Monday, May 15, 2017

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow and Back Again!

The last week of 2016, I found out that I was no longer responding to the oral chemo I had started in October, and that my cancer had spread. My body had puffed up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and I got to welcome in the New Year with yet another hospital stay. Treatment Plan A had been a bust. Plan B was a failure. Now we were onto Plan C. We immediately started IV chemo (Gem/Carbo)...

With IV chemo, we knew there was a pretty good chance that I'd end up losing my hair... again. Since I had been down that road before, I knew I could totally handle it.  It still sucked, because my hair had grown out so long and healthy from the last go-around and I was loving it. I knew it would come back, eventually. So, 3 weeks in, it started falling out and a month later I had a pretty good balding stripe right down the top of my head. It was time to shave it.

I decided that I wanted to share the experience with My Tribe (my friends and family). I wanted people to see that it really wasn't such a scary thing.  If I could do it, so could they.  I grabbed two of my besties, my wigs, and headed over to my friend's salon for the "big event".  I shared the whole thing live on Facebook (you can watch it HERE), and was overwhelmed by the amount of support I got from all of my people.

Notice the bald stripe leading to my bald patch?

Almost gone!

Celebrating with my besties the day after and sporting my pink wig.

And then... about three weeks later, my hair stopped falling out and started growing back!

Now I know what some of you might be saying, "What a waste! You made such a big deal about sharing getting your head shaved and it came right back! Why'd you even bother?"
Well, here's the thing, you never know how your body is going to react to chemo. Last time, I was Mr. Clean-bald just a few months in.  This time, my hair was thinning. I'd lose a handful of hair each time I ran a brush through it. I had a bald spot. Everything pointed to me being a chrome dome again soon.

Here's the other thing, I have very little control over what happens to my body anymore. Sometimes I don't even recognize myself.  Deciding WHEN to shave my head was me taking control of something. It was me showing that I was stronger than my circumstances (even if it was just hair). Not just that, but every time I would brush my hair and pull a fist full of hair out, it was a reminded that I was sick. Enough was enough.

Badass is BACK!!

Know what else? A kind of transformation took place.  I got my badassedness back! As she shaved my head and that thinning hair fell to the floor, I was becoming fierce. It was empowering.  It still is. I feel stronger.  Maybe not always physically or emotionally, but mentally, I'm stronger. I even go out now without a wig (something that I NEVER did the first time), and I'm owning my battle. Don't get me wrong, I still have lots of wigs, but they're just for fun! Accessories.

I'm not going to get too attached to my hair yet, because like I said, you never know... I've still got 4 months of chemo left. It's just all part of the adventure and I'm learning you've just gotta roll with it! It's totally worth it to me to step out of my comfort zone from time to time, if it means showing cancer who's boss!

Oh, and that Plan C chemo... it's doing the job! It's wreaking havoc on my body, but I'll take it because the tumors are shrinking and the cancer is being controlled!!

One more thing... I need to take a minute to thank my friend, Nona Pitts.  She's my stylist and owner of Salon 5150 in Brea, CA.  She has made her salon a safe place for me to feel beautiful and encouraged to try out hairstyles and crazy wigs. She works miracles on those wigs I bring in! Nona is so dear to me and I am grateful for her and her staff.  Thanks, Babe!

My Girl, Nona!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Fight Song

This morning I shared a post on Facebook that read:

The Devil whispered in my ear,
“You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.”
Today I whispered in the Devil’s ear,
“I am the storm.”

Reading that, I was reminded of how fierce I felt when I went through breast cancer the first time. I was going to battle.  We had a plan and I was going to make that cancer suffer before kicking it to the curb!  Oh what a different battle this time around.

The plan is vague. We’ll try this and that until it doesn’t work and then we’ll try something else. There have been side effects, set backs and treatment changes.  I’m a trooper and I’ll do what needs to be done, but today I realized something… I need my “fight” back! I had just sort of accepted this latest diagnosis as how things were gonna be until I get my miracle. Well, today I’ve decided that this cancer is going to suffer too! The boxing gloves are back on! I AM THE STORM.

That being said, I have a favor to ask. Many of you helped me create a playlist last time that I listened to throughout chemo and beyond. I loved that playlist. I found strength and comfort in those songs... my fight songs.  Well, I need a NEW fight song playlist!! That’s where YOU come in, My Battalion! Send me your songs! Help me get my fight back and keep it going until we get that miracle…until we have victory!

PS. No Taylor Swift allowed and we don’t need the obvious “Fight Song”.

Love you guys!! Keep prayin’ and watch the miracle!! 

October SUCKED!!

October 2nd, I ended up in the ER! On October 3rd, I was admitted into the hospital for 11 days. It took some time before I was able to post again...

October 19, 2016

Good Morning Battalion!! I have to admit that Facebook is still rather daunting, so I'm taking it slow. Again, I want to thank you all for hanging in there with me! I have felt your love and prayers... I can't tell you what it means to be cared for so fiercely. Thank you.

I saw Doc Onc for a post-hospital stay check up yesterday. The thing that was weighing on my mind the most were the results of the 3 surprise MRI's I had last week. Turns outs, those had been ordered before my latest adventure and weren't necessary (almost punched Doc in the face when he said that). Anyway, the MRI's were clear (necessary or not). I'm pretty sure I've had everything scanned that there is to be scanned... some things two or three times! Remind me to tell ya about them taking pics of my heart sometime...hint: they don't put you out for that and it involves a big tube down your throat! Don't wanna do that again!!

Anyway....good report from Doc. I'm on a different chemo now (a bazillion pills twice a day, 7 days on, 7 off). I'm also on cholesterol and blood pressure meds. Just in case that wasn't fun enough, I get to give myself blood thinner shots in my gut twice a day! No more strokes for this girl!!! Last but not least, I'll go over to the infusion center twice a week on my "on-weeks" for IV fluids and anti nausea meds (had my first session and ate lunch AND dinner and it stayed down!! SUCCESS!!
Well, I think you're caught up now. Oh, and thanks for praying Dave. He's feeling better and went back to work today.

Love you all!! Still fighting and STILL expecting my MIRACLE!!

November 1, 2016

It's hard to believe that it's been a month since "the strokes". I hadn't been feeling well which wasn't unusual, but this was different. I felt like crap. At some point that Saturday afternoon, the dogs had gotten out. I got up and ran to get Brendan's help. I tried to tell him what was happening, but the words wouldn't come out right. I'll never forget the look on his face as he tried to make sense of the noises coming out of my mouth. I think I got the words "dogs help dad" out. Not realizing what was going on, I just went and laid down while the guys wrangled the dogs.

Now, the next 15-16 hours are unclear. I remember waking up to paramedics and then waking up again in the ER. Apparently, I had gone in to go to the restroom around 5am and passed out. Mom came in, found me and yelled for Dave to call 911.

After who knows how long in the ER (not at the hospital I usually go to) struggling to talk, think or have the two match up, I was sent home. We called Doc Onc the next day and he checked me into the hospital right away. That ended up in an 11-day stay.
So what happened? I suffered a series of small strokes. Ends up I have a defect on one of my heart valves (most likely from chemo the last time) that was causing the problem. Terrific.

I'll admit, there were LOTS of tears while I was laying there in that hospital bed. As if cancer for a second time wasn't enough, now this? This wasn't WONDER-ful. How am I supposed to shine through this? Is this really part of the plan?

Here's the thing, a month later....I'm walking and talking. You wouldn't know by looking at me that I had stroked. The cancer is still there, we're just treating it differently now. Everything has changed but I'm still me. I'm still a fighter. I'm still thanking God for every breath and every opportunity to give Him the glory for all that He's done in my life. I've said it before... He's the same God today that carried me through my first battle and He's the same God that will carry me through this one.
So today, November 1st, I'm thankful for my story. I may not always like the way it's going, but I am thankful that I've been trusted with it. I'm going to continue to make the most of it and believe that we will see miracles happen. I WILL shine. I WILL be WONDER-ful again!

#30daysofthanks #30daysofgratitude #stupidcancer #watchthemiracle #wonderwoman

And then....

September 29, 2016

Update from Doc Onc:
Blood work - everything looks good. Everything is functioning like it should. MY TUMOR MARKERS ARE CONTINUING TO DROP!

CT Scan - the spots in my bones that they though could be cancer are going away. YAY!!

Doc and the radiologist are in disagreement over my liver. Radiologist thinks it's still inflamed. Doc compared it to the previous scan and said it's not and that my largest tumor is more defined. That means that before, the tumor was so close to the wall of my liver that it was hard to tell where it started. Now it's obvious...cuz it's shrinking!! Just to prove the radiologist wrong, we're gonna do another CT scn in 2 months instead of 3!

I got my usual 3 injections in my hiney (brought cupcake bandaids) and a BONUS flu shot! Human pincushion!

Nausea is still an issue. We've tried 5 different medications and none have done much good. We've also tried some alternative things with no success. I do have some good days and was actually feeling hungry the other tummy even growled!
This is the point in my meds cycle that my vision/dizziness is at its worst. Just riding it out and hoping it will eventually work itself out.

I've got some new "side effects": numbness/tingling mostly in my hands, but it shows up in other spots too. I also have ringing in my ears. We're pretty sure this is ALL from the meds but just to be sure, we're scheduling and MRI on my spine to make sure we're not missing anything.

So, that's pretty good news!! The miracle is coming...just you wait and see!!
Thanks again for standing beside me and for all of the love and thoughts and prayers!! BIG HUGS to you ALL!!

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
Romans 5:3-5 MSG

August 5, 2016

Good morning Battalion!! Happy Friday!! I can't believe that it's already been a whole month since this new battle with cancer began. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. There are moments, although not many, that I almost forget about it but then I'm reminded, well shit...I really DO have cancer AGAIN. I struggle again with that feeling of being "damaged goods" and "defective" because I can't do as much. Here's the thing, I know that God is greater and has something bigger in store for me. Whatever I have to do, or not do, until he gets me be it. Some miracles take time. Keep watching though 'cuz its coming!

I've got a date with Doc Onc today. We'll go over my latest set of labs and talk about my vision. I've been having issues with it. Seeing "stars" and blurred or double-ish vision. I went to the eye doc this week and my eyes look good and healthy (I am also getting my glasses corrected so that might help). Now to figure out, is it the meds, hormones, something else?? I'm praying that whatever it is, that its temporary and we can move on. I'm also getting two more Faslodex shots in my booty today (hence the new Wonder Woman undies).... You're going down, cancer!!

Hope you all have a FANTASTIC weekend!! Do something that makes your hearts happy!!

Keep on praying! Love you!

*****And then the side effects kept getting worse and more tests were done and then....

While I Was Away - Catching Up

Well folks, a LOT has happened since my last post! The easiest way to get ya caught up is to share some of my Facebook posts. Here ya go...

July 8, 2016
Well, shit. It looks like Wonder Woman is being put to the test again. I went to the doctor last week because I had been experiencing some abdominal pain. He immediately thought it was my gallbladder and sent me for an wasn't my gallbladder. A CT/PET Scan and MRI later, it appears that I have cancer again, only this time it's in my liver, half of it to be exact. I'm going in for aliver biopsy tomorrow to confirm, but Doc Onc is pretty sure. We've got lots of tests and scans to do and Doc is already coming up with a plan of attack. For right now, I could use LOTS of prayer. Pray for me. Pray for Dave, Matthew, Brendan and the rest of my family. Pray for the Docs.

You guys, this sucks. And yes, I'm kinda pissed. There's one thing I am COMPLETELY CERTAIN about... GOD IS IN CONTROL. He's been so faithful before and he won't stop now. He has a plan and a purpose for me and another battle with cancer can't change that.

July 15, 2016
Happy Friday everyone!! Saw Doc Onc this morning and then took the rest of the day "off" for some R&R. Sorry if I left some of you hanging!!

Here's the lowdown...
It's the exact same cancer I had before, just now it's in my liver (metastatic breast cancer). I see that as a GOOD thing because we know I kicked it's butt before!
Because my cancer was/is HER2 positive - feeds off my hormones - they gave me a shot last week to put me into menopause and shut off my ovaries. Funny, I could've sworn I was already IN menopause (blood tests showed otherwise)!

The treatment we started last Friday is what we're going to stick with. Every 4 weeks I'll get a injection (2 shots) in my backside of a drug that is supposed to shut off the estrogen receptors in the cancer so it can't feed anymore.

We've also gotten approval for another drug (brand spankin' new) that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. We're just waiting for it to be shipped from the "special pharmacy". I'll take that for 3 weeks and then a week off (rinse and repeat). Some side effects with that one are low white blood cell count and anemia (low red blood cell count). I'll have regular blood tests to monitor that.
My blood tests showed that my kidneys are functioning great. My liver (although inflamed) is functioning. Some of my "levels" are high (cuz I have cancer) but not terribly high. This is good because it means we can use blood tests to monitor my PROGRESS (that's what I'm calling it) instead of constantly doing scans.

My bone scan came back clear except for a spot on my sternum. Doc thinks that may just be inflammation but we'll be keeping an eye on it. I'm praying and believing that by the next bone scan, that spot will be gone!!

I do have some discomfort and pain in my side and abdomen. Doc Onc says that if the tumors shrink, the pain should become less and less. I told him the tumors WILL shrink and the pain WILL go away. Until then, I have meds to manage the pain.
We're not talking "stage" or "time frame". I refuse to put those kinds of numbers on this. None of that matters. It's cancer and we're gonna fight it. That's all we need to know. I told Doc Onc that it won't be long before he's scratching his head in wonder because he's witnessing a miracle. God's gonna blow his mind!! Tee, hee!!

My next blood tests are in 2 weeks. Next appointment with Doc Onc and injections are on August 5th. In the meantime, I'm doing my normal things. I'll be working, although cutting back on my hours and shifts until my body has a chance to adjust to things. I'll be doing things that make my heart happy and spending time with people that feed my soul. I'll be resting lots too.

People, I have NO DOUBT that God has some BIG things planned. He proved that the last time and He hasn't changed! So get ready!!

BIG TIME LOVE to you all!! Thank for your your continued love, support and most importantly...PRAYERS!! Have a WONDERFUL weekend!!

#watchthemiracle #peacelikeariver #mygodisbigger #wonderwoman#wonderful2016 #lovemytribe #stupidcancer

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Me, Myselfies, and I

“Have you seen Julie’s pictures on Facebook lately?”
“She takes way too many selfies!”
“Is she having a mid-life crisis?”
“I bet you there’s trouble at home!”
 “She must think she’s all that and a bag of chips!”

No, I’m NOT having a mid-life crisis.  And things are FINE at home.  And I DON’T think I’m “all that”, (well, maybe the bag of chips…). I’m fine. I haven’t gone off the deep end.  Not that I should have to explain myself, but maybe it will quiet some of the chatter. Even so, to quote my nemesis Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate,” and I know not everyone will appreciate what I have to say. Here goes anyway…

For most of my 44 years on earth I was a wallflower, happy to go unnoticed. When I got old enough to be self-conscious, I didn’t like getting my picture taken anymore (if I remember correctly, that was around 6th grade when I puffed up like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man – before that, I was quite the little ham). I didn’t mind flying under the radar.  I did dabble in dramatic theater in junior high where I played “Jack” in an adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”.  I then moved on to musical theater of sorts at church and then singing solos… but that was the extent of my time in the spotlight.  Fast forward to my 42nd year…

Most of you have already heard the story, so I’ll keep it brief. I got breast cancer. I underwent about 7 months of chemo/surgery/radiation.  During that time a few things happened: 1.) I felt a little isolated, so I reached out via social media to share my journey, 2.) unsure of how chemo was going to affect my body, I started taking daily selfies to chronical my “change”, and 3.) I kicked cancer’s ass.  Social media made my world a whole lot smaller and I felt extremely loved and supported.  My “change” didn’t end up being much of a change on the outside (aside from going bald and having no eyebrows or eyelashes), but on the inside I was learning to be comfortable in the skin I was in by posting pics of my face EVERY SINGLE DAY for something like 150 days – talk about stepping out of your comfort zone… but that’s a whole other blog post! I quickly realized that people were watching! Oh, and the ass kicking part! Chemo shrunk the invader down to almost nothing, surgery cleaned things up so the twins got to stay together, and radiation made sure the area was all clear.  Then I was ready to make up for the time I had lost to cancer - “The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts...” (Joel 2:25).  Baby steps at first as I tried to figure out my new “normal” and then at full speed, making up “normal” as I went and pausing for a nap from time to time.

I had chosen the word “shine” as my post-cancer mantra. “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world… shine!” (Matthew 5:14). Whatever I did, even the smallest thing, I wanted to shine with everything God had done in me and through me. With that came more pictures and in 2015 I chose a new mantra, “joy”. With everything I had been through, how could I not find and choose joy? Not just that, I also wanted to share joy. To me, that meant living life to the fullest. Taking advantage of opportunities that came my way. Trying new things. Doing things that made me happy (naps included). Eating things that made me happy. Spending time with family AND friends… all the while posting more pictures.

My posts were never meant to brag or be showy. I’m sure there are some who got tired of seeing me and some who probably “unfriended” me.  Here’s the thing, I can’t go back to being a wallflower! It was my hope that I could make someone smile, share some joy, give some hope, make someone feel better about what they were going through, share faith, share fun, share friendship, share strength and courage, share love. That’s still what I hope for. God has been so good to me! Look deeper than the silly faces, the donuts, the mud covered body (if you don’t know, don’t ask), and see a girl who is thankful.  See a girl who loves life, her family and her friends.  See a girl who loves the Lord. See a girl that has chosen JOY. Don’t judge or jump to conclusions. If that’s just too hard to see or I’m too much for you, I understand… you can “unfriend” me. I won’t think any less of you. For those that stick around, thanks! I hope you enjoy the ride! And to all you wallflowers… it’s time to blossom!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Just got my hair done! Meet my Hair Guy, Trenton.

I never understood celebrating the day of your diagnosis (April 5, 2013).  I mean, why would you want to celebrate the day you found out you had an uninvited guest who had moved into your body and wanted to kill you? I figured you just celebrate being "cancer-free" and in my mind, that was the day of my surgery (October 17, 2013)... when they cut what was left of that dumb tumor out of me, thus creating Frankenboob.  If you wanna get crazy, you could celebrate the day you started treatment (May 1, 2013), or the day you finished treatment (January 3, 2014).  I'm all for having a party and maybe even getting presents, but people might start to get a bit annoyed!

I raised the question of cancer-survivorship etiquette to some of my girlfriends and my wonderful and brilliant friend (you know who you are) put it to me kind of like this...

Yes, you celebrate the day you were diagnosed; 
the day that your journey began.

It's the day my fight started.  The day I had to start completely trusting that God was in control of my life. It was the day that a strength I didn't know I had started to grow inside me. It was the first page in my story; a story that I didn't expect or choose or want, but a story that I'm so thankful for.

I learned so much from breast cancer.  I learned things about myself and what I was capable of.  I learned things about my faith and just how BIG my God is.  I learned things about my family and how amazing and strong they are.  I learned things about my friends and about letting people love me and about loving.  All lessons that I will treasure and all lessons that made that journey "worth it".

So.... I'm gonna celebrate my 2nd Cancerversary (apparently that's a thing)!!  It happens to fall on Easter Sunday this year so I probably won't be poppin' bottles just yet.  Instead, I'm going to spend some quiet time reflecting on everything that has happened in the last two years.  I've already started to shed a few tears of joy and thanksgiving so tomorrow should be a two-fisted kleenex kind of day.  Oh, but fear not!  There WILL be a party... soon.

Oh, and I wanted to tell you about a book I'm reading! I should have finished and reviewed it by now, but ya know... life.  Anyway, I started it while on Spring Break in Arizona and am so excited to go deeper into it!  It's called Life Unstuck: Finding Peace with Your Past, Purpose in Your Present, Passion for Your Future, by Pat Layton.

In Life Unstuck, Pat uses Psalm 139 as a guide to look into the areas of our lives where we are stuck and shows us a path to peace and freedom, the life God has planned for us.

"God wants us, His precious daughters, to be reminded and refreshed by the complete and unshakable knowledge of our redeemed life. He wants us completely restored from the things that keep us stuck in the past and He wants us set free to gleefully anticipate all He has planned for our future."

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to live life to the fullest... ready to live unstuck!  I'll keep ya posted!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

You're Loved No Matter What

I am a recovering perfectionist. I used to sit and obsess for hours about the things I needed to change or fix to make everything perfect. If I couldn't make it perfect, I didn't want to do it. I felt like anything I made or did was a reflection of me as a person and if it wasn't perfect, then people would view me as being imperfect. I would be liked or loved less. Eventually, I realized that not only was I making myself crazy, but I was making the people closest to me nuts too!

I had to start telling myself that my best was good enough. I was good enough. I didn't need to stress myself out trying to do more or be more. I also needed to give myself grace to make mistakes. It's in the mistakes and imperfections that I learn and grow. 

as believers we so often hesitate to embrace the freedom and grace God has given us. We're so afraid of making a mistake that we never take hold of all he has for us. We focus on being safe and staying on the straight and narrow so much that we miss out on doing what God truly wants-which is seeing us grow to all he created us to be.

I also needed to tell myself that I am loved just the way I am... no matter how messy or imperfect. Holley says,

There's only one thing in this world that even
better than "perfect," and that's knowing you're
perfectly loved. 
And you are. No matter what.

I wish that I could say I don't struggle with perfection anymore, but I can't. That fear crept up again just this last weekend. I'm just going to have to keep reminding myself that I'm human and I'm not supposed to be perfect. I'm going to make mistakes and messes, have successes and victories, and through it all I am still deeply loved.

"God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us so that we are free from worry on Judgement Day. Our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room for love in fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life-fear of death, fear of judgement, -is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love-love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first." 1 John 4:17-19 MSG

PS. If you've ever struggled with feeling like you need to be perfect, Holley's book will encourage you! You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect .

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Beauty of Grace

God loves me even though I’m not Wonder Woman.

Sometimes the hardest person for me to show grace to is me.  I see my faults and shortcomings and I am so hard on myself. I don’t measure up. I’m un-loveable.

When I was going through treatment for breast cancer I was given the nickname “Wonder Woman”. I happily embraced that alter-ego because I knew that I needed super hero strength to beat my disease.  When that battle was won, the name stuck.  It wasn't long before being “Wonder Woman” began to weigh on me.  Without an evil villain to fight (cancer), I was left to wrestle with my everyday struggles.  I’m not so wonder-full sometimes.  I’m afraid that people might see the messy person under the star-spangled costume.

In the book, The Beauty of Grace by Dawn Camp, Angela Nazworth writes about our “mask and cape”.  We want to be strong and heroic, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and sometimes in putting on that persona we lose sight of who we really are, who’s we are.  Angela says it so well,

“I pretend that I am capable of handling anything that comes my way…all by my little self. And sometimes I get so wrapped up into the role I inhabit that I do not even respond to my own name when it’s whispered by Him.”

It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way, hiding behind my mask.  But here’s the good news, God loves me even though I’m not Wonder Woman. He gives me grace, forgives me and delights in me.  He doesn't expect me to be super-human.  He just expects me to be his.

If you need some encouragement today, check out The Beauty of Grace.  It’s filled with soul-stirring stories about purpose, surrender, trust, lessons, hope, encouragement, and more from some of today’s popular bloggers/writers.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Looks like I'm startin' something...

I’ve decided that I’m going to try (and post) a new recipe each week in 2015.  I’ll be sharing over on my other blog CUPCAKEDD .

Up first… Egg Strata Cups!

Hope you’ll stop by!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

J.O.Y. - 2015

I’m sure you’ve heard of people choosing a “word” at the start of each New Year. The word usually has something to do with what you hope for or want to be.  I had always wanted to pick a word, but would usually forget or decide the word I had chosen wasn’t good enough, or some other excuse. The same thing happens when I decide I’m going to start a journal, a diet, a cleaning/organizing plan…

A few months into 2013, I got my first word… BRAVE.  I had breast cancer.  I was going to need to be brave and hold onto my faith to get through it.  I soon learned that being brave had very little to do with what I could do, and had everything to do with what God could do.  God gave me unexpected strength.  He made me brave.

As 2014 rolled in, I was finishing my radiation treatments.  No more cancer!  My next word… SHINE.  I wanted to shine with the victory God had given me over breast cancer.  I wanted to shine with all that He had done in my life.  Matthew 5:14 in The Message says,

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world,”
                                                           and that’s just what I was going to do.

It’s hard to shine all the time.  I sometimes wondered if I was really shinning at all.  Did my flaws and mistakes and short-comings dim that light?  I realized again that my “word” had very little to do with me and had everything to do with what God was doing in me.  He shines.  He is working and moving in my life and that light can’t be put out.  It doesn’t matter what stupid things I do, He’ll shine through.  That’s another word… GRACE.

With 2015 waiting in the wings, it’s time to pick another “word”.  Several words have come up in recent months and definitely have meaning to me for this time in my life…. HOPE, FAITH, PEACE, LOVE, BEAUTIFUL.  I went to The Word (aka. The Bible) to help narrow it down and I found this passage (emphasis mine):

“Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haulnot the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into JOY, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”
                                                  -Colossians 1:9-12, MSG

OY.  God had given me strength to endure (be brave). He let me shine his God-colors to the world and much more.  You can be sure that all of that spills over into JOY.

Each day I want to choose JOY.  I want to remember everything God has done for me and look forward with joy to all that he has in store.

“when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”  James 1:2 NLT

And it’s not just about my joy.  I want to share joy and bring joy to the people around me.

“Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness                         
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.”  Psalm 145:7 NLT

Bottom line, I want my life to point back to Christ.  I want it to be undeniable whose I am and where my JOY comes from. So in 2015, I’m all about the JOY and I’m wishing the same for you!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19 NIV)
We all have hard days. Sometimes just dealing with the everyday things in our lives can be difficult. It's often in those tough times that just asking for help feels like weakness or defeat. In the new devotional, " What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days", Holley Gerth shares 52 Psalms-based devotionals that remind us that we are not alone and not defeated when we feel like we're at the end of our rope.
Whatever your hard things are - disappointment, depression, stress, anxiety, hurt, loss, loneliness..., God had promised to be there, right alongside of us.  He'll give us joy.  He'll give us peace. He'll give us strength. He'll give us exactly what we need, when we need it.
"You serve a God who has the hairs on your head not only numbered but memorized. He knows the details of your life even better than you do. He never loses touch with your heart. And because of that, you can always have hope. Because even if you can’t see what God is doing, you can trust he is already acting on your behalf. Nothing is too difficult for him. No challenge is too big. No detail is too small."

Hey! I’m giving away a copy of Holley’s book!
You can enter to win it below!

God bless!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Easy Peasy Boobie Squeezy!

I had my “one-year after diagnosis” mammogram on May 16th (one-year, give or take a few weeks).  Piece of cake, although I will admit that I was a tiny bit anxious but I’m guessing that’s normal.  It helps that at the Patricia L Scheifly Breast Health Center, they give you your results right away… no sitting at home and waiting!

I was able to sneak a picture of my mammo-pics (shhh…. don’t tell anyone).  The images on the top are of my first mammo last year with the cancer.  On the bottom are images of my cancer-free “cupcakes” now.  You can see that Frankenboob is a bit smaller after we got that stupid cancer out, but she’s doing great!!  All clear is what we like to hear!

Don’t forget to check your “cupcakes”, girls!! XOXO

Sunday, May 11, 2014

One Year Later

This was me, May 1, 2013, at my very first chemo session.  One year later, I was able to go spend a fabulous, creative (cancer-free) weekend with some of my best girls – some of the same girls that helped get me through the last year!! Feeling so thankful and SO BLESSED!!

I went for my 3-month check up with Doc Onc on the 5th.  He said that everything looked good. Had labs drawn.  I was complaining about feeling fatigued, so he checked my thyroid and iron levels – everything is normal.  Just going to have to make sure that I am getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, eating right (ugh), and exercise.  I go in on the 16th for my mammogram.  Piece of cake!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coffee Break - Strong Enough to Face Giants?

Last month, I spoke at WACC’s Coffee Break and shared about my breast cancer journey.  Thanks to a tech-savvy friend, I have FINALLY figured out how to get the video up and running here on my blog! 
So pour yourself a cup of coffee, get comfy, and listen to my story.  I hope that you’ll be blessed because it was a blessing to be able to share!

Hair Update

I forgot to share my “hair update” that I posted on Facebook.
I don’t have much of a style yet, but it’s growing!! (No, it wasn’t curly before.)  I actually used the blow dryer and a little hairspray - first time in 11-months!

It TOTALLY reminds me of my Grandma’s hair!

I’m still thinking of things in relation to “this time last year”… this time last year I was getting my alien port installed.  This time last year I was having my node biopsy….  I’m sure that will fade as time goes by.  Going to see Doc Onc in 2 weeks for my check-up and I’ll be having a mammogram soon too.  Not gonna lie, I’m a teeny bit nervous.  I’ll let ya know who it goes!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014



Wow. It was a year ago, April 5th, that I heard the words, "It's cancer". I know that in time, my biggest milestones won't be measured against my cancer journey, but right now I'm just so thankful that I'm sitting here full of the love I've received from friends and family, the strength that I've received from my Heavenly Father, and oh so grateful for victory over breast cancer. What a year!!


Friday, February 28, 2014


Life can get pretty prickly sometimes.  Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the thorns.  But John 33:16 says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (AMP).
How AWESOME is that??!! You don’t have to stay stuck by your situations or circumstances! There is ONE who is mightier than anything you could face and He'll get you through it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Normal

Lately, my big question has been, “Now what?”.  Now that I am on the road to “normal”, what it that supposed to look like?  It can’t be the same as it was B.C. (before cancer).  My new normal should count for something, right?  And then I realized, God is stretching me. Calling me to go outside of the safe little bubble that home had become over the last year and share, in person – flesh and blood.  Share my testimony, my ideas, my talents… come out from behind the computer screen.

I had accepted an invitation to speak at Whittier Area Community Church on March 19th and in preparing for that, I started to panic. Every time I would sit down to write out what I was going to say, I’d start to cry.  I would cry because I am still overwhelmed at all that God has done for me and His faithfulness through my breast cancer journey.  I worried that I wouldn’t be able to speak in front of everyone, that I would just sit there and cry like a baby (with that ugly cry-face).  It’s going to be a train wreck.

Next, I was asked to teach an art “class” at Madam Palooza in Murieta on April 12th.  I’ve never taught an art class before.  I’ve never come up with an original project that I thought people would want to learn to make.  I accepted anyway.  I posted my class and quickly began to doubt. No one is going to want to take my class.  The other teachers have lots of people signed up for their classes already.  This is going to be an embarrassment.

Where was all of this coming from?  Worry?  Doubt?  Fear?  Insecurity?  God had given me victory over those things before – BIG TIME, so why wouldn’t He now?  It was not an accident that I was asked to speak and teach.  It wasn’t a mistake either.  I’m supposed to get out there.  I may cry, but I’m sharing God’s glory while I do.  I may only have one or two people sign up for my class, but I’m going to make it the best class for those two people.  This is my time to shine, to “be a light and bring out the God-colors in the world,” (Matthew 5:14-16).  It’s time to be bold and be brave.  Maybe that’s exactly what my new normal looks like.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Radiation Re-Cap and Stuff

Last week of radiation and I realized that I haven't updated my blog since I started! So, I'm just gonna add some of my posts from Facebook to get everything caught up!
December 6th
Early zap session the morning so I have go have a weekend with my girls!!!! Woo-hoo!! Have a great one, y'all!!!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center

December 9th
Anyone else movin' S.L.O.W. this morning? Maybe getting zapped this AM will recharge my battery... a girl can hope anyway!! Happy Monday!!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.
Got a GREAT report from my radiation oncologist today!! He said that my skin is reacting to the radiation "way better than average" and that I am doing GREAT!! 18 sessions down and 17 more to go!! Over half-way done!!!!!!!
December 10 (From Jesus Calling)
 Make Me the focal point of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.
 Instead of yea...rning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence. In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My Face. Accept the value of problems in this life, considering them pure joy. Remember that you have an eternity of trouble-free living awaiting you in heaven.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
—Isaiah 41:10
 Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
—Psalm 139:10
 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.
—James 1:2

December 12th
Computers were down this morning when I got here, but it looks like they got them up and running!! I'm just gonna hang out and wait to get zapped! Happy Thursday!!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.
Still waiting, but my favorite zapper, Andrei, brought me a warm blanket to wrap up in while I wait.
They should really consider serving coffee and donuts here at radiation. Just sayin'......

December 16th
23rd radiation blast - DONE! 12 more to go. Starting to feel a little more fatigued than before, but nothing I can't handle and NOTHING like chemo fatigue!! Doc Y said that my skin looks so good that once I've recovered, you probably won't even be able to tell that I've had radiation. I like the sound of that!!

I met a sweet little lady this morning. She was there for her first session. I spoke with her daughter while she waited. They were both very nervous and the daughter cried a little. It felt good to be able to share with them and reassure them that the hard stuff was behind them. Looking forward to seeing her again tomorrow.

December 17th
Got to hug a super sweet lady today as she went in for her LAST zap! The joy in her smile was awesome!! Blessed to have been there!!

December 18th
Not the most convenient time of year for radiation fatigue to start setting in. Having a little trouble focusing on tasks and finishing them. The house is a mess. Need to get a few more decorations out of the garage. Shopping isn't done. Wanted to start doing some baking... Better add a few naps to that list. Oh well, I've still got a few more days to get things done!
And God was all, "Silly girl! Didn't I tell you that I'd give you what you need? Didn't we agree that you'd leave everything up to me? I haven't let you down yet, have I?"
And I was like, "I'm a dork and sometimes I need a little reminder. Thank you, loving and faithful Father."
December 20th
So, probably an over-share, but this is what I have seen every picture day (once a week) at radiation. At first I referred to it as "Frankenboob making shadow puppets" and then I started calling it "watching the sunrise" because as the panel would come up, it really was like watching the sun come up over the mountains! Just another one of my crazy observations!

Radiation Update: For the last 28 sessions, I've had full-breast radiation. They've been shooting photons into Frankenboob and into my armpit and lymph nodes from 3 different angles (photons go deeper into my body/tissue). One more session like that to go. Then probably on Tuesday, we'll start what they call "blast". I'll get zapped with photons from the back that are targeted at some more lymph nodes. They will also blast me with electrons (they only go just under the surface) that zero in on my incision site. This is to make sure that no microscopic villains got left behind when they were removing the bad stuff. We'll do it that way till Jan. 3rd. Sooooooo close to being DONE!!!!

December 21st (From Jesus Calling)
My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when time is right, the way before you suddenly clears—through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as pure gift. You feel awed by the ease with which I operate i...n the world, and you glimpse My Power and My Glory.
Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly. As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles—and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly. Living by faith, rather than sight, enables you to see My Glory.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
—Psalm 63:2
We live by faith, not by sight.
—2 Corinthians 5:7
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
—John 11:40

December 23rd
Gettin' it done folks, gettin' it done!!! Got to pray with my little friend this morning. If you think of it, please say a prayer for her too, she is weak and in a lot of pain, but we know that God is good!!! Happy Monday! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.

December 24th
'Twas the day before Christmas and I'm getting zapped!!! Thank you for your prayers! My little friend looked great today! Slow down and be blessed!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.

My nurses just LOVE me! They gave me a Christmas present.... orders to have labs drawn!! I think I'll wait til after Christmas to open that one!! Gee, thanks ladies!!
So.......... I might be having a bad hair day. Woo-hoo!!!! Finally!!!!!
December 25th
Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude as I sit here in the quiet of Christmas morning and reflect on the last year. God has been SO GOOD and I am so thankful for all of the love and support that has been showered upon me and my family. Thank you ALL for that gift!! We are truly blessed by YOU!!  
December 28th
It's 7:52 on this last Saturday morning of 2013, and I'm still sitting snuggled under the covers in my warm bed. I am thankful for two days off from radiation before hitting the home stretch of my last four treatments. I'm thankful for this quiet time to sit and reflect on the last year (and oh, what a year!), and to look forward to the new year. God's got something big in store, I just know it. ...I can feel it deep in my heart, way down in my core. Everything I've faced in 2013 wasn't for nothing. It was to prepare me for the amazing adventure ahead. I don't know what that is going to look like or even what that means, but I'm ready! I don't want to miss a single thing, a single moment, a single blessing, a single opportunity. Eyes wide open. Heart wide open. Arms wide open.
December 30th
Last Monday morning zap!!! Wow!! Time flies! Please pray for my little friend, she's experiencing terrible back pain and anxiety again and hasn't been able to sleep. I told her we'd be praying for her! Have a great day, y'all!! — at Ruby L Golleher Oncology Center.