Thursday, October 31, 2013

on the other side + keep up the good thoughts for patty and burton

damn it feels good to be on the other side of the scans.

the results of my scans were that my lungs were clear, and the lymph nodes that we are watching in my chest changed dimensions again but still not to dimensions that cause concern. lymph nodes in your chest area can change size and so the fact that they have changed in itself does not cause concern. as long as they don't change to a size considered abnormal, which would trigger us to have discussions regarding treatment, they can change any which way they want from my perspective.

one new area to watch is my left ovary (kind of can't believe i am writing about my ovary here but you all know the big details so you might as well know this one too in case it becomes relevant) which appeared thickened and a little large and got called out in the scan. if melanoma comes back (which it won't), it wouldn't likely come back in my ovary - lungs would most likely be the location. so the ovary may be an indication that there is another problem (like a secondary cancer for me coming on like ovarian cancer) but due to the size, we aren't going to worry at this time. if it is larger when i go in for scans in january, then we will do an ultrasound and do follows up to determine what is going on.

all of my bloodwork is looking good, and the marker that indicates tumor growth actually went down from my last scans. i like the direction it is heading, down is good, up is bad.

we took this selfie right after we walked out of the doctor's appointment, the joy was palpable.

thank you all again for all of the support, we all really appreciate it immensely. there had been a lot of tears leading up and including yesterday morning, and so it felt so good to finally cry some tears full of joy.

when we went to lunch yesterday to celebrate, i picked out my fortune cookie. my next scans will be in three months, probably to the day. so when i opened up the fortune, it just seemed like it was meant for me and left me hopeful for the scans in january.

as i always do, i quietly thank the fates for the good results, and then i move on with living my life. i don't throw parties or have parades or light up fireworks in the sky. i quietly say my thanks because i always know that at the same time i am getting good results someone somewhere is getting bad results, and in that moment, i am one of the lucky ones (and i never forget that). while i was getting my news yesterday, patty's family was getting the news that patty's tumor has grown and due to some complications she will be moving to a skilled nursing facility for a couple of weeks. the goal is to get her stabilized and blood counts in good shape so they can begin another round of chemo. so please keep all of your good mojo, prayers, and vibes going to my friend kerry and her entire family as they move through these next couple of weeks.

also, please keep your candles lit and love going for baby burton and his mom and dad. baby burton is still here with his mom and dad, surrounded by love and family. thank you for continuing to send them love as the move further into his final days.

today is my mom's birthday. i have a lot of fun planned for the day, and then tonight we will celebrate with a birthday party while we also enjoy trick or treating and watching all of the kids come to our door. a fun day for sure. so glad that we can all enjoy the day and be together.

my plan for yesterday also came true with a night of pumpkin carving. malena wanted to have a horse and rider on her pumpkin, which she drew herself (she never ceases to amaze me) and barrett carved it out for her. very fun. my dad helped me with mine and it was just like when i was a kid and we did them together. loved that.

i hope that you all have a great halloween and get way more treats than tricks. xoxo

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

celebration time!!!!!!

the scans were clear!!!!! i will write more tonight --- thank you so much for all of the love and support;) we are overjoyed and so very thankful for everyone with us on this journey.

we are off to celebrate!!!

anywhere i go, you go.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

from blue skies to contrast

this morning i was dragging a bit as i was recovering from last night, always takes me a while to shake off a bad run in with gluten. so i was a little slow on the go for the first couple hours of the day. but i was finally able to shake it off and get outside for a run.

damn, it was a great day for a run. blue sky. sunshine. leaves everywhere. could not have been a better day for a run. i decided getting a good run in right before i headed to my scans would be a last little f*&% you to cancer. let's hope it worked. (as a sidenote: after getting out for the run and seeing the blue sky and breathing in the fresh air, i could not have hated those stupid fake ceiling tiles in the scan room more that i did today. if i had a brick with me, i just might have tried to shatter them. i think that all  of the patients would have thanked me.)

on the way to the scans (and at the scans) i hung out on to my friend mojo and my talismens to remind me to be brave and that everything will be okay.

scans were the usual routine.

filled out my paperwork as i always do, i told ellie that atleast on these forms they don't ask you to check a box to let them know whether or not you have cancer. so that makes it easier than most spas that i go to;)

my veins were playing hide and seek with the nurse today so bloodwork and getting the iv in my arm took longer than usual. ugh. so i got to taste saline more than one time, a little extra scan bonus for me. not. but we finally got the iv in and i got to go back to the lobby to hang out with barrett and ellie and drink the contrast (which sucked as much as usual by the way).

as usual, the f*ck cancer shirt was a big hit with patients, nurses, and techs. thinking that i might need to buy one for everyone who works or is a patient there -- i for one would love it to see everyone wearing one as i walked around there.

as always, ellie rocked it out on the snacks. since i can't eat for hours before the scan, i go into the scans on an empty stomach and then have to drink the contrast which makes for an unfortunate combination. we had awesome gluten free goodies. if you ever need someone to hook you up with amazing snacks, ellie is your girl. hands down.

after scans, per usual, i crashed hard. that contrast messed with me today like it always does. i was down for the count for a couple of hours. but then i kicked my own you-know-what and rallied. we had halloween cookies to make and "the voice" to watch. so, it was go time, no more time to be in bed feeling like hell. so we made our annual ghost cookies, thank you nutter butters-mini chocolate chips-white frosting, you come through for us every year. if you want to see what a cookie with harry style's face from one direction looks like check out the bottom right cookie (malena's request for her dad and he totally pulled through -- don't you think that it looks just like harry? malena thinks so too;))

as i write this it is 10:31pm  and i am wondering what i will do for the next twelve hours until we get results. pretty sure that it won't include a lot of sleep.

ok peeps, here we go -- scan results day, whether we like it or not.

hopefully we like it.

anywhere i go, you go. xoxo

Monday, October 28, 2013

damn, here we go again

"it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."
(mark twain)
oh, the irony.
had a great day for my one day this week that was totally under my control. until we got to dinner. somehow got gluten in my dinner and got sick. it hit like a semi-truck while malena and ran into target right after we finished dinner. thank goodness barrett was there so that he could come in and take her when i got so sick i could barely walk. so i have been down for the count all night. on the couch. too sick to move. yep, so much for a day under my total control. sometimes the fates really piss me off.
scan day. here we go. i check in at 1:30 for blood draw. i start drinking contrast at 1:45, scans are at 2:45. in addition to my chest area to check my lymph nodes and organs, they are going scan the top half of my legs. my upper right leg has been bothering for me a while. i don't feel any lumps, but it just feels off. so we are going to scan that as well. i will get out of scans, sit and wait for 30 minutes to make sure that i don't get sick (eat awesome snacks that ellie always brings) and then head home just as i start to head downhill. the usual drill. i will be packing my bag tomorrow with mojo (my friend hannah knitted my own little mojo to take with me - i heart him), my cinnamon bears, my pocket talismans, all of my go to scan day items. superstitious? you bet. i like to keep the routines that i feel bring me good luck.
thanks for all of your good mojo, prayers, and vibes - i really appreciate them and i carry  them with me.
i want to ask for you to please send your good prayers, vibes, and mojo to patty who is in the hospital due to some complications from her tumor. so please send your good energy out on the winds to patty and her family, i know they really appreciate it.
i also want to share the latest update on chase:

"Do you see what I see....... :)

Written 10 hours ago
-(Picture of Ava helping out at therapy)

Hi, we're back :) It has been fairly routine around the Lykken household, so there hasn't too much newsworthy to share. Chaser is recovering well from his surgery a couple weeks ago- and the botox injections. The verdict is still out on effectiveness of the botox to his salivary glands- It seems to have slowed it down a little, but not the hocus-pocus we were hoping for. The Nissen procedure on the other hand, has been a complete game changer! He has had very minimal throwing up, and the couple of times he has can either be attributed to overfeeding, or his "shake-n-bake" treatment. His feedings are still being stretched out over an hour and half, and will continue to do so until his checkup on Nov. 18th. We have started feeding him Compleate formula during the day- which is an all natural purified food mix, and still using Ellecare Jr. to get his calories during the night. He seems to be tolerating it well. We have weened him completely off pain meds, and today is his forth day with no valium. The last 3 nights he has had some struggling moments of crying and moaning- last night, lasting the entire evening. We are not sure what is causing these episodes, but the Drs at Mayo have suggested we try an as needed valium dose. As much as we want him off of this to give him the best shot at therapy and stimuli, we don't want our little dude in pain, so as soon as we get home from our drive back from Mayo, we will give him some to see if that helps.

At 7am this morning we ventured down to Rochester for an eye exam appointment. The Dr. shined some bright lights in his eyes, held up some lenses, and put a transformer like mask on to look into his eyes. -They we looking not only at his reactions to the light and other stimuli, but also at the cosmetics of his outer and inner eyes. After conversing together, they came in to give us their conclusions. As we had expected, they can not tell us if, what, or how much Chase can see. But here is the good news- other than a little difference between the eyes- that does show some damage, they look normal cosmetically! Meaning, that as his brain continues to heal, so may his vision! He did react to some of the stimuli, maybe not as much as we would have liked, but he did react! The overall conclusion is that time will tell. As with all of Chasers healing, its out of our hands, and in that of the Big Guy! On our drive down this morning, Lisa and I we preparing for our visit to St. Marys religion class in Bird Island later this week, where we and Chase are going to meet some of the High School students and discuss his journey. As we recapped the last 7 months, we may not know for sure what Chaser can see, but it became crystal clear to both of us how fortune and we have been. Not only to have Chase here with us, but all of the support and blessings we have received along the way. Thank you all for your support. Have a great week. God is Good!"

i hope that you all have a great tuesday, make the most of it - do something on this day just because you can. because the day is yours to make the most of however you choose to. thank your lucky stars for that and enjoy it.

anywhere i go, you go. xoxo


Sunday, October 27, 2013

around and around we go

here it is again.

scan week.

i decided a while ago that i was going to take this week off of work. i have felt for a while like i just can't quite catch my breath, and scan weeks do not lend themselves to catching my breath by any means, so i knew this week i would feel like i was gasping for air. i decided i would need to breath this week more than any other time. so i am giving myself time to just be in this week and focus on myself and my family, and not anything else. it takes all i have to get through scan weeks. taking this time off was hands down the right decision.

so if i could map this week out as i would want it to go, here is how i would roll through the next seven days:

monday (which is the only day this week that feels like it remains under my control): sleep in, take kiddo to school, walk/run, run some errands, lunch with one of my favorites, 90 minutes of massage (think these tense muscles could use it), gymnastics, dinner at chicken robin per our usual monday night tradition, and then family time watching "the voice "(one of malena's favorite shows because there is music).

tuesday: sleep in (you know i am not sleeping well at night), walk/run, and quiet time at home. pick up ellie, head to scans, make it through scans, feel like hell, rebound just enough to hang out with malena, make ghost cookies, and then hit the bed as soon as i can.

wednesday: get good results at 9:30am. celebrate all day. carve pumpkins. decorate for my mom's bday on thursday.

thursday: celebrate my mom's birthday. surprise malena with fun halloween breakfast placemat, bowl, and cup with her favorite chocolate donuts for breakfast. kick it with my mom and my dad all day. birthday party at night. trick or treating. my candy quotient has gone way down this year since i don't eat candy anymore -- hot tamales, i do really miss you and i am so sorry that we had to break up, it wasn't you, it was me. nope, we can't even be friends. i know that you will make a lot people happy this year, i wish i was one of them.

friday: walk/run, spend all day working on our picture albums. campout. popcorn, and likely the one direction movie that seems to make it on to our tv at least once each weekend.

saturday: walk/run, holiday bazaar to knock out some christmas shopping, bday party for our little bestie, swim lessons, campout, popcorn, and maybe, just maybe, something other than the one direction movie.

sunday: relax before going back to the grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrind.

so if i have it my way, that is how this week will go down.

it can't go down any other way. it just can't.

i have halloween, my mom's birthday, malena's birthday, barrett's birthday, thanksgiving, all of our holiday traditions, family birthdays, my niece's college graduation, christmas, new years....all of those are waiting for me on the other side of these scans. it is not an option for me to carry melanoma through those events anymore than i already do mentally, i certainly do not want to carry it with my physically. i don't ever want to carry it with me physically again. never. ever. ever.

so i just keep hoping, and hoping, and then hoping some more.

this is my third round of scans since my stage iv diagnosis.

third time will be a charm.

it just has to be.

i also ask that you take a moment of your monday to light a candle, send some prayers and love, put your good energy out on the winds, however you send your positive vibes into the world.... for burton and his parents in these final days.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

one for today

"know that you can write, sculpt, paint, teach, plan, clean, create, do, care, watch, research, and more in the midst of spaghetti flying, dogs barking, headaches, upset tummies, alluring people or activities, darling children, good elders, mates, friends, having no time to pick up the house, and facing big challenges,
and walking through hell."
(clarissa pinkola estes)
yes, you can.
yes, i do.
all, in the midst of walking through hell.

Monday, October 21, 2013

looking down the lane


when we were at the pumpkin patch yesterday, we walked past a part of the farm where there were no activities. i looked down the lane and just had this feeling that i needed to stop in that moment. to take this picture. right in that spot.

last night, i thought about including the picture in my post. but there was this little voice that told me that i would need the picture later in the week for another post, but i didn't know quite what it would be. but i knew that it would become obvious.

today i got an update on baby burton who i wrote about last week. during this time of transition, his parents asked for people to choose one of many ways to honor burton. light a candle and send them peaceful energy. hug someone a little longer and think or say "this is for burton". squeeze your kids extra tight and be present with them. i hope that you will do one of these things. i know that 99.9% of you don't know this family or this little baby boy, but i don't think that you need to.

i think that you know the world is made better by showing a little love and good energy, even to those that you don't know. all you really need to know is that there is a little family facing the unimaginable.

i also want to include a poem that they shared today.

when i read it, i knew that the poem and my picture were meant to share this space.

for this post.

for burton.
In Blackwater Woods
By Mary Oliver
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


"There’s always something a bit sweeter about yesterday
and a little more hopeful about tomorrow.
It’s the sitting in today and liking it just as it is that is the hardest.
Not wishing for yesterday or next week but hanging out right here, in the middle of now, letting your eyes focus until they blur and the day is crystal clear."
this weekend was a great one. my eyes were focused and the days were clear.
especially on how much i love these two and the adventures we create together.

i hope that your weekend was good too.
another week begins.
deep, deep breaths on my end.
the countdown is getting so close.
9 days until scans.
tick tock. tick tock.
 i will make the most of every minute.
you should too. we always should.
ps) emily was the winner of the card giveaway --
em, those cards will be making their way to you soon my dear;) xo

Thursday, October 17, 2013

friday, you rock + a card giveaway

i got out for a walk and run tonight and it was great.
amazing how much better i feel after getting fresh air.
love, love, love it.

 a couple of things that i have seen recently that i love:
+++ awesome fun fall crafts for kids
+++ hello caramel apples
+++ i loved this post and the words "I love that our family gets to write our own book"
+++ today i will make magic happen
+++ liz's pocket talismans, i now have some that i will hold in my hands while i get my scan results
+++ this print and this print are going to be part of the bookshelf reorg i am working on
+++ this overcomer bracelet, you know that i ordered myself one of these;)

i got some time to craft it out tonight. while doing that, i decided that it was time for a little card giveaway.

if you would like a shot to win five of my cards using this stamp, all you need to do is leave a comment on the blog by midnight on friday. if you are reading this via email, go to the blog and go to the end of this post. click on the pencil icon and type in your comment, and click on "comment as" and leave a comment anonymously (if you don't recognize any of the other options) but leave me your name in the comment so that i know who the comment is from;) the winner will get five of my homemade cards, along with stamped envelopes. good luck peeps.

i hope that you all have a great weekend. ours is going to include: a baby shower to celebrate my dear friend kerry's baby boy, swim lessons, campouts, popcorn, movie date (hello tom hanks, i am looking forward to seeing you, not the pirates so much), family dinner, decorating for fall, addressing malena's birthday party invitations (fun!), and sleep and fun and relaxation.

make the most of it, i hope that the pieces stay together. xoxo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

clink clink clink

today is one of those days when i can hear the pieces of my heart kicking around at the bottom of my feet as i walk.

i don't understand why unfair things continue to happen to people that i care about.

it happens over and over and over again, a vicious cycle that seems to know no end.

so on days like this, when i curse the fates for the senseless pain that they seem to cause, i remember that the only way to combat the pain is to show up in the world and do good, in whatever ways you can.

so on days like this, when i curse the fates for the senseless pain that they seem to cause, i  remind myself of all of the good things in my life -- and in the lives of those that i care about -- and that i should thank my lucky stars one million times over every single day for all of the joy i have in my life.

so on days like this, when i curse the fates for the senseless pain that they seem to cause, i send extra love and good vibes into the winds hoping they land on the doorsteps of those that really need them.

so on days like this, when i curse the fates for the senseless pain that they seem to cause, i snuggle a little bit closer to malena as she drifts off to sleep saying my thanks to the fates for giving me one more night with her.

so on days like this, when i curse the fates for the senseless pain that they seem to cause, i ask you to send your love to little baby burton, who needs it more than you can imagine.

so on days like this, when i curse the fates for the senseless pain that they seem to cause, i ask you to send your love to his mom and dad, who need it more than you can imagine as they now know they have limited time to share with him.

so on days like this, i hear the clink, clink, clink and i carry those pieces with me.

so on days like this, i remind myself that hearing those pieces is a reminder that really living in the good moments and enjoying every damn second of them is so important.

you never know when the pieces will come apart, when you will hear them start to softly clink, clink, clink as you walk.

so you hold those pieces together tight for as long as you can, you do the same for your loved ones, and you say your thanks for any day you have when they are not falling apart.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

oh fall, i am falling for you

i decided to get some more fresh air today. i put on my running shoes, i have missed them. i am pretty sure that they have missed me as well. so we did some bonding and tore it up around the neighborhood for a while. in between the running, i took some time to just walk and breath and take in the colors. i think that i am in love with fall. yep, pretty sure it is official.

our neighbors dressed up a hydrant like a minion from despicable me.
that means they rock in my book.
i think i might hug them next time i see them.
this little guy makes me smile every day.

ps) if you have sent me an email and not heard from me, that is because our email has a bug so i can see the emails but i can rarely respond -- hopefully the bug leaves soon so i can regain my sanity.
pss) to my brother - yes, it is past 10pm but i have two good reasons. 1) your niece picked me to lay next to her while she feel asleep so my blog time got pushed way out, and 2) i don't like going to bed anymore. i am sure you understand. xo

Monday, October 14, 2013

daylight can't come soon enough

the nightmares are in full effect. last night was a long night of back to back nightmares which left me exhausted, run down, and a little bit of a mess. not a great way to start a week, hoping that tonight might be a little bit better - you would think that those nightmares would at some point be kind enough to cut me a break. we shall see, i am not holding my breath -- the nightmares don't seem to have much of a heart, i guess if they did, they wouldn't be very good at doing their job.

if you know me well, you know that i don't half-ass anything that i do. if i am in, i am in 110% and i won't let myself to do anything less that that. as barrett tells me, i am my toughest critic by a long shot, and i think that he is right about that. one of the things that i have been really tough on myself about is the new diet routine. no sugar, green tea, only chicken and salmon and eggs for protein, all fruit, all veggie, no dairy, vitamins, exercise. on and on.

i am totally committed to the new diet and have been doing well at it. but, it is a lot to incorporate every single day. lemon water, green tea, juicing, green smoothies, vitamins, fuits, veggies, get all of them incorporated into any given day is tough. so i carry a lot of guilt from not living up to my own expectations.

the guilt comes from the diet feeling like it is my current treatment regime, the one thing that i can do to give myself a fighting chance against stage iv. so when i don't do it as well as i could (aka as well as i hold myself accountable for) i beat the hell out of myself mentally. the mental issues become even tougher when the scans are coming up because i flashback on the last three months and what i have done to give myself the best shot at good results.

but here is another truth. sometimes when i turn the juicer on, or crank the vitamix to make a smoothie, or choose to drink water or green tea instead of a glass of wine when out for dinner, i think about melanoma and how i am hoping that what i am about to eat/drink will make a difference. and sometimes (ok, many times), i resent the hell out of that. i resent that melanoma affects the basics of my life on a daily basis. and sometimes, it fuels the fire to kick melanoma's ass. and sometimes, it does neither because it is now just part of the routine around here. regardless of how i feel about it on any particular day, i do it - because i am fighter, and if that means that i am going to drink carrott juice with the hopes that it will make a difference, than that is what it means.

so what is the point in sharing all of this? for one, i hope that it helps me to take a break from beating the hell out of myself. reminding myself that in addition to being a cancer fighter, i am a wife, mom, sister, neice, cousin, aunt, friend, manager, the list goes on and on. it is ok that i can't do it all every single day, and that at day's end i need to know that i did my best. for two, i have always said that i write to help all of you understand the realities of what it is like to live with cancer as part of your life. cancer plays mind games (and damn it is good at playing those games), and those games can take you on one hell of a ride from time to time.

today i needed to dust out the nightmare cobwebs and cut myself some slack. so i went for a walk. i checked out the fall leaves and took in some fresh air.

i took the time to show up for myself and catch my breath. to remind myself of all that i have been through  - two surgeries, the worst pain imaginable, a year of feeling like hell when i was doing treatment, day to day mind games, losing my hair, scars all over my body, changing up my diet, and on and on it goes. and yet, i get up and get out of bed every single day and face the day and make the best of it. and yet, i have never quit or gave in.

and i don't plan to start now.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


the weekend was a blend of fun and not-so-fun reality. on the fun side, malena went to her first halloween party. she was so excited, she has been counting down the days since we got the invitation. we spent saturday morning getting our treats ready,we decorated cute bowls (thank you dollar bins at target, i heart you) with stickers, and then added goldfish, animal crackers, and a pirate eye patch as the divider. super fun and super easy, and the best part is that she had a blast getting them ready.

she was even more excited to finally get to wear her snow white costume, and she wore it all day long. we finally had to pry it off of her to go to swim lessons;)
after the party, we got to have even more fun decorating halloween cookies with our besties, and some of those cookies weigh about 5 pounds with the amount of candy corns (sasha -- good thing you weren't there;)), frosting, sprinkles, more candy corn, more get the idea.
my parents kept the dollhouse that my dad made for me when i was a little kid. i surprised malena today by bringing it out so that she could play with it. it was very fun to see her enjoying it as much as i did.
my  mom and i spent the bulk of today doing a bunch of projects around the house. around scan time, i always want everything around me to be organized. here is the reason why. if scans don't go my way, i don't want to worry about any projects around the house, and i don't want anyone else to either. that doesn't mean i am thinking negatively. that doesn't mean that i don't have hope. but it does mean that my actions reflect the realities of dealing with cancer. of how scared i get. of how i want everyone and everything to be taken care of. of how i need to be in constant motion because sitting still makes my mind wander to places that i don't want it to go. of how damn loudly i hear the clock ticking down to the results. of how damn angry i get that cancer is a part of my life. of how damn hard these days leading up to scans are for me. of how some days all i want to do is sleep in bed with a blanket over my head hoping that when i wake up all of the rough parts of my life that involve melanoma will just be a really bad dream. 
one of the parts of my life that involves melanoma that i am very thankful for is the friends that i have made that have also been affected by melanoma (though i wish that was not the common thread of why we became friends). one of them is mary who you sent good vibes to on friday. they worked! her chest xray came back clear -- yes!!! so excited about that good news, big - huge - gigantic relief. thanks for sending all of the good mojo;)
i also want to share the latest update on the lykkens:

"Skol Vikings

Written 2 hours ago
This weekend Ava got her turn in the spotlight. While Chaser stayed home and watched the Vikes on TV with Joanne- Lisa, Tanner and I went to the Mall of America Field to watch Ava show her moves along with some of her friends on the 40 yard line. Although the game was a complete bust, Im sure most parents would agree, the best part was watching our daughters dance alongside the Vikings Cheerleaders at half time! Those little jr. cheerleaders looked great in front of the 70k fans! Since the Vikings defense decided to give away the game, we snuck out after the 3rd quarter and made it back in time for Tanners hockey practice- and finished off the evening throwing around the football with Uncle Todd, Andrew and Tate- while Emily and Trish watched from the sidelines.
Chaser is doing really good. He had a pretty unevenful weekend. His breathing is still challenged by the buildup in his lungs and throat- hopefully we will start to see the results of his botox injections by the end of the week. His incisions are healing very nicely, with no sign of any infection- and no doubt he will be ready to hit the trike in the next few days! :)
There has definately been some challanging times for Lisa and I to keep it positive and focus on the bright side....but seems just when we start to fade down, someone or somethins pulls us right back! :) Like today, Lisa received a text from a good hockey friend with and recent quote from Jack Jablonski- (who has made a miraculous recovery himeself) -"you just got to look forward and know that you're going to rebound. You just gotta look forward and keep a smile on your face...If you really do believe. It will come true." - and after it, our friend wrote- "we believe Chase will be fully recovered, good inspiration from Jack" - We truly want to thank you all, not only for your interest in our son and his story, but for your unconditional, nonstop support! It really helps motivate us to keep going in the right direction. Thank you!!

God is Good! :)"

happy monday, here we go. xo

Thursday, October 10, 2013

pumpkins + mary

yesterday was such a beautiful day. we decided to take advantage of it and hit the pumpkin patch. it was definitely the right move because the rains and dark clouds came rolling in today in full force. hello pacific northwest chaotic weather. gorgeous one day, dark and gloomy the next. yep, fall is officially here.

she was the leader through the corn maze. as it has been the last couple of years, this annual event is a significant one for me. i will never get tired of looking for the perfect pumpkins, of doing the rubber ducky races, of walking aimlessly through the corn maze. one of my favorite things to do is follow her on paths and watch her decide which way she is going to go. i hope beyond hope that i have endless years to watch her decide which way she is going to go on the various paths she will walk down. through all of her twists and turns, i will always support and cheer her on, always close enough to help when she asks which way i think she should go or to hear her say "momma, momma, this way! this way! follow me!". i will always happily do so, there is no one else i would rather follow.

our trip marks another fall. one more fall. mine to have. mine to keep. mine to remember. mine to be so very thankful for.

i am also thankful for my friend mary, a fellow melanoma warrior in wisconsin. mary has a chest x-ray on friday for her check-up appointment and so we are keeping our fingers and toes crossed that the x-ray comes back clean and the black beast is nowhere to be seen. so please send your prayers, mojo, and good vibes to mary for clean results with nothing to worry about. thank you.

i hope that you all have a great weekend. ours is going to include: breakie with one of my favorite high school friends at my favorite breakfast place (double win for me) + not going into the office (if i could say that i wouldn't be working at all that would be even better right? right. i so wish that i could say that.) + two campout nights with popcorn and a project runway catch up session + getting treats ready for malena's classmates for her first halloween party at a friend's house (she is super excited, she has been counting the days all week) + girls time with our besties on saturday afternoon + swim lessons + a visit from mema joann and papa james + sleep + sleep + more sleep + football + putting out our fall decorations + more sleep.

take good care of yourselves peeps, make the most of it. xo
ps) kerry -- i cut the list down for you;) xo

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

m&b + be brave

"[a] genuine tattoo.... tells a story.  i like stories and tattoos, no matter how well done, and if they don't tell a story that involves you emotionally, then they're just there for decoration, then they're not a valid tattoo.  there has to be some emotional appeal or they're not, to my way of thinking, a real tattoo.  it tells people what you are and what you believe in,
so there's no mistakes."
(leo, tattooist, 1993, quoted in margo demello, Bodies of Inscription, 2000)

so this happened last night.

i had never planned on getting a tattoo, it was never on my bucket list. but after my last round of scans, i decided that i wanted one and i knew what i wanted the design to be. i wanted something visual to show that i always carry the two of them with me. i love it. it seems like it was always meant to be on my wrist. it seems like it just took longer than it should have to get there.

my friend christina came with me when i booked the appointment and she rallied back to see it all go down and was the official photographer. i tried my best to convince her and barrett to get one too, but as you can probably guess, they didn't take me up on that offer.

my last picture of my wrist without a tattoo.
getting my wrist prepped for action.
getting ready for the needles to do their thing.
my sister had planned to get a tattoo with me, but when my appointment had to be scheduled on a tuesday night (she lives 5 hours away) that plan didn't work out. but after my tattoo was done, barrett sent her a picture of mine, and she surprised the hell out of me by sending this one back.

she got a tattoo yesterday right before the hour that i got mine. how awesome is that? i know,  pretty awesome. hers is in the same spot as mine. when she posted hers, she said "my new 'be brave' tattoo. if my sister can be brave then i can too. #mysisteristhebest" i could not agree more. my sister is the best. amazing that she has my motto on her wrist. love it.

i always carry them with me.

i have always known that.

now others can as well.


Monday, October 7, 2013

one for today

"those who love you are not fooled by mistakes
you have made or dark images you hold about yourself.
they remember your beauty when you feel ugly;
your wholeness when you are broken;
your innocence when you feel guilty;
and your purpose when you are confused."
(alan cohen)
enjoy your tuesdays peeps. xoxo

Sunday, October 6, 2013

you will never look at pink the same again

as you know from reading my blog, i think stories are so important. i really believe that sharing the perspectives of those who lives are intwined with cancer can give valuable insight into what it feels like to share your life with cancer. the big and small ways that it can take hold, and make even the simplest tasks sometimes unbearable. liking walking down the halloween aisle at target with your daughter and just about losing it with tears because you are so incredibly anxious about what your life will look like on halloween, one day after you get scan results. like taking in the summer yard decorations with your husband and just about losing it with tears because you wonder if you will be here to bring the decorations back out with him next summer. both of which happened to me today in the space of about four hours. but these days are tough, so it is to be expected as each second of this month takes me closer to those results.

i met my friend jenny at the retreat i went to in june. after i shared a bit of my story (surprised she could even understand me because i am pretty sure that i was blubbering crocodile tears), she came up to me to share that we had something in common. cancer. she shared some of her story with breast cancer and we talked about many of the things that we unfortunately have in common. but we also talked about many of things that we fortunately have in common - great husbands and great kids.

so i want to share jenny's latest blog with you (of course with her permission). i think that it is so important to share her words, because it will give you insight into how one woman looks at the month of october when pink seems to be everywhere you look. i know that not everyone who has been affected by breast cancer feels the same as jenny. but i also know others who have been affected by breast cancer and do feel the same as jenny. even if it was only jenny that felt this way, it is her story and that makes it incredibly important to me. i think that you will feel the same.

"Dear Miss Martha – I don’t want a month, I want a cure

Ah, October. The month that I, as a Phoenician, look forward to every year. It’s typically the time that temperatures are finally under 100 degrees and I can finally walk outside again without risk of heat stroke. I crank my air conditioner to 70 degrees, just so that I can bundle under blankets, order a pumpkin spiced latte, and post a picture to instagram to feel that I somehow have something in common with all my east coast friends taking pictures of red leaves, scarves, and pumpkin patches.

When I crawl out from all my blankets, put my shorts and flip flops back on and step outside into the Phoenix fall world, I immediately feel assaulted by the blanket of well intentioned people wearing head to toe pink. Pale pink, blush pink, and neon pink. Doesn’t matter the shade, it’s just an assault to my eyes. October is no longer the month that ushers in fall, it’s the month that every grocery store looks like it came directly from the set of the Steel Magnolias movie when Julia Roberts got married in a sea of pink Pepto Bismol.
The phone calls come pouring in from telemarketers and neighbors trying to collect money for their organization of choice or another 3 Day Walk. Because who do you call when you want money to fight cancer? That’s right, you call a person who has or has had cancer, because they surely want a cure, right?
I was doing ok with the first couple of days of October until yesterday.
My youngest daughter, Sam, and I were headed out for a day of errands. Her favorite place in the world is Trader Joes. I knew if I promised her a trip to Trader Joes, then I could get away with going to two or possibly three other places on my list first.

We ran into a supermarket to get contact lens solution and fabric softener. As usual, more items appeared in the cart. Toy Story bandaids, a flyswatter, and a butterfly net were all items that Sam thought we needed. I finally convinced Sam that we could head to Trader Joe’s as soon as she was finished, and just like that, she pushed the grocery cart as fast as she could to checkout aisle number four. As Sam was unloading the cart, the checkout lady and I exchanged pleasantries. I noticed her name was Martha on her red name tag. She was in her late 50s or early 60s and covered in head to toe neon pink. She had pink glitter eyeshadow and bobbing pink antennas on her head band. Martha was really taken with Sam and her blonde curls and had a beaming smile as she watched Sam proudly place a shopping divider stick between the our groceries and the next gentleman in line buying condoms and cantaloupe. ‘A new trend perhaps?’ popped through my sarcastic, constantly moving mind.
As Martha hit a button on the cash register to tally up my groceries, she enthusiastically asked, “Would you like to donate one dollar to fight breast cancer?” I smiled at Martha, and politely stated, “No, thank you. Not today.” And she looked over at Sam, and stated, “It’s just a dollar. You should want to donate just to make sure that pretty daughter of yours doesn’t get cancer! You wouldn’t want that now would you?”
I took a deep breath and I was consciously trying to hide my 87% nonverbal communication. I feared my facial expression was probably telling her where to shove her headband antennae. I smiled, and said, “I have given more to breast cancer than you can imagine Miss Martha. But you are right about one thing. I don’t want Sam to get cancer.” I quickly ushered Sam to the side of the cart where she started climbing on it like a jungle gym, and I nervously loaded the last bag into the cart in hopes to escape the wrath of pink Martha.
As I climbed into the car, I found myself wishing I could have shared my heart with her. This is what I would have liked to have said.
Dear Miss Martha,
You are a sweet, kind lady. I am certain you are a lovely person and a doting grandma to many precious little kids. You probably bake the best chocolate chip cookies and host the best sleepovers. But right now, I’m certain if you knew me or my story, you would probably eat that obnoxious pink glittered antennae ball sitting on top of your head right now.
Please don’t take offense to what I have to say, but I really want you to see how your few simple words were hurtful. You see, I really hate pink. I hate pink ribbons. I hate running races where “survivors” are singled out in a special pink shirt. I hate how family members wear pink badges on their backs with the names and pictures of their moms, daughters, friends, and even sons who were robbed of their story and life because of cancer. I hate standing behind those surviving family members and feeling a rush of guilt for having more time with my husband and kids. That feeling rushes to my lungs so quickly that I wonder if I will be physically able to take a deep breath without bursting into tears. And let’s not even begin to discuss the pink jewelry. I could line my walls with all of the pink necklaces and bracelets I have received over the past 9 years. Miss Martha, if you want you could come by my house and I am sure I could contribute to your pink costume with my dusty box of cancer fighting treasures.
But Martha, breast cancer has become a money making business. Do you know how much of that dollar you are wanting me to donate is going directly to cancer research? I would suppose less than 15%. And that might be a high estimation. Many organizations, including Susan G. Komen, give very little money to research. They give a higher percentage of money to salaries, and that is pathetic. And the monies going to current research isn’t even going to the more aggressive cancer types that I and others have been unfortunate to encounter.
Martha, my prayer is that you and Samantha never have to have your breasts removed. I pray that you both are able to keep that part of your body that contribute to you feeling unique, beautiful, and feminine. I pray that you don’t catch a glimpse of scars in the mirror and ever let your mind wander questioning your value or beauty as a woman. You see, my breasts are removed. Gone. I imagine they are sitting somewhere on a shelf, in a dusty chemistry lab jar with a pink tombstone label or a giant pink, boobie cancer filled landfill.
So I don’t need to wear a pink shirt to remind me that I had cancer. I just have to look down and see my chest, complete with scars that would actually make a relatively creative tic-tac-toe board. I have a constant daily reminder. I don’t need Pink October to remind me that breast cancer is an issue.
So if you want to do something for cancer Miss Martha, please save your pennies from purchasing all your pink gear. Save your money from purchasing pink (or any other color) cancer ribbons. And save your time from posting your bra color to social media sites. Geez – don’t get me started on your dang bra colors. Who flipping cares? I lost my breasts. How does the fact that you are wearing a lacy purple bra help those of us fighting cancer?
Instead of donating to a breast cancer money making machine, consider giving your money and time directly to a person battling the disease. Here are some of my suggestions:
Make a meal or better yet start a community wide calendar to ensure they have meals provided to them and their families for 3-4 days a week.
Don’t cook? No worries, buy a gift card to their favorite grocery store or restaurant. Many stores provide home delivery and they can order food that will be dropped off on their doorstep.
Bring take out over with a funny movie. Laugh and talk about funny things and things your friend would like to do or learn how to do after their journey with cancer treatment is complete. Make a pact to have times where cancer can’t be discussed.
Make a homemade blanket.
Make a mixed tape. I know I’m dating myself here, but you know what I mean. Arrange and share an upbeat play mix of songs that help your friend smile or provide comfort while waiting for hours at hospitals, oncology offices, or in the chemo lounge.
Make a chemotherapy basket. Fill the basket with items needed during their course of treatment. Mouth candies, mouth wash, blankets, funny books and movies, etc. There are many websites available in google land with great ideas for items to include during chemo and radiation.

Help with the children. Babysit. Carpool. Help arrange a group of moms to carpool for sporting events, church activities, etc. Keep the children’s lives as normal as possible. As a mom of four, I want to make sure my kids are taken care of. If I know they are being attended to, I am able to recover and rest easier. This is a tremendous burden to those fighting cancer, especially with young children. My kids were 1, 2, and 6 years of age at the time of my diagnosis.
Take care of the spouse, significant other, or parent. Take them to a movie, golfing, or out for a hike. Anything, just not related to the duties of taking care of a cancer patient or children. My parents, sister, and husband took my illness very hard. I was only 30 with three small kids and they were terrified. In many ways looking back, my cancer was harder on those four than even myself.
Avoid giving items related to cancer. If they want a t-shirt, a bracelet, jewelry, or a book related to cancer, let them purchase it. Unless of course they ask for this personally. Books are personal. Some people want books with specific, concrete research. Others just want to read a book with feel good, happy stories where nobody dies. We all handle the diagnosis, treatment, and grieving differently. None of it is wrong – it’s just different.
Avoid sharing your horror cancer stories. It’s very similar to sharing your horror labor stories. Just as I didn’t want to hear about your vagina nightmares, I don’t want to hear how your neighbor died a horrible death due to cancer. These stories often invoke fear and terror rather than serving to inform them. Cancer is scary enough without adding your ‘need to know’ story.
So Martha, I really like you. And Sam loves your headband, so in her book, you are amazing! But stick to your red grocery clerk apron as a uniform and spend your time and monies directly towards a man or woman battling the disease. With that energy and heart of yours, your efforts will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Make them those world famous chocolate chip cookies that I imagine you are famous for. I am certain you will bless a family beyond measure.
But today Miss Martha, I will not give you a dollar.
I don’t want a month. I want a cure.
My prayer is that this time next year, a cure will have been found or revealed. Then I will host a party next October and proudly wear that dusty, damn pink shirt currently folded in my closet. And if you show up on my doorstep, I will ask to borrow your headband and invite you to dance.
Blessings sweet Martha,
P.S. And to my friends who have gifted me with pink clothes and jewelry. Don’t worry, this doesn’t apply to you. Yours is my favorite. :) "

if you want to read more of jenny's words, i encourage you to read her blog. if you want to see jenny dance with strangers in washington d.c. (which is awesome!!!), you should watch this. xo