Thursday, April 26, 2012

One year ago ....

So. I have to admit something. About a month ago I wrote the post that would show up today. I just wanted to get it out of the way and knew I couldn't let the day pass with silence.

And then, the day got closer. And I came and deleted the post I wrote. Because it just wasn't good. And so here we are. For real. On the one anniversary, my cancerversary if you will.

It's strange. It's been a year. On some days it seems like it's been so much longer than that. And in other moments I could swear it was just yesterday. 

I feel like I know what I'm supposed to say right now ... something like, things sucked but I'm so grateful for blah, blah, blah. And, I mean, that is true. Things did suck. I'm grateful I'm here. But it's so much more than that. It's so much more powerful than that and not nearly as trite as just saying that soundbite sounds.

And I am really struggling with words right now. Maybe next year I will have something profound to say (although, seriously? Don't hold your breath).

So. It's been a year. A truly life changing year.


P.S. I just reread the post where I shared it all with you, and I'm sitting here bawling. I remember being so afraid to share. I mean, we just found out. Who goes right to the blog to share? Well, I do. Why? Because I knew I couldn't do this alone. I knew I needed support. And you guys? You have rocked. I can not thank you enough for every. single. thing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quiet lately

I've been quiet lately. I don't mean to be.

Things are pretty busy around here.

My kids have all started playing ball again. Mister Man is in baseball. The girls are both in softball. It keeps us hopping. I'm training and fundraising for my 2 day walk. My husband and I are planning a party soon that is taking some work. And I'm getting ready for my stage debut (and what will most likely be my final performance) in Listen To Your Mother.

And in all this chaos, my brain is just not working. I sit down at the computer and have a difficult time finding words to say. Or to think of things to share. Oh sure, I'm good for a sentence or two, but that's about it. {Related: I am still struggling to read books for the same reasons. It's like anything more than a paragraph and my brain just checks out}. So I'm here. But I'm quiet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mr. Mouse comes to visit!

This weekend my son brought home Mr. Mouse. This is a class project - every weekend Mr. Mouse goes home with another student. They have lots of fun all weekend and then the parents get to write in Mr. Mouse's journal, and on Monday, the teacher shares the journal entry with the class. Since I had to write up all about our weekend, I thought I'd share here. But, as you can tell, the emphasis is clearly on my 6yo ;-)

Friday April 13, 2012

Today I got to go home with Mister Man! I was so excited. Mister Man and I ran all the way from the bus stop to his house! Right away I got to meet Mister Man’s Mom, his two sisters (Miss A and Miss M), his 2 cats (Marcy and Roger). I was a little nervous about meeting the cats, but they were very nice to me =) 
Then I got to meet his hermit crabs. Mister Man keeps them on his dresser in his room. 

Mister Man also showed me his butterflies! His family had some caterpillars at his house. They all made a chrysalis. Three of them had come out as butterflies. There was one left and we were pretty excited because Mister Man’s family noticed that it was wiggling around a bit. We thought the last butterfly would be coming very soon! Mister Man’s family also had a praying mantis pod that they thought could hatch any day. 
After I met everyone (and everything in the house) Mister Man and I started to play. We played at his lego table. And we played in his room. And we played some games. Mister Man really likes to play connect 4!

But soon we needed to eat dinner … Mister Man had a baseball game Friday night to go to. After dinner, Mister Man’s dad came home from work (so I finally got to meet him) and took us all to the game.

Mister Man’s game was fun, but it was cold out! All the kids played a great game. Mister Man helped get a couple of outs when he played first base and had some good hits!

When we got home after the game, we noticed a 4th butterfly in the butterfly net! We were so excited. Mister Man’s mom even set up a video camera so we watched the video. It wasn’t very clear, but it was still so fun to watch. I’ve never seen a butterfly come out of a chrysalis before.

Saturday morning we woke up and things were exciting! The praying mantis pod hatched open! There were SO many of them. They just kept coming and coming. Praying mantises are very tiny at first. Then we helped Miss M feed the butterflies. They like to drink out orange slices and to drink sugar water. 

After lunch it was time to go pick Miss M up from softball practice and drop off Miss A at her softball practice. 

After that we went to the Bartlett Library. There are so many books there. And they also had movies and cd’s and computer games and even Wii games! We only had time to check-out some books. Mister Man told the librarian that I liked the books about me and so she showed us where we could find some more to read! She was so smart and helpful!

Then we had to hurry and get to another baseball game for Mister Man! He sure is busy with baseball. But he had another very fun game. I really like his team. They are called the White Sox.

After the game, we went home and  had to let some of the Praying Mantises go because it was too crowded in their home. Some of them crawled on us when we opened the lid up. They kind of tickled a little!

Then Mister Man’s grandma came over to see us. We went shopping together and then went out to eat at Red Robin. They have the BEST fries ever there! And? We got to get shakes. Very delicious! Then we headed over to the pet store. I really liked looking at the animals that are there. Mister Man’s dad got some crickets to feed to the praying mantises. 

By the time we got home, we were pretty exhausted. Mister Man fixed up my bed all nice and cozy for me. And we were fast asleep!
Sunday was a pretty exciting day. When we woke up, Mister Man and I just hung out. And played a little bit. Mister Man and I played school with his sister Miss M. But the best part was still to come.

We got to go to a birthday party. And at this birthday party there was rock climbing! Mister Man was an awesome rock climber. He tried all three spots we could climb up. After he go the hang of it, he even took me up with him. It was a little scary being high up off the ground, but I knew we couldn’t fall so I felt better about that. It was just so much fun! And then we ate pizza and cupcakes! I really had a fun time at the birthday party!

Sunday night we did some crafts. Mister Man made a picture with a lot of glitter. There was glitter everywhere! But I liked his picture a lot. Then Mister Man’s mom had the idea to make some things with duct tape. None of us have ever used duct tape to make crafts, but it turns out it’s a lot of fun. We made a baseball hat for me, to wear next time I get to go to a baseball game! It’s red and silver and so it matches my clothes. Then we all made duct tape wallets. Mine is silver. Mister Man made a silver and red one. And his sister Miss M made a red and orange wallet. 

And then, it was time for bed, which was good because I was pretty tired again!

I had so much fun at Mister Man’s house with him and his family! I’m so happy that they let me come and hang out with them!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Welcome to everyone visiting for the first time from the Ultimate Blog Party.

Ultimate Blog Party 2012

Please, pull up and chair and get comfy! I usually spend my day talking to my children, so when I get other adults to talk to? I turn into quite a chatty Cathy!

This is my little corner of the world. I love my blog. I originally started a long time ago (like 100 years in blog years) to share the things I was making with the world. But about a year ago this blog changed. A lot. I didn't mean to change it, in fact I didn't want to change it at all. I'd rather talk about knitting and sewing and occasional share stories about my three kids and my husband. But a year ago? (Almost to the day) I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Yep. You can imagine how shocking that was. I was 31. My kids were 11, 8, and 5. But you see, my mom also had breast cancer when she was 30. She caught hers early (thankfully). I don't remember too much about it. I was 10 then. My mom was fortunate enough to only need surgery. Anyway, because of my mom's history my gynecologist suggested I get a baseline last year. I was in for yearly appointment. Everything went fine. She said I looked good. There was no concerns on her part, but go get that baseline.

Yep. We're very grateful she sent me for a baseline. Because my cancer was stage III. It had already spread to my lymph nodes. I, unlike some people, didn't have to decide whether to have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy because we were to the point were a mastectomy was absolutely needed. So on May 18, just two days after turning 32, I had a double mastectomy. We gave my body about a month to heal before hitting it with 3 different chemotherapy medicines. And then, after that? 33 radiation treatments. (Why yes, I am still exhausted from all of that. But grateful to it all at the same time. I said back then and still feel it today: my treatment was my frenemy).

Today I am still getting herceptin. In my port. (I point this out because I HATE my port. I mean really really hate it.) And I'm taking a daily pill - Fereston. You may be more familiar with tamoxifen, but that pill was just me enemy and I could not stay on it.

But I'm here today. And so grateful to be so! I have a lot of living left to do frankly.

A lot of people say that I'm strong. Or that I'm a fighter. Or I'm inspirational. The truth is? I don't feel any of those things. I got through this one minute at a time. I cried. I wanted to quit. I was in pain. And I was lucky. The medicines and treatment options they gave me worked. Not all women are this lucky. Some pretty incredibly strong, kick-ass women fought just as hard. But cancer still took them. Not because those women lost. No. Because science lost. Because while we have treatments, there is still so much about breast cancer we just don't know - we don't know how to cure it. We don't know why some people's cancer spread, even when it's found early!

So, while you are busy partying, I'd like to ask one favor of you. Just a tiny favor. It won't cost you money. It will take a few moments. But please, please sign up at the Army of Women.

You don't need to have breast cancer to do this. They won't bombard you with e-mail. They won't even ask you for money. But they might e-mail you because somewhere, someone is doing a study that you may be able to participate in and help us learn more. And again, this is not only women who have had breast cancer! It's for all women. They want to build an army one million strong. I know we can do this.

I know, I know, I don't want to be the downer at the party. Trust me. I like parties and to have fun. And dancing. I really like parties with dancing (even though I can't dance). So go, please, sign-up. And then continue on with the partying.

And later, come on back and chat with me some more. Oh, and bring your dancing shoes! =)

Cadillac Rocks!

Cadillac is the proud Premiere Sponsor of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago for the second year in a row!

On SATURDAY, April 14 and SATURDAY, April 21, Chicago area Cadillac dealers will make a $50 donation on a walker's behalf for every test drive!

If you know someone walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago all you need to do is get their 6-digit Participant # to give to Cadillac at the time of the test drive, then the donation will be made to the walker's account.

Don't know a walker but still want to help?  I just happen to be walking in the Avon Walk and my Participant # is 242627. Bring your friends and family and I'll get a $50 donation for everyone that gets behind the wheel of a shiny new Cadillac

The test drivers will receive a receipt validating their test drive. Limit one donation per person. Must be 18 years of age with a valid driver’s license.

List of participating dealers:

Barrington IL, Motor Werks
Bourbonnais IL, David Bruce Auto Center
Chicago IL, Grossinger City Autoplex
DeKalb IL, Sycamore Cadillac
Hammond IL, Napleton Cadillac
Hodgkins IL, Ettleson Cadillac
Joliet IL, Bill Jacobs Cadillac
Libertyville IL, Weil Cadillac
Lincolnwood IL, GrossingerAutoplex
Lombard IL, Heritage Cadillac
Matteson IL, Arnie Bauer Cadillac
McHenry IL, Gary Lang Cadillac
Merrillville IN, Schepel Cadillac
Naperville IL, Cadillac of Naperville
Northbrook IL, Steve Foley Cadillac
Oak Lawn IL, Frank Shirey Cadillac
Schaumburg IL, Patrick Cadillac
Tinley Park IL, Tony Rizza Cadillac

But Cadillac is doing so much more than making donations to the Avon Walk!

The Top 5 Individual Fundraisers will receive the Ultimate Camping Experience from Cadillac!

Five winners will receive a private chauffeured ride* in a Cadillac SRX to the Avon Walk Opening Ceremony on Saturday morning for them and one guest.

They'll spend the night in a luxury-filled tent at the Wellness Village, complete with butler service and foot massages. Sleeping tents will be stocked with air mattresses, pillows, linens, lavish amenities and so much more!

And when the weekend and the walk are all over, a private chauffeured ride home* in a Cadillac SRX after the Closing Ceremony!

Thank you Cadillac for your continued and generous support!

Please call the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Chicago office for more information or if you have any questions: (773) 248-3120.

If you can't test drive and would like to make a donation please click the link above on the right, which will take you directly to my personal fundraising home page.  No donation is too small and is greatly appreciated.

*Ride in Style! Cadillac will provide a driver and an SRX Cadillac as transportation from the location of your choice (within a 50-mile radius of Soldier Field) to the Opening Ceremony and will pick you up from the Closing Ceremony at Soldier Field. Transportation will include you and your guest as long as you are both coming from/going to the same location.

**Winners will be selected from the Top 5 Avon Walk Chicago individual camping fundraisers as of 11:59pm CT on Tuesday, May 15. Only donations appearing in the Avon Walk Participant Center at this time will be included in the fundraising totals. Promotion runs from Monday April 9, 2012 through Tuesday May 15, 2012 at 11:59pm CT. Donations mailed-in but not yet processed or posted will not be included. 

Brandie's not: My friend Rita (who is walking with me) wrote this post. And I politely asked her if I could just copy it for my blog and she said yes. Because she is awesome and nice and sweet like that! 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Vegas part 2

So, my Vegas adventure continued and just kept on getting better and better!

Saturday we woke up (not early though!) and headed over to New York, New York and went on the roller coaster.

Now, God bless my mom, but oh my gosh, if you want to have fun, go on this ride with her. I was laughing on this ride, she was so funny - screaming. The best part though, is we get off and she tells me how she couldn't breath or talk or anything while we were on it. Um, no, trust me. My ears heard you LOL! Poor thing. But it was a lot of fun!

We walked around. I got to go into the Coca-cola store. I love coke. I'm pretty sure my body is like 50% coke at this point in my life (yes, I drink too much coke. No, you don't need to tell me it's bad for me. It's my vice. And my vice could be a lot worse. So. There. LOL!) And the m&m store. And just walking and taking in the sites.

I *think we stopped into the Paris hotel too. And got a nice yummy drink in an Eiffel Tower cup (that did not survive the trip home). And walked around the stores there. I do remember it was a fair amount of walking. And stopping to window shop.

But, the best part of Saturday? The best part? Was heading over to the Mirage ...

to see the Cirque de Soliel Love (The Beatles show). Now, I've seen one other Cirque do Soliel before. In Disney and my 9yo was about 18 months old. And so I knew, I just knew, we were in for a good show. But this show? Blew me away! The stage was constantly moving and changing and shifting. There was stuff up in the air and down below. It felt like wherever you looked, there were people doing some amazing things! Also, I now wish I was an acrobat =) Because I think working on the show has to be so fun. A lot of hard work too, but I mean really. How awesome would it be to be all "Oh, you're a computer programer? I'm an acrobat for Cirque de Soliel." Anyway, the show? It was just so cool!

Sunday was a pretty jam-packed day too. We started by going to the Price is Right Las Vegas show. Joey Fatone was the host while we were there.

Okay. So. As you can see from the picture, my mom and I are see-through. We were wearing green shirts that said Lucky. And this picture was taken in front of a green screen. So, um, yeah, we got a good laugh out of seeing it! Neither of us was picked to play, but we still had a good time.

Then more walking around. We eventually ended up at the Venetian. And we rode one of these:

Our driver (umm, okay, so driver isn't the right word. I think it's Gondolier? But I can't remember) was this nice man, who had an amazing voice. Just gorgeous. He is also originally from Italy and moved here with his family. And did I mention his gorgeous voice? Because seriously? It was amazing. (Somewhere I have it on video. I will try to upload it). It was a very lovely and romantic boat ride with my mother =)

Sunday night we headed over to Fremont Street. We had a very tasty dinner there. I'm pretty sure I commented that I was eating the best mashed potatoes of my life once or a million times! Then I waited in line, and my mother patiently waited out of line, to go zip-lining over Fremont Street. Now, in general I'm not a fan of heights. I've zip-lined before, but it was from a point much closer to the ground, and a much shorter line. So, I was nervous. But this zip-lining, at that moment, felt like, I kicked cancer's ass and so I am totally going to zip-line now. (some had suggested I should sky dive to commemorate getting through it all. But alas. I am not that brave. I will never be. My heart is racing just even thinking about it lol!). And I'm so glad I did it. It was incredible. I got to the end and the guy who helped me off the line and out of the gear asked why I was there. And I was all "This is my I-survived-cancer treat." So I learned his grandmother also had breast cancer, got some major high-fives, a hug, and just felt awesome. (related: I think I'm in love with zip-lining and am ready to conquer higher/longer runs! Maybe later this year. We'll see!).

 Monday I slept in as long as we could, checked out of the hotel. We walked around a little bit. Not too much though. And then it was time to head to the airport to head home. I'll admit, Monday I was sore and achy and tired. But still happy. As I told my mom though, we planned the trip perfectly. I had an amazing time while we were there, but was missing my husband and kids. And so I was happy to be heading home.

  But, the trip? Was so seriously incredible. I just can't get over how much fun we had. And I'm so thankful to my mom. We have already had "next time we go back" conversations! =)

Thursday, April 05, 2012

One down ...

In January, I shared my bucket list with you all.

And in February, I was able to cross something off. Just before a snow storm came into Chicago, my mom and I took off and headed to Las Vegas.

{Side note: I must tell you how this trip came to be. In December on one of my trips to the ER, I called my mom pretty much bawling. And she said something along the lines of "Just get better and when you do I'll take you to Vegas" And I was all, okay, I'll try really hard to get better then. And still crying and all that. Later I assumed this wasn't actually a serious offer, but alas, it was. I know. My mom does spoil me}

We arrived late on a Thursday and even though I should have gone right to bed, I took a little time to just look around and soak it all in. Also, Las Vegas is always hopping. We didn't do too much though because we had to be up very early on Friday, because we had booked a tour to go and see the Grand Canyon.

Okay. The Grand Canyon. I can't even describe just how amazing it is. It goes for what feels like forever. Pictures do not do it justice. Seeing it? Made me feel so small. And made the world seem so big. I could have spent the entire trip right at the canyon. (also do people who live out there ever just get used to it? Or does it always remain so amazing in their eyes?).

We walked out onto the skywalk - which is SO very cool.

I could have happily just sat there all day long!

I still can't get over just how big. And amazing. And awesome it was.

Then we headed back to Vegas. I was SO exhausted by this point. Okay, I have to totally admit, I fell asleep at the picnic table for lunch. I'm kind of embarrassed by this. And in my head I imagine people were thinking "You came all this way, to this wonderful place, and are sleeping?" We stopped by the Hoover Damn on the way back too, but I was barely awake enough to get out of the bus, look, and then get back in to sleep!

We stayed at Caesars!!

We got back into Vegas and I, naturally, napped some more. And then we ate and hit the hotel's mall and casino. (Also, these are not hotels in Vegas, they are like complete complexes. I've never been to a hotel with a mall in it. LOL!)

At the mall I got an awesome coat. Which I love. A lot. And we walked around and of course, we had to get a drink. I mean, we were in Vegas. The drink felt about as tall as me. (I'd like to take this moment and say we were very responsible and didn't do anything we needed to regret the next day. Nor did I do anything I couldn't tell my husband. That said, it doesn't mean I will tell all the stories here ;-) )

I did a little bit of gambling. I also learned I am the most unlucky gambler in the world LOL! I didn't even break even. But, it was okay. We had a blast =) And also, my mom is much more lucky than I am.  Although she didn't win the 12 million jack-pot on one of the slots even though I wished so hard she would!

And then, it was time for me to just crash. =)

The fun didn't end there, but I'll have to come back and tell you about the rest of the trip later!

Monday, April 02, 2012

It's April ...

This year April is a strange month for me. A few weeks ago I started to feel anxious about April coming. It's strange I know, but April is full of "anniversaries" for me. April 1, April 11, April 14, April 21, April 26. These dates are etched in my head.
And it's strange. And it's unnerving. And it makes me anxious.

But I have to step back and just breathe. Moments this month are going to suck. There just isn't any way around it. But I have to remind myself, everything already happened.  There will be no mammogram this year or biopsy or that call telling me I have cancer. I survived it already. I survived.

And yet, I'm human. And we are so good at linking things to dates. It's why we celebrate birthdays. And anniversaries. And it's why we like to take a moment of silence of September 11. These dates are etched in our hearts and minds. We get emotional when we think about them.

So this month? I'll be pretty emotional. Some days will be harder than others. But I'm also going to try to remember that while the memories are going to be strong in my mind, I'm really dreading something that has already happened. And that this April is really going to be quite different. And maybe along the way I'll create some new memories - ones that make me smile when I think about them.