Thursday, February 28, 2013

brave (part ii) + giveaway reminder

(graphic from ali edwards)

i choose to become brave in my fight with stage iv melanoma.

so i decided today that i was going to watch a special that i had taped on robin roberts. it was a 20/20 special from last week that documented the process she went through for her bone marrow transplant recently. i had taped it last week because i really wanted to watch it, but wasn't ready to emotionally.

of course, i again used quite a few kleenex. i could identify with so much of what she said. how hard it was to tell her mom that she was sick again. how she was the baby of the family and had already had to fight through cancer once before. how no matter how old you are you want your mom when you are sick. how it was hard for her to have others take care of her when she always preferred to be the one taking care of others. how she could remember the exact moment and date when she got her diagnosis. how she went on the internet (even though everyone says not to) to look at information on her condition and emotionally lost it. in a magazine article, robin said that "i want to give people hope. i want to let them know there is another day. i can be fearful or i can be fearless. i choose to be fearless." i also loved how she said that her mom always told her kids "make your mess your message." when i heard that, i thought about this blog and how in many ways it has been one of the biggest parts of my message about this journey with melanoma. i heart robin roberts. i think that she is such a great role model of how to be brave.

i had an appointment today to get my hair cut. i was fine going in, but when i walked in and sat in the chair, i started to have flashbacks to the first time that i sat in that chair and met jeremy. my hair falling out. wearing a wig. having my hair cut short. clearly, that moment wasn't just about my hair, but more about how much i have already gone through. it just all rolled in like a tidal wave. as jeremy and i started talking, i could feel the tears coming. then he said "is something wrong? you don't seem like yourself." yep, that was all it took and the flood gates opened up wide and i have gave him a quick explanation. since jeremy has been directly affected by cancer, and i have been going to him for almost two years, he gets it. so he kneeled down, looked me in the eye, told me it was ok for us to just take a minute, and then he got me some kleenex (yes, kleenex again - i told you, a million a day are getting used around here). once i had pulled myself together (by taking some deep breaths and telling myself to be brave), he asked me what the next steps are and we spent the rest of the time chatting it up like we normally do. another hurdle jumped, my legs should be in pretty good shape soon;)

when i left the salon, i had a message on my phone from my friend mike. he had recorded an acoustic version of "carry on" for me, just him and his guitar. he also changed up the lyrics to the second verse to reflect our friendship and a bar we used to hang out at. i love that it is his voice, and the lyric change up took me by surprise and totally made me laugh. his timing on sending me that message could not have been more perfect. my own personal version of my new musical theme song. love it, and love my talented friend mike. i also love kicking his you-know-what at shuffleboard while drinking at a bar but that is an entirely different story;)

talented mike is married to awesome jen. a post about being brave is the perfect time to give an update about jen since she is one brave cancer warrior. first off, jen is super thankful (as am i) for everyone who has signed up for the fun mail for jen campaign. we are rocking it every week, and jen is so inspired by all of the positive vibes coming to her mailbox each week. in the last update on jen, she was going to go for a third opinion. jen has decided to not do that at this time, and she is going to see how the results are at her upcoming checkup in the next month or so. i will definitely keep you posted. i also wanted you to know that jen told me that she thinks that all of the good fun mail mojo was directly correlated to her getting some positive (though conflicting, hence contemplating the third opinion) news at her last appointment. i am pretty sure that as cancer has seen that fun mail rolling in it has decided that it is messing with the wrong person. i think cancer has packed up its bags and is going to leave her alone. that would definitely be mission accomplished for our fun mail campaign.
thanks to awesome jen, barrett and i will be taking a 1.5 hour hot air balloon ride sometime this spring/summer. how cool is that? it will be another first, i am so excited. but no one tell my mom, she isn't sure she is going to let me go up in a hot air balloon;) so let's just keep this our little secret (mom, pretend you aren't reading this part).

i also decided that there was one more piece of art that i needed to have in the house, so i ordered this print. i figured since it says "surrender your fear and be brave with your life" it was a necessary addition in our house.

i am also so excited for "carry on warrior" to come at the beginning of april. it will be available right before my scans, perfect timing. (jill p - sorry i didn't realize it was on pre-order when i linked to it originally. my bad. oops;))

also, reminder that if you want to be entered into the "be brave" card giveaway you need to leave a comment by midnight friday (pacific time). i will use the random number doodad to pick the winner and will give an update on saturday morning.

i hope that you all have a great weekend. make the most of it.

promise me you will enjoy all of the big and little moments. i know i will. xo

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

be brave + a giveaway

be brave.

those are the two words that i have adopted as my motto from now on. i am going to remind myself of those two words everyday, and as many times throughout each day as needed.

+++ i bought the "be brave" stamp from elise blaha that you can see in a picture in this post.i bought that stamp before we got the results. it was hard to buy the stamp. here is a little secret. i have had a hell of a time buying things that are related to making cards. i can't get over my fear kicking in and telling me that i shouldn't buy things that i will never have a chance to use. but i bought that one (big baby step), and i am so glad that i did.  i think that it will be a great addition to cards/envelopes reminding others to be brave in their own lives as well.

+++ i have decided that i need visual inspiration around the house to remind me each day that i need to be brave. so i have ordered this print and am so excited about it. i have the perfect spot in our house to hang it that i will walk buy multiple times each day. good and constant reinforcement. in addition, i was ordering a gift for someone else from this site (i literally could have ordered almost one of everything from this site, and the quality is awesome) and i found this print. i just got it in the mail and am going to be putting it up on my bedroom wall, it will be the first thing that i see when i wake up each morning.

+++ i have adopted this song as my new musical theme song. it keeps me company many times at night when the darkness and silence bring the weight of the day collapsing all around me.

+++ i am carving out time in my daily life for the things that are the most important to me. i am going to say no to the things that i don't want to do. saying no is a hell of a lot harder for me than saying yes.

+++ i am going to do as much as i can to change my diet and focus on foods that are going to give me the best fighting chance possible. since i already have one major strike against me with my celiac disease (which is an autoimmunce disease), i need to give my immune system the best fuel it can get. i have a ton of books to go through and have an appointment on monday with a nutrionist.

+++ i will do my best to go on living my life and not letting the statistics and fear plague me. it so unbelievably hard to try and keep living your life as if everything is normal and you will live a long life (or to not even have to think about that because it is just considered a given), meanwhile the black beast weighs constantly on your thoughts telling you that it isn't going to let your story end that way. i have no doubt that i will never get rid of those thoughts entirely on any given day. but, i look forward to a time when it isn't the first thing that comes to mind in the morning, the last thing i think about at night, and constantly throughout my day. like this morning when malena was talking about babies and said to me "momma, when i am a mommy like you i will have a baby in my tummy" and i immediately teared up because my first thought was that i might not get to see her be a mom or meet my grandchildren. truth is i can't even write this now without totally crying. i think that barrett may be right when he says that we are now on a crash "tears diet." i should invest in kleenex, i have to be their biggest customer in the country at this point.

+++ i am going to keep going to the counselor on a regular basis, that time is so well spent for me. it isn't easy to talk to someone else about things that are so personal, but as i have said before, if it was easy it wouldn't have anything to do with melanoma.

+++ i am going to schedule fun things for us to do on the weekends so we have plans to look forward to (cousin michelle, thanks again so much - you all rock). i will do things with friends, and have date nights with barrett. time away from malena is really hard for me. this weekend barrett and i are planning to get out of town for a day to try and regroup a little bit. right after we made the plan, i absolutely panicked about being away from malena and wanted to cancel and stay home to be close to her. but i overrode the panick, eventually...i think i was up almost all of monday night debating it in my head. but as my counselor reminded me of yesterday, i am a mother - but i am also a wife, a friend, a daughter, an aunt, etc. and i have to keep living my life in all of those roles.

+++ i decided that i needed to change up my phone cover so that each time i looked it (which is multiple times everyday) i was reminded that i need to be brave. i could not have found a more ideal cover than this be brave one with kelly rae robert's artwork. my motto + my favorite artist, it doesn't get any better than that my friends.

+++ i am going to continue to spend quality time with my dream couch - that couch surrounds me with bravery every single time i sit on it.

since i have that new stamp, and you know that making cards makes me happy, i figured it is time for a little giveaway. you all know the drill by now. leave a comment on the blog (click over to the blog if you are reading this via email) by friday midnight (pacific time peeps) and i will use the random number wizard to select the winner. i will make 5 cards using the stamp, and will send you envelopes with postage already on them. all you will have to do is write on the card, address the envelope, and send some love out in to the world to encourage others you know to be brave. how cool is that? i know, so cool. why haven't you left your comment yet?

have a great thursday peeps. be brave, i can't be the only one, i need good company;) xo

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


i had an appointment with my dentist this morning for a regular check-up.

i love my dentist.

i have been going to her for about 15 years. i first went to her when i was right out of college and lived in kirkland (hooch/em - the ol' LT days;)). since that time, i have lived as far as two hours (without traffic which never happens, so really it was like three to four hours) away, but i always kept the same dentist. she totally rocks and the drive was worth it. i love my hygienist too. big love from me in that office all of the way around. barrett and malena go to her as well, so they know our entire family.

as i was driving to the appointment, i realized that i would have to tell them the latest because they always want the updates - to note in my chart but also because they care. what i didn't realize as i was thinking about that was that it would be the first time i would tell someone who didn't know that i had stage iv cancer.

so as i did, the tears started to fall and stream down my face. those tears snuck up so fast i didn't even feel them coming on. it was surreal. i could hear my voice, i knew the words were coming out of my mouth, but it didn't seem like those words were ever meant to come from me (they should never have to be words that come from anyone).

it was rough, but they were awesome of course and gave me a lot of encouragement as i knew that they would.

another first hurdle in this stage iv race with the black beast.

but i cleared it, and i am still running.

ps) kelly - thanks for your great comment, if you leave me your email i will connect with you. tnx.

Monday, February 25, 2013

stage iv

we met with my oncologist today to regroup after getting the results. we had already walked through the stage iv scenario with him before i had surgery so that we would know what to expect, especially since we knew we would get the results from the surgeon before we would see him again.

i am just going to cut to the chase on this one, i don't feel like writing too much tonight.

since the melanoma is out due to the surgery, there are not treatment options that are applicable at this point in time. there are also not clinical studies at scca or locally that would match my current status. so where does that leave us?

i will have scans again in april.

if those scans do not raise any concerns (which we all know will be the case, right?), i will have scans again three months later. if the scans continue to show no areas of concerns, we would likely move to scans every six months at some point.

if the scans do show an area of concern, the next steps could vary - surgery or treatment, or combination of both.

if you look at statistics (and i am currently not a fan of looking at statistics), you would likely find that there is about a roughly 85%ish chance that melanoma will come back. statistics would also tell you that a stage iv patient would have about 12-18 months to live once treatment became a possible course of action.

but statistics are just numbers. they don't represent everyone, i know that to be the case from other stage iv patients that have beaten those odds. i don't plan to live my life around numbers. i know what they are. i know they aren't good. yes, they haunt me. but i am not going to let them define me.

statistics will make some days, like today, a lot tougher than others. there is absolutely no doubt about that. statistics scare the hell out of me. there is absolutely no doubt about that.

i am going to fight like hell. there is absolutely no doubt about that.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


our weekend was a good one - we packed in a lot of fun, and some new firsts.

+++ two campout nights and lazy mornings with cartoons and playing in pajamas
+++ organizing toys with malena deciding which toys were "big girl toys" versus "toys that are for little babies"

+++ watching her have a ton of fun with her friends at a gymnastics birthday party
+++ the start of a new series of her swim lessons, i love watching her swim
+++ putting together a new bookcase and nightstand for her big girl bedroom and seeing her excitement and watching her play for hours
+++ taking her to a movie at the theater for the very first time

+++ taking self-portraits at lunch with our silly faces on

+++ cooking gourmet dishes
+++ family trip to target, with malena insisting on being carried, not realizing that meant that she was going to be carried over barrett's shoulder;)

a lot of great moments together, just the three of us. it was the perfect way to spend this first weekend together after getting the news on wednesday.

all of this is going to be so hard. mixed in with all of the fun this weekend were the moments when i could feel the tears welling up, my throat tightening, and the feeling that the tears were going to start and they would never stop. that feeling came with the firsts of couse, new milestones that signal fresh starts - which makes me about how i want to be here for all of her first starts. but that feeling also came with the million of day to day moments that make up our lives. eating breakfast together. watching cartoons. hearing her say "momma". holding her hand. kissing barrett goodnight and saying i love you's. playing tic tac toe with her while we are waiting for our food to come at lunch. tickle fights. laughter. playing games. every single little and important moment.

it is overwhelming to feel so many strong emotions at the same time. sad. angry. devastated. exhausted. scared (ok, really - really - really scared). paralyzed. emotional. torn. indecisive. unsure. at the same time i know that i need to find hope in the midst of all of this fear and sadness. i have to keep going. we have to keep going. i have no clue how we are going to do this, but we will just have to take it one day at a time. make decisions as we need to, and when the decision feels right. all of that is hard for me because i like to cross things off to do lists, i like to have a plan. my only plan is to do everything i can to fight melanoma and not let is consume every waking second of my life. anything that fits with that plan is good, anything that doesn't is not going to get one second of my time. i was really looking forward to meeting with my counselor, and  when i went to make my appointment on friday, i learned that she is no longer working at scca. she had been my counselor since my original diagnosis. i was so bummed, it was like another punch to the gut. the hits just seem to keep on coming.

i had made a sign on wednesday morning. the plan was that when we got the good news, barrett was going to take a picture of me holding the sign. i was going to text only that picture to my family and friends, and was going to put it on the blog. a simple picture to spread the good news. i finally brought myself to take it out of my bag today and recycle it. that was a tough one. remembering the hope that i had in that moment when i made it, talking about taking the picture with barrett when we were driving to the appointment, etc., all came rushing back. pretty sure i will never make a sign again, it  now feels like a curse i never want repeated.

hello monday, you signal another week of healing, recovery, strength, time for me to dig deep and find hope, moments to capture with friends and family, and a chance to make some new friends (hi to the sweet ladies that commented on my blog posts who have also been touched by stage iv melanoma, i can't thank you enough, and i will be in touch). i thank you in advance for all those good things that you will bring my way this week.

ps) jolainajo - can i get your email so i could follow up with you? tnx.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

february 20th

so now february 20th joins july 16th as a day i will never forget. there are other days as well - the days i had surgery, the day i started treatment, etc. - but 2/20 and 7/16 are the standouts.

let me tell you a little about how the appointment went.

we were in the room waiting for 45 minutes. yes, 45 long and painful minutes.

then one of the residents came in. she looked very nervous, that made us very nervous. she asked where we live. that made us more nervous. she then looked at my incisions. she then asked if we knew that my surgeon wasn't in. yes, we know that. she told us one of the other doctors would be in to see us. when she walked out, we both knew. but, we still tried out best to hold on to hope.

twenty more long and painful minutes later, the surgeon came in. he asked where we live. confirmation that bad news is for sure coming next. he asked if we knew that my surgeon wasn't in the office. yes, we know that. he then told us it was melanoma, and that "melanoma is pretty much what we expected." don't take it easy on us - how about you just cut to the chase? unbelievable. he said other things, and it actually pissed me off even more because his words didn't help. his words didn't make me feel better. i didn't need to hear anything from someone who doesn't know us, and doesn't specialize in melanoma. i just wanted him to get the hell out of the room and to leave us alone. if i ever have to do it again, i will make sure that we get the results from my oncologist and not the surgeon. that experience couldn't have been worse than it was. i take that back - it could have been worse had he told us that they didn't get all of the melanoma out with the surgery.

so since hearing those words "it was melanoma", there have been a hell of a lot of tears around here. i am sure you aren't surprised. the tough conversations have begun. next steps. priorities on how our time is spent. ensuring malena's routine stays in tact. keeping life as normal as possible for her. it is damn hard to act like everything is ok when everything is absolutely not ok. but that is what you do when there is simply no other choice. for us, there is no option to but to keep life as normal as possible for her. if a time comes when another decision is necessary, we will make those decisions as we have to.

so, stage iv --- what does that mean? i will talk about it next week, not quite ready to crank out those words yet. we are going to meet with my oncologist on monday, although we already walked through this scenario with him so we knew what to expect. but, i need the comfort of seeing him again now and walking through all of this one more time that we know it is the reality of what are dealing with.

in the meantime, we are just tying to breathe. to make it through the day. to get some fun in our days. this weekend barrett, malena & i are just going to lay low and spend the time together. the weekend will include our new givens - s'mores and campout nights by the fireplace. it will also include a birthday party for one of malena's new school friends and the start of a new series of swim lessons. i am pretty sure that it will also include at least one glass of reisling for me.

there will be fun, and i know there will be tears. but it will all be part of us going on and finding our way forward.

we will go on from here, we are barely starting to piece together how that might look. i expect that we may never have this new puzzle put together as i anticipate we will need to keep moving the pieces to make our lives work within this unbearable reality.

thanks for all of the support, good vibes, kind words, thoughts and prayers. one of the things that barrett and i talked about last night is how lucky we are that we don't have to go through this by ourselves. we are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love. we are grateful for that everday, and we will draw from it everyday.

have a good weekend peeps. hug your loved ones. tell them you love them. spend time with your kids. spend time with your friends. spend time with your pets. call someone you love. send a card to just let somebody know that you appreciate them. send a text message or an email to someone you haven't talked to lately.

do it just because you can, that is all the reason you need. xo

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It was melanoma --- they got it all out --- prognosis now changes to stage iv. more on that later. Please keep sending all of your good thoughts our way. Xoxo

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


"the key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not on things we fear."
(brian tracy)

there are of course a million things i could write about tonight regarding how i am feeling and what i am thinking. but, i choose to focus on hope.

i wanted one of the last things that i did today to be to spend time with the letters that i have got from the kids with crystal and marcie's fun mail projects. i could write something from every single one of the letters, but here is just another small selection of some examples of how great all of these kids (my new friends) are.

"i hope you get better. i wish you can find a way out of skin cancer."

"i'm not much of a writer, so all i really know what to say is stay strong and know you're not alone."

"cancer can hurt your body but it can't hurt your feelings, your heart or you."

"i have started following your blog. you are just too funy and light hearted. your outlook on this situation is amazing. it gives me hope that optimism can change lives."

"i am sure you are similar to me in that even when the going gets tough, you smile to yourself and stick it seem to be a very good person and i can't tell you why bad things happen to good people except that it wouldn't happen to a good person if god knew they couldn't get through it, just like i know you will."

"cancer cannot damage friendship or love. we will stand by you till you have been cured."

"i am a dreamer too. dreaming is hard because if you really want that dream to come true. but keep on fowling your dreams. i don't know your dreams but i bet there good dreams."

"ever since ms. paradis has told me about you i've become motivated with many things. one is thinking more about others which i could tell you do a lot by reading about your random act of kindness challenge. alli, you're inspirational. you've motivated me to do many things i can't even write about in this letter. it is hard for me to write this letter. i can't even believe what you're going through. because of you i want to challenge myself to do more things in life besides being a normal person and sitting at home. i hope that you will not give up but you will stay strong."

"i'm glad if your glad, i'm sad if your sad, but never lost hope. keep trying and maybe you can fight skin cancer and be happy again."

"can i just say that i think you can fight this i believe in you i know you can fight it so be brave"

"i've heard about your strong journey. life can be a rollercoaster. draw on your strength."

so tomorrow, i am going to take all of the letters i have got from the kids and will carry them into my appointment in the "be brave" bag i received today (a generous act of kindness from the owner of "oh, hello friend" that i will be filling you in on more soon).

if i carry my new bag, the kids letters, and all of the love and support of my family and friends into the appointment, the only possible outcome is to hear the word "benign". right? right. i knew we would agree on that, pretty sure that is why we get along so well;)

the appointment is at 1:30 (i have a scan at 1 to check my lung, let's hope it is looking good as well), i will do an update as soon as i can afterwards.

thanks for all of the love and support that you have given me up until this point, and for all of it that i know you are sending my way to get me through tomorrow.

anywhere i go you go.



“i said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
(t.s. eliot)

first off, huge thanks to my awesome sister for keeping up with posting updates since i had surgery. she rocks - thanks nerd. you are the best.

waking up from surgery was not fun, the pain was unbearable and i was nauseas as hell. the primary point of pain when i woke up was from the chest tube that was connected from my lung, past my rib, and out through the right side of my chest. it was put in to help get any air bubbles out and to allow my lung to drain. i remember fading in and out for a long time in the recovery room, and constantly moaning/crying in pain and being so nauseas. i am sure that i was not a fun patient to be next to because it was obvious recovery wasn't going swimmingly for me. i was so completely miserable. after what seemed like an eternity of misery, they finally made the decision to roll me up to my room.

when we got to the room, they told me that they were going to have to transfer me to my bed. i did not realize that they would do that with a crane device that would squeeze the blankets around me, basically making me a cocoon, and then lift me from one bed to the next. in hindsight, that was probably the least painful way of doing it. but at the time, i was so not appreciative of being squeezed and moved. i gladly would have just stayed on the bed i was in if i meant i wouldn't have had to move at all at that point.

the remainder of monday is a blur of pain and nausea for me. even though they warned me during my pre-op appointment that the chest tube would be what would cause me the most pain, they ever could have never prepared me for how painful it would actually be. every movement i made was so jarring it took my breath away.

at one point on monday, i thought that i had reached my breaking point. the pain was so bad, i had just got sick (again) all over myself, and was a sobbing mess. i did not know how i was going to make it through the night. that night in the hospital was hands down one of the lowest points physically and emotionally i have had over the last three years.

on tuesday morning, i got multiple scans of my lungs so they could determine if the chest tube could come out. they gave the green light on tuesday afternoon and it got pulled out. i felt better immediately. then i felt the pain of the incisions in my side, and the soreness from the chest tube being in, but it was nothing compared to the hell i had been through since surgery.

i have four incisions on my right side, the largest one is from the chest tube area (don't worry, i am not going to show you pictures). i will have four more scars to add to my long and growing list of battle wounds. i have a lot of restrictions on what i can do for the next couple of weeks. i wouldn't be able to do a lot of things that i am restricted from even if i wanted to (don't worry mom, i will behave) because the pain would stop me. so i am learning to use my left side for the things that i can do, and have others to help me do the things that i can't do for myself. i never realized how much i use my right hand to get through daily life, my left hand is in overdrive right now and is wondering why it is being worked so hard.

barrett took the bandages off on thursday, and that was one of the other lowest points for me. you all may have heard my loud sobbing from wherever you were that morning.

i am still really sore, uncomfortable, and completely exhausted at this point. but i think (i hope) that the problems with nausea are over. the days have ups and downs, and i just ride the peaks and valleys as they come.

in the midst of all that has happened in the last week, i have so much to be grateful for - not the least of which is the overwhelming (in a good way of course) love and support from family and friends. i can't imagine what it would be like without so many cheerleaders rooting for me from the sidelines. thank you for all of the love.

of course, my mind is also filled with a million thoughts about my appointment on wednesday at 1:30. that appointment will change the course of my life. i will either feel like my life has been given back to me on my terms (at least the terms i am allowed to have with melanoma calling its own shots regarding my life), or i will feel like i don't know how to move forward - yet knowing that i have no choice but to go on.

in many ways, i just want to know. give me the results. tell us what the end result is so that all of this waiting can come to an end. 

in many ways, i don't want to know. 

but wednesday will come, the results will be what they will be, and life will go on.

it will go on. i will find my way. we will find our way together.

i hope, with everything that i have, that the word benign is what i see when i finally get the chance to look around this next bend in the road.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sweet Sunday

Another fun camp out at the Hanson's last night.

Today the 17th of February is Alli and Barretts 6th wedding annuversry. They are planning to do something special in the future when she is more mobile. It has been nice spending the day with the both of them.

The highlights have included lunch at Chicken Robin. I can never say no to a Bonzai burger :)

A trip to the paint your own pottery store. Jess and I have never been before and it was really fun. We have to wait a week to get them back to see how are works of art turned out.

On the way back to the house we stopped at Red Mango for scrumptious frozen yogurt.

It must have been an busy day because Malena and I are watching The Lion King and everyone else is napping :)


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Post Opp Day 6

Happy Saturday.

The camp out in the front room was a blast. We actually brought down the mattress from the spare room for Jess and I to sleep on and Malena's for her. Alli and B got the couches.

We watched a couple movies this morning and just hung out. After lunch Alli ventured outside and we took Malena to the library.  Barrett cooked a great dinner and we had smores for dessert.

Alli's doctors apointment on Wednesday has moved to 1:30 that day.

We have another 'camp out' planned tonight and I am looking forward to it.

Sleep well


Friday, February 15, 2013

Post Opp Day 5

Guess where I am..... Yep you guessed it.  I am sitting on the dream couch in Sammamish.

Jessica and I got here in time to have dinner with the parental team before they headed home for a couple days.

Alli felt a little better today. She did her laps around the kitchen and took a (well needed) shower :)
Barrett removed the bandages and that was the worst part of the day.

Malena already has all of our locations assigned in the living room for the 'camp out' tonight.

Enjoy your evening..... Will report again tomorrow.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Post Opp Day 4

Alli had a tougher day today with lots of nausea.  She is hopeful that tomorrow will be better.

Happy Valentines day.  I hope everyone got to spend it with someone they care about and had a few laughs.

I will be heading to Sammamish tomorrow afternoon and plan to be sitting on the dream couch when I write Fridays update :)


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Post Opp Day 3

Helllo Peeps,

The news from Sammamish today:

Poached eggs on toast for breakfast.

Slow walks around the kitchen for exercise to ward off the possible onset of pneumonia.

Fun Mail

Malena went to her last day at the old day care and is now full time at the new one.  (Yippee)

Allison feeling lots better (also Yippee)

Family time

A few good laughs

Allison wanted to let you all know the biopsy results come in on Wednesday the 20th at 12:30.  So please keep the good thoughts going. And remember anywhere she goes you go.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Post Opp Day 2

Well you knew she wouldn't let me have control for too long :)

I got this text from my incredable sister a few minutes before 5:00 pm.  I could paraphrase but I thought you all would enjoy her words.

'On my way home. Please do blog. Pain/nausea while in hospital with chest tube  was nothing short of pure and total hell. Very sore and exhausted. Happy to be going home. Tell all thanks for good thoughts. Anywhere I go they go. Xo.'

Will update you again tomorrow...... Or she might :)


Monday, February 11, 2013

Post Opp Day 1

Alli stayed in recovery for several hours after the surgery as they were trying to get control of the pain.  She finally got to go up to her room sometime after 4:00 pm.  I have been told she is still in allot of pain and hopefully that will subside through out the evening.

I know she would like to thank all of you for keeping her in your thought today.  We the family also thank you for that.

I will send out a update tomorrow. Fingers crossed that she gets to go home.

Nerd (aka Denise)

Holding My Breath

This morning I was definitely holding my breath but didn't realize it until the text came thru from our mom and I finally took a deep breath.

This is what it said: the best possible news, shes in recovery,  dr. said all surrounding tissue looked good. should go home tomorrow. prayers answered. james best birthday ever!

Wanted to let you all know as soon as possible and I will update as soon as I have more information.


Sunday, February 10, 2013


our weekend was a good one.

it was full of fun things....campouts + s'mores + sleeping in + cartoon watching + valentine's day shopping + shared notes about things we loved (see pic above) valentine's crafts + fun mail preparation + celebrating my dad's birthday + party decorating + cookie making + cookie eating + ice cream eating + playing veterinary clinic for hours (and hours) + dance party at night + papa and malena dance party in the morning to beyonce (priceless) + finding a new addition to our home, an adorable stuffed dog (who is named carmel) that malena could not live without + tons of laughter + the fun list could go and on and on. we crammed a lot of into this weekend.

my dad's birthday is monday, so for obvious reasons, we celebrated a little bit early this weekend. i love my dad, i think that he is the best. he will turn 68 this year. he taught me to ride a bike. to fly a kite. he played with me at the park for endless hours when i was a kid feeding ducks and watching me go down the slide (over and over again). he has taught me a million and one things that i carry through my daily life. not the least of which is how to set a good example and be kind and generous to friends and family. he has been so proud of all of my accomplishments. the big and the small. he has been a cheerleader when things haven't gone my way. he is a great grandfather to all his grandkids. he has been there every step along the way with me. he was at my first surgery, he will be at my second. he drove me to treatments. he sat with me in the room while the interferon dripped into my arm through the iv. he took me anywhere i wanted to go when i just wanted to get the hell out of the house for a while when i felt like hell during treatments. throughout the last two years, he has done everything possible to help. mowed the lawn. ran errands (and they have been endless). dropped off and picked up my drycleaning. waited in line at the post office to mail packages for me (he will do that again this week). went to the grocery store (sometimes more than once in the same day). washed our cars. filled them up with gas. made numerous costco runs. got the oil changed in the car. took my car to have the tires rotated. made a million trips to my mailbox for me. paced our sidewalk outside waiting for the phone to ring with results. he has done it all, and he has done it all without ever thinking twice. that is my dad. he is the reason that february 11th is an important day in my life.

on this february 11th, i will go into surgery around 10am. i still have a cold, but no fever, so hopefully we get the green light tomorrow. depending on how surgery goes, i will be in the operating room between 1 and 5 hours. if all goes well, i will be home on tuesday. if surgery is more intense, i will in the hospital for a few days. my sister has graciously decided to provide blog updates on my progress until i am feeling well enough to do it myself. thanks in advance nerd - you rock.

tonight malena fell asleep on me around 8, i think that all of the fun this weekend tired her out. i can relate. she will go to bed tonight with no idea about what will happen tomorrow. she is looking forward to a day with her mema jo. she fell asleep before we could tell her about mommy seeing a doctor tomorrow. she won't know about the word surgery, or the word hospital. she won't have any reason to be scared, and she won't know the reasons why all of this is needed. she will just know that mom is a little bit slower and will need some rest. she will know that she needs to be a helper for mommy. she will know that she will need to give mommy hugs when she is sitting down because mommy won't be able to lift her up. man, i am really going to miss picking her up to get those big hugs for awhile.

but she is worth it all.

thanks for all of the good thoughts and prayers, i will take them with me tomorrow into surgery and through the recovery that follows. we will find out in the next day or two when we get the results, which likely will not be until some time later next week.

anywhere i go you go. xo.

Friday, February 8, 2013

hello weekend

the weekend is finally here. i don't know about you, but i kind of feel like it took forever to get here.

this cold is hanging on, but i am feeling a little bit better. i think that i have kicked the fever which was the biggest concern. hopefully the meds keep working and i am feeling even better tomorrow when i wake up. a girl can hope;)

i will check-in for surgery monday morning at 7:45am. i would expect surgery will kick off around 10am based on what they told us on thursday.

our weekend is including to include taking meds and drinking orange juice, packing bags for the hospital, taking showers with special soap, following all of the rules for what i can and can't do prior to surgery.

but more importantly, it is going to include:
friday night s'mores and campout + pizza party for dinner + sleeping in + birthday party for my dad with his favorite nachos + cookies and chocolate ice cream + singing happy birthday + laughter + opening presents + blowing out candles and making wishes + a trip to the library + making valentines + getting some fun mail ready to send (my dad is going to be my mail elf next week) + a little bit of catching up on life.

have a great weekend peeps, enjoy it. xo

Thursday, February 7, 2013

kleenex, meds, and orange juice

yep, i am sick as a dog.

fever. chills. congestion. you name it, i have it.

so during these couple of days when i have exactly about one million and one things to do before i go into surgery, kicking this cold has moved to the top of the list.

the irony of my life right now...trying my best to kick a cold so that i can go into surgery.

these better be damn good results because i feel like the cancer fates are really putting me through the ringer this time.

happy friday peeps. xo

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

get out damn spot!

the surgeon does think that he can remove the nodule - whew. he is pretty sure that he can remove it with a minimally (although it doesn't sound so minimal to me) invasive surgery, where essentially i have three incisions made along my right side and they use their gizmos to work their magic. if that is not going to be successful, he will need to do larger incisions to work his magic. i support whatever option gets the nodule out. the decision will be made during surgery, so it will be a little surprise for me when i wake up. awesome. i am hoping for minimally invasive obviously as the recovery time is about 3-4 weeks, the other option is about 4-6 weeks. it will be what it will be, and i will take it as it comes. let's just get the damn thing out.

surgery will be on monday, the time is tbd - they will call me on friday afternoon and let me know. i will be in the hospital overnight if all goes as planned with the surgery and they can remove my chest tube (doesn't that sound super great? i know, i thought so too when i got to hear all about it, the pain it will cause me, and seeing pictures) the following day. if the surgery is more invasive, i will be in the hospital for a couple of days.

i am hoping for an early surgery time because i have to fast (i can't even drink water) after midnight on sunday so i will be a hungry munchkin come monday morning. i also get to take a shower with super special germ lotion on sunday night and monday morning - all of these  things are as fabulous as they sound. you know that when they say that you can't put the lotion into contact with your face or your hair that it is serious business.

it was a long day today. we were at the surgery center for over 5 hours to meet the surgeon, go through the do's and don'ts with the nurse, get my clearance for anesthestia, blood draw - all kinds of fun that i am sure you are super jealous of. right? i know, not so much.

on top of all of this, i have a really wicked cold coming on with an absolute vengeance and so i am downing oj and tylenol severe cold and allergy like no one's business. pretty sure that now is not a great time for me to be sick. barrett has the exact same problem - we are quite the duo four days away from surgery. we both look like rudolph, yep - again, i know you are wishing you were me.

trust me, life isn't always this glamarous around here;)

hope your wednesday was good, and your thursday is even better. xo

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

let's do this

as my friend kerry always says, "let's do this!"

tomorrow (or today for most of you by the time that you read this) i will be meeting with the surgeon at 10:30am. i am really hoping that he says that he can get to the nodule and we can do the surgery, we need him to confirm that tomorrow even though my oncologist thought that surgery is possible. we shall see. if surgery is a go, we will also schedule it and i will do the pre-op review tomorrow. so then i will be ready to go and will just need to show up the morning of surgery. i will report back tomorrow with an update.

in other news.....
+++ yesterday i was reading kelly rae robert's latest post on what has caught her delight, and when i started to read the post i realized that in one of the entries she was talking about yours truly!! how cool is that? check it out here. it made my day.
+++ i pretty much love every blog by kelle hampton, especially loved this one and this one
+++ here is a post about some of the latest custom artwork that jenny bartoy has done, included in the post is one of the latest custom pieces that she did for me for a special friend (you know who you are, xo)
+++ saw this post about scatter sunshine and thought that anything that is about making others happy sounds good to me
+++ love this list of 40 lessons from 40 years

happy wednesday peeps, we are halfway to the weekend. i think that we can make it...perhaps just barely, but i think that we can.

Monday, February 4, 2013


i am definitely surrounded by abundant kindness, that much i know for sure.

+++ i got another package of fun mail from crystal's high school kids last week. they totally rock.

here are just a few excerpts:
"hey alli, notice i said "hey", not dear, this is because i feel as though we are now at a much less formal level than before. i hope you are feeling well. heard you had a little party night after the news? good for you! i am glad it was good news and hope for more soon! i knew you were a fighter. i have high hopes for you, i feel like you will be great soon."

"the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. these persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. beautiful people do not just happen."
(elizabeth kubler ross)

"i don't really know you, but i know a lot about what you are going through. if anything, your fight has showed me that there are harder things in life, and like you, i shouldn't give up and should keep fighting. i have faith that you will can beat this, because mrs. jilbert has told us how strong you really are, and if that is so, cancer should just run and hide. i'll pray for you and hope you will beat this alli."

+++ my friend jen (or fun jen as i call her) has started a mail campaign for me from california, which i knew nothing about until i got a card and a letter from california last week (hi jonas, hi alie;)). a great surprise. apparently, i will be getting more fun mail from cali for quite a while. love that cali juju, it can only bring good things. i just know it.

+++ my friend marcie (or marcie-roo as i call her) started a fun mail campaign for me at her school. her and crystal had the same idea and didn't even know it:) so i just got a package of great cards from miss stadnik's 5th grade class. so cute.

here are just a few excerpts:

"hope you will get better. i am so sorry for your cancer. i do not like the sound of stage 4. we all wish you to get better. why did the doctor cross the road? to save miss paradis's friend."

"you can kick cancer's bum;)"

"hope you get better. smiles can make you feel great. hope you have a really good day."

+++ today was a good day (after the work part). i got to hang with some of my favorite ladies for pedis and catching up on girl time with a great dinner afterwards for our monthly monday mystery club (excellent planning ellie, you rocked it!). i got to come home and lay with malena and talk about our days before she went to sleep (how many meetings did you have today mom? what were your meetings about? what color are your toes painted? can i see? did you know that i saw kittens today? what did you eat for dinner with your friends?). i had fun mail in my mailbox thanks to marcie, alie in california (love the silly putty - malena and i will put that to good use), and elisa;). it is always nice to have some fun mail in your mailbox when you also have medical bills in it, two bills totaling $23,000 in the last two days for my scans. we are so lucky we have insurance so we pay a portion of those bills. i often think about those families that don't have insurance or the ability to pay their bills, and how one round of scans alone can have such high costs they can never financially recover. another part of the realities of cancer that i absolutely hate.

happy tuesday everyone, enjoy it. xo

+++ hi bp, keep your chin up:) xo

Sunday, February 3, 2013

limbo land

i am not a big fan of not knowing what is going to come next. therefore, i am not a big fan of cancer because it seems like you never know what is going to come next. i feel like i am living in limbo land again. i hate it here.

i don't know that the surgeon will be confident that he can do the surgery and we can get the nodule out.

i don't know when surgery will be.

i don't know if i will need to stay in the hospital.

i don't know if i will have a long recovery time.

i don't know what the results will be.

i don't know if my stage III status will change to a stage IV prognosis.

i don't know what i will do if my status does change, the thought is so unbearable i can barely breathe when i think about it.
i don't know if barrett and i will be able to go on the vacation in two weeks that we have had planned since last fall.

i don't know what i will tell malena about my surgery and recovery.

i don't know if i have to stay in the hospital if i should have her come and see me.

i don't know how long i will need to be out of work, which makes planning to be out hard to do.

i don't know how to get the scary thoughts out of my head.

i don't know how much time i will want to take off from work to go through surgery, recovery, results, and give myself time after that to take it all in.

i don't know if i will ever get a good nights sleep again. i can barely remember what it feels like to sleep through the night. i don't have nightmares (the dreamcatcher is still working marcie-roo) but my mind is churning a million thoughts that keep me awake, and when i do sleep i have crazy dreams which wake me up.

i don't know from one minute to the next whether i will break out into tears or be able to keep my shit together when someone simply asks "how are you doing?" or tells me that they are thinking of me.

i don't know where i will be next sunday night at 9:43pm - one week from the time i am writing this post.

but, i do know some things.

i know that i am so very loved.

i know that i am incredibly grateful for all of the good vibes and support that are coming my way.

i know that i have the best friends and family a girl could ask for -- and even people that i have never met before -- supporting me from far and wide.

i know that i am a fighter.

i know that i will keep fighting no matter how these next couple of weeks go.

i know that i want more than anything i have ever wanted before for that nodule to be benign.

i know that it is ok to feel totally overwhelmed, exhausted, and like i could cry at any second.

i know that it is ok to cry. a lot.

i know that in the midst of all that i don't know, my life goes on and every moment is one i want to embrace.

i know that it is ok that i can't myself to read melanoma blogs too much lately.

i know that i just need to do what feels right in the moment. if ordering some new stamps i am drooling over makes me really upset because i can't get past the thought that i may not have time to really use them very much if those results aren't benign, i should stop beating myself up about it and know that i will order them when and if it feels right to me.

i know that i love hearing laughter surround me.

i know that i enjoy moments when i realize that i haven't thought about cancer for a few minutes - or maybe even a whole hour of the day if i am lucky.

i know that i will keep breathing. in and out.
i know that i am tougher than cancer.

i know that i want to see my little girl grow up.

i know that i want her to always have her mom around (even in those teen years when she will likely not want me around as much).

i know that i want to grow old with my husband.

i know that i want a million more moments with family and friends.

i know that i can do this.

i know that anywhere i go you go.


Friday, February 1, 2013


my appointment with the surgeon is on wednesday, that appointment will include all of the pre-op details. surgery will be scheduled anytime after that. we shall see. i have no idea on what surgery will mean --- inpatient vs. outpatient, recovery time, etc., so all of that remains to be seen.

i hope that you have a great weekend.

ours is going to include:
++++ quick visit from some of my favorite peeps in the world (josh and jill) while they have a one night layover on their way to maui (jealous, seriously jealous. doreen - my mouth is watering for that awesome sushi. i tried to fit in josh's suitcase.) laughing that the best (and by best i mean most) light to take a picture was in their hotel room shower. classic josh/alli shot.
+++ friday/saturday night s'more
+++ friday/saturday night campout by the fireplace
+++ birthday party for malena's new friend at pre-school
+++ girls night (love those) with an art project
+++ maybe a little football and some commercials on sunday
+++ valentine's crafts
+++ catching up on my pictures from the last couple of weeks
+++ sleeping in (can't wait)
+++ a good run
+++ finishing "the happier home" so i can start "carry on, warrior"
thanks for all of the ongoing encouragement and good vibes.

you all rock. xo