Sunday, July 22, 2012


"you gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the must do the thing that you think you cannot do"
(eleanor roosevelt)

my derm appointment on friday went great. he didn't see anything that he was worried about and so i am good to go until december unless i notice that something has changed with my skin. that was a big relief, i was very thankful to not have more results to be waiting on.

the weight of the scan results is still pretty heavy. i feel very overwhelmed by those results. on one hand, i know that in six months, we may find that the spot has not grown. even if it has grown, and we biopsy it, it may not be melanoma. i know that. i try really hard to remember that. but then there is the other hand, i don't like that one as much. that hand is the one holding melanoma. sometimes i feel like i literally hear a clock going "tick tock, tick tock" in my brain counting down the seconds of my life.

this is a hard place to be. i really want to put those scans that are in the future out of my brain and just focus on this year and making the most of out of it. but i also want to get some of the things done that i want taken care if those scans aren't good. i want to scrapbook photos for malena. i want to do our wedding album. i want to get our will finalized. i want to try new recipes. i want to make creme brulee for the first time. i want to get a card published in my favorite craft magazine. i want to play with malena as much as possible. i want to have date nights with barrett. i want to hang out with my friends and laugh. i want to spend time with my family. the list goes on and on. with that clock in my head, i get really overwhelmed with how much i want to do and how quickly those ticking seconds pass by.

the big reason that i get overwhelmed is that there is just so much that i want to do and i want to feel like i have all of the time that i need to do them. but we never know how much time we have, as evidenced again by the very tragic events in colorado. 

part of what i also struggle with when thinking about those things that i want to do is that it feels like by actually doing them i am checking things off of my list before something bad happens. so then i don't get started. a vicious little repetitive cycle.

i am really scared of what is to come, i am even more scared that it won't be good. i try to be brave and strong most of the time, but there are times when i really just want to curl up in a little ball because i feel too paralyzed and overwhelmed to know what to do next.

but life doesn't wait for me to be scared, those seconds keep ticking.

so i will just keeping putting one foot in front of the other. taking in one deep breath at a time.

i will end up wherever i am meant to be, and i am sure that i will be right on time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

good start

she still speaks to the little girl
who wanted to be an artist, a doctor,
a poet, a wing-walker. she listens
when that little girl talks, when she
paints pictures of the clouds, when
she draws something huge in sidewalk
chalk. she makes her every day a place
for old dreams and new dreams, dreams
that tower and dreams that whisper.

my 37th year is off to a great start. lots of kind words and sentiments from friends and family. lots of cake. laughter. reisling. surprises. perfect gifts. lots of love.

it has been a great start to this next year of life. whatever it may bring.

my dermatologist appointment is in the morning. i am carrying a lot of good energy from this week with me so i am ready.

i hope that you all have a great weekend. xo.

Monday, July 16, 2012

another year

i will not die an unlived life. i will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. i choose to inhabit my days, to allow living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. i choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
(dawna markova)

hello 37, it is good to see you.
thanks for coming, i wasn't sure you would show up.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

a mile for melanoma

on saturday morning the three of us did a one mile walk to support melanoma research on the seattle waterfront. we had heard about the walk when we went to the melanoma clinic earlier this year, but i knew the walk was going to fall on the weekend after my scans. honestly, i didn't know if i would feel up to doing it, so i didn't register or tell anyone about it but kept it as a possibility in the back of my mind.

on thursday i decided that the three of us should do it. i felt like it would be something that we could do to mark this week and circle the wagons a bit. i am not sure why i made that final decision. i think that a big part of it is that i needed to do something productive before the 16th rolled around. two years ago tomorrow is when i got the call.

i am as anxious this year as i was last year. i know it will be ok, but that part of my brain is constantly being overriden by the other part that knows that the 16th hasn't been so kind to me before.

i thought about the 16th when we were on the walk, but mostly i thought about how glad i  was that the three of us were together and that the long week was winding down.

+++ barrett & i getting ready to start walking

+++ malena & baby getting ready to start riding
+++ the fog was thick and low on the waterfront

+++ a spider web with a little morning dew

+++ i liked this image with the space needle included but not obvious at first glance

+++ malena enjoying a granola treat after her long ride

+++ we ended with a little walk through myrtle edwards park where we saw this peice of art and the red really stood out against the dull morning sky
i will be happy when my derm appointment is over on friday, if i leave with no stitches. if there is a biopsy, i will be happy when the results come back clean. i not going to consider the other option as i think that i am due for a break, and some sleep, soon.

hope your weekends were as great as mine. xo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

i knew it

when i got the news about going to portland, one of my very first thoughts was that i was getting good news on monday because i was going to get crappy news today.

i called it.

the scans showed that there is a spot on my right lung that has increased. but it is not at a size that they can biopsy. the spot is located towards the edge of my lung. that is a good location for it to be in case we need to do a biopsy. we will do another round of scans in 6 months. if the spot has increased again, depending on the size, we will do the biopsy at UW medical center. if it has increased to a size we can get in there, i will do it. already decided that before we walked out of the room with the doctor today. if i could have scheduled that biopsy today, i would have.

i am really, really tired. might actually sleep tonight because i feel so exhausted. tough day. i had really hoped that i would get all clear results and would be given the green light for a year of no scans. i had really hoped that i would get the ability to make some decisions that would not have to be based on more scans in 6 months, and not knowing what i will need to do depending on those results.

thanks for all of the good vibes today. it helps to know how many people are rooting (and singing - thanks mh!) for me.

i know that whatever comes, i am not alone.

for knowing that on this day, i am so thankful. xo.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

contrast, i hate you

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.
(the journey, mary oliver)

so today was scan day which made it a long day. i worked the first part of the day, and then headed over for my scan around 2:30. my dear friend ellie (thank you ellie, you rock!) came with me to keep me company during the entire process which takes about 2 hours or so. you all know the drill, as i have wrote before what scan days are like.

today was the same routine. when i went back for my blood draw, my veins were not cooperative. i am not sure why they wanted to be mean today, but i was not appreciating their unwillingness to work with the nurse. before the nurses (yes, not one - but two - nurses had to try and get my veins to cooperate) got the line they needed, i was poked in both arms with my right arm taking the brunt of the attempts. so after three times of poking and trying to work the iv around to hit the vein (which i find to be a miserable experience, it actually hurts worse than the poke from the needle), it finally worked. then they pumped the saline into the iv, and you know how i feel about that taste.

so then i had one hour to drink the two containers of the contrast solution that i have to finish before the scan. i have complained about it before, but i will complain about it again (it is my blog so i can do what i want and you basically have to listen, right?;)). i hate that stuff. it is berry flavored (which i think might actually make it worse because it is a disturbing fake fruit flavor). but today i had the choice of cold contrast or room temperature contrast. i chose cold, figured it might make it more tolerable. not sure that decision actually proved to be the right choice but live and learn.

personally, i don't think that having to drink something that comes with a picture of your insides on it is something anyone should have to do. can we agree on that? ugh.

so while i was chugging the contrast to make my one hour deadline, ellie and i caught up on the latest with each other - and with katie and tom:)

after one bottle of contrast was down, ellie was being my cheerleader and reminding me that once i finished my scans, i could have treats (i have to fast before the scans so i was seriously hungry - having to fast and then drink the contrast on an empty stomach is basically torture). you know that eating cinnamon bears post-scan are my big reward, and today i had a jackpot day thanks to ellie, abby, and rob (so lucky to have good friends making sure that i have my needed bears to get me through the day).

i got called back and had a couple of major gulps of contrast to finish. those last chugs were brutal because by that point my stomach is already getting pissed off because it hates contrast and always gets really upset afterwards. as i was finishing the gulps, ellie told me that she could tell by the look of me that i was definitely over the contrast. she is a very smart girl.

once the scans were done (and yes, the same ceiling tiles were there), ellie and i got to snack on pumpkin bread (kerry - it is still sooooooo good), chips, cinnamon bears, chex mix, etc. we came prepared and were not messing around with eating when i got done with the scan.
after i dropped ellie off, i headed for home. traffic really sucked. my stomach really sucked. those two things sucking at the same time is not a good (aka miserable) combination. i got home and immediately went to bed. was down for about three hours before malena woke me up for her bedtime so that i could read stories.

it is now 11:42pm and my stomach is still really pissed off. i kind of appreciate the fact that it hates scans too, but also wish it would cut me some slack since it knows i hate them too.

tomorrow is almost here.

so like the kelly rae roberts piece my parents gave me tonight, i will just practice a little courage and try to get a little rest tonight if i can.

thanks for all of the good thoughts, i will carry them with me into my appointment tomorrow.


Monday, July 9, 2012

this i know

today did not end up how i thought it would, for probably the hands-down best reason possible.

i will give you more details tomorrow when it isn't 11:34pm and i just got home from an unexpected whirlwind trip to portland and back. i am so tired i might actually get a little bit of sleep tonight. that would be an extra bonus to this already fabulous day.

here is a hint about the unexpected change of plans in my day...sometimes getting on a waiting list is the absolute best idea you can ever have. sometimes it just all works out.

yep, no dermatologist appointment today. that appointment will now occur on friday the 20th.

i got to fulfill a dream today.

sometimes dreams really do come true.

this i know.

+++ thank you so much for all of the good vibes and mojo that you all are sending my way. i can feel it working, it might even corrupt the scan machine tomorrow since i will have so much good energy radiating from me. maybe the good energy will crack those damn ceiling tiles too;)
+++ kerry - you make the best (and i mean THE BEST) pumpkin bread in the universe. you need to open a bakery asap. please. i am begging.
+++ kadeena - you lit it up like the big box of crayolas.
+++ jill - you rock, can't wait to dive in and start turning the pages and am super excited about my good luck charm.
+++wallace - i think that taffy from nj can only bring good vibes and sunshine so i am ready to try it out.
+++ chris - i could have ate that entire container of brownies between tacoma and sammamish. but i didn't. but i could have.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

deep breath

"tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" (mary oliver)

this weekend flew by, seems like it was just friday (wasn't it just friday?) and here we are with monday looming large. i should have done some work this weekend as i am still pretty buried trying to catch back up from vacation. not because i wanted to, just so that i could catch my breath. but there was no way in hell i was going do work on the weekend before scans. obvious choice. i chose to spend time with this girl having as much fun as possible - playing catch, hitting the ball, swimming, putting puzzles together, baking cookies, watering flowers, eating frozen yogurt, etc.

tomorrow at 3:30 i will see my dermatologist and we will see if i leave there with any stitches. on tuesday i go to seattle cancer care at 3 for my scans. wednesday at 3:30 is when i get the results. lots of 3's in this week for me.

i will keep you posted on how it goes - thanks for the good thoughts that are coming my way. i appreciate all of them more than you know.

here we go.

ready or not.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


friday. finally.

super tired tonight so just a couple of sidenotes to share going into the weekend:

+++ how cool is this? i know, very cool.
+++ this is an awesome idea for one of my favorite dr. seuss books
+++ for all of you instagram fanatics, you will want to check this out
+++ anyone need some ballerina or baseball themed party ideas?
+++ marcie-roo, we love you.
+++ sharon, so happy about your scan news - woohooo!!!;)

hope you all have a great weekend, those in seattle, enjoy the sun while we have it. xo.

vacation withdrawals

vacation, it was so good while it lasted.

last week we went to minnesota for our annual family reunion (shout out to the sheehans). as always, we had a great time getting to see family members that we only get the chance to see in person once a year. some of the annual traditions continue - family pictures, animal show, ride with clydesdale horses, swimming, eating a ton of good food, building sandcastles by the lake, lots of laughter and catching up. we had great weather while we were there which made it perfect so that we could be outside more than inside. seattle weather hasn't provided us with that opportunity very often so it was a welcomed change.

every year when we are at the reunion, i always take two hours to head up to the main lodge to go to the spa for a massage. this year they had changed the form that i had to fill out when i checked in. i had to check a "cancer" box on the form. wasn't expecting for the word to even be a part of my time up at the spa. when the woman came to take me back for the appointment, she did a quick scan of my form and said "ok, i see that you have checked all of the boxes no...oh wait (this would be the moment she saw that i checked the cancer box), i need to go and talk to someone, i will be right back." i immediately felt like i should have just lied and not checked that box because i didn't want to deal with whatever was coming. so out comes the woman, and she has another woman with her. the woman asks me why i checked the cancer box, and i explain to her the reason why. she then asks me a couple of other questions (am i in treatment, do i have lymphedema, etc). this entire conversation is taking place in the spa’s reception area. really uncomfortable for me. so when they decide that they are ready for me to go back, it is all that i can do to not break into tears. the entire interaction caught me off guard, all i wanted to do was get a massage and be pampered for an hour. i didn't want to talk about cancer, nor was i actually even thinking about it that morning when i walked up to the lodge. i didn't cry there, but did later in the day when telling barrett what happened. unless i have no choice next year, i won't check the box on the form.

after we left minnesota, we headed to wisconsin which was the first time all three of us had been in that state (shout out to the pattersons). we had a great with our friends checking out their town and madison. childrens museum, zoo, bubbles, water balloons, tons of fun. maybe the most unexpected surprise of trip was the chance to see lightning bugs. the three of us had not seen lightning bugs before, they are awesome to watch as they light up the night. we even caught some and got to see them light up in our hands before they flew on to their next destination. so fun. if we had lightning bugs here, i think that i would be out every night to watch them. simply magical.

in addition to wisconsin and lightning bugs, this vacation included some other firsts for us and i loved them all:
- first time that malena asked to play games at red robin (or chicken robin as she calls it) - i think our days of not having games in restaurants be on her radar screen are officially over.
- first time that her and i had pictures taken in a photo booth, super fun.
- first time that malena rode on a full size merry go round - and she loved it, as was obvious from the five times she rode it
- first time that malena played an electronic piano and asked us to sing while she played, i think that we may have a little musician on our hands

we had a 4.5 hour flight home out of chicago so i figured it was the perfect time to start bloom. hands down, one of the best books i have ever read. ever. (abby - you were right, i i don’t usually keep books, i will definitely be keeping this one. the book is focused on finding beauty in the unexpected, the focus of which is on the birth of the author's daughter who has downs sydrome and how life continues from the birth forward. there were many things within the book that i could identify with related to my journey with melanoma. since part of the book focuses on the bonds between siblings, it of course had me thinking about a sibling for malena.

on that flight, we couldn't all sit together so i was in a row behind barrett and malena. i was sitting next to a woman who complimented me a couple of times on how well behaved malena was  on the flight. when barrett and malena got up to use the bathroom, the woman told me how adorable malena was. she then asked me if we were going to have a second child. i almost lost it in that moment, i was already emotionally charged from reading the book, and you know that topic is hard for me in general right now. i told her that we were undecided on that right now, and then she continued on. why would you be undecided? why wouldn't you have a second child? you should definitely have a second child. don't you want her to have a sibling? you are young, so nothing will happen to you, but when you are gone, don't you want her to have a sibling so she isn't alone? you wouldn't want her to be much older, or for you to get much older, before you have a second one. they won't have much in common or play together if you wait too much longer. do you have siblings? well then you know how great it is to have a brother or sister, don't you want that for her? i literally didn't know if i could say one word to her because i felt like i was going to burst into tears. my thoughts were...please, please, please stop talking to me. you have no idea how hard the words you are saying are for me to hear, especially since i say most of them to myself on a daily basis. how dare you for even saying these things to me when i am complete stranger. i so wish we weren't on a flight so that i could get up and leave this situation. how do i end this quickly so you stop talking to me and i don't lose it? why do things like this have to happen to me? but all i could say was that those were all things that we were thinking about, and then i put my face back into my book and didn't look up again, hoping she would take the hint. whether she took the hint or not, i do not know. but she didn't talk to me about that again, and i was so thankful. we couldn't land fast enough so i could get away from her.

but, as it always does, the good parts of vacation far outweighed the couple of moments that shook me up.

i hope that your 4th of july was a great one, ours included sunshine, fun in a kiddy pool, ice cream, s'mores, laughter, some afternoon naps, and no work. perfect way to spend a wednesday, i wish they could all be so good.

only a few times did i think about next wednesday which will be the day that i get my results from the scans that wait for me on tuesday. my pre-scan nightmares are in full effect, and sleep is hard to come by. on monday, i will have my 6 month check with my dermatologist. next week is packed with appointments, let's hope it is also packed with good news.

let's hope. let's hope. let's hope.

Monday, July 2, 2012

back to the grind

hi peeps. hope you are all doing well.

our vacation was really great, more to come on that later this week.

i am trying to dig out of the work emails that i have to catch up on. not nearly as fun as vacation. ugh.

in the meantime, if anyone is looking for a new twist on s'mores for the 4th of july here you go. yum.