Monday, April 30, 2018

treatment day + michael and jennifer + send the good vibes to beth this week

today was treatment day for yours truly and it was a long one. we were at seattle cancer care alliance for almost 9 hours by the time was all said and done. bloodwork. appointments. infusion. wait period after infusion to ensure that i don't have any reactions. but one more down and am thankful that my blood and my organs cooperated so i could go another round.

i will have scans on the 11th (how are they already coming up again?? scanxiety is already kicking in per usual) and we will get results on the 14th. more on that between now and then for sure, but would definitely love it if you would start to kick the good mojo my way for those scans coming up.

thank you to all who have signed up for the happy mail for michael and jennifer. you all are rock stars. if you haven't met them, i thought that you might like to see the people you are sending some love to. mike posted this picture of jennifer over the weekend and i love it because she is smiling and you can see her good energy and spunkiness (and cancer ass kickerness).

mike is way taller than me. so at a recent work event we were at, i got on the chair so that for once in my life i could be taller than him. it was a good, good moment for me.
if you have already signed up to send these two cuties happy mail, you will hear from kristy soon. if you haven't yet but would like to, please let me know and i will connect you with kristy and she will give you all the scoop and assign you a week. how can you not look at these two kids and not want to send a little love their way? i don't know either.

i also want to ask for love, prayers and mojo for beth. she has scans this week prior to the start of chemo and gets her port put back in on friday. start kicking up all the good vibes you have got for that girl.

i got an update on kaylee today and she completed 5 rounds of radiation last week. she is traveling from her home in auburn to seattle children's for each round. she will do the same again this week. i hear that she is handling her treatment well - go kaylee go! thanks again to all who signed up to send her happy mail - this is my week for sending happy mail to her and i am looking forward to brightening one of her days this week.

so clearly a lot of your love and good vibes are needed in the pacific northwest in the coming weeks and months. so kick it into high gear, we all need it.

there are a lot of gloves (more than there should need to be) going up around here.

anywhere we fight, you fight.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

for jennifer and michael (a call for support) + important notes

"scared is what you're feeling,
brave is what you're doing."
(emma donaghue)

if you have read this blog long enough, you know the story of jennifer and michael.

jennifer was diagnosed with cancer around the same time that i was. her husband michael and i used to work together years ago and even though we were adults at the time it kind of feels like we grew up together during those years. even though it has been years since we have worked at the same place, we are still the dearest of friends and i light up every time i get to see him (which is not often enough). i also light up every time that i get to see his lovely wife jennifer. but when I don't light up is when i know that jennifer is having to put on her boxing gloves to get in the ring with cancer again. you all know how i feel about that.

at the end of 2012, we did the first happy mail for jennifer campaign. today we start another one.

tomorrow (wednesday) at 7am jennifer and mike go in to start her treatment series at seattle cancer care alliance. jennifer is a teacher (you know, one of the most important jobs in the world) and due to her treatment, she has had to go out on leave for the rest of the year which i know is a huge disappointment because she loves teaching her kiddos.

please send all of your love, prayers, mojo and treatment their way that this new round of treatment does what it is supposed to. kick cancer in the ass and send it packing. for the final time.

as mike said to me today, "happy mail is about love. how do you say anything but yes to love?"

i could not agree with him more.

so i know that you all know how this works now from the recent posts about kaylee and lisa. my dear friend kristy is going to help me coordinate this round of the happy mail campaign for jennifer. but i am also going to ask that we do something a little different this round. let's send happy mail to jennifer, but let's also send it to mike. there is a reason that the caregivers of cancer patients are called the "invisible patients" because of what they go through to help the patient, and everything they go through to deal with their own feelings, etc.

so if you are up for sending two pieces of happy mail in a week (one to jennifer, one to mike) we would love to have you join us on this campaign. you have seen pictures of how all of those cards look on lisa's mantle. you have heard about how happy the mail makes kaylee each week. you all are making such a difference in the world. i know that it is one more thing to add to everyone's busy plate, but i think that it is one of the most important things that you can add to your plate. reaching out and connecting to another human you may or may not know just to say "you are not alone in this" is one of the best things i think you can do with your time.

i hope you will join us.

so get in touch with me if you are in, and i will hook you up with kristy and she will get you all organized and ready to go.

thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

and to jennifer and michael - i couldn't love you more than i do. i am sending you everything i have got, and i know that those reading this are sending everything they have got too.

where you fight, we fight.

gloves up. xoxo

important notes:
+++ tomorrow my dad-in-law mike goes in for knee surgery at 7am in kirkland, please send him prayers, mojo and love for a successful surgery so he is up and causing trouble in no time. thank you.
+++ kaylee started radiation this week so keep sending her all of your mojo.
+++ beth signed her trial papers today, will get her port in next week, and will start chemo after that. more soon on how we can help her - i asked her today if she would like us to each show up each week to do singing telegrams, i will let you know when she confirms with me on that;)
+++ a lovely woman named erin won the photo giveaway last friday and already picked and has received her cards;) my sister and i will do more giveaways in the future so stay tuned. thanks so much to everyone who entered in and was supportive of my sister's photography and cards, you all rock.
+++ i am still celebrating mary getting the all clear last week with her melanoma scans. so, so awesome.
+++ you all are the best.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

last day for giveaway (are you entered yet?????) !!!! and good news for mary!!!!!!!!!

reminder!!!!! today is the last day to get in on the awesome giveaway i posted about yesterday —

you need to enter by 9pm pst so you still have plenty of time;) the winner will be announced in the morning!

also - mary got NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE YESTERDAY!!!! how amazing is that?????

she of course asked me to thank all of you for your prayers, mojo and magic!

also, kaylee’s mom sent a message yesterday that the happy mail is really brightening kaylee’s weeks - great job team!! you all make a difference!!! xoxox

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

giveaway wednesday is here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ok peeps, as promised, it is giveaway time and i am super excited (if i wasn't helping host it i would be all over this one myself because it includes cards).

so, here is the deal - my awesome sister denise is going to let the lucky winner choose 5 cards of their choice from her dfogo photography etsy shop. in addition, we are throwing in a book of stamps and two rolls of fun washi tape. i know - a snail mail/happy mail dream come true!!

here is how you get your name in to the giveaway (and only one entry per person please;)...
- you follow and comment on my sister's instagram feed for her photography at @dfogophotography

and for those of you not on instagram (ahem, jill p and megan w i am talking to you;))
- leave a comment on my blog saying you want in on the giveaway
- you let me or my sister know that you want in on the giveaway through whatever means you have to get in contact with us

i know, we couldn't make this any easier for you. we are just that nice.

you can enter (again, just once people) up until 9pm thursday night pacific standard time. we will then pick a winner using the random number generator magic and announce the winner on the blog and denise's instagram site by friday morning. woot woot!! 

ok, start getting in on this action - good luck to all of you who enter! which should be all of you because you know how we will feel about snail mail on this blog;)

really important notes:
+++ mary's scans are wednesday - please send your mojo, prayers and love to little chute, wisconsin tomorrow for her until she gets the results. clean scans. clean scans. clean scans. no other option. gloves up mary! you have got this melahomey! xoxoxo
+++ i just met a woman named kelli via instagram and her husband john is a melanoma stage iv warrior whose cancer is spreading rapidly and causing him quite a lot of pain. they are in portland now getting a treatment they hope will stop the tumors from growing. please also send them everything you have got. he has tried many other options through his years of fighting melanoma and this is the one that has to work. as kelli said "he is my person. my better half. my life partner. i don't want to do life without him, so il-2 you need to work." yes, yes it does.

thank you. xoxox

Monday, April 16, 2018

treatment day + good news for beth + fun giveaway coming on wednesday (you aren't going to want to miss this!)

today was treatment day.

bloodwork and organs looked good so we were a go.

i pretty much slept all day.

the fatigue is really mounting as the treatments wear on and i was lights on out the car ride over, while waiting to get called for bloodwork, the entire time i was infusion minus when my port was getting accessed and vitals were being taken, etc. very different than the days when treatment first started and i was awake the entire time and still had energy.

but i got another treatment in so i am thankful for that.

we also got good news from beth this weekend which i am also super duper thankful for.

she got into the clinical trial!!!!!!!!!!!! all of your prayers, mojo, and love worked! as you will see below, that does not change the anxiety and all the reasons she has to be scared, but she got in and i am so thankful for that. let's hope we both kick our clinicial trial's asses and are the ones that show them the best results. that is my plan for us.

here are her words:

"As I sit on the plane at this very early time of the day I thought I would give an update. 
  I got the call yesterday that I was accepted into the clinical trial.  A spot opened up.  I guess this is a national study happening at many locations.  So SCCA just got their spot and Dr. Coveler got me first on the list.  
  I will have an appointment with my doctor when I get back to sign the consent forms and talk about next steps. They still need to get insurance to approve me.  I also need to do a lot of baseline studies - labs, EKG and scans before final acceptance.   The consent forms are so long so I need to spend time this week going through them.  
   While I am happy about getting accepted I am also terrified.  They are not only trying to see the effectiveness of the treatment they are also trying to see the toxicity of using both meds. So there is always a chance I get more sick and have more side effects.  Unlike with just chemo I will still have chemo every 2 weeks and then the immunotherapy drug every 3 weeks so I may not feel better on my off weeks since I will be on another drug. I will have more appointments too.  Scans every 2 months.  So everything starts to feel more complicated and now things are starting to feel too real.  
  The other night I talked to a friend’s brother in law who is an oncologist at MD Anderson in Houston.  Known as the best place for cancer treatment or at least one of the best.  He thinks highly of SCCA/Fred Hutch.   I walked through what I knew and what they were proposing and he thought the clinical trial would be the best thing for me.  He also said the plan I was given was Good.   So now that I am in the clinical trial I will not be seeking a second opinion.  He didn’t feel like it was a must for me. I also need to think about the affect of traveling on me for treatment.  
    So there is still a lot going on in my head. I am still scared and sad and angry and the list goes on and on and on. I keep wondering how I am going to live being on treatment the rest of my life.  Lars and I are trying to make the most of the next few weeks as possible before I start treatment.  And now that they may start treatment sooner it just seems too quick. 
    A lot of people have been asking me what they can do.   So here are some thoughts.   
   Donate to Colorectal cancer research so they can develop a cure for me and for others!!!  One good place is Colorectal Cancer Alliance who is just dedicated to Colorectal cancers. I have also donated to Stand Up to Cancer and the American Cancer Society. 
    Another thing I will need is people to go to appointments with me. I have a long haul ahead, Lars will likely not be able to attend all infusions with me so if you are willing to come with me at some point I welcome the company. It’s not something I like to do alone. Plus I am often too tired to drive.   
    Well the plane is taking off soon.
i will update more as I know and process more.  Thanks for your love, support and prayers."

ok, giveaway update - are you ready for this? my awesome sister denise (aka nerd) has started an instagram page for her photography (@dfogophotography) and her own etsy shop called dfogophotography. super proud of her. so on Wednesday morning there will be a blog post about a giveaway that we are teaming up on - you won't want to miss it;) stay tuned for more details on Wednesday! who doesn't love giveaways? i know, we all do!

i wanted to say thank you for everyone who has signed up to be part of the happy mail campaign for Kaylee. crystal confirmed over the weekend that enough people have signed that up that we will be sending Kaylee mail throughout the summer and into September when school starts up again. how awesome are all of you? i think that is just amazing and makes my heart very, very happy.

last, but certainly not least, please send all your prayers, mojo and love to my friend mary in wisconsin. she goes in on wedneday for a pet scan (aka full body radioactive scan) and tests for her melanoma check ups. send all your goodness that those tests came back clean for her. i know all my fingers and toes are crossed.

happy tuesday peeps, don't miss the blog update on wednesday;)

+++ sidenote: many of the awesome hats i wear (like the one in this post) are from one of my most favorite companies owned by an awesome woman named rebecca and the company is called peace within. trust me, you should check it out. like right now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

beth's results

i am numb and don't have any words.

they may come at some point, but they aren't going to come today. and likely not for a while.

that i know for sure.

here are the results from today in beth's words:

I’ll keep this short today as I am still processing.  
The appointment went about as I expected.   He will complete another test but I have only a 5% chance of being a candidate for immunotherapy.  Surgery is not an option, too many spots.  There is a clinical trial at SCCA that is doing chemo and immunotherapy.  My doctor is fighting to get me into it.   Otherwise it’s chemo treatment.   
     Not the news I hoped for but I do hope to get into the trial. I will also be doing a second opinion,  not sure where yet.  
  And beyond treatment my hope and prayers are still for a miracle or a miracle treatment that will be developed in the future.  
  Things will likely start in about a month so I want to do as much as possible before that.   I’ll be in Hilton Head with my family next week.  
  I will update as I know more and process more.   Will likely know more by the end of the month.  
  I do not look forward to the side effects I know treatment brings.  This time I have to figure out how to live with them not just survive it.  
    Thanks for your love, support and prayers.  

i guess there are actually two words that i can think of for today.

fuck cancer.

Monday, April 9, 2018

send everything you've got to beth

tuesday morning beth goes in to get her results.

send her every single piece of prayers, mojo, love and goodness that you have.

there are many things that i could say about how i feel about what is going on for beth and this appointment tomorrow. but this isn't about me. it is about beth.

so here is how she is feeling today:
Tomorrow brings the news of what my future holds.   And it's hard for me to imagine.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life being sick, that thought is unimaginable.   The appointment with my oncologist is at 9:30.  Lars will be with me and my parents on the phone.
  I am still praying for immunotherapy, or a treatment that will work and minimize the side effects.  I am praying for a miracle.  That the cancer will be curable and the spots will disappear.   I don't care what it takes.    
   With everything going on after my trip to Portland I flew straight to Palm Springs to be with Lars for spring break.  I am so glad I did.  It was good to be away and together.  I also got to have dinner with a friend from college which was great.
  I know it's not helpful but I keep thinking about what I may not be able to do in the future.  can't eat this or can't travel here.  Will I be able to take that on at work.  And those thoughts are as depressing as they sound.
  I have told my boss at work but haven't told everyone else.  I figure once I know a plan I will need to share the news.  And how do I tell them again.
  I don't know what tomorrow brings.  Lars and I took the whole day off so we are talking about going up to the tulip festival after the appointment.  See some color and have a little roadtrip for the day before I see my counselor.  My anxiety is definitely building for tomorrow.  I want to stay in this bubble where I am not having to do anything.
    Thank you for your love, support and prayers.
i wish i could figure out how to automatically generate human bubble wrap to immediately put around my friends with just one wish, no matter where they are. but i haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.

but what i can do is ask all of you to send everything good you have to beth tomorrow.

raise those gloves up high for her tomorrow.

i know i will be.

thank you. xoxo

Sunday, April 8, 2018

proud little sister

"a strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink"
(gina carey)

this weekend i got to spend friday and saturday with my sister and her card and photo print booth at an arts and craft fair in pullman.

this is the largest event she has done to date, and i know that it takes a lot of courage to put your photography out there to the world and show them the work you have done.

my sister is an amazing photographer and i wish that every one of you could have come by to see her work. she really has such a great eye for photo taking and seeing shots/views that i don't think a lot of others would see.

i am always proud of her every single day.

but i was even more proud to stand by her for these two days and get to tell people when they asked who the photographer was to point to my sister and say "my awesome sister".

malena hung out with us all weekend too and was our helper getting the prints/cards in bags for the customers and restocking shelves. i love that she will carry the memories of seeing her aunt nise (as she calls her, denise being her actually name, though her nick name has always been "nerd" for me as long i can remember) show her photography to the world and getting to point to her aunt when people asked who took the photos.

i know that it takes guts and courage to go after and pursue the dreams you want to chase. not to mention a hell of a lot of time and hard work.

and this weekend i got to stand next to her while my sister chased a dream she has had for awhile now.

i couldn't be prouder of her and the role model she sets for my daughter and all the women we know. including myself.

she is thinking about staring an etsy shop, if that happens, you know i am going to be linking to that on this blog. if you want more info on her art in the meantime, you know how to get in touch with me and i will connect you with her.

hope your weeks all get off to a good start. xo

super duper important sidenotes:
++ beth's appointment with her oncologist is on tuesday - keep sending all of your mojo and love her way.
++ thank you to everyone who has signed up for the happy mail campaign for Kaylee, you all are the best.
++ tomorrow lisa has a birthday, join me in wishing her an upcoming year free of cancer and treatments and just one full of recovery and feeling better and continue to knit her heart out:)
++ my friend mary goes in for her annual scans and tests for her melanoma on the 18th, start kicking up the vibes now - i will be reminding you to put them into full strength mode as we get closer.
++ you all rock. as always.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

for kaylee, our new friend - a new happy mail campaign for a 13 year old cancer warrior + an update on our other fighters

"i've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. i've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled christmas tree lights. i've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. i've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as "making a life". i've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. i've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. i've learned that whenever i decide something with an open heart, i usually make the right decision. i've learned that even when i have pains, i don't have to be one. i've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. people love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. i've learned that i still have a lot to learn.  i've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
(maya angelou)

this quote seems super appropriate on ms. angelou's birthday.

there is another cancer warrior that i am asking you all to help.

please meet kaylee, that is her in the picture above.

my friend crystal emailed me last week and said that her daughter's friend who is 13 was just diagnosed with cancer.

as you all know, cancer pisses me off, i can't tell you how angry it makes me to hear about kids with cancer.

so crystal and i are going to tag team to channel that anger into something good for kaylee.

crystal shared with me that in december after a month of having a bad cough kaylee went to the doctor. she was immediately sent to children's where they diagnosed her with stage 4 hodgkin's lymphoma and she started chemo just 3 days later. since then she has been through multiple rounds of chemo, hospital stays from complications, and will soon begin radiation treatments when her blood infections clear.

you can follow kaylee's story directly through her caringbridge site which is

so here is what we are going to do, what we do best. send mail to lift her spirits.

you know how this works, but just in case you are new here;) let me know through whatever means you have (email, text, fb, instagram, smoke signals, doing an odd dance, tripping me, whatever it takes) that you want to send kaylee some happy mail. it can be a card, a package, a post-it note, a postcard - whatever you want to do. no expectations other than sending her one piece of happy mail on the week that is assigned to you. you let me know you want to participate, i will connect you with crystal, and she will give you your assigned week and kaylee's address.

if you want to also send something directed to her parents or her brother, let crystal know that as well. as we all know, cancer doesn't only affect the patient - and i can guarantee this family can use all of the help they can get.

here are some things that i know so far she likes from crystal: soccer, starbucks (my kind of girl), taco time, and making slime and stress balls (balloons and water beads). i will share more ideas as crystal gives them to me.

so as my friend kerry always says, let's do this.

no one should ever have to fight cancer. definitely not kids.

let's bring some cheer to kaylee and her family.

are you in? i hope so.

speaking of bringing cheer, i wanted to give an update on lisa. you all made her day with your happy mail. here is a shot of her mantle with some of her happy mail - that is the goodness that you all do. it is pretty damn amazing if you ask me. she was so touched by all of the mail and kind words that you all shared with her and she is passing it on to other cancer patients. she is still recovering from her radiation treatments and dealing with the side effects from the meds that are supposed to help with the recovery, the irony. but she keeps getting better, so keep sending her your cheer, mojo, and love - it is working.

beth's appointment is coming up next week so keep all the mojo, love, and prayers heading her way - you know i will keep you all posted on how she is doing and the updates. i am still in denial on her latest appointment and numb, not sure that feeling will change at any point.

and for yours truly, monday was a treatment day for me. bloodwork was good, treatment was a go. i was in bed all day today with a bad run of nausea, hopefully that is not a new trend and was just a one day thing. i won't lie that it scares me that i am headed for a repeat of last year when i got so sick, but one day at a time. one day at a time. one breath at a time.

thank you for all of the love, support and kindness you all send out into the world. you make it such a better place for so many people, including me.

you really are the best.

that i know for sure.

thank you for supporting our new friend kaylee - i know you all will come through like you always do.

wherever kaylee fights, we fight.

time to put the gloves up again for her.