cause. We hung out with friends, ate junk food, talked, blah blah blah. The walk has a whole new meaning for me now. While we still hung out with friends, ate junk food and talked, this time I walked and thought about those of us fighting, I walked and thought about those of us who have been taken, I walked and thought about how lucky I am to be here, I walked and thought about my kids. At their age there's no way to explain cancer to them. I wonder if someday they will do the walk and read the names on the bags, hopefully my name will still be in red and not black, and hopefully we will be walking together.

Thanks over and over to all of you who helped us out this's what your donation helped to do.....

Dion catching flies....hee hee hee....

"In Memory Of" board....those we have lost

Of one my bags

One of two sets of risers filled with luminarias

Our team

More luminarias

Sisters In online support group, my strength.

The sunset that night.

People in the park

Our view of the Mississippi River

Friday, July 29, 2005

We lost a friend this week

I found out 2 days ago that we lost a friend in a motorcycle accident. He was 24 years old, one of the more funny people I knew. Underneath his jokes, his tough guy attitude, there was a soft heart. I met JJ at the job I had before working for the school district. His carefree attitude and love of jokes and laughter drew many people to him. His life was cut way too short. He had a lot left to do in this world. He was very good at computers, very smart underneath, such a loss.

Dion and I found ourselves talking about things that we remembered about JJ that were so typical of him. Although we hadn't seen him in a while, he has left a hole in our hearts. Here are some of the things we remembered about this guy.

The boss at work had asked to have a flower bed planted at the end of the drive at Gemini, and one was planted. It was beautiful, lots of bright colors, pretty landscape bricks and bark chips. It grew, and as it grew and grew, slowly corn stalks popped up and began to hide the beautiful flowers. You couldn't help but laugh at the sight, but what made me laugh more was the thought of JJ sneaking in and planting the corn. The boss really had a love/hate relationship with JJ. He saw his potential, but cringed at the things JJ did, such as planting corn in the flowerbed.

It was New Years, the start of the year 2001. We had a little party at our house. JJ found Dion's weights and took two of the bigger barbells in both hands and picked them up and held them straight out. As time passed his whole body started to shake from trying to hold them up. His facial expression were enough to make a person pee their pants. Later that night he found our popesan chair and crawled into it and slept. We had a fun night.

JJ lived his life having fun, laughing, making friends, and just being a good guy. I told Dion the day we found out that I had just been thinking about JJ, wondering how he was doing. I wish I would have reacted to that thought. As I said before, it had been a while since we had seen him. We will see him tonight physically for the last time at the wake, we will see him often in the little things, like corn stalks. I have a fortune cookie fortune taped to our computer. It says, "Life is a gift, don't waste it." JJ never wasted it. May he rest in peace.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Not to make excuses, but....

Below you will see a few of the things that have kept me so busy this summer, not including the garage sale we had, working, daycare issues, going to Mayo each week, laundry, cleaning, cooking, cutting the grass, and even a little time to actually get a babysitter and go to a movie or two.....

Nadia's "surprise" look.

Best buds!

Look at them play so nice together...lucky it's caught on film.

I like big butts and I cannot lie.....

This is Tater. He's our new kitty, and he rocks! He sits on my shoulders, puts up with the girls, and scares the dog. What more could you want?

New siding on the house! Poor Claire, we promised our first-born....

Obviously, watering plants has not kept me busy. We don't talk much about the hanging plants. I have no clue as to why I kill them each year, but I do.

Here's our bedroom, or at least a corner of it. It's amazing what a little color will do to a room.

Here's the stump. See it's evil twin behind it? It's on my hit list.

This is part of a dead tree I cut down. I don't suggest doing that in 90 degree weather.

I painted our bathroom in a mere 3 hours.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

That's what I wanted to chant at the Twin's baseball game we went to last weekend. I seriously made Dion stop so I could watch these two guys because it was way too funny. Ok, here's the senerio...picture two guys, one is kind of hefty, maybe in his 30's, he's got on the muscle shirt for all to see how powerful he is, and I am pretty sure he's had a few drinks. Then there's the guy in his 40's with the white polo, sandblasted jean shorts, and of course the loafers made the outfit complete. Pretty. SO they are in each other's face, yelling things I could not quite understand, but it was apparent they were a little angry at each other. SO the big guy yells, "Do you wanna fight?" I almost fell over! Were we on the playground or at a baseball game? I had to laugh out loud when the other guy says the same thing back to muscle man. Holy crap! They were going to duke it out right there! So, of course being the gentlemen that they were, they were going to head outside. The problem at hand as far as I was concerened was, how does one look tough and intimidating going through a revolving door? I was hoping they would share a stall, but muscle man went so fast there was no time for sharing. It you can hardly believe it, loafer guy quickly walks away and into the nearest bathroom, leaving muscle man outside to fight no one. Darn. I really wanted to chant "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Odd Things Continued....

There are a few more things worth mentioning...well, maybe not really "worth" mentioning, but, alas, I will tell you anyway.

In the booming metropolis of Red Wing we have 2 Kwik Trip gas stations. I went into one the other day and decided that I was a little hungry. I had gotten burned once before when I bought something called a Tornado, which is kind of like a Taco Bell burrito. I thought I was buying a beef one, when in fact I bought a Southwest Chicken. I cannot handle any type of spicy foods, but since it did taste good, I ate the hot thing with lots of soda. I was not going to go down that road again, so I looked around a little more. Soups. Interesting. But wait! One of the containers was marked Macaroni and Cheese. Odd. I had never seen Mac and Cheese sold at a gas station. Any normal person would keep walking, because who buys Mac and Cheese at a gas station? Now you know someone who does. I must say it was SO good! And very hot.

I love working with kids. They are always saying things that are so funny and unique. I was playing Uno with one boy (yes I do get paid to play games sometimes, leave me alone!) and he put down a "Skip" card. With that he said "Skip-a-dee-doo-dah". I don't know why I found that so funny, but I couldn't stop laughing. Another girl announced when she got to the room that she had gotten a shot on her "Booty cheek" and that it had hurt. I tried not to laugh at that one because she was so serious about it. The kids really aren't odd, but they are funny so I had to include them.

Claire has learned the alphabet. She won't pee in the potty to save her life, but she knows her alphabet song. Well, mostly, until she gets to L M N O P. She says, "L N N O P" She also says at the end of the song "Next time don't you sing with me". But I do anyway, at everyone's dismay.

And the all time most odd thing you will read about for a long time......drum roll....Dion and I are actually starting to think about taking some sort of small vacation (the crowd gasps!). That's right. A vacation. And it will have nothing to do with hospital beds, procedures, pain, worry, fear, cancer. Can you imagine? I can't.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Odd Things I Have Seen in the Past Few Days

I don't know what has inspired me to write about this, but we'll just go with it. Today, on the way to drop the girls off at daycare, I saw a woman riding her bike. That's not odd in itself, but what was in her hair was a little odd. She had gift ribbon, purple in color, tied into her hair. I'm not really sure what the fashion statement was, I can only guess she was at a party this past weekend, and that is leftover from it.

I tend to be a little pale in skin color. Ok, VERY pale. Ghost-like, if you will. But I am sporting a nice little sunburn from this past weekend. We had a garage sale, and I am still not very sure how I got burned sitting in the garage for most of the weekend. Odd.

At the above mentioned garage sale, a different sort of fella showed up to look at the push mower we were selling. He asked the lowest price I would take, and I said $10. He paused and said, "I'll give you five." Hmm...I could have sworn I just said ten, but what do I know? I turned him down. He walked away. He walked back. Without warning he started the mower up, startling everyone at the sale. He said since it started on the first pull, he'd pay the $10 for it. Now, one would think that he is the odd thing I was talking about, which, yeah, he was a little odd, but the REALLY odd think was the blasted mower starting on the first pull. I swear it would take me about 5 pulls to get that thing going.

We are looking into getting siding put on our house. We had a Sears guy come out. He looked like Wilfred Brimley, and I waited for him to whip up a bowl of oatmeal. He didn't. He didn't talk about diabetes either. He did however choose to walk on our railroad ties after it had rained and fell on his butt after proclaiming "ohhhhhhhh!" I think in the end that is why he wanted to charge us $20,000-30,000 for siding. Now that is odd!

Today I saw a cat jump from it's cage into a woman's arms. I felt like I was at a Vegas show, waiting to see the cat jump through a ring of fire or something. Enough said.

I'm sure there is more that I am missing since for some reason odd things seem to fall into my lap. But, I will stop for now and try to get some stuff done around the house....that's a whole different odd story to tell!

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Magic of Veet

I am sure by now you have seen all of the nifty commercials for Veet. They show a woman's leg with what looks like shaving cream on her leg, and she is making a zig zag pattern with what looks like a razor, but really isn't. Fancy. Painless. No cuts from razors, no ripping off of the skin with wax, total hair removal unlike what the electric razors do. But I will put in a plug here for an electric razor. It came in VERY handy when I was humungously pregnant and could not reach to shave myself. I really would not trust anyone to shave my legs with a razor, I have a hard enough time, so the solution was electric and Dion could shave my legs for me. What a guy!

Anyway, so I take the plunge and buy myself some Veet. "Refreshing" is the scent, if you are interested. In reality, it's not so much refreshing, as it is potent, with a dash of scent. That should have been my first clue, but I am not one to easily receive clues. So I read the directions, twice, since they make such a huge deal about open wounds, getting Veet in your eyes, the time frame to leave it on, and such. Another clue that escaped me was when they said to wash your hands IMMEDIATELY after applying the cream. Hmm. I did think for a moment why does one have to wash it off their hands so fast, but it can remain on your legs for up to 6 minutes? Ah, whatever. It did say to test a small area of your skin in case you had a reaction to it, but there's no time for testing! I need hair-free legs within the next few minutes. So I applied the cream and waited the directed amount of time. Pee-ewe! It stunk! I did feel some minor burning on the back of my, ahem, upper thighs. Have you seen the episode of Raymond where the bull is charging Robert and he gets stuck? He says it's in his upper thigh, everyone else says it's his butt. Dion called me Robert tonight. I used to think that episode was funny. Not so much anymore.

I take the fake razor and start "shaving". I was getting a little nervous about the burning, so I didn't even get to do the whole zig zag move like in the commercial. All I knew was that I needed that satan cream off of my legs, and I needed it off fast. Shave shave shave....burn burn burn....Ow ow ow! Holy crap! I had to get into the shower very fast to try and soothe the burning. My legs felt ok, but my upper thighs were still on fire. Crap. I had to go pick the girls up from daycare in five minutes. So I got dressed and ran up the stairs to locate the Dermaplast, which after having my kids worked wonders. It sort of numbs the area, which is what I desperately wanted. Spray spray spray. YEEEE-OWWWW! Why the hell was it burning?!? It was supposed to numb it! I had to grab toilet paper and try to blot off the Dermaplast. Now I was down to about 2 minutes before I had to get the girls. So I did just that, and tried not to whimper with every step I took.

When Dion got home, he had a job. I had saved some of my radiation gauze strips, and I needed them oh so bad. He had the fun job of putting them on my butt, whoops, I meant upper thighs. Ahhhh.......

So here I sit with less, but some pain, cursing the Veet company, and dreading tomorrow when I have to pull the medical tape off of myself. Which is lesser of two evils? I'm not sure at this point. I do know that I will retire my can of Veet, and there has to be something I can do with the fake razor thing. Squeegee some small windows, or something. So it's back to the good old razor and soft soap, until they come up with some other new product that I HAVE to try.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Nadia has a little something in her hair...

that's not a little's poop!!

Claire denies to comment

What the hell?!?

So I am in the basement trying to find the title to the van we want
to sell (hard to sell without it) and I am going through so much
CRAP in our files trying to find it. You'd think I would put it
neatly into a nice hanging file folder and label it "van title" but
what fun would THAT be? my husband is "watching" the
girls (Claire will be 3 in Sept, Nadia turned 1 in March) but mostly
playing on the computer. They are in the dining room, he is in the
living room. All of a sudden he screams downstairs for me to come
up, it's an emergency.

I RUN up the steps and burst into the dining room to see Nadia
sitting in one of the book shelves (I got tired of cleaning up books
and took them out, so now the girls sit there and play). Her hair
looks a little funny, but what's new? Ok. What's the worry? Then I
see Dion chasing Claire around yelling, and she of course is
laughing. She pauses long enough to stick her hands down into her
pull-up and pulls out POOP that sticks to her fingers until she
shakes her hand and it flies all over. The dog is following her
point I look back at Nadia and I understand why her hair looks
funny. Little miss Claire rubbed poop all over Nadia's head. What
the hell?!? (hence the title of the subject) Dion informs me that he
kind of was watching them and they were playing quietly. Quietly. We
all know what it means when kids are playing quietly. So it's off to
the bathtub. I washed the poor child's hair 4 times and she still
smelled like poop. Oh lord.

Ok, so everything quieted down, I put the kids in bed and came
downstairs to clean up a little, when Dion sprinted through the
living room screaming like a little girl saying the
following, "There's a bat in the house!!!!!!!!". Every once in a
while he hit the deck when the bat swooped down at him. I had to
cross my legs so I wouldn't pee my pants laughing at him. Tears
flowed openly, and you know that laughter where it really just hurts
and you can't get any air, but you don't care? Yup, that was me. He
took the towel from me, and I was left with a blanket that had
Claire poop on it from before. Great. I held the blanket up to try
and trap the bat, while my partner in crime would roll the towel up,
randomly throw it through the air, and take off running and
screaming. The bat made it's way upstairs, back down, back up, with
us following. And by "us" I mean I had to go first as Dion was not
able to scream upstairs due to the children sleeping. So when the
bat dive bombed him upstairs I would hear this hushed "OOOOOOOOOOO!"
I could not stop laughing. I have to add here that at one point the
darn thing hid behind a clock. Since I could not reach it, I told
Dion he had to get the clock down. He did not like that idea so
much, so he left the room and came back with a can of air freshener.
Interesting. I do have to say though that the bat flew out from
behind the clock after being sprayed.

I finally got the bat into the upstairs bathroom, grabbed him with a
towel and took him outside. Fly, be free you sick little dive bombing
bat! And that is how our night went. I never did find that title.....