Is it the end?

About a month ago I met my new oncologist, Dr. Wahl. She is taking over Dr, Kraemer's patients. I'm not good at new things, so this was kind of awkward. First, I couldn't see her in August like I wanted to because she didn't have an opening for a "new patient". I didn't think I was new. I'd been going to their office since 2009, I just never saw her. But then again their office was closed (that's another story). So I had my appointment in September. I'm not sure why this bugged me, but my yearly appointments have always been in August and I kind of wanted to keep it that way. I had a schedule and I didn't want it to break it. I even sobbed over this. It is always amazing to me how emotional I privately get over cancer stuff. I'm not talking about a tear escaping, I'm talking about hiding-in-the-shower-with-tears-streaming-down-our-cheeks-and-running-out-of hot-water-before-you-stop-crying emotional. (I'm sure my high school English teacher just grimaced with that sentence.) 

I met with Dr. Wahl and she and I discussed my medical history and unlike Dr. Kraemer who didn't insist I get my port out and left it up to me, she highly suggested that I get it out.

Her: "Think of all the free time you will have when you don't have to visit us each six weeks to get a flush." 
Me: "But when I do I ask for a blood draw and we are keeping tabs on the cancer." 
Her: "You don't need it, treatment is over."
Me: "But I'm afraid it will return and kill me."
Her: "There is a 2% chance it will return."
ME: "But there is a chance."
Her: "I sent the paperwork in for surgery. I see you like Evergreen."
Me: "But there is still a chance."
Her: "I declare you cured." 
Me: "I give up!"

So yesterday, Oct 18, 2016, I did it. I had it removed. If I had gotten it out in August 2010, it would have been a very simple five minute process in a sterile room. But because I have had it in for six and a half years, I had to be sedated and it had to be done in a OR room. Of course it took only a few minutes and I wasn't totally out (or so they say). I went in as 12:30, surgery was at 2, and I was home before 4. Easy! 

I'm just recovering now. No lifting for two days, No showers for two days (they didn't stitch the wound close--used some bondo for skin stuff). and then I should be right as rain. Except...Is this really the end?

I truly am so nervous. This has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. Physically it was torture. I've reread my journal during active treatment and I can't believe I lived through it. The memories of the physical pain make me cringe and cry.
"Like giving birth to an elephant,"
"I can't seem to catch my breath, "
"I can walk up and down the stairs twice a day, so I plan my day carefully." 
Emotionally, I still live it. I look at the marks cancer has left on my body every day in the shower and when I'm getting dressed and I thank my lucky stars it's not worse, but they remind me every day of the emotional pain I lived through.
"I can't believe I'm bald. My crown of womanhood is gone."
"Nothing prepares you to write your farewell letter to your children."
"Everyday I wake up and think, 'Is this my last?'"
"I want to see my grandchildren."
"Please, just let me live one more day!"
And I continue to say those things weekly, if not daily. 

On Monday night, I almost called to cancel the surgery. I cried myself to sleep.
While in the recovery room before surgery (funny but it was the same room I was in when I went back to have it placed in April of 2010), I cried because...I don't know why I cried. Thankfully the nurse understood; she's a breast cancer survivor. 
After being wheeled back into the room post surgery, I cried again.
And I'm crying writing this.

So I'm not sure I'm happy to have my port gone. It's only been a few hours and I'm still bandaged up so I'm not even sure what the new scar looks like. But I'm sure every morning it will remind me I have cancer. Maybe someday I will say, "I had cancer," but right now that is a dream, I can't say that right now. I can't believe it. I'm afraid to say it. Maybe it will jinx it, maybe it won't be true and right now, my faith sees that 2% chance and it scares me to death.

In the meantime, I'm going to fantasize about going to sleep and rolling over on my right shoulder and not have my port pinch me. I'm going to realize that I can hug someone tight (or them me) and my port won't pinch me. I wonder if that will happen....

I wish I could go back and have my 10 year old daughter whose head would nestle right there and hug her without grimacing. She never saw that face, but I made it each time I hugged her. That one I wish I could go back and redo. 

In the meantime, I might just go take a long hot shower because this has been a really hard road to travel. 
 

2559--a big number, sort of.

The other day I looked at my dayscounter. It's and app I have on my phone that countdowns days (or counts up days) to important events in my life. My favorite category is "Missionary". It tells me how many days a missionary has been out and how many days until he comes home (give or take a few). I really like that category. (BTW--it's about 550 days until Matt comes home).  I also like the "Running" category as it tells me who many days until my next race. Unfortunately I don't have a race in the near future; it's 319 days until Ragnar 2017, if you care to know. 

But there is one category I really don't like to look at: "Cancer". You see it reminds me of all sorts of bad memories. There are very few good memories associated with the word "cancer." I just lived through one of the hardest months associated with the word cancer. 

Back in 2009, I went in search for what was causing my back to ache. The search began in earnest in late June and by mid August a "mass" was discovered. I went in for a biopsy and then waited a very long time--OK, it was only five days, but that seemed like an eternity. 

So I'm not sure what exact date on the calendar you can call my "diagnosis" official, but it was the last week of August. I had the biopsy surgery on a Friday, went to a family reunion and then got home on Wednesday and there was a message on the phone that I had cancer. So was it that Wednesday (on the phone) or the Thursday when I sat in Dr. Kraemer's office and he said the words, "You have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma"? I don't know and I don't think one day matters. But for me I put down Thursday, August 27, 2009, as my death date. The date that I was told I was going to die. Ok, Dr. Kraemer didn't exactly say those words, but this is what I heard...word for dreadful word...

Dr. K: "The blah, blah, blah, blah came back and it says you have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. Blah, blah, blah, radiation, blah, blah, blah, chemotherapy, blah, blah, blah, treatment, blah, blah, blah, keep you alive until there is a cure. Blah, blah, blah, blah, ...."
Me: "So I'm going to die?"
Dr. K: "YES!!!" (in reality he said, no, but I heard yes shoulted from the top of the Space Needle.)

When August comes around each year I have to grit my teeth and hope that I don't let a wave of negativity flow over me. It get's pretty hard when you think of all the awfulness that August as brought into my life (I buried my sister and my mom in August and diagnosed with cancer--pretty awful month). But I also have to think of the wonderful things August has brought into my life. 

Here's a short list:
Baby boy #4
Baby girl #1 (Baby #6)
Annual camping trips--always fun
HOT SUMMERS!!!
Fall approaching (I love early fall!)
Soccer season  (my favorite sport)
Remission (August 5th--my new birthday!)

So it been 2559 since that day I sat in Dr. Kraemer's office and he told me I was going to die. Pretty good that I've lived for an extra 2559 days. I hope I have many, many more days. 

And since we are throwing out numbers:
2216 days since "remission" was said.
390 days since 5 year remission (BENCHMARK #1)
1437 Day until 10 years in remission! (BENCHMARK #2)

PS: Yes, I do cry in every August 27th. I usually do it in the shower. Quietly and alone. I mourn for the person I was, yet celebrate the person I've become. 

Now what?

Rambling #2 (see previous post for why this is #2)

A little history: Back in 1994, I was visiting teaching (a Mormon thing) at a Lois Upton-Rowley's house and her teen age daughter walked through the living room and into the kitchen. It was a traditional school day and my first thought was, "How dare this mom let her daughter's germ get to my baby." (I had my four month old with me.) So I politely asked why her daughter was home from school. She told me that she was homeschooled. 

Oh, goodness. What is this "homeschooled" thing? We had a rather lengthy conversation about it. She ended up giving me a notice for a state wide conference that was just in a few weeks. 

I drug my husband and two children (2 years old and 4 months) to that conference and drank the Kool-aid. I was in! 

Fast forward to April 2016, and six kids later. My baby just took the entrance exam for Bellevue College's Running Start program and got in. I'm done!

Now what?

About three years ago a friend who didn't homeschool and is just a bit older than I warned me (I was in a group of women so it wasn't so drastic as this will sound) that once your baby is out of the house and it is just you and your husband and he isn't ready to retire and you aren't willing to get a minimum wage job, you better find something or you will go crazy.  "Take it from me," she said, "Capital C, capital R, capital A, capital Z, capital Y with lots of exclamation points after."

Thankfully I listened and got certified as a personal trainer. I have my personal training, but I really need more clients as the middle of my day next year will be silent. I have one more month of where the middle of my day is still homeschooled focus, but after that..."Now what?"

Maybe I volunteer at some cancer thing...
Maybe I go back to school...
Maybe I market myself to pieces...
Maybe I study on my own...
Maybe I teach PE in private schools...
Maybe I take a nap....

But I'm so glad I homeschooled. Best 22 years of my life! I wouldn't trade them for anything. I have life long memories with my children and boy did I learn a lot. 

 

Some Ramblings....

My faithful reader, all one of me, knows I'm an avid runner. My goal is to get 100 miles in each month. Some months that's a hard goal to reach and other months I'm an over achiever. But on these runs is where the magic happens. I've written best sellers, composed the blog post that will launch my writing career, I've written the next Harry Potter screen play and of course I've solved all the world's problems. But then I sit down at my desk and nothing. Seriously, nothing. It's not the weather. It's not the clothes (in fact I'm writing this blog in my running outfit because I'm just about to take my daughter to driver's ed and run while she is in class). I'm not sure what it is. I used to be really good about blogging and putting my thoughts down on the screen. But I haven't been very good about that lately. Not sure I want to change, but today I'm sitting here writing something.

Rambling #1:

We have a local high school that has an outstanding football team. We are talking ranked in the top 10 NATIONALLY, they are so good. It has come to light that Bellevue High School may not have been playing completely by the rules. I'll let you do your own research on the subject but here are my thoughts. (Google it because there are so many articles out there on this that I couldn't list them all). 

The center, as I see it, is the Booster Clubs (ie, football/school parents) paying for kids tuition at a "private alternative" high school. They would notice a athlete from somewhere outside their school boundaries and recruit them to play for Bellevue and because they needed academic help would pay for them to attend this other school. (Students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average.) They would help the athlete with finding an address inside the boundaries (some are alleged to be false or made up addresses), so they are eligible to "attend" Bellevue High. Sometimes the athletes didn't physically live there. It is also rumored that the grades given at this school were not correct grades and there might be grade inflation or "misreporting" of some of the athlete's grades. All so the athlete could play on the Bellevue foot ball team. Now this is a team you want to be on. Division 1 colleges recruit from this school. NFL careers are made from this school. But the rules were broken.

But this year Bellevue played Eastside Catholic in the state championship. What is the difference? Eastside Catholic recruits it's players--they don't all live within a 5 mile radius of the school. By the way Eastside Catholic won. 

The difference is rules and obedience to the rules. 

The WIAA rules governing a private school are different than those governing a public school and each school must obey the rules outlined for their type of school. It looks like Bellevue didn't. 

Why am I a little upset about this?
1. My children have had to prove that they live in the boundaries of our school just to try out for a sport. I have had to bring in utility bills, birth certificates, passports and driver's licenses to prove that my children are not only mine, but that they live in the home we say we live in. 
2. My children were not given spots on the school team for political reasons. I can only imagine how some of the other Bellevue students who did NOT make the football team must feel. Colleges and careers are changed. 
3. I feel that parents who buy privileges for their children in a dishonest way are setting bad examples for the next generation. 
4. I believe spots on sports teams must be earned, not bought nor given. 

I don't know what the fall out but I hope it is corrected, fixed, punished and we let kids play sports because it is healthy and good.

PS: I hate this as much as doping in professional sports. It cheapens it for the rest of us. 

 

OK, I've decided to break my ramblings into different post. so #2 (if I ever write it will be next).


 

Bombings, Missionaries, and a Mom's heart

My world has been rocked again.

In April 2013, my world was rocked by the bombing of the Boston Marathon. I wasn't there, but I have run my fair share of marathons. I can only imagine what it was like. I've been in the craziness of the finish line. I know how those last few miles seem to last an eternity and to be turned back. I have no idea how I would have reacted but I'm sure it would have rocked my world.  I did find out what races were like after that. In 2015, I ran the Vancouver, BC, marathon and my husband, who usually is by my side within seconds of me crossing the finish line had to run around a lot of barriers to get to me. They asked us to limit our checked bags to the essentials if at all. I've run local races and likewise they will pat down your bag and even look inside. 

 Elder Michael Blanding

Elder Michael Blanding

Tuesday (March 22, 2016), I woke to the news of bombings in Belgium. This follows a few months after bombings in Paris. Then the news flashed through my news feed that four of injured were LDS missionaries. My heart sank. My heart sank because I have two sons who are serving on missions. One is serving in San Fernando, CA, (near LA) and the other just landed in Macon, Georgia. In fact he hadn't even been in Georgia for 24 hours when the bombs went off across the Atlantic. 

Just a side note, when I heard of the San Bernardino shootings a few weeks ago, I wasn't quite sure where that was in relationship to where Elder Michael Blanding was serving. I pulled over (I'm always in my car it seems) and did a quick google maps to find out how close his apartment and area was to the shootings. Thankfully he was some 70-80 miles away. WHEW!

 Elder Matthew Blanding

Elder Matthew Blanding

My heart ached. My heart still hurts. Three of those missionaries were young people. Young people who gave up 18-24 months of their lives to teach peace, love, hope and the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God speed their recovery. The fourth missionary was a "senior" missionary. Someone who during their retirement years decides to serve. I read today that his condition has turned worse. My heart aches for those who are here in America waiting to hear news and wishing they could be by the bedside of those they care for. I don't even know what that feels like but it must hurt. 

 Elder Jason Blanding

Elder Jason Blanding

I've stood in the driveway of the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, three times now (I have one son who served in Puebla, Mexico from 2013-15). I have sobbed upon closing the door to the car and pulling away leaving that young boy. I've turned and watched them with the help of a fellow missionary, pull their two (or three) suitcases down the sidewalk and either we turn the corner or they do and they are gone! My only communication with them is a weekly email they send. They spend the next 24 months (18 if they were a female) serving, teaching and loving strangers far from home. Two of my boys have done it in a language not their own. I've cried myself to sleep numerous times just thinking about them. Yes, they are young men, but to me they will always be my little boys. 

 Elder Matthew Blanding and me. I tried not to let them see me cry. 

Elder Matthew Blanding and me. I tried not to let them see me cry. 

Will I see them again?
Will I hug them again?
Will I hear their voice again?

There are dangers no matter where we send our children, school, missions, vacations, etc. But for me the reality hit home with my first son. I hadn't yet hit five year remission and that bench mark is huge when fighting cancer. Survival rates climb after year five. And when I said good-bye to Jason (my first), I had a scan coming up the next week. Letting him go knowing that I might be back fighting cancer was gut wrenching. Mike (my second), was the same thing. I hadn't yet hit five years. Matt (my third), was just a little bit easier because I had hit five years, but six month before he left they found a mysterious band in my liver. And why do I do this? but I scheduled a scan to happen right after all three of them left on their missions. Thankfully all three times the doctor called and said, "See you in six months!" 

But my missionary mom heart aches. She aches for all those missionaries who are hurt while away from home. There is no mom to help you; you can't even call her. I know the first time I was sick while away at school, I called my mom--probably a collect call--and she walked me through getting myself well. Then to be the mom who can't do a dang thing! You can't hold their hand, make Chicken Noodle Soup. You do exactly what all of us moms do: you give your son to the Lord and pray daily (sometimes three times a day) for their safety, peace, health and with people to teach. You live by faith. 

May every child of every mother be looked after is my constant prayer and may those who wish to do evil STOP! Please stop! My my mom heart is breaking. 

Celebrating Women... And the Award Goes to.....

Today, March 8, 2016, is International Women's Day. 
I looked that up on the computer and I'm still not sure what it really is about. It has something to do with "Gender Parity". I had to look that up to and by definition it means:
"The Gender Parity Index is a socioeconomic index usually designed to measure the relative access to education of males and females. In its simplest form, it is calculated as the quotient of the number of females by the number of males enrolled in a given stage of education (primary, secondary, etc.)"

OK, I'm not going there. I'm going where I first thought this was going. I thought this was about celebrating the women in your life who made a difference, proved something, and more importantly deserve to be given the Oscar, or Emmy, or Nobel Prize equivalent award to those who are just plain awesome in their own little circle and made a difference in someone's life.

So the without further ado....

And the Award Goes to...

Nellie Nadine Ostler!
My mom has been on my mind lately. January we celebrated her birthday. Dang! Do I miss her. Then my brother's son's future mother-in-law asked for wedding pictures of his grandparents and great-grandparents. Then my son left on his LDS mission and we were back in Utah, a place my mom loved and I saw all the things my mom use to talk about. Then I went to the doctors and they call me by my first name which I share with my mom. Then to top it off, my daughter tagged me in a Facebook post. This facebook post was one where you copy and paste the message and then tag a few more people. This one is about celebrating when you felt beautiful. She actually posted this picture of me and her.

I remember when I first thought my mom was beautiful. I was doing a 7th grade English paper and we had to interview someone in our family and I don't recall the rest of the assignment. I just remember staring at this photo of my mom and thinking, "Wow, she was very beautiful as a teen." 

My mom had me later in life and all my friend's moms were pretty young. They were "hip" and "with it" or at least I thought. I felt like my mom was stuck in the 50's and we were living in the late 70's early 80's and she just wasn't "with it". I actually had to take back that thought. I began to think of my mom as something other than my mom. She had been a teen (maybe she did know a little about teenage angst). She had been "in love" (maybe she did know something about heart break). She had been a student (maybe she did know a little about pressure to fit in or about assignment anxiety). Maybe there was more to her. 

There was. 

And for that she wins the first award in my selection for this International Women's Day award that I'm giving out.

The second recipient isn't a person but a group of people. Granted they all aren't women, but the majority of them are. The award goes to nurses. Today I have the honor of visiting my oncologist for the last time. No, I'm not getting kicked out because I'm cured. He is retiring. We had a lovely chat. He's going to Texas and unfortunately he is taking his lovely wife, his nurse with him. Nurse Sharon held my hand as Dr. K. took a bone biopsy. Nurse Sharon held my hand when she pumped chemicals into my body to kill the cancer. Nurse Sharon called to tell me happy news as well as sad news. Nurse Sharon was there ever step of the way. Today after my chat with Dr. K, I had to have my blood drawn. Nurse Sharon wasn't able to do it because she was administering chemotherapy to another patient. But I heard her words. They were almost the same words she spoke to me all those years ago. But as much as they might be the same, there was sincerity behind them. "Darling, I know this hurts." "Darling, I'm so sorry." "Darling, just hold on." "I'm almost done." "Darling, I know." And she does. She is a survivor herself. 

I waited for her to come out from behind the privacy curtain and then I stopped her and told her "Thank you for saving my life." Of course she wouldn't take credit for it, but I let her know how important the work she did and still does is to those of us who don't see a very rosy outlook on life. Today Nurse Sharon and all the other lovely nurses (male ones too) are celebrated because of their undying nurturing care for those who most of the time would rather be somewhere completely different.

Yes, I cried as I sat down in my car. I will miss her and her husband. 

And the last recipient goes to my daughter. 

I had five boys and then God blessed me with Jessie. I get the "oh, so you kept trying until you had a girl." No, not really. Out of my six children, I only planned my first four. God decided to give me Chris and Jessie. 

I celebrate Jessie because I think she is great and I think she thinks I'm great. She keeps me young and she keeps me humble. 

Happy Anniversary

I have been a certified personal trainer for a year now!

I never thought my life would go in this direction but it did and so I'm happy. I love my job. I love seeing the transformation in my clients. 

Just the other day I was in a social situation with some friends, one of them was a client of mine. Someone commented on how great she looked. She smiled! Paycheck! Earlier in the evening I happened to touch her biceps and was amazed at the solidness of her arms. 

Another client who is using my online program has lost 30 pounds! But even better, has kept it off. Not easy as a young adult with food being the focus of all social functions. He works out 30-45 minutes every morning doing mostly body weight exercises. 

I love success stories. 

Here's to many more years of changing peoples lives.

And as always you can get in touch with me through email: Doreen @ Blandingonline.com  

Why I Hate Liers

I have cancer. I have Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. There is no cure.

I felt the physical pain of the tumor in my back. I have suffered through two 21 plus days of radiation and 1 cycle of five sessions of RCHOP chemotherapy. I lost my hair--everywhere! I lost a ton of weight. I lost my appetite. I lost the feeling in my toes and finger. I froze, I sweltered; often all in the same hour. I slept but never felt rested. I cried. I threw up. I starved. I swelled. I bled. I was scanned so many times I've lost count. I know which veins bleed well. I know which veins are scared so they will not give blood anymore. I have scars. I have tattoos (they are dots on my body so they can line up the lasers). I have raised money. I have run (Team in Training). I have suffered. I have conquered. I have survived. And I have watched friends die. 

Tracy Dart is a woman from West Seattle who claimed to have breast cancer. She did her first three day walk in honor or memory of a relative and then shortly after that she said that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course she continued to walk and raise money. One report says she (Team Tracy) raised over $414,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and for a year drove a Volkswagen car that was wrapped in pink.  I know of a West Seattle store that held fund raisers in their store for her. People gave her cash for groceries and "$7,000 went to help with living expenses while she underwent treatment for cancer". Meals were provided for her. She claims that she beat breast cancer three times. 

But she lied!

She never had breast cancer--EVER! 

She isn't the first person to do this and she won't be the last. But this one hits close to home. 

I posted this on my Facebook page and I had a fellow survivor just shake this off and said, "I guess as a survivor this doesn't take away the fact I survived. Having cancer was one of the worst times of my life and I overcame it and although it's easy to be angry, I feel sympathy for people who are sad and empty. It does nothing to me, my treatment and my battle."

So why do I care?

I care for the very fact that one person commented on the Facebook news feed when this story broke: "I will never donate to another person's cause." Cancer depends on money so that research can be funded. I'm not sure the cure will ever be found, but we sure can find better treatments. 

I went through one of the harshest chemotherapies for NHL: RCHOP. If the research was better, maybe I could have been given a different drug without all the harsh side effects. They have come a long way, but there is much to learn and discover.

I care for the fact that Ms. Dart claimed in speeches that she went through treatment. I have no words for the hell that I went through when I was in treatment for cancer. Every day (and to some degree even now) I went to bed and wondered if that was the last day of my life. Being scared for your own life every day is unthinkable, but somehow I did that. I wonder what Ms. Dart's evening prayers were? Did she pray, "Dear Lord, Please, let me live one more day. My babies aren't done growing and I haven't seen them graduate yet, or get married, or kiss their unborn babies."? NO SHE DID NOT!

A local TV personality posted this message to Marshawn Lynch thanking Mr. Lynch for giving him the courage to push through a very difficult cancer treatment. In part it said this,
"My doctor, John Thompson at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance put me on a two week treatment of Interleukin 2. I didn’t know he was sending me to hell.
"It’s a drug that has horrible side effects. Let’s put it this way, they put you in intensive care when it’s administered. Your blood pressure drops while your heart races. You get the chills so violently you shake the entire bed. You gain water weight at such a clip you can damn near see your face swell if you were looking into a mirror. Sleeping, yeah, right.  Every eight hours, the process repeats itself. You want to quit. Cancer is kicking your ass. The drug feels even worse. Your life may depend on receiving the drug. Knowing all of that, there’s an even chance you’d run away from the hospital and the drug if given the chance.
"
While in the fog of that war, someone told me the Seahawks had a playoff game. It meant nothing at that moment. I was in and out for the start of the game. I didn’t care. Actually, I couldn’t care."
(Full posting here: http://jessejones.com/story/a-thank-you-note-to-marshawn-lynch/)

That, my friends, is cancer treatment. Ms. Dart is making it up in her speech at the three day walk event. (Truthfully I couldn't stomach the whole 11 minute video so I stopped after 3 minutes of lies.)  She doesn't know. She can't understand. SHE IS LYING. 

I care because of posts like this from my friend Lori: "She stole money from us, about $1000.00. I am assuming we are not the only ones.....the worst part is I sat and cried with her roommate and dear friend over the potential loss of her. I prayed many times at church for her. I could go on and on......."

The emotional thievery is unmeasurable.

I care because others will wonder, "Does Doreen really have cancer?" My cancer isn't visible. I didn't lose a body part. I did lose my hair, but then Ms. Dart shaved all of her off. Who's to know? Not that I want everyone to know, but I do. I want those who are suffering to know you can survive. There is a tomorrow. I know when I was diagnosed I wanted to read all the survivor stories I could. I wanted hope. I know this cancer will kill me...someday. But I want that day to be way out in the distance. I still want hope. I now want to be that hope for others. 

But now I wonder, "Will they believe my brave face? Will they come pick me up from a doctor appointment? Will they bring my family a meal when I just can't get the strength together to do it for them? What proof will be required for me to prove I have cancer?"

I do feel very sorry for Ms. Dart. I feel for her need for this type of attention. I feel sorry for her.

I hate liers. 

Here is part 1 an 2 of a speech I gave at the TNT dinner in Vancouver just before a marathon in 2011. https://www.facebook.com/sblanding/videos/vb.1329747260/1700360552074/?type=2&theater
https://www.facebook.com/sblanding/videos/vb.1329747260/1700407793255/?type=2&theater

Sources for this story: http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/seattle/2016/01/31/local-woman-may-have-faked-cancer-diagnosis/79620826/

http://www.westseattleherald.com/2016/02/03/news/update-cancer-claims-tracy-dart-were-false-she-ha

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h00WKUM1sc (but please don't watch---her view count doesn't need to go higher)

Be Brave

Last year, 2015, was the year I titled BE BRAVE. I did a few thing that were outside my comfort zone and it took bravery on my part to do them. Here are a few of them in no particular order.

1. Became a Certified Personal Trainer.
Now this is a rather long story, but I think I need to tell it. When I met my husband I was a freshman in college and he was a junior. We got married and since we only had one year left in school I sort of abandoned the idea of graduating. My desire was to become a teacher and coach high school sports. We moved to Washington and I immediately looked into finishing my education at UW. It wasn't going to be easy or cheap, but I thought I could do it. I had all the admission forms filled out on my desk (this was way back when you typed out your admission forms) and was going to submit them but for some reason I let the deadline slip. Then we found out I had troubles getting pregnant. I spent the next year or so working and going to doctor appointments. It worked and for the next 23 years I was a mom. 
My oldest was just 2 1/2 years old when I decided I was going to put what little college education I had received into practice and homeschool our children. It was thought that I would just do the elementary years, but when they were about middle school age we gave them the choice of attending public school or continuing with homeschooling. Every single year they wanted to continue homeschooling. So I have spent the last 23 years homeschooling my children. 
Last year when my youngest was a freshman in high school and only had two more academic years of homeschooling with me, I recognized that I was going to be jobless. (We have our children get their AA through our states Running Start Program. The spend their junior and senior years of high school taking college courses and graduated with an AA.) I wasn't sure what I was going to do. 
With LDS missions to pay for and college tuitions climbing every year, I needed to go back to work. But, I also didn't want to be held to a clock. I'm still a mom with kids who are still living at home, I had continuing education classes I loved to take, I had trips I still needed to make, so holding a 9-5 job wasn't really what I wanted. But worse was the glaring fact I wasn't trained or educated to do anything. Remember, I'm a college drop out. 
I took a long time friend to lunch for our birthdays and we got to talking about this problem of mine. She asked me, "In junior high, what did you put down as your career? Did it change in high school? What were you studying to be before you dropped out of college?"
I replied, "I wanted to be a teacher and a coach. But I've been teaching for the past 23 years and I really don't want to enter the school system where my hands are tied, paperwork is a nightmare and you punch a clock. I've been coaching  youth sports since 1997 and have loved it, but my kids are no longer playing and I really don't want to coach other kids, especially for free."
Then she said something that was brilliant, "Why don't you coach adults? You love to run and love fitness, why not become a personal trainer."
Here is the funny part, I've never hired a personal trainer. I've never seen a personal trainer do their job and now I'm thinking about becoming one. 
I went home, googled it, researched it and just before Thanksgiving purchased a course from NASM. I then passed the test! Convinced my husband to turn our basement into my private workout studio and started taking clients! 
I can set my own hours, work when I want to, pick my clients and enjoy the work I do! 
Now, this wasn't easy for me! I am totally out of my comfort zone. Besides homeschooling my children I have never worked so hard in my life trying to understand something that wasn't really my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, I love fitness, but lifting wasn't the fitness I loved. I love sport and running. But then again running wasn't my cup of tea until I "had" to. Boy, talk about being brave!
And then to just add a cherry on top of my very brave moment, I earned my certification as a Run-Fit Specialist just before the year ended. I was BRAVER!

 My new business!

My new business!

2. Riding!
Another long story. I thank for for reading this far. My husband got a job in downtown Bellevue in March of 2013 and the parking was a lot per month, unless you rode a motorcycle. At the same time my son who had just moved back from college needed cheap transportation to his job. The bus was a long ride and he needed some sort of wheels. Together they got their motorcycle endorsements and of course that meant motorcycles. 
I refused to ride!
June of 2013 I took a three mile ride with Steve and thought I was going to die. I took a few other rides with him, but the gear was so cumbersome that it wasn't comfortable. 
May of 2015 I was going to run my last marathon in Vancouver, BC. Steve was going to be my cheerleader (best one ever!) and we were going to have a little couple get away. But it meant a drive to Vancouver. The day before I went to the Harley Davidson shop and bough $400 worth of gear that fit me and I went on my first long ride! I was brave, or so I thought. 
On Saturday we had some time to kill so we went for a ride up the coast. I had to have Steve stop and turn around as I was terrified. I was so terrified I was crying on the back of the bike. 
I wasn't going to let this get the best of me! I was going to be brave!
I noticed that the end of July that all of our kids would be out of town on adventures. Jessie was going to her grandmothers, Chris and Matt were on a scout adventure and that left Steve and I at home all by our selves. He's a travel agent and he has always wanted to go on a long ride with me. I've always stopped him because I'm not brave. I decided to change that. We spent the week touring through the Columbia River Gorge. I was brave!

 Mt. Adams in the background. Steve and I. 

Mt. Adams in the background. Steve and I. 

3. One more marathon!
I started running because I couldn't sit still. Back in 2009 I was in a lot of pain. Just above my hips in the middle of my back was this pain. The only thing that touched the pain was heavy narcotics and movement. Because I can't function knocked out by drugs I started moving. I started walking a lot. That got to be boring so I started running. Little did I know that both the pain and the running would turn into life changing events. 
The pain was cancer.
The running turned into a hobby, then a lifestyle and now a passion and a job.
The cancer is in remission and to celebrate five years, I ran one more marathon. I went back to the race that started it all. The first time I ran it, I ran only a half  as I had just started chemotherapy. This time I ran the full. I had a goal of 4:30 and I got it!! I was brave!

 Yes, I know what that clock says, but it took me 8 minutes just to cross the start line. That's a gun clock not a chip time. My chip time was 4:30:08

Yes, I know what that clock says, but it took me 8 minutes just to cross the start line. That's a gun clock not a chip time. My chip time was 4:30:08

4. High Places
I'm not particularly fond of heights. They make me a little nervous. But I did do a few things outside of my comfort zone this past year. The first one was to go to the out on a suspension bridge. While in Vancouver there is this place that has a bridge that spans the Capilano River. The bridge is pretty cool, but it moves. It made me very nervous to be on it, but I walked across it twice. I even went out on a glass bridge that over looked the same river. 
Then in August I went on a zipline! I even let go of the cable for a bit. It truly took courage to be brave.

 I walked across this bridge.

I walked across this bridge.

5. Faced the Needle
Got three nerve blocking shots in my foot.
Got a few CT scans and a MRI on my back with IV contrast.
Had my port flushed every other month.
Did I mention how much I hate needles? After all the medical procedures I've had you would think I'm use to being poked by a needle. I still hate them and every time I get poked I hate them even more. 
To combat tendonitis in my foot I decided to go the route of nerve blocks. I visited Dr. M and he put a shot in my foot. This isn't a quick poke, this is find the tendon and then take time to make sure the doctor slowly puts the medication in. I had to chant, "Be brave, Be Brave, Be Brave," over and over while he stuck me! 
The other stuff is "routine" cancer stuff but I still hate it; REALLY hate it. Not only does it hurt but it reminds me that I have cancer. I continue to be brave. 

6. Coaching again
Not so brave, you say after all I've been coaching my kids' soccer teams forever, but the truth is, it took a lot of bravery to ask the Redmond High Dance Coach to be their Strength and Conditioning Coach. I'm just a volunteer, but dang if I'm not making a difference in these girls' lives. I see strong cores and strong dancers. I was brave.

I want to continue being brave in 2016 so I bought a bracelet to remind me to be brave. 



I Don't Want Solidarity

There is a buzz about a celebrity who just cut her very long hair. Clare Bowen who stars in the ABC drama Nashville recently just cut her hair very short because she wanted others to know that hair doesn't make the person. 

"I was inspired when I heard a story about a little girls who said she couldn't be a princess because she didn't have long hair," Bowen wrote on Facebook. "I wanted her and others like her, to know that's not what makes a princess, or a warrior, or a superhero. It's not what makes you beautiful either. It's your insides that count...even if you happen to be missing half of them." 

While I agree with her I don't want her solidarity. She goes on:

"Every scar tells a story every bald head, every dark circle, every prosthetic limb, and every reflection in a mirror that you might not recognize anymore. Look deeper than skin, hair, nails and lips. You are who you are in your bones. That is where you have the potential to shine the brightest from. It is where your true beautiful self lives." 

While I agree with her, I don't need her solidarity. She concludes:

"If it makes even one person think twice about judging another, then in some small way, the world is better."

While I agree with her, I don't want her solidarity. 

Yes, I know she had cancer when a child and was bald, scarred, etc. I know all that. But it is totally different when you are an adult. I don't want her solidarity and here is why:

I was 40 and bald because cancer took my hair. One day I felt good enough to go to Costco. I knew what usually took an hour or so to shop was going to take not only two or three hours but multiple trips to the car because I was still physically wiped out. I have to shop at Costco because, cancer or no cancer, I was still the mom to six kids and all were teenagers. Not only that Costco has a bunch of great frozen dinners and sometimes, that was all I could do for dinner.  I had ended treatment and I actually saw a few hairs where my eyebrows once were. I had peach fuzz. The very kind all my kids had when they were born (well, except my second child who was born with a head of hair). I was actually feeling GREAT compared to the last 11 months. I thought I could even handle all the food smells in Costco without throwing up.

Just as I was about to load my stuff on the belt, one person called me "sir" and I about lost it. Any self-esteem I felt coming back that morning as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and examined my cancer riddled body was gone. I did everything I could not to cry right there on the spot. It would look ridiculous for a 40 year old grown woman to cry. I didn't make the second trip through the store. I just got in my van, called my husband and sobbed my way home. 

I don't want solidarity.

What does cutting your hair completely off or even a pixie cut have to do with cancer? People who do this aren't sick. They don't understand. It's not just hair on the top of our head. It is our eyebrows, our eyelashes, our legs, our everywhere! Those people will see a little stubble in a few days. I went six months with no hair! Completely from tip to toes: NO HAIR!

I don't want solidarity.

Those people don't have dark circles under their eyes that no amount of make up will change. And just for the record, your skin cells are sluffing off so fast that your face is kind of raw from  washing it. Make up is only for the days when you HAVE to look good. But no mascarra because when you go to take it off you will lose any eyelashes that you have left. Washing your face just plain hurts. 

I don'w want solidarity.

They don't have scars from surgeries that are raw and sore. 
They don't have tattooed dots on their body telling the radiation technician exactly where to aim that laser. 
They don't spend hour after hour in the bathroom puking their guts out just because they thought they smelt something. 
Their hairless arms aren't covered in bruises because some nurse can't find a vein. The vein can't be found because it is either so scarred from being poked so many times or you are so dehydrated that you could drink a river and you would still have flat veins (remember that puking?). 

I don't want solidarity. 

These people don't live every day with the threat of relapses. There is no fear that they will lose their hair again. They do not take a deep breath when call ID says, Dr. Kraemer's office. They don't fear the next lab report or scan report. They don't know the taste of "Banana Smoothie Barium Sulfate Suspension" nor do they know what a nuclear chaser is. 

I don't want solidarity.

They don't hear the clicking sound of MRI or CT scan machines in their sleep. 

I don't want solidarity.

They don't see a scar on their body every morning while dressing to remind them they have cancer.

I don't want solidarity.

I have reminders all over my body that I have cancer and that it will never be cured (although I do hold out hope). I have a port, a scar on my sternum, I think I counted ten tattoo dots on my tummy and a few more scars on my back that thankfully I usually don't see. 

I don't want solidarity.

But let's get back to the bald part. Hair is a HUGE identifier of who we are as women. I have struggled with my hair my entire life. I've never liked it. It's always been the wrong color, cut, texture, too straight, thin, etc. Then I lost it all and when it came back it was going to get new hair. NOPE! I got the same mousy brown thin straight as a stick hair I had before. But I had hair and for that I was thankful. But more importantly it said I was HEALTHY! Chemotherapy drugs were no longer coursing through my veins. 

In fact the day before this gal's hair cut went public I got a note from a male friend via Facebook,

"I saw you in the choir at Stake conference and thought, "Wow, her hair is getting long. That is soooo cool!" Not just for fashion, but what it means for your health. So glad you are still with us."

Hair means health! It doesn't mean solidarity.

Hair means I won this battle!

Those who shave their heads in "solidarity," I get you want to show support. I understand that and it might seem like a great idea and be the only thing you think you can do. But please do not pretend to know what it feels like. 

Bald means cancer is winning but I'm putting up a fight. Bald means the fight is still on. Bald mean sick. I see this every time I walk into the clinic for a check up. There is always someone who is standing on the doorstep of death. Plugged into a "dance partner" that is silently killing them. I just pray that they fight back and say, "Not today, Cancer! Not today." But if they give up, I totally understand the desire to go through those doors. I've been there. 

Cancer sucks!
Cancer kills!
Chemotherapy sucks!
Chemotherapy kills!
Baldness sucks!

Please don't show me your solidarity by cutting off your hair. But if you do donate. But I'd rather you keep your hair and donate your money so a researcher can find a cure.  Donate so a patient can afford to take a cab to the clinic. Donate! I really don't want to see your bald head and you don't want to see mine (although I do have a darn good looking head). I really want a cure for cancer.

I don't want solidarity. 

I want a cure for cancer! That's what I really want! 

 Click the image to donate. 

Click the image to donate. 


Memorable Year

My daughter is a dancer so we watch "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With the Stars". I have to secretly admit that I enjoy our time together and am really beginning to like dance. I'm not a dancer, I'm a runner so I'd rather watch the Boston Marathon or the Olympics, but I understand the dedication, grace and determination it takes to dance. In fact, I'll even go out on a limb and say that dancing is a pretty darn hard sport. And I do admit that I like it. 

This past episode of Dancing With The Stars (aired Oct 5, 2015) was kind of a crazy episode. It was titled: Most Memorable Year. The idea behind the show was to have the stars pick a song that reminded them or somehow correlated with their most memorable year. As each dancer's packet was shown, I couldn't help but notice how many stars memorable year was full of tragedy. 

Paula Dean's was the year she left her husband and started her Bag Lady Cafe.
Tamar Braxton's was when her husband had blood clots in his lungs and then they decided to start a family.
Nick Carter's was the year he joined Backstreet Boys instead of a life of drugs and crime.
Carlos PenaVega's was the year he hit rock bottom, went to church and within a week found his wife and life again.
Bindi Irwin's year was the time she lost her father. 

I could go on, but I won't. It made me think of what really defines us is our trials that we march through. I can't say we "overcome" them, but trials that we just lace up our boots, put on a cloak of courage and march through the mess we have been handed or that we have created ourselves. 

As I reflect on what my most memorable year might be, I can't pinpoint one. Here are the ones in the running:
1989: The year I got married. Song would be: When You Love a Woman by Journey
1991: The year that ended two years of infertility with the birth of my first born. You've Got a Friend in Me  by Randy Newman or A Beautiful Life by Donny and Marie Osmond
2002: The year I was in a horrible auto accident (it should have taken my life). Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah) by Andy Grammer
2008: The year I lost my mother. Heroine by Asia
2009: The year I was diagnosed with cancer and within a week my father-in-law died. Runnin' With the Devil by Van Halen or Survivor by Donny Osmond
2010: The year I traveled to hell and back while undergoing chemotherapy. An Extraordinary Life by Asia

And, yes, I see myself in all of these songs dancing and overcoming every obstacle and becoming stronger! 

What is your most memorable year and does it have a song or dance? 

Any Fall Saturday

Since September of 1998, every September Saturday has been spent at the soccer pitch. Every one except for one October in 2010 when both Chris and Jessie had a bye on the same weekend. Every one of my September Saturdays has been taken up by soccer. My October Saturdays and most of my November Saturdays too. But not anymore. 

 Our first soccer player. Kray, 1998

Our first soccer player. Kray, 1998

Today there isn't a game listed on the calendar. There is no game to watch, no game to referee, no game to coach. The kids don't have new soccer cleats, clean uniforms or stinky old shin guards to put on today. 

WOW! This is a crazy new place for me. 

 Oh those foggy morning at Marymoor park. 

Oh those foggy morning at Marymoor park. 

Yes, I miss it. I miss the kids. I miss the excitement as my stomach does a gymnastics tumbling routine. I miss the countless emails from parents (and players) who are lost and can't find the field. I miss the detailed calendar flow-chart I'd make so all six kids got to where they needed to be at the right time. I miss coaching three kids in one season (2009). I miss the interaction with the kids most of all. I miss seeing smiles from someone who just accomplished something pretty cool. I miss the giggles from the girls and the I'm-too-cool fist bumps from the boys. 

I don't miss the mud (ok, just a little). And I really don't miss the parents questioning my coaching, and refereeing decisions.

Last Saturday we woke to a foggy cool morning and both Jessie and I looked at each other and said, "I miss it." 

Please enjoy my walk through memory lane:

 And this game was on the good grass at Marymoor. This is Jason, 2001

And this game was on the good grass at Marymoor. This is Jason, 2001

 We started them early. Chris and Matt 2001

We started them early. Chris and Matt 2001

 Mike, 2002

Mike, 2002

 It's always been a family affair, 2002. In fact that little girl Jessie was just a week or two old when she went to her first soccer game.

It's always been a family affair, 2002. In fact that little girl Jessie was just a week or two old when she went to her first soccer game.

 We've had some great coaches, Jason, 2004

We've had some great coaches, Jason, 2004

 Matt, 2004

Matt, 2004

 And I started head coaching in 2004. Mike's team: Earthquake. We were really good! 

And I started head coaching in 2004. Mike's team: Earthquake. We were really good! 

 Sometimes our uniforms were more like dresses. Chris, 2005

Sometimes our uniforms were more like dresses. Chris, 2005

 And I always had the cutiest soccer players, Jessie, 2005

And I always had the cutiest soccer players, Jessie, 2005

 Sometimes we smile when we score, Matt, 2005

Sometimes we smile when we score, Matt, 2005

 We played close, Chris, 2006

We played close, Chris, 2006

 I had to turn my head when they played goalie: Jason, 2006

I had to turn my head when they played goalie: Jason, 2006

 We sat and waited for our turn to play. #6, Jason, 2006

We sat and waited for our turn to play. #6, Jason, 2006

 Soccer is about fun, Jessie, 2006

Soccer is about fun, Jessie, 2006

 Sometimes we look like the professionals, Matt, 2006

Sometimes we look like the professionals, Matt, 2006

 We always have the best fans! Matt & Grandma, 2006

We always have the best fans! Matt & Grandma, 2006

 Scoring feels good, Matt, 2007

Scoring feels good, Matt, 2007

 Second place sometimes hurts, Mike, 2007

Second place sometimes hurts, Mike, 2007

 It was always a fun time at Marymoor. 2007

It was always a fun time at Marymoor. 2007

 Our financial backer, Steve, 2007

Our financial backer, Steve, 2007

 Earning big bucks, Jason, 2008

Earning big bucks, Jason, 2008

 Soccer was all about the treats and friends, Jessie, 2008

Soccer was all about the treats and friends, Jessie, 2008

 It was an honor to center a tournament game, Kray, 2008

It was an honor to center a tournament game, Kray, 2008

 And Champion soccer is always dirty, Chris, 2009

And Champion soccer is always dirty, Chris, 2009

 And Champions are Champions! Chris and I, 2009

And Champions are Champions! Chris and I, 2009

 Chris doing a trick shot, 2009

Chris doing a trick shot, 2009

 Even when they are big they play. Kray 2009

Even when they are big they play. Kray 2009

 I love this photo!

I love this photo!


 How exactly do you score an Olympico goal again? This wasn't the celebration for it, but Chris did score directly off a corner kick. This celebration is happening because he scored off a backwards kick at the top of the box. Chris, 2010.

How exactly do you score an Olympico goal again? This wasn't the celebration for it, but Chris did score directly off a corner kick. This celebration is happening because he scored off a backwards kick at the top of the box. Chris, 2010.

 Soccer kept me sane through cancer treatments, 2010

Soccer kept me sane through cancer treatments, 2010

 Probably the best team I ever coached. Chris, 2011

Probably the best team I ever coached. Chris, 2011

 Those foggy mornings, 2012

Those foggy mornings, 2012

 Jessie 2012. Probably the best girls team I coached. We went to state and took 8th place. 

Jessie 2012. Probably the best girls team I coached. We went to state and took 8th place. 

 Chris putting on the stripes in 2013

Chris putting on the stripes in 2013

 Conferring with Coaches Clock, the app Steve wrote just for me, 2013

Conferring with Coaches Clock, the app Steve wrote just for me, 2013

 2013, A ref since 2005, I finally put on the stripes and refereed a game or two. 

2013, A ref since 2005, I finally put on the stripes and refereed a game or two. 

 In 2013, Kray officially joined me in the coaching ranks. He had coached on and off since he was 14. It was nice to have him on the sidelines. He has the same passion and conviction I have.

In 2013, Kray officially joined me in the coaching ranks. He had coached on and off since he was 14. It was nice to have him on the sidelines. He has the same passion and conviction I have.

 #6 her entire career, Jessie scores in 2013.

#6 her entire career, Jessie scores in 2013.

 2013 Matt puts on the stripes as well. 

2013 Matt puts on the stripes as well. 

 Coaching staff 2014, Bryne, Kray and me. 

Coaching staff 2014, Bryne, Kray and me. 

 Jessie 2014

Jessie 2014

 I'm intense, 2014

I'm intense, 2014

 The muddiest game I ever coached, watched or played in. Jessie 2014

The muddiest game I ever coached, watched or played in. Jessie 2014

 Jessie 2014. We won the game--defeating an undefeated team! 

Jessie 2014. We won the game--defeating an undefeated team! 

 Fall, soccer, daughter, awe... 2014

Fall, soccer, daughter, awe... 2014

 2014 Jessie & Chelsey. Soccer Buddies!

2014 Jessie & Chelsey. Soccer Buddies!

 2014...the end.

2014...the end.

The Tale of Two Patients

One of the great opportunities a cancer patient has is to visit the doctor often. Since we are close to some important anniversaries I get to visit many doctors' offices this month. Recently I was in an imagining office and I had to wait about 90 minutes for some Beryllium to work it's way through my  body. 

In walked a large man with his wife. He was using a cane and was having great difficulty walking. He was slow and prodding. I actually felt empathy for him and his wife. He looked like he was in pain. Then I heard him talk. 

"We can't sit there! The sun will shine in my face," he said a little too loud and sharply for my heart. "Didn't I tell you that I wanted to sit with my BACK to the window. Find a different chair." 

Now there were about five groupings of chair, and only a few were taking and most were away from the window.

They sat down and were behind me. I tried to ignore them, but he wouldn't speak softly and it was hard to ignore him. His words to his wife were not very kind and actually made me cringe. She would read off the questions and he would answer.

"When was your last MRI?" she asked.
"You were here with me, don't you remember?" he replied.
"How much pain are you in now?" she would read from the sheet.
"I'm off the scale, can't you tell!" he replied.

Many more questions she would quietly read and he would loudly and rudely answer. He was belittling to her and I almost stood up and said, "How can you treat your caretaker so rudely? She is only trying to help." The person who was sitting across from me looked up at me and we both kind of rolled our eyes in agreement in acknowledging his rudeness to his wife. 

It continued when the receptionist came to him and told him that he had more paperwork to fill out and that his test will have to be pushed back 30 minutes because he was late by 30 minutes. (Beryllium has to take it's time through your body.) His words to her were some of the harshest I've heard from a human being towards another. She was more than professional. She was kind and understanding and even asked if rescheduling was necessary. 

"Are you crazy? I would have to drink this (insert a bad word) again. I will just sit here and watch this (insert another bad word) TV program." They had a PBS program on Hawaii playing and I though it was very nice and calming in a waiting room full of anxious patients.

She walked away so professionally.

Now on the other side of the room was a man about my age who obviously was in a lot of emotional discomfort. He didn't want to be there and he didn't want to do what some doctor has asked him to do. On top of that because of whatever he was there for he had to do a lot of waiting.

Nurse #1 took him back for a set of tests. He was very kind to the nurse. He then came back out to wait for nurse #2 take him back for another set of tests. He went back for those test and returned.

The nurse #1 came back and said, "The tests didn't show what the doctor wanted so we need to do them again." He stood up and went willing with the nurse. He returned shortly with yet another bandage on his arm. (He must have had some sort of IV contrast.)

Then the nurse #2 came and told him that his films were ready and handed him a CD. He said something like "I thought my doctor wanted films." She then said, "Oh, right. That's my fault. Do you have a moment to wait for me to print them out?" He said, "Of course."  

She returned with the films and he graciously took them and walked out of the office. 

These two incidents happened at the same time. Both patients didn't want to be there (I didn't either), and the way the staff worked with them was the same gracious and beyond kind. I'm sure the quiet gentleman wasn't there for good news, just as the loud man wasn't there. None of us were. But attitude means a lot! 

 

Standing Strong with Boston

I usually stay away from political subjects when I post (which I seldom do now) but today my heart is aching and full at the same time. My mind is a flood of emotions and I'm not sure what to do other than just write them out.

I'm a runner. I've been a runner since the fall of 2009. I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma in August of 2009 and I had to do something so in a rather long, round-about story I found Team in Training and ran my first half marathon in May of 2010; twelve days after my first chemo treatment. I then ran my first full marathon in October of 2010; six weeks after my last chemo treatment. I've since run countless 5K, 10K, a dozen or so half marathons, three Ragnar Relays and I'm training for my six full marathon.

The emotions that flood you as you see the finish line are indescribable. You are so beat from the physical and mental challenge of the distance and yet you are so high from the finishing of the distance that tears just have to come pouring out. I know the feeling of getting to mile 17: "I just need to keep going; it's less than ten miles.", mile 22:: "Oh, Heavens! Not another hill?" mile 24: "Only two and some change. I can do it! Even on my hands and knees!" then to see the sign for mile 26: "Who decided there needed to be a POINT TWO!?!" and across the finish line: "I'm never going to do that again, but wait, where do I sign up for next year," as they hang a finisher's medal around your neck and you are limping off to the medical tent. 

In 2013, on a beautiful April day, two terrorist destroyed the hopes and dreams and hundreds of training miles of all runners around the world. I remember listening to the news and just thinking, "What? How? All those runners?" 

Today the surviving terrorist was found guilty on all 30 counts!  Seventeen of those counts carry the possibility of the death penalty. Somehow this doesn't give me relief. I've toed the line in a few marathons or other races since 2013, and I've looked around, but I refuse to let them ruined my racing career.  I will continue to race. 

I race for myself. I race for my family. I race for Boston. I race for Kystle Campbell. I race for Sean Collier. I race for Lingzi Lu and I race for young Martin Richard.  I race for all racers who can't race. 

Do I wish this terrorist to get the death penalty? I'm not a huge proponent of the death penalty. I've only really wished it on a few people in my entire life. One such person was Westley Allan Dodd. He lived in my home town and molested and killed little children. He lived not too far from my house, my brothers went to school with him and I remember him at "my" playground. He was creepy. He killed little children and for that....

Do I wish this terrorist to get the death penalty? Yes. Just like Dodd left a uncomfortable stamp on my childhood, this terrorist has put a uncomfortable stamp on my adult life. It isn't uncommon for me to look around when in crowds now for back packs on the ground. I hesitate to ask my husband to cheer me along the course of a race. The Boston Bombing has left a mark on my running soul. 

I have never not crossed the finish line, but I have cut short a training run. I know it doesn't compare to cutting short a marathon, so I do not know what those runners must have felt being told they could not finish. I know I've thought about pulling out at mile 20, mile 22, but come mile 23 or mile 24, I think, "I can tough it out. It's almost done." All those runner thought the same thing but yet, they never finished. Then to find out why. 

I started running because of a pain in my back. I kept running because there was nothing I could do for my cancer but run and be healthy (and raise funds). I continue to run because it is a stress release. I run because it is my alone time. I run because I have great friends who run with me. (What said on the run, stays on the run). I run because it is self therapy. I run because it is group therapy. I run because I can spend an hour communing with my God. I run because it is freeing. I run because I can. I run because I'm strong. I run because others can't. I run because I'm BOSTON STRONG!

BOSTON STRONG!

 

On Being....

I had a friend stop me this afternoon and ask me how I was. I love her! She really knows when things aren't right in you. I told her I was melancholy. I'm not even sure that is what I am, but it sounded like a good word. (I just looked it up and it sort of fits what I am. "1. a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged: depression. 2. sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness"). Yes, I'm sort of melancholic. 

I got sick during the holidays, again! Last year it was kidney stones, this year I just had a wicked fever. It seems that every time I go to my mother-in-law's I come home sick. I'm not sure if it is her house (no way) or the hotel we stay in (most likely). This time it knocked me but good. I had a high fever (over 101) for a few days and it just zapped me. I had such great plans for the days between holidays. Oh, well. That's two years in a row when my house didn't get deep cleaned or projects didn't get done. I'm really beginning to hate the holidays!

Then Stuart Scott died of cancer. Not that is should matter. I wasn't an ESPN sports junky, but when I heard and saw the now famous quote he said upon winning an award "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You bet cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live." Well, it hit me hard. See, I'm late for a blood draw and no matter how many clean draws I have I still get nervous. It's this Friday and I'm scared to death. What if it is back! Oh! Dear! Heavens! Don't go there!!! You can scream that, but I do. I have to stop! 

And Monday was my mother's 81st birthday, or would have been had she still been alive. But she isn't and I miss her something terrible. I had a very powerful and poignant dream about her the other night and it still has me a little rattled.  I should post what I wrote to my brothers, but I won't. I'll just write the dream part. 

"I had the most incredible dream I’ve had of mom since her death. I usually dream of mom as a young person. She is in her early 40’s maybe—spry, healthy and like I remember her when I was a teen. And she NEVER has time for me. She makes an appearance in my dream and then rushes off like there is something more important than me to attend to. This time she was old mom. She was the mom my kids know—grandma. Gray haired, a little bent over and a little slower, but she had all her mind with her.  I don’t know where we were but I was trying to pack the van and taking things out and putting them back in and my family was over there playing with mom and Steve. I wasn’t getting any help at all (sort of like how I feel right now). I was so frustrated as we had to leave (a sense of urgency was about me) and they just playing. I was getting very angry. Nothing was fitting in the car—I couldn’t get it all in and I was just ready about to burst in anger and frustration. Then they came over to get in the van and mom walked over with them. She then wrapped me in her arms and hugged me TIGHT! I’m talking one of the tightest hugs I’ve ever had. She then told me “Good bye” and then “I’m proud of you.” And then she was no where and I woke up to the sheets wrapped tightly around me. I looked around me and realized it was a dream and just sobbed! "

And on top of all this, I'm failing my personal training courses. I'm so afraid of the final. I just can't memorize like I use to. Everything is swimming in my head and they pull trick questions on the exams and there is little to no feedback from our discussion questions and so I'm just so nervous and scared. I know I'll be an awesome trainer, but I just can't get the medical stuff down. And my kids won't study their stuff and I want to scream, "If only I had your brain and time! I would be acing my studies!!!!"

So when she asked me how I was....
Nervous
Scared
Frighten
Busy
A lot is weighing me down! 

Now I need to get off this and read the next chapter and try desperately to understand! 

My Mother-in-Law

I think there is a law somewhere that says you are supposed to hate your mother-in-law. Well, I break that law repeated. I actually like my mother-in-law.  She raised a good man (my husband) and tries her best in all that she does. I actually believe she is one of the good people put on earth. I appreciate her hard work, dedication and love for the things that she cares about. I love that she is open, caring and sharing. I love that she loves my kids. 

The first day I met her she told me, "Call me mom." (Steve and I were already engaged.) And that is the kind of relationship we have had for the past 25 plus years. I'm sure it isn't easy being the mother-in-law to someone who is....well, ME!

Thanks Mom!

Dads

I've had a few good men in my life. 

My dad

My father-in-law

My brothers

My husband

A good dad makes all the difference in the world. I'm grateful that I've had great dads in my life! Thank you to all of you great men! 


Cancer

In today's news Eric Berry, a professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, was diagnosed with lymphoma. He said, "I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God's hands and I have great peace in that."

I know that feeling. You have to put it in God's hand. You have to have confidence in the doctors and in the research. You have to find peace while fighting something that might kill you. Which leads me to today's grateful post...

Kind of a weird thing to be thankful for but I guess I'm sort of thankful for my fight against cancer. I've met a lot of great people while I've dealt with cancer.

 Best care around will be found here!

Best care around will be found here!

 Thousands of people running so you can fight!

Thousands of people running so you can fight!

I'm thankful for science. Yes, that science took me to the edge of death, but it saved my life in doing so. The machine below was my dance partner every 21 days for about 8 hours. It pumped some killer drugs into my body. They burned, they froze, they tasted funny, they were pretty colors and they ultimately saved my life. Thank you to those who figured out the right cocktail of poison to kill the cancer. 

Nothing tastes this bad, yet without it we would have never found the cancer. Banana isn't so bad. 

I guess the greatest thing I'm grateful for from the experience of dealing with cancer is it helped me find a new passion: running. 

I didn't ever think I would be thankful for being so gravely ill, but cancer sure did help me focus on things I truly can't live without and of course that is my family. It was really hard on them, harder than I will ever know. I've had glimpse of how hard when I happen upon a school paper or journal entry and they write about that year. I'm truly sorry that we went through it, but we have grown together as a family. We've learned to work together. We've learned that we can do some really hard things. And we have learned to celebrate life! 

Team in Training

It was a crazy road that led Team in Training (TNT) and my life merge together, but I'm very thankful. They gave me a reason to fight during cancer treatment. They let me be part of something bigger than me. I remember how awesome it was to run my first full marathon and see this sign:

That gave me so much hope.

Today I'm running my sixth season with TNT and I couldn't be happier. I hope that I don't have to pay for the part of the fundraising I might be short (hint, hint) but I'll do it willingly since TNT helps patients who can't pay for whatever and more importantly they are funding research. 

One such project led to one of the chemotherapy drugs that they pushed into my body back in 2010. It may have taken my hair, but it gave me my life!

Thank you TNT!

GO TEAM!