Monday, October 29, 2012

All My Sisters and Me

With many miles between us all, when we can all get together at one place and one time, we make the most of it.  Six women, not related by blood, but by want.  Some of us have known each other for 25+ years and some for just a couple.  That doesn't matter though.  We have adopted each other.  

We hold each other up when life gets heavy.  We build each other up, when our insecurities take control.  We love each other, unconditionally, and are the family that we don't have by blood.  We help each other deal with exes, with our kids, our wants and desires, with cancer, with our hopes and dreams.  We are six wonderfully amazing women.  Together through thick and thin, good and bad, life and death; we are together in love.

Beautiful and strong

Saturday, December 31, 2011

More of the same

So, I have mentioned cancer previously.  My sister has NHL.  This journey with cancer is not over.  

We are not sisters by blood.  We are sisters by choice.  Intertwining souls and hearts have led us to this place where we have each other.  We are together, through the good, the bad, and the ugly.   

There are actually five sisters, besides me.  Ana, Heather, Joanna, Leah, and Luisa.  There used to be Kristina, but I don't think she could handle this groupe de six.   That is another story for another day.  One I don't feel like telling.  Not now anyway.

Of the five sisters, the one I know best and have known the longest is Ana.  She is the one with cancer.  We met when she was 13 and I had just turned 15.  We had the same basic circle of friends and were both unhappy with that circle, though we didn't know the other felt that way at the time.  It actually took a few years before we discovered each other for who we are.  But once we did, what a time we had.

Marriages were made, babies were had, divorces ensued.  New husbands, more babies.  Moves across country, and back again.  We've packed a lot into 25 years.  

Now as we enter 2012, we do so with cancer still on the table.  We had thought we would be celebrating remission.  But Rituxan did not do it's job.  It isn't it's fault though.  It worked the first time and isn't known for being completely reliable the second go around.  We hoped though.  We fought.  We prayed.  But this particular journey isn't over.

So 2012.  We bring in the new year with more hope.  We also are bringing fear. Now, Ana has to move into chemo.  Real chemo.  The plan was her to be a bit older before taking that step.  The plan was to not have a port for many, many years yet.  But cancer thwarted that plan.  September and October were spent with Rituxan treatments.  Treatments that we thought, hoped, prayed would lead to remission for a second time.  Treatments that would put off the port, and traditional chemo, for many more years.  But Ana's body didn't react to the Rituxan.  Didn't acknowledge it's presence, other than getting sick and exhausted.  Rituxan didn't put even the slightest dimple into any tumor.  No change.

So in two weeks, she goes to MD Anderson for a full work up.  A second opinion on what the next step should be.  This step is the first time I have appreciated the doctor that she loves.  This was his suggestion.  

Ultimately, she will start a traditional chemo based treatment, probably in February.  What kind of chemo will be determined after results from MD Anderson.  There is also some radioactive something or other, but I don't think now is the time.  What we know for sure is that any kind of chemo will mess with her.  She will lose hair.  Maybe all, maybe not.  Maybe even her eyebrows and eyelashes.  This saddens her.  She is admittedly vain and it is hard blow to lose something you are proud of.  And really, how do you prepare for that?  You know logically, mentally, how it will be.  But how do you prepare yourself emotionally?

She plans to cut her hair off.  Probably after she has been through the testing at MD Anderson.  Once she knows which treatment she will be embarking on.  My first thought is to make that day special.  A girls day.  Hair and nails and cocktails.  I was thinking I would cut my hair off as well.  I think I will hold this information tight, and surprise her with it.  Some people have 'shave your head' parties and some feel worse for having their friends and family do that.  I will talk to her, once she is ready for the cut.  Maybe we have enough hair to be able to donate to Locks of Love.  

So, 2012 will bring chemo.  Every third week.  While going through this, she will have her kids, all six of them, going through birthdays.  Jadon will turn 20, Justin will turn 17, Jace will turn 15, Abbie will turn 12, Adam will turn 9 and Landry will turn 3.  All within the next six months.  Then her nephew, my son Jordan will turn 18 and graduate high school.  And another nephew, my son Jonah, will turn 17 two weeks before Justin.  All in the next six months.  And there is more.  Events that will happen, that she won't miss.  Plus she will work.  Cancer doesn't pay for itself.

Six months.  We will hope.  We will pray.  We will fight cancer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It was not my intent to create drama and I am sorry if it did for you.  Maybe an hour before your email hit we had a short chat on facebook and I wanted him to know why I wouldn't be around any longer.  It has been seven weeks of emotions running on high.  People experiencing different life altering changes.  Communication failing.  Words said that are unrecoverable.  We have all failed each other.

I wish you happiness and peace as you move on in life.  I hope you find the balance and harmony you need.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

So, I discovered Pinterest and it has me completely sucked in.  I’ve found so many ideas, from crafts to wardrobe to meals to make.  After ‘crafting’ some tissue paper flowers, complete with glitter, for my sisterloves, (word stolen from Kristy-it is perfect), last day of treatment, (wretched cancer), I realized that the crafting bug had me by the throat and I wasn’t done quite yet.
With our weather sitting happily in its transition phase, and me not knowing if I’ll be hot or cold one moment to the next, I decided it was time to break out my scarves.  Scarves are the best accessory ever.  Enter the t-shirt scarf.  I ran across this how-to, (on pinterest), and pinned it, thinking I could totally do that.  Today I gave it a shot.
Here is how I went about it:
Step one, find an old t-shirt, (or new), and cut off the top third.

And move on to step two:  add fringe along the bottom.  I started with a very Native American moccasin looking fringe and scaled down from there.

At this point I started thinking, why stop here?  Why not bling it out just a bit??  So I created my own steps:  fabric rosettes.
Step three, take a strip of fabric and tie it in a knot:

Moving on to step four, twist the fabric around the knot.  Fabric glue is helpful here, but I don’t have any and used a good old needle and thread to maintain order in my circle. 

I finished it off with a couple of beads.  Here’s a shot of the finished rosette:

And while I’m blinging, why not add some beads and bells to the fringe??  Step five, bling this baby out:

I didn’t go extreme with it, just enough to catch the eye…and hopefully make someone say, ‘I love your scarf! Where did you get it?’  Then  I can say, ‘why thank you, I made it myself!’  Finished product:

Hmmm, looks better on….

Yay, something new from something old!  Now I jingle a little when I walk…bonus J

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day.  A day to celebrate your mother.  A day to be celebrated by your children.  As a friend put it, Mothers Day means celebrating with the ones who gave you stretch marks...on your belly and on your heart.  

Today, my two started my day with a simple Happy Mother's Day.  That in itself is joyous to me.  Just the acknowledgement.  Then my youngest made me lunch.  They kept ice in my glass all day.  

We're all doing our thing, having a good day.  And then, 'clink, clink, clink...' continuously, on and on.  Clink, clink, clink.  The noise was driving me crazy.  I go see what is going on and see my oldest counting out all their saved change.  They want to go to the store for water balloons.  So I give him all my change in an effort to stop the clinking!  Silver is better than copper, right?

They go off to the store and come home.  They don't want me in their room.  I know they've got something going on and it involves me so I go back to kitchen to check on the crock pot.  They come in and hand me a card.  Super sweet and personalized with a ''love you and appreciate all that you do for us'' which made me cry.  Then they hand me a dark chocolate orange.  Hugs go around and I know I am loved. 

They even got their water balloons and had a war outside.

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today you shared.  Your truth. Shared your darker thoughts.  I don't think they are the darkest, but who of us wants to see our darkest thoughts put down in words, or spoken out loud.  It's like we have jinxed ourselves if we do.  But you brought us in to what is going on in your mind.  Gave us the truth as you know it.  For me, the only way I can be a good support-a good sister, is to know what is going on.  I need to know when to build you up, and when to back off.  So I am glad you heard me when I told you to share.  Please keep sharing.

Being strong is instinctual in us.  By us, I mean women, mothers, sisters.  We take the weight of the world on our shoulders and support and nurture it.  You will have to be strong in this next battle for life.  But you do not have to be strong for me.  I have enough strength for us both.  So if you are having a shit day and the light at the end of the tunnel looks like a mere pinprick that is miles and miles away, I want to know.  I want the truth.  If you are feeling depressed and angry, then put it out there.  I am the queen of comedic change of topic, and maybe I can make you laugh when you don't think you have it in you.  Maybe I'll piss you off in my ignorance of what to say, but I'm okay with that too.  Whatever it takes to get through the day.

The road you are travelling on is so foreign to me.  I have experienced cancer.  Both my grandfathers died of emphysema...a cancer of their own making.  But you didn't make this cancer.  You didn't invite it in and you sure as hell didn't ask for it.  But you can fight it.  I know you will fight it.  I'm just saying, I've got your back.  The bell has rung and round two has begun.  Tap me in when you need a break.  I can't take the cancer from you, but I can help relieve the heavy load of other things going on.  Just know that I am not a mind reader and if you need a break, want some time to yourself, you need only ask and I will be there.

So right now you are scared, and you are angry.  I know there is nothing I can say that will help ease that.  I can be unemotional and logical and rehash what the doctors are saying.  I can stay dry-eyed and pretend I'm not torn up inside.  But I can't do all of that.  I will be sad, with you.  I will angry, with you.  I will be scared, with you.  I will cry, with you.  And that is my choice.   I chose you, your friendship, your love.  I chose you for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Cancer is definitely the ugly, but it won't scare me away.  I'm betting on the hand dealt, and I am all-in.

Please remember that you are not alone in this.  You have an amazing husband to support you.  Amazing family to help hold you up.  Amazing friends, who fall into the family category too, who will move mountains for you.   You will beat this.  I say so.  And don't scoff in what I say happens.  I mean it.  I am confident in you.  Confident that you will creep out of your bad, dark place.  Confident that you will come at this gloves off, ready to do damage.  Confident that your story has barely begun.


More specifically, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer of the lymphoid tissue, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs of the immune system.

One of my best friends, my sister, my co-conspirator of 25+ years has this disease.  First diagnosed in 2002 she went through many different treatment options and after a couple of years was declared in remission.  

Remission until last summer when her cancer came back.  Very small at first.  Low grade.  The doctors said scans every three months and we will see if there is growth or if this will go away on its own.  Stage one, Watchful Waiting.

As of todays test results, it has grown.  She is not ready to talk about it.  I don't know what stage it is in.  I don't know what treatment will be decided on.  Chemotherapy, Biological Therapy, Radiation Therapy to name a few.  When she is ready she will break it down.

So until then, I sit alone crying, knowing she is doing the same.  Knowing she is scared of what this means.  Knowing her husband is scared and worried and stressed.  Knowing she is imagining her two year old son growing up without her.  Knowing she has to tell her oldest son who is away at college.  Knowing he will worry.  Knowing she will have to tell her almost 16 year old and 14 year old sons who were too young to truly know what was going on the first time.  Knowing she will have to explain it to her 10 year old step-daughter and 6 year old step-son.  Knowing she will have to tell her family, her parents, her grandmother.  Knowing they will worry, and stress, and cry right along with her.  

Right now is black and heavy.  

Right now is scary and over-whelming.

Right now is cancer.