Cancer Stories: 5 Things that Helped


My cancer diagnosis was quite the whirlwind adventure. Hospitalized for a blockage. Surgery a week later when the doctors finally admitted it was cancer. A diagnosis the week after that. I was on pain meds so my thinking wasn’t clear at all but I wanted to share the five things below helped me get through my cancer treatment.

1. The chemo nurses know what they are talking about! A few times I found I got conflicting advice from my oncologist and the nurses. While the doctors advice was more generalized, the nurses are the ones that see the patients every day and they were the ones whose advice helped the most.

2. Don’t wait to take your medications! Whether for pain or nausea, don’t wait. It just makes things worse and you could require medical attention to fix things. I didn’t take the Zofran as often as advised by my nurses (see #1) and as a result ended up in the E.R. for fluids and morphine after the first two chemo treatments.

3. Record everything! I used Evernote on my iPhone to keep track of all my meds and when they were taken. My husband also had access to these records in case I was too ill to communicate myself.

4. Eat! I know it sounds silly and often eating is the last thing I wanted to do but eating usually helped. I was living on saltines and water after the first chemo and that wasn’t enough. No appetite led to an empty stomach which led to nausea and pain. Chicken noodle soup was my go to food along with chex mix and nilla wafers. I drank a lot of camomile tea as well.

5. Don’t google your cancer! I didn’t do it until after I was off chemo and all scans came back clear. That was definitely for the best. It’s hard to have a positive attitude about what your going through when you read all those horrid statistics.

What helped you or a lived one get through cancer? Share in the comments!

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Summer Stories: What I’ve Learned


This summer the children and I spent the month of July with my mother-in-law in Colorado while Mike was still in New York working. He joined us a few days ago and I’ve noticed some things that changed this past month.

1. I can take care of myself. Since being diagnosed with cancer in 2012, I’ve felt very dependent on others. This month I was the strong one.

2. I don’t need a lot of stuff. I have my computer, iPad and iPhone. I read mostly digital books now. The only thing I truly missed was my craft supplies. When the mood strikes, I like to be able to knit or create what I wish.

3. I don’t need a lot of clothing. Neither do the kids. Shoes actually were the only thing I didn’t have enough of. I brought practical shoes but I didn’t have dress shoes with me. And the laundry has been so easy. Just two loads every few days!

4. I can lead a healthy life. I can choose to only get a soup at a restaurant and ignore the comments about how I’ve been so good that I should get something different. I’m doing this for my health. I don’t need to eat as a reward.

5. I discovered I always put others first. Not really a shock but acknowledging it makes it easier for me to change it.

6. I don’t want a sedentary life anymore. I have time in my day when the kids are at school to take two decent walks and still have time to do what I want and need to do.

7. I can’t keep letting life pass me by. I have to be more intentional about things. I need to plan dinner days ahead. I have to and want to schedule daily chores and activities.

8. It’s okay to know what I want and go after it. I had so much time to think about what I wanted. I did what I wanted and the things I worried about when making my own choices didn’t happen. Everything was fine. No one was upset with me. Only took 40 years to figure that out!

We are all looking forward to our upcoming adventure. We will be traveling to Mesa Verde, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore before heading home to New York just in time to go back to school.

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Project Life: Summer Week 1

week 1 page 1 8 5 x11edited

I think I’ve tried my hand at Project Life every year since the second year it started. I’ve been a scrapbooker of sorts all my life but by today’s definition since 1997. I haven’t created a single traditional page at all this year and have only finished this one four page Project Life spread.

I want to so bad and I know it’s so easy but it’s just not happening. I read blogs with suggestions how to make it easier. I have apps that should help. I’m looking forward to the new Project Life App coming soon. I am even doing these summer layouts digitally.

week 1 middle pg 1edited

I’ve never felt photos in albums was enough. I always want to know the story behind the photo. Not only do I fear I won’t be there to tell my kids these stories as they grow older but I fear that I will start to forget more if and when the cancer comes back.

You’d think that would be motivation enough. And it is. It gets me to set aside my own fears or desires to make these memories and take photos as a reminder of these days. I share on Facebook and Instagram regularly. But I want it to be real and surrounding me.

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I’m going to challenge myself to create one spread a week. I’m going to set a reminder in my phone that repeats each week. I do t want it to feel like an obligation but I also don’t want the burden of not completing the pages to weigh me down.

So this was week one of our summer vacation. A good place to start. I chose to use Cathy Zielskis 8 1/2 x 11 templates so I could easily print from home. She was in fact an inspiration to keep it just photos on words. At least for now.

week 1 page 2 8 5 x 11 edited

Here’s hoping I will be back next week with the second week of our vacation and a more hopeful outlook!

week 1 page 1 8 5 x11editedweek 1 middle pg 1editedweek 1 middle pg 2editedweek 1 page 2 8 5 x 11 edited

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The Current Story


The kids and I are spending the summer in Colorado. I’ve posted many photos on Instagram.

I’m watching True Blood on my iPad. Nowhere safe to watch it on a TV. During chemo, we got HBO so I had more shows to watch. That’s when I got hooked on both True Blood and Game of Thrones.

Anna is loving My Little Pony and Rainbow Loom.

Warren is loving Minecraft and Netflix
Mike is stuck in New York working until August. We text and talk every day.

I just finished reading The Book of Life.

I’m knitting the Ecclefechan Mittens from Kate Davies right now.

We are all anticipating Season 8 of Doctor Who!

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Cancer Stories: The Beginning

cancer stories the beginning

Maybe for some people it’s easy to pinpoint the first day of their journey with cancer. The day they found the lump or the day the doctor told them. For me it has never been so cut and dry. For me, I think it was the day I finally admitted there was something wrong.

Thursday, July 19, 2012. Two years ago today. I’d been in pain since Monday. I experienced bouts of nausea and an inability to eat for about a month. I’d been anemic and very lethargic since February. But this was the day I could no longer deny that something was seriously wrong.

I hadn’t had a bowel movement in a week but I wasn’t constipated. I had moments of stabbing pain on and off all week. That day, though, I picked the kids up from camp at noon and couldn’t leave the parking lot for the pain. I spent the remainder of the afternoon on the couch screaming on and off in pain until Mike called on his way home from work.

He could tell right away I wasn’t doing well. He told me to call my doctor and ask the neighbors to watch the kids. I was ready and waiting when he got home. I still thought I was overreacting.

The doctor sent me for a CT scan. Diverticulitis is what he thought. I vomited up that awful drink. They did the scan anyway.

A blockage they called it. I was sent home. Tap water enema and miralax were prescribed.

You never know how much your husband loves you until he is willing to give you an enema. I never want to find out, but I hope I would do the same for him.

That’s it. That’s the beginning of my cancer story. We had no idea how serious this was. We had no idea how much worse this would get. We had no idea how this would change all of us.

I don’t know if I will continue to share the horrific parts of my cancer story. There are so many wonderful parts I want to share instead. So many small miracles and revelations I’ve experienced since it all began. Those are what I want to share. Those are what I want to remember. But this was my beginning.

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Autism Stories: Bedtime Music

Bedtime Music_edited-1 As an infant through toddler, Warren would never sleep in his own bed. Then, when I was pregnant with my daughter, we had to transition Warren to his own bed. He was always a restless sleeper and it was no longer a safe situation.

We quickly discovered that Warren woke several times each night. It took a lot to get him back to sleep. A lot more than I had in me at the time. I’d read somewhere that classical music can help people relax and there are many compilations available for young children.

We purchased the Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics CD and set Warren up in his own room. Without fail, and still eight years later if the music stops playing while he is sleeping, Warren will immediately wake up. He wore out two copies of the CD and two CD players because we kept it on repeat all night, every night.

bedtime music supplement

When we got an iPod and were on vacation we decided to download the album from iTunes. Eight years later he still falls asleep to it. Except that he chose not to listen to it while sharing a room with his cousin these past two weeks. He made that choice and we respected it.

I have done no research to back this up but I have offered this experience to parents who have the same sleep issues with their child. Many are hesitant. They say they don’t listen to classical music. It’s not really about what people tend to listen to during the day but what their body needs during sleep. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try it.

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Cancer Stories: Zofran


I remember being told how the side effects from chemo for colon cancer were mild. If what I experienced was mild, I can’t even imagine what moderate or severe side effects must be.

They gave me IV Zofran as they began my first treatment and sent me home with a script for more with instructions on when to take it. The thing is when you have no idea what your body is about to experience, these instructions end up being more like suggestions.

At first we were able to get the script filled at the pharmacy but in the future it would come in three month supplies through our insurance company. That first week, though, I had no idea how to handle this.

If you have read previous posts, you may remember I had a colon resection a month before starting chemo, so I was still on the mend from that and returning to eating after not doing so for nearly a month. Well, add chemo to that mix and my desire to eat was gone and my nausea was just increasing.

My first treatment was on Tuesday and the pump was unhooked on Thursday. By Friday morning, I was eating nothing but saltines and drinking water but no amount of Zofran could get things under control. I ended up in the ER the next morning after being violently ill most of the night. I was dehydrated and in sever pain. They sent me home but gave me a script for Phenergan as well. After reading up on the drug I did not want to take it until I spoke with my on oncologist.

After seeing her the next Tuesday for a follow up we discussed what happened. She added Protonics, told me I could take the Phenergan and advised that no matter how little I feel like eating I must eat even if it is bland food. Saltines were not enough.

I must point out that at this time in my life, I could not keep weight on. Though I was very overweight at the rate I was losing it, I would be in serious trouble if I didn’t get under control.

The following week we went into chemo with a plan. I received IV Zofran during treatment and they told me when I could take the next dose at home. I then had to take it every eight hours no matter what until Saturday. They also added in another dose of IV Zofran when the pump was removed on Thursdays. I took the Phenergan but only at night before bed. This seemed to help a good deal. I still felt horrible but things were under control.

When I received my three month supply of Zofran in the mail, I was shocked to discover I had enough to take three a day for every day of the month for three months. Luckily this was way more than I needed.

April 18, 2013 was the day my pump was removed for the last time. I took a few Zofran once in a while as my body adjusted to no longer getting chemo. I still had a lot left.

At a visit to my oncologist’s office last month I asked if they could use my leftover Zofran. They are each individually sealed. They said they would be thrilled. I was very lucky to have such excellent insurance and cancer treatment has still cost us a great deal but some people don’t even get Zofran covered by their insurance they told me.

Last week, I delivered 18 boxes with 10 pills per box to my oncologist’s office. Just about one year after my last treatment. I was nervous to give them away for a while. Remembering that nausea is still terrifying but I’m glad to be able to spare someone that experience if I can.

It is also a comfort not to have those boxes staring back at me from the medicine cabinet reminding me what I went through and may go through again.

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