My Thoughts on the Unthinkable


I know it’s been a very long time since I have written here.  But as I sit here feeling sick to my stomach with tears streaming down my face, I feel a strong need to purge.  Now before my friends and family panic, no… it’s not about me or my previous cancer diagnosis.  It’s about the world we live in, and trying to make sense of something so horrific.  The Newtown, Conn. Massacre.  I can’t stop reading the articles, even as they tear me apart.

I won’t turn the news on with my children around, I don’t want to instill fear in them, associated with a place they go to on a daily basis to learn and be with friends.  The one place I always felt safe dropping them off at knowing that the dedicated teachers are there to watch out for them.  I have a son in Middle school, a daughter in Elementary school, another daughter in Pre-school and my youngest daughter at home with me and already a bit nervous when we begin to talk about the pre-school we are about to get her into.

I can’t begin to imagine how anyone close to the tragedy is coping with all the feelings of grief, fear, anger, confusion, loss etc… There are so many questions yet to be answered.  How, Why and my biggest What?  What can we do to prevent this from ever happening again?

Of course my first thoughts after hearing the news are, “You little coward bastard, what could possibly have happened so miserably in your life to make you want to heavily arm yourself and go into an Elementary school and kill kindergarteners?  If you are feeling that hopeless, or angry at the world, why can’t you just quietly stay home and shoot your own brains out?  Leave us a note, shouting at us, explain your thoughts, tell us what happened to make you snap and want to kill so violently.”  But of course that may not get the same attention as his actions did.

So we are all left wondering and blaming, searching for an answer to this very complex situation.  We are all screaming out what we believe to be responsible for this tragedy.  Gun Control, we need more gun control, why the hell did a mother have so many guns accessible to her son, who obviously had some mental challenges.

Mental Health, why did he not have proper mental health care?  What is wrong with our mental health system?  Drugs, was he on medication?  If so, what were they?  We want to know!   Are we over medicating our children with dangerous drugs that can have serious side effects, suicidal and violent thoughts.

The Media, the shooter will now forever be remembered by name and face that is splashed all over and over again.  He is famous now.  Yes, dead and pathetic as it is, there will be other psychotics out there now who may want to outdo this disaster and become the next big news story.

Violence, have we become too desensitized to violence.  It’s everywhere, in our music, TV, video games.  I know this is one I have tried to be aware of.  In my home I banned guns for toys as long as I could, I try hard to limit my children watching violence on TV or playing video games.  But it is so much a part of our society now.  My 12-year-old son and all of his friends play video games and their favorites are the ones that involve shooting.  If I thought it would prevent another disaster, I would go crush and trash every last one of his games right now!

I have read articles blaming parenting. They believe we need more Attachment Parenting.  Of course in some cases parenting is to blame.  However,  I worked for years with children who have been abused and neglected and I have heard some horrific stories  of what some children endure.  None of them ended with going into a school and shooting innocent children.

Some are even trying to blame the chemicals in our food and water.  They say we are not giving our children proper nutrients and we are exposed to too many chemicals that affect the brain.

We will all continue to search for answers to find a reason and make sense of something that can never be explained completely, or ever justified.  But we must continue to try to understand how to prevent this from ever happening again.


The Adventure Continues…

Bailey's art work says it all.

Hello my friends, as I slowly emerge from the fog that my life has been consumed by for the past year, I’m happy to share that I’m doing well.  My treatments are complete.  The worst is behind me, and my last Mammogram and Ultrasound, (after quite a SCARE)  results came back with “NO EVIDENCE OF BREAST CANCER”   I will be followed closely and continue to take “Tamoxifen” for the next 5 years, which should help to reduce the risk of recurrence.  I’m trying to live a much healthier lifestyle and I’m ultra aware of everything I do to become stronger.  In the meanwhile I choose not to let Cancer Define me.  Life is full of crazy adventures.  Even though it is now a part of me and something I will be forced to deal with on some level for the rest of my life, it isn’t who I am.  I know there are a lot more adventures in store for me in this lifetime.  Some good, some not so good, but I will thank God for every day.  I will continue to blog and fill in some of the blanks from the past.  But it will be so much more than that now.  It will be about life!  Parenting 4 children, Adoption, the challenges and the beauty of our crazy adventures here on Earth.  So I have changed my header to (FORMERLY) A Search for Peace During a Battle with Breast Cancer, to:  THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES….

What a Dream…. What a Year!

Did you ever have one of those dreams that is so powerful, that when you wake up it stays with you?  I love to dream, even if the dream is disturbing or bizarre, I find it so interesting to try to analyze what it all means.  I recently had one of those dreams and just had to share it with you.  It didn’t take an expert to figure out what this dream meant.  It seemed to sum up everything that I have been going through and feeling this past year.  I wish I could share pictures of it with you, but they are only very vividly in my mind.  I will try to do it justice as I recall my story.

I was in a big crowded city of a Foreign Country where I didn’t speak or understand the language.  I was in charge of a group of others who were both young children and other adults.  The city was very confusing to find my way around.  There was a crowded mall area with escalators and winding stairs going all different directions.  It was very difficult to make my way through.  I couldn’t communicate well enough even to ask for directions to get to a restroom.  Outside was even more frightening.  The streets were filthy and crowded with people moving around quickly.  I could sense the danger all around me.

I felt so lost and was filled with fear and confusion.  But I also knew I was in charge of my group, so I couldn’t show that I was not in control.  I had to keep it together, be strong, put on a happy face and lead the way.  I kept loosing the people that I was responsible for,  in the crowds.  So my own fear would be put aside as I would jump into action to gather the group together so I could keep them safe.

Wow, I will have to spare you of some of the bizarre details.  And as dreams go, it would jump around from scene to scene.  There was so much more to this, but I think you get the picture.  When I woke up I could still feel it.  And as I laid in bed trying to figure it all out, it quickly occurred to me that this was my life this past year.

There is no doubt that going through the cancer journey is scary and confusing.  Many times I would feel lost and alone.  But at the same time, I have a family with 4 young children.  I needed to keep it together for them.  I had to be strong, get up every morning, put on a happy face and let them know that they were going to be taken care of no matter what.

I believe at times I would feel like I was loosing my friends and family.  It was all I could do to get through each day to take care of myself, the kids and my home, that I didn’t have time to reach out to others.  Especially since some of those friends and all of my family are out of town or across the country.  It has been a long year for me.  And I know this past year has been a difficult one for many of my friends as well.  But I want you all to know that I’m trying to get back in the game!  I’m planning on 2012 being a much better year for all of us here and I hope for you too.




Why I never ask, “Why Me?”

From the very start of my diagnosis this is one question I have never contemplated.  In fact, in my past instead of asking, “Why Me? ”  I have far more often asked myself, ” Why NOT me? ”  Maybe it’s because I have lost more than my fair share of friends that were way too young to go.  These were good people who left behind many others who loved them.  They left behind grieving parents, they were brothers or sisters, husbands or wives, some were parents themselves who left behind young children.  They lost their lives due to car accidents, drug overdoses, suicide, murder and diseases.  None of them deserved to die young.  Even though some of them were risk takers who didn’t take care of themselves the way they should, others were the picture of health.  They ate well, exercised, didn’t smoke cigarettes, use drugs or abuse alcohol.  They had a strong connection with their religion.  My good friend Donna comes to mind often when I think of this.  She was the purest example of a good person that I have ever had the pleasure to be friends with.  A few years ago, she passed away suddenly of, at the time, Unknown cause, while she was teaching a Sunday school class at her church!  She left behind a loving husband, and 3 young beautiful children, a brother and sisters, her Mother, and many friends.  It was a shock for me, and I couldn’t get over the question, ” Why her? ”  There is never a way to answer that question.  We are all  vulnerable.

When I look back at my life, I think of  all of  the risk I put myself in.  Smoking cigarettes, experimenting with drugs, hanging out with people I should not have been hanging out with, hitch hiking all over the place, taking rides from strangers, who were at times more than strange, not eating a healthy diet or getting the proper exercise, and never enough sleep.  Wow, it’s a wonder I made it through all of that.  So NO, I won’t ask, “Why Me? ”

I was reminded of this again this past weekend when I attended the Santa Clarita Relay for Life.  Before the kick off of the Survivor Walk, an amazing 15 year old girl got up to speak.  Her voice cracked as she choked back tears while telling her story of how she was diagnosed with Brain Cancer at 11 years old in the 6th grade.  She had to go through surgery, chemo, radiation and physical therapy.  It was heartbreaking to hear and imagine what her and her family must have went through.  As the tears welled up in my eyes, it was the one time I was grateful not to have eyelashes, as my mascara would have been smeared all over the place.  She is now happily cancer free with no sign of the tumor.  After hearing her story, I could not help but feel grateful.  And my thought was,  ” Thank God it is me, and not one of my children. ”  If my family has to go through this, then this is the way it should be.  I couldn’t bear having to watch one of my kids go through this.

So throughout the day, as I looked out at the sea of people wearing their purple Cancer Survivor shirts, I had many thoughts.  But… ” Why Me? ”  is never one of them.

Genine & I doing the Survivor Walk

Genine & I doing the Survivor Walk

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Braving the Bald

Last Tuesday I just completed my 4th Chemo treatment, which marks the halfway mark for me.  Although it’s definitely not time to celebrate, I am relieved that slowly but surely I’m getting through it.  Being bald has been a bit of a challenge.  I’m sure there could be worse things, but why the hair loss?  You would think after all of these years, the medical profession would come up with a solution for this.  It certainly doesn’t help with the confidence level while your trying to recover.

Mustering up the courage for the Mohawk!

After the first Chemo session, I knew it was coming.  I planned right from the start to shave my head as soon as there were signs of hair loss.  I went through a few transition cuts getting shorter each time.  When I was able to reach up and pull a handful of hair out, I knew it was time.  I didn’t want to wake up leaving hair on my pillow, or walk around in denial with big spotting bald spots either.  So off to my friend / CA sister’s house I went.  Our friend Josh ( a hair dresser ) was there waiting with his clippers.  My son & I both decided to get Mohawks together.  So that is exactly what we did.  He was first, and after a couple of Mimosas I was ready for mine.

I was feeling pretty damn good about it.  I had my whole family with me, and we made it fun!  I thought it looked cool in a funky kind of way.  I was strutting all over the place.  It wasn’t until the next morning that I woke up and the mohawk had fallen over that I noticed I now had a chicken head hair cut.

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So off to Sabina, my trusted Hair Stylist, I went.  It was time to shave.  She gave me the GI Jane look.  And I have to say, it wasn’t all bad.  And it did give me a bit of strength just looking tough.

Gi Jane!

It wasn’t until some of my stubble came out leaving me with bald patches, that it really hit me!  That’s when Pat had to help me shave it completely off.  It almost felt obscene at first.  I felt naked, and  now there was no mistaking I looked like a cancer patient.  The whole transition all happened really fast, about 3 weeks total.  It was more than another few weeks just to adjust to my new look.

I have gotten quite comfortable in my own home walking around sporting my smooth top.  And anyone who knocks on the door or comes into my house needs to be prepared for that.  I can tell by some of the looks I get, it can be a bit of a shock for those who aren’t expecting it.  But I’m good with that as long as I’m surrounded by my home turf.  It’s going out in public and finding ways to creatively look and feel normal that can be difficult. I’m still unable to wear the wigs.  Not only because they are so uncomfortable, but they just look so unnatural on me.  Every time I try to put one on, I feel like I’m getting ready for Halloween.  I’m sure that’s not what other people think.  I have seen several women wear wigs during hair loss, and I would have never known, if I wasn’t told.  But if you can’t wear it confidently, your not going to pull it off.  So I will stick with my scarfs for now.

Thanks my Friends!

First, I would like to thank those of you who sent me “some inspiration.”  I received many supportive messages, and some amazing responses.  I pulled myself out of my funk and I feel much better now!

My friend Bob sent me some old video clips of us from 20 years ago!  It was hilarious seeing the old gang dancing and just being crazy.  He also made a movie called “Zomboids”  that myself and several other friends were featured in.  We had a blast making it.  And it was even more fun to watch now.  Oh youth… We had so much more energy back then, and it was such a carefree time.  And damn I was skinny and had great hair in those days.  It’s funny how you never appreciate how you looked in the past, until looking back.

I was also Honored by my good friends John & Amy, who put together a team in my name for the upcoming “Relay for Life.”  It’s a huge event to raise awareness and funds for Cancer.   I feel so touched that their family is doing this for me.  I plan to be there and would like to also invite my friends to join in.  You can sign up to walk for an hour time slot and or donate.  If you have never been to a “Relay for Life” event,  I can tell you that it’s incredible to be a part of it.  It’s full of positive energy and so motivating and inspiring.  The last one I was involved with, I remember having goose bumps the whole time.  Check out the web site for my team:

I would love to see you there.  If you can make a donation, click on my name, and help me to become the top donor on my team!

I’m also being considered to blog for an Upcoming Online Family Magazine that will be launching soon.   I don’t have all of the details yet, but I received a nice and encouraging email from them praising my blog and my strength.  Even if nothing comes from it, it was certainly a great confidence booster.

So I will take some time off from complaining for now and count my blessing.  There will be plenty of time for more fussing in the coming year.  But for now I will enjoy some good moments.

Send a sister some inspiration!

Once again I have neglected my blog, and in turn neglecting myself.  I know my friends are wondering and asking for updates.  But as I mentioned in my last post.  Sometimes, I just don’t have anything good to share.  And the last few weeks have been hell for me like that.  So maybe instead of waiting for some good news, or amusing stories to share, I will get on with a good old fashioned bitch session.  Hmmmm, that could be healing.

So this past month I had BIG Plans!  My sister and niece were here visiting.  I had my friend Cheri here to help out.  What more can I ask for huh!  I thought I would be able to get ahead of things for once.  I was going to get involved in other areas of my treatment.  I planned to take advantage of the Acupuncture, Reiki, meditation and yoga sessions that my support group offers.  I was going to clean out all of my kids rooms, and get rid of old toys and clothes that no longer fit them.  I was going to catch up on my reading, going through all of the cancer information I have been piling up, and maybe read something just for the enjoyment of it.   And maybe even get out of the house for something other than a Dr. appointment. and do something fun for myself for once.  But….none of that was in my stars.

First thing I had to deal with, is this lingering cold.  Without an immune system I couldn’t kick it.  And even though it’s now finally getting better, it still hangs on.  I’m constantly dragging, I can’t sleep at night, because when I lay down, I can’t breath, and when I finally do doze off, I’m awaken by severe coughing jags.

The second thing I didn’t take into account was having another family here.  Even though it was only my sister and niece, I didn’t realize how our differences would effect how we live our day to day lives for a whole month.  Being we are so different, we didn’t see eye to eye on many things.  And I think it was very difficult for someone who is used to living in a single child house, and is used to being able to schedule her day how she wants and have time to herself.  Then to be in my crazy home, with 4 young children, one being special needs with a daily therapy schedule, and me at my worst.  Then add another 5th child, who is used to being on her own.  That was perfect recipe for more chaos at times.

The third Challenge was, having to shave my head bald.  Yeah, I had fun with picking out the wigs, and trying all the new hair cuts.  But I have to say, there is nothing that really prepares you to loose all of your hair.  And NO, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FREAKIN HAIR!  I am a very low maintenance kind of chick.  I never got fancy with the hair thing anyway.  It was; wash, comb and let air dry.  I’m a jeans & flip flop wearing casual kind.  But once you are bald due to CANCER, it starts to define you!  You can’t help it.  It’s the first thing you notice when you look in the mirror.  It’s the first thing others see, when they look at your face!  It’s all I can think of when my cold bald head hits the pillow to try to sleep.  It’s almost impossible for me to stay in denial of my disease for any amount of time now.  And I can’t stand to wear the damn wigs!  Without hair, they are so uncomfortable.  So I need to stock up on some new lightweight cool & comfortable scarfs.  My family has at least all grown to love me bald.  Since around the house, I wear nothing on my head.  Even my Bailey, who warned me over a month ago, “Mom, if I wake up and all of your hair is gone, I’m going to faint.  I’m just letting you know, so you don’t think I’m dead.”   That broke my heart at that time.  But now she is my same daughter who can’t get enough of my baldness.  She loves to rub it and kiss it.  And nothing makes me smile more than that.

Then the 4th and final last straw was, my friend Cheri became ill.  Yeah, of all times.  And she had to take over a week off from being here.  Did you ever just want to throw your hands up in the air and scream at the top of your lungs… ” Really !  What else…  Come on… Now What.”

So here I am, trying to come out of my funk.  I really need to be reminded of who I am, what I plan to get back to.  This is the time I could really use your words of encouragement.  Send me a funny story of days gone past.  A photo of us from the good old days.  Or just tell me how damn awesome I am!  I could use it.

And I will pull myself out of this rut, and get back to the job of healing.

Some Days Suck!

I won’t lie, my life has been no slice of heaven lately. I’m always tired. My body aches, my taste buds are shot, so even my favorite ice cream doesn’t taste the same. I still have a cold, that I caught from my kids. Chemo takes a lot out of you. But I know I still have a lot to be thankful for too.  My family has been amazing.  My kids keep me smiling and give me a reason to push on every day.  Patrick has been so incredible, supportive, and calming for me.  I don’t know how he is keeping it all together so well.  But I’m thankful for it.  My sister and niece are here for the month of March, and it’s been so nice to have them.  Sandy is becoming my healer!  Yes, she is going to get me back into yoga, and put me on a good diet yet.  And again, my friend Cheri, I couldn’t do it all without her here to help out with the kids.  It has allowed me to get my rest when I need it and get to all of my Dr. appointments without having to schedule around and constantly worry about child care.  We have a beautiful and comfortable home, in a fantastic neighborhood and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else going through this.

So when you don’t hear much from me here, it’s because I may not always have something pleasant I want to chat about.  I do stay positive most of the time.  But there are days that I just need to get by, isolate, or whine about how life sucks some days.

This week I will be meeting with another oncologist to get a second opinion on my chemo treatments.  I’m told that the scans I took showed something in my thyroid.  They are not sure what that is yet.  But if it is cancer, it would mean another surgery.  So this crazy adventure continues,  and I will continue to kick butt, and feel blessed for all that I have.

Today my prayers will continue to also go out to all those families in Japan.  Kind of puts things in perspective for me.  I know it could be much worse.  Peace be with us all.

More hair styles to choose from!

I was back to see my favorite hair dresser, Sabina.   I got that short and sassy look. And to my surprise, it looked better than I expected. Who would have known.

Short & Sassy

Not too Shabby

I also made another trip to check out a couple more wig shops with myfriend Mindi. It’s fun to see how much a hair style can change your whole look. For better or worse, check it out.

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I will never believe that blonds have more fun!

Isn’t it Ironic – Don’t you think?

A little too Ironic. I really do think.
What the hell has my life become? I feel like I don’t get out of the house, except to go to my Dr. appointments. And I have had plenty. My right arm is looking like I’m some kind of Junky. I have been poked so many times, I’m starting to develop scar tissue in my veins. I have had Heart scans, CAT scans and bone scans. I have been radiated so much, I’m sure my insides are still glowing.

But despite all of that, I have managed to stay positve. And I actually was feeling pretty good the last few days. This morning I got out to see Bailey’s 1st grade play. Afterwards, I was off to Kaiser to get my blood test done. I was feeling so good, I decided to treat myself to a little shopping trip. I stopped at Kohls to check out all the great sales. I was finding some fabulous bargains, and you all know how happy that makes me!  Then I get a call from Kaiser while I’m still in the mist of my shopping spree. It was my Oncologist office, telling me they got the lab work from my blood test, and my cell count was dangerously low. They wanted me to get back into Kaiser right away to get some shots, to bring it up.  I was given 5 days worth of  injections, that I will have to administer to myself.   They tell me my immune system is so low, that I shouldn’t eat any fresh fruits or vegetables? How Ironic is that! And to top it off,  I of course need to stay away from anyone who may be even slightly sick. So to complicate things a bit more,  I get home to find my baby hot and with a fever, wanting Mommy to comfort her.  A little too Ironic…. I really do think.

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