Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just checking in. Document, document!

It's been over 8 months since my last post. That is always a good thing, but I do like to post things to make sure this never-ending journey called ACC is documented for me and for others ever in my situation. Plus, I feel like writing today on this Spring Break 2012.

A couple things have happened since my last post. Fevers are still there, never anything higher than 99.5 (and that is rare) so we have decided that it is menopausal. Also, Brandy, Dr. Ansari's NP, ordered a Vitamin D screen and I was very low...I think she said 12. So now I take 1000 units. I really do feel better...used to have little strange pains in weird parts (like my forearm) and those have subsided. I did have a recheck and never heard from Brandy so my levels must be going up or are better. Low Vitamin D is common in a lot of people, but is also common in breast cancer.

January 9th I woke up with a strange pain(s) in my remaining breast. Achy feeling and sort of burning. It truly reminded me of that 2/1/07 when I found my lump. But this time there was no lump, despite me rooting around trying to find one! This pain was very hormonal like, but I was towards the end of my period so it was confusing. After about two weeks it went away, but then one morning it seemed like it was back, but just in a different spot. I honestly think I started having minor panic attacks so I called Dr. T and they saw me right away. (I think this was mid-Fenruary, by this time) I saw Dr. Tracy, who was amazing! She did a very thorough exam, asked me about ACC (she and I were diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time) and considered my concerns that I was having a heart attack. (she said the pain was too persistent for that) So...she decided to do a breast MRI. I was sort of surprised to be honest because at the time I felt like the pain was more muscular, and not really part of the breast. (my worry was chest wall tumors, or lung mets) So we got that scheduled for February 28th and she said she wanted her friend, and college roommate, to read the report. (She specializes in breast MRI's) I was definitely pleased with the personal touch!

February 28th roles around and Ginger and I went on our little trip to Lakeland St. Joe.--wow, the outpatient services facility is beautiful. I won't bore you with my horror story except to say that this breast MRI was the WORST medical test I ever had. I came close to losing my mind, and actually thought I would vomit when I got out. It was way too long, too hot, and I wasn't really set in the tube very well. (For example, you are facing down when this occurs, boobs are hanging through this hard plastic ramp-like thing, and your arms are over your head. The face thing that you look through is set up with mirrors so you can see the room and even the people outside the room...but my techs never told me that, so my eyes couldn't see anything but a small piece of floor) ANYWAY...because they were doing the implant side (at my request) the procedure was over two hours in the tube--a torturous two hours, for sure. The breast side was much easier, but during the procedure, there seemed to be a concern about the contrast, which I even noted by telling them I didn't feel the contrast go through, something I always feel. They messed around with my arm a little bit but said everything was ok. When I finished this test, I told them I would NEVER do that procedure again. I would rather have my boob cut off to look for cancer than do that again. Ha ha ha....jokes on me.

So, yeh, guess what? I had to have it done again because of issues with the test. I didn't hear any results of the test but a few weeks later the MRI department called me and said they needed to schedule a no charge MRI. Hmm. Strange. I immediately thought of the contrast issue so I wasn't too freaked. Called Dr.T's office to see what they had to say and they seemed confused...said there was no report but that the doctor didn't like the settings so she wanted a new scan. Wendy, the nurse, said something about dense breasts. But again, no report, so basically I had nothing on what was going on with my boob! I decided to wait a few weeks to schedule the re-test until I was on Spring Break. A few days later Wendy called again from Dr. T's office to say that they did have a report, but again, the doctor wanted something different. Wendy did tell me that things looked "ok" so far. I made her tell me that twice.

Yesterday was the re-scan. I was a wreck the night before, thinking I wouldn't mentally be able to handle it. Dr. T recommended I take 2 Xanax but I wasn't sure that would be enough but what do I say? Ginger and I got in her little car and off we went. And lo and behold, my prayers were answered when the tech said "we are only doing the contrast part"--that was all that is needed. 20 minutes tops. I wanted to kiss her. (but why the heck didn't someone tell me that earlier--before I took the 2 Xanax or when they got the report???)

So it was a piece of cake. I slept for a good two hours when I got home--wasted my whole first day of Spring Break--but at least the test is over.

Now we wait for the results. I am not worried for some reason. Probably should be since I always am! But the breast pain is gone, except in one spot high up in my inner chest muscle area--and that gets me at strange times. It's strange, but doesn't make me think cancer.

Again, I just needed to document this all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Am I just HOT?

So we are exactly a month later than my first official temperature reading in Dr. T's office back in July. And yes, I'm still "fever" ish.

I don't know what to make of it and if I am honest, I am sort of ignoring it. I feel pretty much normal; however, my right ear and neck area is sore most of the time, but that has been going on for years. Keep in mind I take my temperature when I get up--it's almost ALWAYS between 98.6--99.0, and then when I get home from work, it is around 99.3-4. Sometimes, it creeps up to 99.5 early evening, but other times, it goes back down to 99 as long as I am just sort of resting on the couch or something. (the more active I am, the higher the temp) Again, I have not gone over 100 since that first day...and there are some sites that don't even consider me as having a fever at all.

What complicates this is that on occasion I do feel sick. Achy, flu like. And I don't do well when that is the case. Luckily, it has to be around 99.6 or up and that hasn't happened in awhile so that is a positive. Jim can also tell just by touching me...and I can pretty much predict what it will read.

Don't get me started on the research I have done on fevers and thermometers. I now own once of each kind and the ear one is the one I refer to the most. There are times that I wish I was not so body aware. It's makes for paranoia!

The only other minor issue I have going on is that sore tailbone from my fall down the stairs, and my right side is a bit sore...nothing too alarming but it feels tight and for a bit I was thinking I had some kidney issues going on. But that is hit or miss so I hardly obsess over THAT...: ) And my annual gyno exam turned out normal..even after I skipped a summer. I won't even waste your time with my story about getting the test results back...it was me overreacting and jumping to conclusion. I really need to work on that.

Work is keeping me busy and keeps me from obsessing...enjoying my new job and the new challenges. Just stopped by here to document some things. It's my own private therapy. : )

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No one seems too worried...

Ok...I met with Dr. Ansari on August 10th and to say he was underwhelmed by this fever business is an understatement. He wanted to know how high the fevers were. He asked me if I actually felt sick, and I told him no, not until the day of my CT Scan...yucky before it, and AWFUL after it. He then listened forever to my lungs and did the typical feel around my neck and look in my throat exam. He saw nothing, but decided to put me on an antibiotic anyway...a Z pack. Ginger and I listened to him dictate a letter to Dr. T and basically he said I was complaining of sore throat and drainage and he was suspicious I had a virus. (yeh, still gave me an antibiotic anyway) He said to come back if I continued to feel lousy, otherwise, I would see him in October.

Well, today, four days later I DO feel better, but still of course, I am still running a temp. I am excited that this morning it is 99.3 at its highest but last night it was 100 after leaving J, ohn and Ginger's...I do know your temp rises in the evening AND it was VERY warm at John and Ginger's. I want to also document that the right side of my head (ear, back of skill, right neck behind my ear) all hurt. Maybe, just maybe, this antibiotic, will help that and that is what is causing this?

Honestly, that is all I have to report. Just sick of thinking about being sick.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Good news...but still big questions

I am so relieved...the CT scan of my chest came back clear, with the exception of that pesky granuloma that always shows up. I immediately felt better but the question remains as to why I still have a fever. And I still have one.

The strange thing about it is that I swear I didn't have one, or at least as high as one, until yesterday. I could feel my body getting hot...even asked my nurse/radiology expert sister if the CT Contrast could still make me feel hot (doubtful) because I could feel it in my body--except my feet, which were freezing. And now this morning, I still feel hot and I didn't have this yesterday. Of course my mind is running rampant...I have googled "unexplained fever" every which way but backwards. Did my annual "physical" cause this? Is it the combination of meds I am on? Could I really have cancer somewhere just not in my lungs? (biggest scare). Then I wonder if I am reacting to my implant--you know, fighting off a foreign body? But that isn't likely either. I sure hope Dr. Ansari has some POSITIVE answers. I see him tomorrow at 9:15. (Yes, my first day back at my new job...my new boss is probably going "great, sick the first day??) Luckily, my Ginger is still in town to go with me. I do NOT want further tests but can't imagine him having any answers without more tests. A bone scan maybe? Further CT's? An MRI of my head? (still suffer from ear pain quite often but that is nothing new since my 2001 surgery)

I honestly thought I would feel great this morning but even without taking my temp, I can tell my fever is still there. Granted, my thermometer (digital from Walgreens) never reads that I have a temp, but compared to the ear one at the doctor's office, it's off by a little less than one degree. So when I add that degree, I have a temp. Everyone else in my family is UNDER "normal" so I know I am odd.

Last but not least, I can't end without mentioning Kellie Martin, a young mom who is in her final stages of fighting ACC (neck) Her Caringbridge blog has been an inspiration to me and my heart is breaking as someone writes her blog for her as she fights for just one more day. She has a 5 year old son. Kellie was diagnosed just prior to delivering him. An amazing young lady! I pray for peace, healing of the lungs if God chooses, and calm to all.

Time to convince myself I feel good and head off to get some work done. So glad to write...I helps so much.


Monday, August 8, 2011

CT scan today--worry already in full gear

Ugh..........had yet another appointment with Dr. Tacket today for my physical and since I still had a fever (99.5) he sent me for a CT scan with contrast of my chest. I am a mess of course and thought writing might help. As you all know, my cancer has a tendency to go to the lungs so that is where they are starting to try to figure out what is causing the fever. (I tried to come up with all kinds of reasons (hot flashes, medicines, etc) but Dr. T still wanted to do the test) The CT was a pain as well...well, it was fine...but the poor tech couldn't get a good vein for the contrast so I had to wait for an ER tech, who got it after some slapping of my wrists. Nothing is easy with me.

So now I wait. Dr. T's office has gone electronic so he expects the results today or tomorrow and promised that he would call...and then, regardless of what the results are, I have to go back to Dr. Ansari. (If there are issues, I have to see him obviously, if there are NOT issues, we still have to figured out what it is.) I asked Dr. T what ELSE it could be, and he said they might look at my thyroid is this comes back clear, although all my bloodwork in that area is fine. I will see Dr. A later this week I think...and of course I am supposed to go back to work starting Wednesday. Just my luck.

There did seem to be some concern about the granuloma that I have had for years...remember in May when Dr. Ansari's NP Brandy called and said they wanted the CT since the chest xray showed some growth? But during that phone call she said never mind, noting that I had had it awhile? I saw on the orders today that that was mentioned. If that thing turns out to be ACC I will be shocked. I have had it for at least 15 years I think. But as we all know, stranger things have happened and do seem to happen to me. By the way, my blood work in all areas has come back normal but I have learned that doesn't mean a lot.

What else do I need to document. Kellie, an ACC fighter, is in her last days/weeks of life, as her lungs are giving out. I think she is about 33 at the most, with a 6 year old. Her's was in her salivary glands but its still ACC regardless of where it is. I am sick thinking about her as her journey has been an inspiration to me. She has a Caringbridge site (like a blog) that I have followed for awhile. Hers went to her bones first...or at least that is what they saw.

Today is one year since Johnny died. That is weighing heavily on all our minds. I don't want this day to be associated with my cancer returning, that is for sure. It keeps running through my mind.

EEK. The phone just rang. It was the US Marines. Darn.

So here we are again. I hope it is just a temporary visit but I will be back as soon as I know anything.

I could use some lifting up today if you are so inclined...thanks, much!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Low grade fever...

Here it is between appointments, but I have some things I have to document. Although this is not the first time I have run a low grade fever, I wanted to write about it to make sure IF it is anything, I am keeping a record of it. Last Tuesday I went to my family physician for a routine visit and had a temp of 100.5. Because of a mix up in what I was there for, Dr. T and I never really discussed it. I did have to come back today and again, I still have a temp, although today it is 99.5. It was enough for Dr. T to run a urine test (normal) and order some more blood work. I am not sure when I will get the results on that, but I would think soon. Dr. T did also mention he was going to call Dr. Ansari, which put me on high alert, of course. (I was already there...low grade fever can be a sign of tumors) So guess what I am doing? Taking my freakin' temp about every 1/2 hour! I even went to Walgreens and got a new digital...didn't get the mac-daddy $50 one, so I hope this one is accurate. I will say that historically, I do run high/normal temps. Around 99. But this time is making me anxious, which makes me more anxious. Such a rotten cycle.

One thing Dr. T said he was looking for was inflammation...didn't say infection, so maybe it is related to my aching hip and back.

Time to take my temp. I can tell I still have one but let's see what it says. 99.1. Also, did you know that your temp is highest in the afternoon?

Ok, so now this is documented. That's all for now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Crohn's Disease in my baby. : (

First of all, there are some new ACC sisters out there, proving this cancer, like all others, doesn't sleep. If you are a new reader, PLEASE read this blog in reverse, as most of the information related to my experience with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Breast is in the first 1/2 of the blog.

Secondly, since I am on what I call a 6 month reprieve of cancer worry (I pretty much only worry the month before my tests) I don't have much to say about this cancer business that I hope is part of my past ONLY. But I do have some things I want to document concerning the child who wishes not to be named since his buddies have found my posts in the past...so, for my informed readers, just know we are talking about ANDREW, my twenty year old, usually healthy as a horse college athlete.

Well, our world sort of changed just prior to Thanksgiving when he emailed me from college to say his belly hurt and he was having some diarrhea issues--it had been going on for about a month. Because of Johnny's death, I automatically think CANCER but really didn't think it would be possible but wanted it checked out so I made him a doctor's appointment for when we got back from our cabin in the Upper Peninsula. Over Thanksgiving, I kept an eye on Rew and noticed he spent a lot of time in the bathroom after we ate. He also mentioned off and on about how he could feel food move by in his belly in a particular spot on the left side of his lower belly.
Monday's doctor appointment brought a diagnosis of some sort of upset stomach, but also blood in his fecal occult test. THAT FREAKED ME OUT. So I insisted on a referral to a GI. The very next night, Tuesday, we were in the emergency room where they did a CT scan and said Rew had a severely inflamed colon, and could have ulcerative colitis. They gave us some meds and said make sure you follow up with the GI. Then Saturday of that week, Rew was again in the ER with crazy bad dehydration and got 5 bags of fluid, much to the MD's surprise. Ok, so finally, the colonoscopy was this past Thursday and sure enough, they found little ulcers throughout his colon, prompting the diagnosis of Crohn's Disease. I learned that Crohn's is little punches of ulcers in various spots, where ulcerative colitis looks like someone took sandpaper and scraped the lining of your intestines. I feel guilty for being relieved it was Crohn's--no parent wants their child to have this disease--but I had horrible fears that Andrew would be one of those terrible stories of someone diagnosed so young with colon cancer. Thank heavens that is not the case.

He is doing much better already, but still has spots that hurt. We don't see the doctor again until January and his goal when he left us was remission, so that is what we are working on. Rew is trying to follow the recommended diet (avoid fresh fruits and veggies) and is taking his 9 pills a day to start healing. Lots of fluids, of course.

So now that we have answers, things are a bit calmer for now. One week left of school until vacation, which we all need. Looking forward to the holiday season and will continue to count our blessings.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Six month check up normal...we think.

Yes, me posting must mean that I had something to say about this darn cancer thing that always hangs out in my life..so far, nothing major to report. You know my drill...I get blood drawn, have a chest xray, see Dr. Ansari, he tells me blood work is normal, and will call if there are any issues with my chest xray. That was Thursday and still no call so I have decided I am ok in terms of the chest xray.

But alas, my blood work was not normal this time...my hemoglobin was 10.5 and should be no lower that 13. Not so ironically, I wondered about it before I went because last time I had my blood checked (when I attempted to give blood) it was at 12.5 and I was turned away. But both times had something in common...I was having my period (sorry non-female or squeamish readers) so that is what Dr. A says is "obviously" causing the low level. I asked what else it could be...he said "you have had a colonoscopy" so that might have been a concerned, and all the reading I have done says it can be related to cancer, but more likely the female thing. So I am now on 325 mg of iron (ferrous something). I have since learned my sis is on it too. I am not too concerned, and although I am guessing this is all in my head, I seem to feel a little better now that I have been on it for four days. Maybe not, but whatever.

So that is that. I will feel better if I get through tomorrow with no phone call...just in case it wasn't read until late Friday or something, and I haven't bought my new purse to celebrate another 6 months of NED...hate to tempt fate. ...blah blah blah.

Looking forward to a lot of things...no time to worry about cancer.

More later.................


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A mom says goodbye

Johnny's mom wrote some thoughts to honor the memory of her first born. She is an amazing woman--no one like her---and you can see why in her words. Thanks to Johnny's cousin Annette for reading Ginger's thoughts and encouraging her to do it.

Yesterday, a lot of people said good-bye to Johnny.

Many of you told of the different memories you had, and of the different ways he touched your lives…as a great older brother, a good role model, a great cousin, a kind man, a good friend, an excellent teacher, a considerate co-worker, a caring coach, an important person in your life…one who will be missed.

Many of the attributes you mentioned about Johnny were aspects of a man’s character…his loyalty, patience, kindness, moral fiber, goodness, work ethic, sense of humor, strength, generosity, fortitude, his love and appreciation of life. You may have admired some of these qualities in Johnny. You may have said, “I like the fact that the ‘player of the game’ went to the boy who ran off the field as fast as he could, instead of the kid who hit the home run”; or appreciated how he listened when something was troubling you. You may have admired how he trudged up “Banjo Hill” because he loved hunting—and after all, sometimes the road is tough on your way to get the “big one”; or how he kept fishing when the motor quit in the back waters of Manistee Lake—“Not to worry—someone will find us.” You may have admired how he nurtured his sons, how he loved Pam, how he fought cancer.

Think of the thing you admired most about Johnny. Now, think of how you can incorporate that quality into your own life…to be a better husband, a better father, a better friend.

What a significant difference it would make in a community if we each did just one small thing a little better. That way, the goodness of Johnny will live on—and what a wonderful tribute to him that would be.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Tribute to Johnny

So many people have asked for copies of Jim's tribute to his older brother Johnny who died this week at 44, after the most courageous battle with cancer I have ever witnessed. Jim wrote this in his head...and then dictated it to me. Although he changed a few words during the service, this is an attempt, from his heart, with all his heart, to pay homage to his big brother.

My Grandpa Brawley was a loving, generous and patient man. His acts of kindness will live on forever in this town. My Grandpa Freund was a Marine. His courage, his honor, and his loyalty could be seen every morning as he raised his American flag, and again in the evening when he lowered it, folded it, and placed it in its drawer—ready for the next day.

Coming from such strong tradition, it is no wonder our older brother Johnny turned out to be the greatest big brother anyone could ask for. His honor to do the right thing and his courage to be his own man were examples for us to follow. His patience and kindness allowed him to teach us every thing that his father had taught him, from tying a knot on a fishing line to wind direction in a tree stand. His teachings continued outside the family bond, reaching anyone who asked or who wanted to learn. He was a positive role model for all of us.

To use Johnny's words, he would be truly humbled by the turnout today. But he would not want us to be sad, he would want us to celebrate his life. And what a life! He started fishing on the Platte River at three years old. He fished the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahas of California, Lake Okechoibee in Florida. He stayed on deserted island in the middle of Lake Michigan and on islands in Lake Erie. He fished the Manistee River, all the way to East Lake. He fished the coast lines of Eagle Lake in Ontario. He spent weeks at Coho Bend Campground fishing for King Salmon in Lake Michigan. He did all these things before he was 17 years old.

The experiences that my father gave us and the lessons my mother taught us molded him into the loving husband and great father that he is today. His adventures were just beginning. He hunted the pheasants in the Dakotas, ducks in Manitoba, caribous in Quebec, bears in Saskachewan and Ontario, mule deer in Montana and white tails-- from the woods of Northern Michigan to the hills of Southern Ohio. He enjoyed these adventures with his family and friends. His favorite partners in his numerous adventures were his wife Pam, and his two sons, Quinn and Jake. On his bow, he placed a picture of them so whenever he went in the woods, they went with him.

We can see the love in Jake's eyes, especially for all the animals in the world, whether its a dog, raccoon or skunk, they will all find safety in Jake's arms. We see the courage in Quinn's chest that tells me he will be his own man and I know he will have the honor to always do what's right.. With the experiences and foundation that Johnny and Pam have given them, these two young boys will grow up to be fine young men.

I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason. And sometimes it might take awhile to figure out what God's plan is. But now I know why a cute blonde haired, blue eyed little girl from Union Street on the westside of town joined the Army. God needed to make her strong because He was going to need Johnny before she would be ready to let him go.

Why Johnny? we are all asking. I believe God had three messages.

The first is for the young people here today: Johnny wants you to have the courage and the honor to do the right thing. Johnny did not believe in underage drinking, or the use of tobacco or drugs. He is watching you now and hopes you have the courage to do the right thing and to help your friends do the same.

Secondly, for the parents here: Johnny showed love for all children, not just his. One time he told me that he thought it was awesome the way I treated each kid on my team and that I treated every kid like my own. And then he asked me, “What about the kids on the other team?” And I thought “well, what about those other kids? They are someone else's.” And then he said, “don't you think every kid deserves your knowledge and enthusiasm?” I want to challenge all the parents here today. in Johnny's honor, to try to make every child reach their potential.

Lastly, to the community who we saw in the Field of Dreams for Johnny's birthday bash: Look what we accomplished when we all worked together! My mom, who Jeff Johnson says could solve the war in Iraq if she just had ten minutes to think about it, was the most impressed, saying that this group was the best group of people she has ever worked with. This won't be the last time that someone in our community needs support and help. In Johnny's honor, we need be aware and be active. We will step it up.

We never knew a day without our brother and we never will. Because in the woods, and in the water, and in our hearts, he will live forever.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heavy heart.

Hi everyone. Not much to say...its hot, I'm watching the calendar as my summer ticks away, and cancer still continues to play a major role in our lives. It is so heavy on our hearts that it is suffocating at times. I want to tell Jim that we just need to get out of here...we are planning a trip to Cedar Point with the cousins so that is something to look forward to. Cousin Matt is getting married in two weeks--yippee, something positive--and my laundry is almost caught up. But I still feel like I am in a funk.

Johnny continues his battle with determination and bravery. Pam is amazing...great attitude with two broken feet and all...and is just trying to cherish every second with her Toad. I am starting to watch you know who struggle (he who won't be named but I am married to him). I see that as my role...to keep it together so others can fall apart when needed. But I need to get out and get out of this funk! Ginger continues to be a rock and our friends are so helpful, strong, and resilient. I am not going to repeat all the information about the major birthday bash and benefit we had for Johnny, but lets just say that Niles, Michigan, despite its warts and blemishes, has some of the most compassionate and hard working, words-can't-describe people living here. The turnout was such a tribute to Johnny, and the entire Brawley family. As more than one person commented, it was the "Brawley Way"...giving to others. One man said to me "you shouldn't be amazed at any of this. Your family has done so much for others and this is our way to pay them back." This was not about me at all, but more about John and Ginger and their fish fries, Grandma's generosity YEARS ago, and all the time the guys have coached, and taught, etc. And, what makes this even better is there are MANY families like this in our little community. So proud to live here.

As always, I become more "involved" in researching MY cancer during the summer months, just because I have time. Still reading a lot about how slow growing it is, but also that almost EVERYONE has mets later in life. I am now three years out and continue to worry about that, but most days, I can shove it out of my mind.

Another friend Becki was just diagnosed with lymphoma and is battling the chemo poison. She is also blogging on Caring Bridge and is a joy to read. This is a woman with tons of energy so this is hard for her. She remains positive and upbeat and I admire her for that.

Again, heart and mind are heavy these days. That is why I visited here today. Hope it helps.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Weather is looking up!

Ah, the first day of my summer sleeping in at my own house. Wonderful. No cancer scans to think about for awhile but Johnny continues to be in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep him in yours as well.

Josh will be 18 on Wednesday. So hard to believe. Today he left for Cincinnati with Johnny's family as his cousin Quinn gets to be the batboy at the Reds vs Phillies game tomorrow night. He is suddenly so excited. Andrew can't go because he is taking a class starting tomorrow. One of Johnny's best friends is friends with someone in the Reds organization and arranged all this...a few of us are going to head to Wings, Etc to see if we can catch the game on their MLB package. Sure hope to see Quinners! : )

So pleased to see in the forecast that we are dry for awhile! Shade continues to be terrified of hard rain and storms and I am sick of everything being so damp and humid.

Need to make a list of the projects I want to get done this summer. I work very well from lists--gives me a feeling of accomplishment.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mammo is all clear.

All clear! Dr. Engl said that he didn't know what was on the mammo is April but the images today are the same as all my previous images. I must admit, I do wonder if the pictures were as good as they were last time...I didn't think she squished the boob enough...but I have to trust that the doctor considered that...

So, I am breathing easier tonight. Ginger and I had a great lunch at Bob Evans (a tradition) and laughed a lot. Such a great lady she is...

Love to you all--

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another sister lost.

Shelley is a friend I met on a list serv...she too blogged about her cancer. Her life was similar to mine in that she loved her family, loved to camp, loved dogs, etc. She also had triple negative breast cancer, which is considered more aggressive. I think she lived just over two years after her diagnosis. She was 37. THIRTY SEVEN. We must find a cure.

My follow up mammo is in a week. Just starting to think about it. Wish I didn't have to.....

Sunday, May 30, 2010


What a beautiful weekend! I love living in Michigan. You don't appreciate weekends like this unless you do. : ) Have so many things I want to get done this weekend but here I am instead.

We had another successful graduation and the Class of 2010 is on to bigger and better things. Graduation always comes at the right time--seniors are so ready to be done with high school rules, bathroom passes, tardy bells, etc. Not so sure if they are ready for reality, but many are well on their way. The rest of the students are done this Friday, and I work two more weeks.

I am very proud of myself these days for my lack of worrying. I am sure I will start obsessing again but for now, despite this concern in my left breast, I am not thinking about my cancer. Cancer yes, but not my cancer.

Very blessed to have a great husband, two great kids who use decent (not perfect) judgment, and to live in a great country.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

June is approaching

Changed my follow up appointment to a week earlier. June 17, another round of boob squishing. I have not been thinking about it at all, but then tonight I WAS thinking about it and am just not in the mood for any disruptions to my happy life. So that is that.

Stressful time for me right now. May is the best and worst month for high school principals. Kids graduate and kids DON'T graduate. So tough. Get me through Thursday and I can relax a little. We have our ceremony outdoors so weather is always tricky. Looks like rain for now, but I am still hopeful.

We have committed to June 18 for our trip the UP. Jim's entire immediate family is going. We are all about creating memories right now. Looking forward to laughing and just relaxing.

Not much else to say. Please pray for Johnny and all other cancer fighters!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A decent weekend?

Not so much cancer on the mind today. Sometimes you have to just not think about it. Glad the weekend brings sunshine. May have to do some antiquing for my new "guest" bedroom. Should also clean out Andrew's closet. He brought home a load of stuff this week...he is off to Louisville to see a friend and then returns to Goshen for his last week. He really needs to get a job that makes a lot of money.

Josh has a double header tomorrow. More baseball!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A fellow ACC sister

Tonight I was catching up with some ACC posts from a list serv and learned that Kelly, who was diagnosed with ACC/breast (at age 37) about a year ago, is now in hospice. Her ACC/breast has gone to her liver, and although they planned on surgery, it is now not possible. She has a 22 month old child.

I do not correspond with Kelly as I do a few other ACC sisters, but this is once again a reminder that this disease is insidious and can be relentless. I consider myself lucky so far. For a few moments, I sat stunned and staring at the computer. But now, after a few deep breaths, I am going to remind myself of my mantra "I am not going to die today" so I am not going to worry about this today either.


Sunday, May 9, 2010


Dealing with cancer fears is such a roller coaster. There are moments of shear terror, and then something happens and you just want to climb into a moment of joyfulness that hits you at the weirdest times. Today, for example, Sister Sue and I were refurbishing a mirror and an antique dresser/nightstand in the driveway, and while we were waiting to do a second coat, we sat in the sun on our back patio. Pure bliss. In the back of my mind, I was thinking "ok, five weeks until I might face another battle with breast cancer" but in those 15 minutes or so that we sat there, petting my goofy Shady Paige and listening to the birds, it didn't matter. Honestly, it was so peaceful. Whoever said "take time and smell the roses" really had something.

My sister is incredible, if you haven't figured that out yet. Such a good person, and talented in so many things. We are so much alike but I definitely didn't get the home decorator talents. I have good ideas, but she knows how to get it all done in a weekend. And she can shop like no other! Such a fun time we had.

Andrew also surprised me this weekend. I got up to let the dog out at 1:30 AM and he had taken a bouquet of wildflowers and placed them in a large plastic McDonald's cup, with a sign in crayon that said "Happy Mother's Day (cards are a waste of money) Love, Andrew" Next to the cup was a package of SHAM WOW thingies that he saw on TV. God love him. And Joshie, sweet Joshie, called from the mall and asked Jim what he should get me, and although Jim said nothing, I still appreciate that Josh would even think of it. Such good boys I have.

And then there is my husband...there's nobody better that is for sure!

Embrace it people, embrace everything you have because there are no guarantees.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Follow up

My family doctor's office called today to follow up after he received the report of my mammogram. His nurse said she just wanted to make sure that I had my 6 week appointment scheduled. She sounded so hesitant that I panicked a bit. I am thinking I may go get a copy of the report. But, again, it is probably just good follow up--I hope!

Both boys have games today. Andrew is in Indy for the beginning (and likely the end for Goshen) of the MCC tournament. John and Ginger went down. I know Ginger needs to escape and I am glad baseball is there for her. I worry about her as she is trying to be strong for her kids and has to have the same heartache we all do...love that lady.

Joshie is at the high school playing Sturgis. I am just tired, physically and emotionally so I came home. He was dh'ing. Not the best mom at the moment but he will forgive me.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Just really hating cancer more than anything.

My chest x-ray was clear. Just wanted to post that quickly. Now to get through the next 6 weeks for the re-check.

Counting blessings tonight and loving my family. The fight is NOT over nor will it ever be.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Research into "probably benign"

One thing I learned in my bout (I almost wrote "first bout" but I am refusing to think there will be a second bout) with ACC /breast was that there are scores that radiologists give abnormal results on mammograms. In light of the note that Dr. E wrote Dr. Ansari with the words "probably benign" I decided to google those words and sure enough, that is how a Birad Score of 3 is described. What I also learned is that shorter intervals of re-imaging are recommended, and that greater than 90% of these issues are benign. That 10 percent is looming, but there was one article that said greater than 98% were benign on further testing. I prefer the second figure but
as you know with me, even 1 percent is too many so I don't care for any of it! But it is what it is.

Tonight, I worry about getting through tomorrow's fear of a call from Dr. A's office about my chest xray. He told me to call but I know I won't be able to bring myself to do it. I literally freeze about things like this. Ugh. I hate hate hate hate how cancer robs us of simple peace and calm!

Johnny also has his visit tomorrow. Prayers abound all over the world tonight for him!

Time to get myself together and get my mind off of the negatives.


Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm back. Cancer had better NOT be.

It has been almost five months since my last post. I doubt anyone visits anymore, but I am now going to write again since things are a bit interesting with my last round of tests.

Yesterday was my yearly mammogram, which has hardly worried me since being diagnosed three years ago. But yesterday, a very very thorough radiologist found an area of density in my left breast--the one I used to call the "good boob"--on my mammogram. I had extra views, and ultrasound, more views, etc. He came in to talk to me, told me that if I was just any Sally Smith off the street he would be less concerned, but there WAS something showing up and he was too anal to let it go for someone with my history. So we did one MORE view--one he called a lateral roll--which he says he NEVER does--and it made him feel a lot better, BUT he still wants me to have another mammogram in 6 weeks. Yes, 6 weeks, not 6 months. Ok, that sort of freaks me out.

I keep repeating some things he said to calm myself down":

1) He's really anal. (gotta like that in a radiologist!)
2) He said "you got burned once...I am not letting that happen again." (he was referring to my mammogram that did NOT pick up the 6 cm cancerous tumor)
3) He was going to do an MRI, but said the last view (the lateral roll, that some techs call the "titty twister") made him feel a lot better. Something about tumors don't move or change shape and this picture made him think it more likely benign breast tissue.
4)There are no masses evident, its just the dense area that is different than my last mammos...you know the whole change thing is a bad thing on mammos. My note I was to give to Dr. Ansari said "probably benign area of density".

So there you have it. You know how I feel about that word "probably."

I was almost an hour late for my appointment with Dr. Ansari because of all the extra imaging. My blood work came back fine, and honestly, Dr. A did not seem too concerned with the mammogram. He just said that the radiologist is really really good. He seems to think I am doing fine, and even wanted to cancel the chest xray I have scheduled. (I think he picked up on my anxiety) Ginger of course said "oh no, we are having this done!" so I then had the chest x ray. No results yet--I am supposed to call Monday but as always, will be terrified to do so.

One of the first people I talked to about this was Johnny. We laughed about it because there is not much else you can do.

For some crazy reason, breast cancer does NOT scare me as much as it used to, and honestly, I am still more freaked out about the chest xray. I know breast cancer is beatable, but lung mets from ACC are most likely hard to beat. Sigh.

So I am back, hoping writing therapy will help. I am back to being anxious when the phone rings and back to googling "areas of density."

Cancer never leaves.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy, happy , happy

Reasons to be happy:
1) First snow day of the school year.
2) Josh had his first night of snowboarding and is going again today. Nothing better than that for Josh!
3) Andrew home for three weeks after finishing, successfully I might add, his first semester of college. He has grown up so much.
4) Tree up, wreath up, and even a few presents wrapped.
5) Only one week left of work and then two weeks off.
6) Johnny has one more cycle of chemo!
7) Barb has only one week left after years and years and years of giving to the children of this community. Happy Retirement Mrs. Garrard!
8) The governor did not cut the additional $127 per pupil...at least not yet.
9) Shade is extremely happy to have the snow to play in. Pooh has a plow so that makes snow A-Ok with us.
10) No worries of cancer for me this holiday season. Worrying is WAY overrated.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheer up!

My sister yelled at me for having a depressing blog. So here I am to cheer it all up! Let's talk about Michigan economy/educational crisis. Oops...not so fun either.

A Goshen College student was hit by a train this morning. He was drunk on the train tracks. It was not Andrew. I believe the student is going to be ok, last the news said. Goshen has tracks that run right through the campus--Andrew crosses them every day. The headline made my heart skip a beat when I read it.

Andrew is almost done with his first semester of college. Much tougher than he thought--especially with balancing a sport. But I think he is still happy. I know he will appreciate not having anything to do all break, although he is going back to help at a baseball camp his team is sponsoring over vacation.

Tonight is our first boys' basketball game. No Andrew to watch. That is fine with me!

A gift arrived in the mail for Jim today. Glad he wasn't home to see it. We never get each other anything big--just try to surprise each other with those things we say we would like some time or another. His something came today. Still have all the other shopping to do, although I did get our $10 gifts for the white elephant exchange for Ginger's side of the family.

The prediction for some snow tonight has been altered...looks like just rain and wind. Which means Shade will probably need drugs.

Really looking forward to Boyne for New Year's Weekend.

Hope this is more cheery than me saying I am not dead. I think that is pretty cheery, right? : )

Love to you all--and feel those boobies, ok?


Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm not dead.

When you write a blog about cancer, you really need to post every so often or people might think you have died. I have not died. I have just found Facebook and Farmville to mess with.

Anyway, you know I will be back eventually. I just am too busy harvesting eggplant, and looking for cute boys from the Class of 1980. Facebook does that to you.

Christmas is just around the corner. Thanksgiving was great, but I want to remember NEVER to leave up there at 2 AM as I can't sleep before hand, and when Jim is ready to sleep and it is my turn to drive, I can't keep my eyes open. Andrew did drive one leg this trip but that was from 7-9 PM on the way up, so that wasn't so tough. Also, remind me to tell Josh he MUST sleep before we leave as he was Mr. Crabby Pants the entire way home.

But it was fun.

I am ok...feeling a bit anxious about Andrew going back to college tonight after having him for four days. He is worried about his grades and with exams coming up, it is doubling. But he is doing fine...it just isn't as easy as high school was.

Off to cyber shop.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Making stuffed peppers

Loading my car with groceries today--on this glorious fall evening, I was thinking about cancer and the research I read today. And I realized that I am no different than any other cancer survivor. It can always come back.

But I told myself that I have to live like it won't. No other choices.

Going to make stuffed peppers at my husband's request.

That is what life is about, if you carve away all the other stuff.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

I don't believe them any more.

I am deliberating in my mind if I should no longer belong to some of the informational list servs that keep me in contact with ACC survivors. Today, another ACC breast cancer sister informed us that she has numerous lung mets. I do not know her whole story, but this is such disturbing news. My doctors paint such a great picture--as did her doctors--when in reality, this crappy cancer shows no mercy--including time.

It just sucks.

But, I am not going to die today from this disease, so what choice do I have but to just keep on keeping on.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Catching up

Cough. Sniff. Sneeze. Cough. Cough. cough...you get the drill. Stayed home one day last week with fever and the worst achy body I have had in years. Not sure if it was the flu, but it felt like a mild case at least. Should have stayed home another day but since my fever was only 99, and I was standing, I went to work. Anyway. Still coughing and now feel like I have a cold. Flu then cold. Doesn't seem fair.

I have been neglecting you dear ol' blog--yes, there is another woman...Facebook. I still LOVE blogging because I love writing but the nice thing about Facebook is the day to day interactions. The best thing about Facebook so far has been the memory trips she sends you on...I hooked up with some life time friends and have been smiling ever since. But, here I am, old faithful.

I do not believe I have shared what I think is amazing news in the cancer research field. It probably won't help me if I need it, but scientists have FINALLY discovered the gene that causes ACC. This is helpful in that ACC is often not diagnosed correctly at first, and now finding this specific gene will help, and secondly, those same scientists are saying that they can target therapies to turn "off" this gene in terms of treatment. I got an email about this not too long ago and then researched it myself....the scientists seem really excited so I am as well!

Andrew, who will NOT accept my as his friend on Facebook, has also banned me from talking about him on here. Seems someone at his college must have been surfing and found this site. I think it is funny. Poor Andrew. His mom never leaves him. BIG baby he is! Josh has no issues with me on Facebook, but probably will soon.

Football season is over so Jim is back to hunting for a few days. He starts basketball Monday at the middle school so it will be short lived.

Yesterday I baked an apple pie (yes, from scratch) and it was ok. The best part was the REAL whipped cream I made. I almost screwed that up howeve--didn't realize you need to add sugar but I did before it was too late so all was yummy. Even Josh liked it--he put it on brownies since he has aversion to fruits and veggies. (yet he is one skinny dude) I also made Chicken Ala King--which is a big deal because I have tried before and could never get a good gravy going. It ended up being pretty good!

Ok, the hunter is home so off I go.

Much love from boob central--


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dancing with NED and my new purse.

Schwew--what a busy weekend. At the last minute, Andrew decided he wanted me to come to his first "real" college baseball game (mainly because he is tired of driving and wanted a ride home) so early Saturday morning, I drove to Goshen and watched a whopping 7 hours of baseball. The Mapleleafs played Kalamazoo Valley, and I froze my patoot off, seeing as I wasn't prepared with enough warm clothing. The coach started the "varsity" team the first game, which they won, 9-3, and then the second game he switched all the players out, so Andrew didn't play. The team lost 20-12, which is why it took so long. Andrew played very well at short the first game, and did a nice job cheering the second game. I eventually went to my car I was so cold.

So, after freezing through two games, I finally brought him home for the night...and am currently finishing his laundry. He had three loads crammed into one small laundry basket...I am sending back a bigger one. He is definitely an expensive kid. This morning we went out to breakfast, then he needed a haircut, and then wanted his favorite bourbon chicken and strawberry/banana fruit smoothie from the mall...geesh. He is really doing well with HIS money at school but more than makes up for it when he comes home. This is his last week of fall ball so he is looking forward to having a lot more free time each day. Next Friday he is home for Fall Break for five days.

Although I didn't go to Johnny's golf outing, I heard it was a MAJOR success. That is wonderful news. The generousity of this community is so overwhelming. Jim said there were so many great friends there...people came from all over. I hope this helps Johnny and Pam pay off those medical bills. I just can't imagine what people do without insurance, as Pam has very good insurance but still loads of bills.

I forgot to say that I went and bought my new Vera Bradley today. I figured I would have heard by now if I wasn't NED (no evidence of disease). I ain't taking it back if I jumped the gun regardless! : ) When Ginger and I were at Dr. Ansari's office for me on Tuesday we probably counted at least 12 different women with Vera Bradley bags. I wanted to ask them if they bought them since they were NED? : )

Joshie needs to get on so off I go.

Love that Joshie.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If I had known

that I would not get my xray results today, I could have saved a night of worry. I thought for sure he would know as soon as I saw him; nope, gotta wait until the scan is read. So, tomorrow and the next day will be a day of being terrified every time the phone rings. He told me to call late tomorrow if I wanted to know...but I can't do that either. Too scary. So, as long as there is no call, all is fine. Frizzle. Hate this part.

On the good side, my blood work was all normal. I actually felt good about that as my new ACC sister who has liver mets said her mets actually DID show up in her liver blood work, which is unusual for ACC. So, a victory for that part at least.

I won't give you the details of the xray tech--you know how I read everything into what they say and how they look at me...but yeh, I walked out thinking OMG, she is freakin' out at what she sees...

Typical worry.

Ok, just wanted to get that all. My next appointment isn't until April. Please slip a prayer in for me if you can.

Love to you all--


Monday, October 5, 2009

Holy cow, I am a wreck.

Heavy sigh. I wish I could express this nervous feeling I have into words but I can't. Tomorrow is Dr. Ansari, a visit that could be dreadful, or wonderful. No control here on which it will be. I will have a chest xray and bloodwork--routine--but it has been 7 months since my last tests and as every cancer survivor fears, the routine scan will not be so routine. I think I might be overly sensitive to this scan because of the recent events with many ACC breast sisters who have learned they have mets after supposedly years of clean scans...and the other part of this is that from what I have read is that the aggressive ACC tumors often (well, sometimes) show up within the two year span. Well, I am just out of my two year time frame and want it to be CLEAR. I want to be the lucky one.

I continue to hope and pray that I am beating this but if I am honest, I continue to be scared every day. Prayers tonight would be appreciated. I want to be NED forever.

And, I need a new purse dammit! This pink summer one ain't getting it.

Love you all--please think of me!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Could we be any busier?

Hello. Can't believe it is Sunday already. I woke up yesterday and thought I had to go to work--best feeling in the world when you realize you don't.

Work has been incredibly busy. With Jim coaching football every night until 6-7, working from 5:30 a.m.--4:00, and also working out kids in baseball, we never see each other until we tumble into bed! As I have mentioned before, I am on the negotiation team a new teachers' contract, plus we have a new School improvement process that has required night meetings as of late. I too feel like I am working two jobs--for no extra pay! But it is all good...just tiring. I must give a shout out to Crazy MIL and FIL--they take care of Johnny one week and on non-chemo week they stop by my house and I usually come home to a clean kitchen and at least one less load of laundry to do. This week, John cleaned my linen closet. How nice is that? I think Ginger likes to stay really busy --1) to keep her mind off of negative things and 2) I think she would go bonkers just staying at home, and 3) because she is such a great person, she loves to help out her kids. I am sure she is stopping by Pooh's too. (don't think Danny gets left out...he has an awesome "nanny" who takes care of the house too--Aida's sister Lucy!) So, we are all very lucky.

I had the best surprise this week. I won't go on and on about how broke we are (but let's put it this way...we have 99.00 in our savings account) but paying bills literally makes me nauseated. This week, I was making sure all my electronic payments were good to go and realized I am a full month ahead of schedule on our mortage. (ok, for you savers, you probably don't think this is a big deal) but it was for me! So I basically get to skip a payment and get to use that to pay off some credit cards bills. Such a nice surpise when that happens!

The other good news is I think Andrew will be coming to Sunday dinner today. He went to Michigan State to see Kaitlyn this weekend and figured he would get up early and head here first before heading back to Goshen. He also wants his dad to give him some BP--he, again, thinks he is in a slump, since he went 0-4 in his first scrimmage game. He is one of two freshman who started for varsity so he is pleased with that, but really wants to earn his keep. He said he played well defensively. Anyway, regardless, I am excited to see him!

Was reading my numerous list serves (I belong to one for general breast cancer, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, and Colon cancer) and was pleased to read that Irene, a member of the colon cancer one, is celebrating 10 years post-diagnosis of colon cancer with mets to the lung and liver. She says she has been "bald and pukey" over the years but is doing great and living her life. And, on my ACC site, the ACC research foundation is now sending out a newsletter about all the breakthroughs they have had. Unfortunately, they still have no chemo to help, but are getting a better understanding of how this crazy-a@# tumor develops and grows. I really, really wish they had a chemo to help just in case...

My other kid, Joshua, continues his busy social life. He was really struggling on his pre-calc homework, but kicking bootay on tests...where he knows he has to take his time! Geesh. The kid could probably be over a 4.0 if he would just SLOOOOOW down. Loves his AP Pysch class. As usual, he is still sleeping on this foggy Sunday morning.

Today Jim and I are going to get flu shots. I should drag Andrew with us because I know he won't get one at his Health Center...maybe his coach will make them?

Tuesday is Ava Christine's birthday. She is celebrating her second birthday up in heaven with her Gram. Thinking of you, Jamie. Ava is still close to all of our hearts.

Love to you all--


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Peace of mind

Dr. Ansari's office called Friday and we have to postpone my next appointment until October 6 because he will be out of town. So I can put off worrying for another week or so. Good news in my book.

Another scary ACC/breast story has reached me. Mets to the spine after a year of clear scans...Susan's back kept hurting to the point she couldn't walk so she had a test and there is a tumor (or more) on her spine. Crap. She also had clear margins and an encapsulated tumor to start with, which is about the best you could have. So there is no telling with cancer.

Cancer sucks.

On a good note, Andrew came home Friday night and we stayed up late talking and I finally got all my questions answered: he sees himself staying there four years; his favorite class is the Bible class; he doesn't always get up for breakfast but gets a smoothie from Java Junction, a coffee shop in his dorm that he can swipe his meal plan card for; it is NOT a dry campus although it is really really really supposed to be, which I thought was very interesting; two players on his team are married and three are engaged; he and his roommate get along fine--in fact, when Andrew was lamenting about some baseball issues (lack of hitting) Luke explained the story of Job to him, so Andrew now has a poster on his door that says "PLAY LIKE JOB" which he hits as he leaves his room everyday; roommate reads the Bible nightly and has helped Andrew with class; still thinks everyone is "the nicest people"; misses Kait; um...I think there is more but those were the biggies.

Jim and I bit the bullet and went and got two new phones for the kids on the Verizon network. Andrew had horrible service in Goshen on Nextel and Josh has wanted Verizon for some time, so we are now paying for two phones we won't be using. I may just break the contract with Nextel but will have to see how the costs work out. Jim and I are taking it down to him today...I will admit, i want a phone like it as it has the keyboard and I can fly when I text!

Happy Sunday to you. Appreciate your good health and worry free days, people. You never know when peace of mind is rocked. But also NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER give up.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Uh-oh--scratchy throat?

Jim is singing in the bathtub. Poor guy's arm is so sore from pitching baseballs to kiddies. He is such a hard worker.

Very nervous that I am coming down with the respiratory crap that everyone is dealing with at school. Both kids and teachers are falling like flies. My throat is scratchy and sort of sore..plus, that cough is coming on. I am drinking lots of Vitamin C...just cuz.

Now Jim just came out of the bathroom wearing my pajamas. Granted, they are sort of unisex but he is still making me laugh. Josh is at the volleyball game and better get home soon.

Andrew's doing great. Is still not sure about whether he will be on the jayvee team or varsity. Right now he is the leading shortstop for varsity but the regular season is not until Spring so a lot can change. He felt he was in a terrible batting slump but now is batting ok--5th in terms of average of all the players so that bodes well for varsity I would think. He still doesn't call...his cell phone reception is horrible...so horrible I might actually get him a new carrier and phone as it is not acceptable that I can't call him. Even texting is a problem. He is deep into homework and I had to proof a paper last night at 10:30. I decided he didn't learn a thing in high school. At least he did indent his paragraphs this time. : )

Time for my shower. Just stopping by to say hey. Almost one week until that chest xray. Sigh. But I won't think about that today, Rhett.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Cancer weighs heavily today. An ACC/breast sister was told by her doctor that when ACC/breast metaticizes to lungs (which hers did, three years after dx) it becomes very aggressive. She is terrified and seeking info. Nothing I have read says that...but obviously, you can go from Stage I to Stage IV in one routine x-ray! CRAP. My only solace with this stupid cancer is that it is supposed to be slow growing and NOT aggressive.

Secondly, my Velvet, who I met online, passed away yesterday. I honestly cried. She was so amazingly positive, living with Stage IV breast cancer for EIGHT years...in her bones, her brain, lungs, etc. She was so funny and brave and inspirational and just amazing. She truly was one who made me stronger throughout this.

On one good note, I was looking at an ACC site and a list of recommended ACC doctors and my doctor from U of M was one of them. Of course, he is a head and neck doctor, but at least he knows ACC.

Heavy heart today. It will get better. It usually does.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What? I forgot??

Please let me point out that I totally forgot that Monday was my two year cancer free anniversary! Yes, it was two years ago that the bad ol' boob was chopped off.

Rather amazing that I forgot the significance of the date. Of course, I remembered later, but was pleasantly surprised at how far I have come. Well, at least until the worrying starts in next week with my chest x-ray looming.

But until then, Happy Cancerversary to me!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer's last hurrah

After a long weekend camping, here we are on another eve of school. Not having Andrew to deal with will be easier, but I do miss the little (tall) guy. Saw him for one night camping but it was actually about 10 minutes total...he was too busy playing dodgeball, etc. He did say he really likes Goshen; his teachers are the "best" and "amazing", particularly his bible teacher. He had a quiz today on the 27 books of the old testament.

Camping was fun, as always. We don't do much but sit around and look forward to the next meal. We kept things simple this year. I made a big pot of chili Friday and then on Saturday all the Niles families had a HUGE potluck. I think there was close to 130 people there from Niles at our little potluck. Good food. You would never know we were camping with the yummy dishes everyone brought. Sunday we had shish-kabobs over the fire and filled in the rest of the meals with hotdogs, etc. Danny and family came down for the afternoon and the kids had a great time.

It rained last night so I slept really well. Shade was able to fall asleep to the raindrops without freaking out on us. I have the fan and the air conditioner going so she doesn't hear much outside the trailer. (I often run the furnace at the same time to keep it somewhat less damp.)

Oh GAWD! Today when we got home I was putting things away in my medicine cabinet in the bathroom and I looked at the window screen and there was this brown thing clinging to the screen. My first thought was a frog, but when I looked closer it was a freakin' BAT. AGAIN! I had a minor cardiac infarction and froze--telling Jim to get in there. The bat never moved so he was able to grab it with a towel and get it outside. He is convinced it is the same bat from the first time. Regardless, I am still shaking that image out of my head eight hours later. But Jimmy is my hero, once again.

Today was "read my old pathology report again" day. I do that about every 6 months. Today I researched p63 and p53 tumor markers, and got confused. I know the p53 expression is indicative of a poor prognosis, but that was never mentioned in my report but it's "family" member, the p63 WAS mentioned. I did learn that some 85 percent of all breast cancers have the p63 marker. This is when I shouldn't do research. : ) We do have a new member on the ACC site who is a doctor and he has been amazing in HIS research. He has ACC salivary gland but is doing a lot of research about the disease in general so the sharing of his wisdom has been very valuable.

So, September is here. School is here. Life continues and life is good.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

College boy. 1/2 an empty nest. And even the bat is gone.

Andrew and his entourage (Jim, Molly, John and Ginger) left for Goshen College this morning at the crack of dawn---finally got dorm keys around 9:30 after an amazingly efficient check in process. The frosting on the cake was the yummy muffins, cinnamon rolls, bagels, juices, coffees and glass bottled soft drinks they provided to all of us...students, parents, and the occasional grandparent and sibling. I swear every important person at that college was working...we talked to the dean of student life, the dean of financial aide, the head honcho admissions person, etc. They just all were helping.

Moving into the dorm room was easy peasy chicken weasy. I think Andrew had ten different people helping him carry his things to his room so it took no time at all. Andrew is on the second floor but it was only about 5 steps up the way the building was built. He was the first to arrive so he ended up picking the bottom bunk and after some thought, chose his desk. Compared to all the girls' rooms I have seen, and even some of the boys on his floor, his room is a bit "plain." I've included some pictures...you'll be relieve to know his bed looks a lot better now...he forgot his pillow, which we went home and got, and I have also switched the bedding around. Ginger wanted it all to match so his quilt was turned upside down but I thought it looked hideous (the quilt is about 15 years old) so he doesn't match the purple blanket but it does look better. He also now has a small table that his alarm clock sits on.

How pathetic is his closet? When we went back to get the pillow we got more clothes, some posters (notice the Tin Cup poster==you can't see his Hoosiers poster), more food, etc. I didn't take enough pictures but at least there are a few. I was also lucky to snap one of Josh in Andrew's closet, scratching his deodorant sticker! (Josh couldn't escape me!!!) Also, look at the pretty view he has! The parking lot in the distance is where his truck is.

Anyway, one last thing. We had a bat in our house the other night sans Jim, so of course, every one ran around panicked and the bat disappeared into the basement. Jim wisely brought in a tennis racket and tonight, while I was typing this, the bat came flying up and all around the family room. Tyler Fisher, if you know him, is my hero. He went after the bat with the tennis racket but then suddenly got really freaked out, so Jim stunned the sucker and was able to get him off the top of a cupboard--using a towel of course. So even the bat has left the nest.

Well, I survived Andrew leaving. He is only an hour away so that helps immensely. I honestly think I am more sad about not having Kait around... : (

Ah well, it's why we raise them.


Mom of a Mapleleaf.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tick tick tick. Clock is ticking.

I have been lurking on Josh's Facebook (Andrew banned me) and I am sooooooooooooo jealous of all the girls' dorm rooms! The pictures are fabulous. Obviously, hot pink and black are the colors of the year. I tried to look closely at all of the pictures to see little things that Andrew would need...I did see some Wonder Hangers, which I did purchase prior to the lurking. (However, I am not sure Andrew needs them for his lack of clothing choices.) Andrew's bedspread choice is an old cotton quilt that he likes--he didn't want anything new--but Kaitlyn also just gave him a great crocheted quilt in purple and white so he will have that too. The two of them are going out for a nice dinner tonight. It is going to be very tough on them since they have spent so much time together for the last two years. We will miss seeing her everyday too!

I still have some things to get for Andrew (yes, I will be doing the shopping Thursday night). I know for sure we need a surge protector, some jeans that actually fit him (he is finally gaining some weight), at least one extension cord, school supplies like binders and folders, more toiletries, etc. We haven't even tackled the food/snack issues yet. I will get that stuff down there. The plan is to bring sort of the minimum on Saturday...and then see what his roommate has...and then we will bring the rest on Sunday. We have meetings with advisers on Saturday, and then on Sunday we return for a brunch with the students and then we will attend church, too. Andrew says we don't have to come but nuh uh, I am going!!!!! Right now, I am in denial that he is leaving. What an exciting time for him.

NHS Freshman Orientation is done--check! Always good to get that over with--it went very well and most freshmen were successful. I saw a few meltdowns of girls with their moms..."don't wallk with me!!!! I can find it!!!!" etc.

Off to go check out the varsity band. Tonight is their last night of band camp.

Friday night brings Viking football! I believe the girl's basketball team is selling port-a-pit chicken at the tailgate so make sure you stop by to support them. We have a really good chance to beat Coldwater--finally, an opening game that we should win. Go VIKES!!!!!!


Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Friday and I'm not happy????

Happy Friday night. Try not to laugh at this, but I am sort of disappointed it is Friday just because work has been so busy(like I don't take a breath busy) and I leave each day with a feeling of accomplishment. I definitely like work better than housework and as I glance around at the ever-increasing clutter--work sounds better!

I got a hair in my craw to strip my bedroom's wallpaper. But I don't want to put any time into it so I peel off sections at a time. And of course, the sections come off in tiny pieces. The wallpaper is ancient--the paper comes off pretty easily but the glue is still there. A few nights ago Josh decided to "help" and all on his own, Googled what to do. So at 10:00 at night, he is in my room with soapy hot water paint rollering water on the walls. He said he would do the entire room for 50 bucks. Yes, that lasted one panel as the tiny flecks of paper wouldn't come off.... but now we have a deal that the just wet the walls an hour before I come home from work and I will work on the rest. So far we have about 1/100th of the room done. Jim just shakes his head at me. I know I should be using DIF, or a steamer, or vinegar, or whatever, but like I said, that would require effort and thought and I just like picking at it.

Another scary thing is Andrew has become extremely likeable. I wanted to continue to be happy that he is leaving but now suddenly, he is NOT fighting with his brother, he does his chores without being asked, he laughs, he jokes, AND he finished a book already for his English class. We are down to a week from tomorrow in the countdown.

Yesterday, and this may have something to do with his good mood today, he went to a workout with his Goshen teammates at Goshen. In his mind, he feels like he has a good chance to start. He felt he hit the ball well-- he hit the 396 sign marker. Success really motivates Andrew so I glad it went well for him. He wasn't perfect--said the coach hits grounders like no other--but he seemed challenged by that. I am so pleased. He also got an email from his R. A., who is one of the players that we met on his last recruiting visit so he is happy about that.

Next Friday is our first football game. It will be nice just to worry about Danny and the team==not my own kid. We are feeling pretty confident about the season--the schedule is a bit different, and making the playoffs is feasable. Plus, some good returning kids. Can't wait!

Today I attended a meeting about our Instant Alert system that we will be using in Niles. It will allow all kinds of messages to be sent to your email, your cell, your home phone, etc. Messages like school cancellations, event reminders, etc. It was cool to see all that we will be able to do.

Freshman Orientation is Monday night. Always fun to see the new kids, although they crack me up because most don't want to appear that they know nothing...and then there are the few who panic that they don't think they can handle it. Our goal is to have them know where to show up the first hour of the day, and where their lockers are. This is the Class of 2013 for those of you keeping track.

The kids saw Johnny today and said he is doing great.. TGIF for him.

Goofy pain under my boob is back...doesn't scare me anymore but still have no clue what it is. I am a month away from my next set of scans. Yes, obsessive worrying is about to commence I am sure.

TTFN...Harry Potter is calling me.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Count down starts. GO to the FIGHTING TOAD, too.

Insomnia has invaded the over 40 female in this household. I have not slept for more than a few hours the last two nights. My mind is thinking about all of things I need to take care of at work, and with the addition of my iced tea addiction, caffeine is also the culprit. I fall asleep for the most part...but by 1:00 AM, I am up, talking to the kids and petting my dog.

Andrew is pleasantly pleasing me these days. Wonder if he is beginning to appreciate the ol' 'rents? I brought some boxes home today from work to help him get organized. Still need a power strip and bathroom items. And I am sure some other things. He actually went out and bought himself a $9 backpack. Nine days 'til he leaves.

I am on Harry Potter 3 now. Also reading a Sandra Brown book. I go from smut to magic with the flip of the page.

Johnny's port is infected. Please visit Pam's site and say hello. It helps so much...even if it is just a "thinking about you." I can't wait for Friday for them. then they have about 8 days of normalcy. And you do appreciate "normalcy" with a cancer diagnosis.

I have met another lady on line who is in her young 30's that was recently diagnosed with ACC in her salivary glands. Just after surgery and as she prepared for mega-radiation, her two year old son was diagnosed with cancer. I can't remember the type but the tumor was in the belly area, and although it was caught early, he has to go through chemo. I just shake my head and admire all cancer survivors--and my goodness, your child??? (If I already wrote about this, I am sorry)

Gotta get Josh's chaffuer directions to the fair. That would be Dominick.


Friday, August 14, 2009

The taboo subject.

I am not allowed to talk about you know who's you know what that he/she had done today. You know who has no interest in having his/her health issues broadcast on my blog. However, I will say that his you know what was clean as a whistle and the you know what went very well. He, or she, said he/she would like to do it once a month so he/she can detox the you know what.
Got that?


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer is over...or is it?

Today is the last official day of summer break for me. But this year, I am making the purposeful decision that I am still of vacation but just have to go to work from 7:30 until 3 or so...that way, summer won't end. Then, when the kids start, I will officially be back to work.

As always, I am always sort of glad to go back. I love my job. This is going to be an exciting year as we have a new assistant, and Josh is now firmly established as a junior. And, best of all, I only have ONE kid to get up in the morning!

Andrew is at Cedar Point for the day/night. He doesn't know this yet, but this really needs to be his last hurrah for the summer as the money can't keep flowing out of the ATM like it has been. He used his own money but I told him I would pay him back if he was a good boy. How is that for bribing? I can't figure this child out...he is never home but claims we don't let him do anything...he says he is bored at home at that is our fault...OMG. I guess this is the way kids transition to college because 3 months ago I was weepy thinking about him leaving and now they are tears of joy. And I think he feels the same, but a wise person suggested to me that it could be ANXIETY that is causing his bad attitude when it comes to the family. Jeesh. It never gets easier.

Josh on the other hand is just a delight. He has me busy reading Harry Potter Book 2 and is so pleasant to be around. I am writing this as proof that he is a nice kid. If he Sybils on me his senior year, I will know it is related to just getting older.

Jim started Job 2 yesterday as a freshman football coach. Gosh, what long days for him. He goes from work to practice until 9 PM. Yawn.

I got my answer about the WalMart parking lot from Johnny. It is employees. I guess there was a complaint that they were taking up the good spots so they now have to park way out yonder. I didn't imagine there were so many cars. Mimi also answered my Riverfront walking question but since I haven't been back there, it doesn't matter.

I am not liking to have our air on all day and night. I really prefer a fan in the window at night but it's too dang hot. Last year around this time I had my power shut off--remember that fiasco??? My my.

Rambling...so time to go. No coughing or chest pain these days.


Friday, August 7, 2009

No such thing as a free lunch.

Just a quick post.

My ads are gone. Yes, it was too good to be true. Google Ad Sense decided one of two things: my ads have invalid clicking or my blog is associated with another site that has invalid clicking. What that means is this: They decided that I had too many clicks from the same IP addresses (or that the other site did). Which is really the truth, so I can't be mad, although one day I had only 9 clicks which is less than I had had in the past, but what the heck, they're the boss. In the fine print of all of the ad contracts we signed, it does say that you are not suppose to do anything to cause "invalid clicking" because, if it happens, they can cancel at anytime. Something triggered them to realize that I had invalid clicking. The really bad part of it is that I lost all my money that was saved up on the account...almost $300.

For me, this is no big deal. Yes, I give my money to charity (although this time charity might have been the Andrew Brawley College fund) but now I am so paranoid about the same thing happening to Mimi so I quickly warned her. But Mimi has had intense ad clicking since the inception of her blog, so there shouldn't be red flags. My blog's intense clicking just started so there probably was a red flag. I am not clicking on Mimi's ads until she gets her first check, as I do not want to be associated with her blog for fear they will cancel hers for being related to a site that has invalid clicking.

Just proves there is really is no such thing as a free lunch.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I just have to post this as it is rather ironic. Do you remember me writing about the GIANT who I had to stand behind at the Billy Joel/Elton John concert? (See my post from July 19)

So, today, Jim is watching TV in the living room and I am in the kitchen. He yells "Come here come here come here!" and there, on the TV, is the Giant!!!!

His name is Jared Allen and he is a football player for the Minnesota Vikings. To ensure that it was him, I did some google research and sure enough, it was him. He even talked about going to the concert in some of the articles about him. This guy is quite popular and quite good (pro-Bowler) it looks like--crazy, fun loving type of guy...and into hunting (he has a hunting hat on as you can see. I took this picture because I wanted to show people how big he was, but this doesn't do his size justice) Like I said, Pooh on steroids.

So, when you are watching football this season, and you hear all kinds of stuff about the intensity of this guy, you can rest assured he is a nice nice guy who knew the lyrics to every single song that Elton John and Billy Joel sang.

When you know the world's greatest athlete and his world's greatest wife, nothing impresses you too much, but I will say that this guy was fun and standing behind his giant self was just part of the experience. (And yes, that is the hottie girlfriend who I think wore about 9 inch heels.)

A small but GIANT world.


Inquiring minds want to know.

I have a couple questions that have been hanging out in my brain. If you know the answers, please let me know.

First of all, if you are a Wal-Mart customer, have you noticed the number of cars that are parked in the parking lot, near the road? They don't appear to be shoppers. I am so curious as to why they are all parked there. Any ideas?

Secondly, we walked down by the Riverfront and are curious as to the mileage that a loop on the side walk is...yes, there are markers but they make no sense to us. The markers have different colored arrows and a number by them but don't seem to equate to mileage at all. Hmmm. Any walkers out there?

Also, yesterday I become a member of Sam's Club. I am a true adult now. But now I need advice. I was there for about 20 minutes and wasn't sure what the big deal of belonging is...do you all save money by buying bulk? Is that it? Is meat cheaper? Better? I just walked away thinking it wasn't that big deal. But I know people love it and go there often. So help me love it.

I am obsessed with making fudge these days. I make Brooke's recipe (a secret family recipe) but wouldn't mind trying another just to see if it can hold up to Brooke's. I am headed to the food network to see if they have any intriguing recipes. The funny thing is, except for licking the spoon, I don't really eat much of it. (Brooke is Matt B.'s girlfriend in case you were wondering. We love Brooke. (Crazy FIL calls her "Crick"--as in "crook" as in a small river, like a brook.)

And, at the risk of sounding like a crazed fan, I am ticked off that Paula Abdul is not coming back to American Idol. I do NOT LIKE KARA. Grrr. I may not watch. : )

Ok, off to lunch with my wonderful friend Betty! Can't wait to crack up and have good conversation.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An 11 year undertaking.

Good Afternoon. I got up at 11:00 this morning and I am proud of it. Not really. I feel like a teenager but I was up late reading and our dog was pacing all night for some reason. She was anxious about nothing.

Ok, 11 years have passed and I have finally read Book 1 of Harry Potter. I could never get into it before but I started it Sunday night and finished it is the wee hours last night. It was quite entertaining, so much that I will probably now read the second one. I know, I am somewhat of an anomaly but at least I have now read it. Josh is so proud of me.

Josh is at MSU and although he says he is bored, I think he is enjoying it. His roommate is from Battle Creek Central and it sounds like they are getting along nicely. So nicely they ordered a pizza last night to split. I will go pick him up on Thursday. He said he isn't homesick but being away from home has made him appreciate home. This is Josh's first "camp" so to speak and I am so glad he is liking it enough.

Andrew got his game schedule from his coach this week and he has 62 games in the spring--including a week in Florida. : ) He does have a few games this fall as well.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Take Two on the experiment

Ok, the experiment failed. But now I am trying Mimi's suggestion of one post a day. Let's talk about sunshiny things.

I love puppies. I love caramel corn. I love to sit in the sun at the beach. I love to read late into the night. I love sleeping in when it rains.

Perhaps now I will have less depressing ads. Oops, there is that word depressing. You know the computer will pick up on that! : )


Saturday, August 1, 2009

An experiment

I am going to do a little experiment today to see if the ads pick up strange words and then decide what ads to put on our sites. I am sore of tired of "lung cancer diagnosis?"

I will try to be as random as possible:

pottery collecting
Lake Michigan
Young Americans
fois gras
Michigan State
Babe Ruth
painting your bedroom
Wonder Hangers (I did buy some of these yesterday)
Crayola Markers

Let's see what that brings. Hee hee.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Doctors and parenting. I think I need drugs.

I've decided I have a terrible case of "white coat syndrome." Went with Jim to his doctor's appointment and shook like a leaf (my mom's saying) the entire length of the appointment. It went well; Jim liked the doctor and the doc didn't freak out about the lump in his side. They are going to "watch it", (where have I heard those words before???) and then if it grows too much I guess we will go to a surgeon. Jim said the doc debated but said it was really rubbery (good), moveable (good), and smooth edges (good). Funny, the night before, I had told Jim all those things. Again, credit must go to my University of Google medical degree. Anyway, he had and EKG, etc and is now scheduled for the colonoscopy next Friday with the same doctor who did Johnny's. I figured he would be extra diligent and not take anything for granted with Jim. Jim talked to Danny last night and Danny will be going in as soon as football season is over--now we just need to see what Pooh is planning on doing.

Andrew is ready for college and we are ready for Andrew to go to college. If you have smallish children, appreciate them 'cause they do grow up and become MONSTERS. : ) I love the kid dearly but it is time...

Joshie is going to journalism camp Sunday through Thursday and is so excited. He is delightful that way. I just spent the morning trying to download the camp packet and it took forever 'cause my printer is all jacked up. You are probably wondering why Josh didn't do it--well, probably because he is NEVER home and I like to be prepared. Andrew's Goshen adviser called last night (he wasn't home) but told me that he is sooooooooo on the ball about getting all the paperwork, etc. in to come to Goshen next month. Of course, that would be ME that is on the ball. There is a part of me who wants to stop helping--just so he can figure out how good he has it. I also thought about telling him he can't take the truck he calls "his"...wouldn't that rock his bada#$ attitude. Ha! And how about figuring out how to pay for his books? Hmmm... not so bada#$ anymore I bet.

Parenting can suck big time.

On the bright side, well, I can't think of anything that bright, except that Johnny has worked for three days now. That is a victory!!!

Keep clicking those ads...each click is worth about 50 cents on average. Amazing. As Pam told Jake, "it's the great American way."


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One organ is clear.

This is going to be a short post but I want to say that:

I have no signs of cancer in my cervix. How's that for putting it out there??? With all the cancer talk and worries, I am doing a happy dance at that good news. All you cancer worriers understand the small victories. And no, I wasn't worried but getting the all clear is a reason to celebrate.

And my goodness, I hate to benefit from Pam and Johnny's cancer fight right now, but this clicking business is making me a profit as well. I think I made over $12 today alone. I can't imagine Pam's profits, as she had people checking in from, and I mean this literally, ALL OVER THE WORLD. Just what those advertisers want too.

Jim's doctor's appointment is tomorrow. I accidentally scared Andrew about it...it's a long story...but I felt during a particular conversation we were having that he needed to know about Jim's lump in his side. Andrew got extremely upset...which he never does....but I felt I needed to tell him for many different reasons. He is ok now and I don't regret telling him as he is a bit self-centered these days-- but he took it much harder than I intended. I spent a half hour back peddling and trying to tell him it is most likely nothing. Sigh.

Headed to bed to read for awhile and then wonderful sleep.

Thanks for clicking and visiting. Mucho adore'.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

A nice Sunday

As you can see, I added new ads to my blog. Didn't know you could do that! I appreciate you clicking and also urge you to click on Pam's site. They will be using the money to help with expenses related to Johnny's travel for the liver surgery.

Today is the official first day of no baseball. Andrew lost yesterday (blessing in disguise since the team that beat us KILLED us and we would most likely have no chance at state) Now I just have to do laundry to get all of his various uniforms ready to be turned in tomorrow at his banquet.

We are starting Sunday dinners at MIL and FIL's again today. Potato soup is on the menu (at Jim's suggestion). Perfect for a hot summer day. : ) Jim talked to Johnny this morning and he sounds much better. Relief.

Josh went to Relay for Life last night and hasn't gone to sleep yet. He is acting like it as well. Jim is mowing the lawn. Andrew is sleeping, as always, after a night of poker at a friend's house. The life of a teenager.

My chest pain is definitely better, as is my cough but both are still there. I am deciding it is allergies. And I really think they might be from my basement since I have ignored the laundry for most of this week and things are better.

We are trying to cut costs in our house and just cancelled all our movie channels. In doing so, I cut WGN, which carries the Cubs. That lasted for about two days. Just got them back on, but was able to do so without adding the expensive stuff. I am happy with the Food Network, HGTV, and the locals...

Tomorrow I am going to Kalamazoo to see my parents. Work is looming!