Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bald is Okay

After asking for anyone interested in shaving my head, I was surprised at the number of people that volunteered! The day after my last chemo treatment, I went back to the Cancer Care Clinic for my Neulasta injection to stimulate white blood cell growth and I also had acupuncture for the first time. This is a service offered by the clinic to help manage side effects. I was surprised at how it helped the nausea. Still nothing for the fatigue. I lost days again somewhere after chemo. I really don't like being that tired. I think the "chemo brain" I was warned about is also setting in. It's harder for me to find words during conversations and my ability to focus isn't the same.

Anyway. After that short outing to clinic, the amount of hair that had accumulated on my shirt and jacket was just gross. Anytime I ran my fingers through my hair, I would end up with a handful of hair. Gross. I had enough at that point. I asked Kristen (first one to offer, and she's done this before!) if she would come over later that day to shave it off. I needed a little moral support so Kara and Jill came over too and Rick's arrival home from work made for a nice little cheering section. I put Kara in charge of taking pictures and Jill brought lipstick! Only Jill would have thought of that detail! So with lipstick applied, Kristen started with scissors. Step One resulted in a very chic Les Miserables Anne Hathaway cut. Step Two was a #2 clipper, but I just wanted it all gone, so the guard came off and I was left with stubble. And I was bald. I'm glad my friends were there. Even if they were lying, the encouragement helped me not only make it through the event, but make it through smiling! I'm amazed at how God gave me exactly what I needed at the moment I needed it, no sooner and not too late. The strength and comfort I felt left no room for fear or self-pity. I haven't cried over my bald head yet! It's just hair and it will grow back. Until then, it doesn't take nearly as much time to get ready in the morning. I could get used to this! My new hair (wig) is still a work in process. I love the color, but it's a little puffy still! Oh, and Laura, your prayers were answered! My bald head is symmetrical and not at all bumpy, I actually don't mind it!

Ella once again completely surprised me with how well she took it. I wear a little pink hat around the house (sorry to those of you that have been shocked by this while dropping off food!) and for the first night, Ella told me not to take it off. She did pull out the book I had bought for her about losing hair during chemo, "Nowhere Hair", and she read it to me. I think that helped her a lot. The next evening she asked me to take my hat off off so she could see what I looked like. I was bracing myself for a not so kind remark to cover her emotions. All she said was: "Don't worry, Mom. It will grow back." Since then, she has reminded me that I'm still her beautiful mommy. And when she hugs me, she rubs my hair! It's pretty cute! I'm definitely not in the same shape I was when Rick married me almost ten years ago. Thank you God for a marriage that isn't shaken by a bald head and missing breasts.

I feel as though I've been given a tiny gift. I'm going back to getting my chemo treatments on Mondays, but next Monday wouldn't be enough time in between treatments, so I get an extra "good week" where I won't be dead tired and nauseous. I'll get to do some normal things! I'm pretty excited about that! First thing on my to do list is to make a decision what to do about my short term disability and FMLA leave that is nearing its end. Do I use it all up or go back and use it intermittently? I have to work five days every two weeks to keep my benefits. So I need to get that figured out. On good weeks it won't be a problem, but when I start the new drugs and have chemo treatments once a week, I don't know if I'll have the energy or clear mind to work. I did find out today that some co-workers have donated some PTO hours to me and that will help just to get my hours up to where they need to be to keep my insurance coverage after the disability is over. Thanks to whoever did that! I didn't know that was a possibility, so it was a nice surprise and huge blessing! Thank you for sharing those highly coveted hours with me!

The meals are still coming and we are so appreciative! I went to the grocery store for just a few items and left exhausted. It gave me a renewed thankfulness for the meals that show up daily that keeps me from having to plan, shop and prepare. I can focus on resting up, getting better and beating cancer. So, thank you for the meals and the gift cards. Thank you for loving us!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mission: Gentle and Quiet Spirit

I liked the first round of chemo better. I came back from Arizona pretty tired (even with all the resting and reading by the pool. I read 5 books there and on the plane.) so I expected to balance out with the steroid they gave me. When chemo was over, I had to ask if I had gotten it since I was not feeling like I could conquer the world like I did with the first treatment. Everything went really smooth. My port cooperated this time and we in and out in under five hours.

Our flight arrived in Minnesota last night at 11:00. Rick would be too tired to work, Ella would be too tired for school, so we made it a family affair. I had wanted Ella to experience chemo at some point so she knew what was involved. I wanted her to know that I didn't get hurt at chemo and that the doctors, nurses and volunteers take good care of me. She was able to see all that for the first couple of hours and then Papa and Nan came to get her. (If they knew the pretend play that they were about to endure, they might not have said yes. No. They would have said yes. No isn't a world Ella hears very often from them.)

I'm already feeling more nausea than I did last time. And I'm tired. I slept all afternoon and tried my best to keep myself up so I will sleep well tonight. I wanted to get this finished, I know so many of you are praying and want to know what's going on. And some of you have mentioned that I'm not posting quick enough, so I'm working on that!

The real struggle is this hair thing. I am a simple gal. I don't need nice clothes clothes, I don't care about what styles are, I love accessories, but they intimidate me and I don't wear much makeup. That's just me. I can tell by comments I get when I do wear makeup and make an effort to dress up slightly that I look better, but that's not enough motivation for me to do it! I've never thought of myself as pretty, and I've never wished I looked any different (except for junior high and that is a whole 'nother issue!). My daddy told me I was pretty, my Heavenly Father told me I was created in His image. My husband just has to look at me and I know he thinks I'm beautiful. My daughter tells me I'm "the most beautiful mommy in the whole university." And while I know she has the tendency to exaggerate and dramatize things somewhat, okay, A LOT. It warms my mommy heart. So why I am so scared to lose my hair is a little bit of mystery to me, but doesn't make it any easier.  Then God gave me this reminder:


That sure put things in perspective. We'll be working on the latter of those verses: gentle and quiet spirit.  I consider this a low point, a time when I am at my weakest. Strangely, that makes me excited. I know that with each handful of hair that falls out, that's less of me.  More of him.  That's when I take a cue from TobyMac and let God steal my show. That's when I am strong. So, go ahead. Take it away!

Now I just need to decide if I'm going to shave it off or let it fall out on its own.  Rick doesn't think he can shave it off.  I get that.  Any volunteers out there?!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Rest I Didn't Know I Needed

I feel as though I have done nothing but rest since my surgery over a month ago. I was even starting to go stir crazy at home with all the resting I have been doing. But after spending the last few days in Arizona, I realize just how much I needed to rest. I've enjoyed feeling almost normal again and I try to make the most of each moment to make them last as long as they can and not think about what was waiting for me at home.

Our first day in Arizona we headed up to the Grand Canyon. Mountains, lakes, rivers, flowers......that is my kind of beauty. But the sheer ginormity of that place was breathtaking. We hiked down a trail, realized the farther down we hiked, the farther we'd have to hike back up, so we didn't get too far. We met a scraggly looking elk and then found a good spot to watch the sunset. It was beautiful, but there were lots of other people with the same idea, so it was a little crowded. We stayed in a cabin in the Grand Canyon so we would be able to wake up in time to go see the sunrise.  Usually I research and plan vacations so well that we have all the information need to make spontaneous decisions. A combination of preoccupation with the chemo treatment and not knowing if I'd actually be able to go, left us with spontaneous decisions without the usual planning.  So that's why we were up at 5:00 am waiting for the shuttle to take us to Hopi Point dressed in random layers of clothing, wrapped in a blanket borrowed from the bed in the cabin.  If I had done my research, I would have known that early mornings in the Grand Canyons are cold. 26 degrees of cold. There were only a few of us there this time.  I was so glad that we had braved the cold, seeing the colors shifting on the horizon and then give way to a brilliant, blinding light made it worth it.  As the light spilled onto the canyon, my mind was busy coming up with analogies of light crowding out shadows and our calling to be salt and light.  It was quite an experience, it just didn't last long enough.  Later that day as were getting ready to leave the Canyon and stopped for one last look, the typical first look for most people that plan and research, I couldn't stop thinking "Wow.  God you are BIG."  A reply came.  "You haven't seen anything yet.  Just wait."
We headed back down to Phoenix to meet up with the rest of Rick's family and to get the wedding festivities underway.  During a trip to the Phoenix Zoo, Ella got to feed a giraffe.  She loved his purple tongue.  I am still so thankful that I was able to make the trip.  I would have missed out on so much had I not been able to go.  I was able to meet Meghan's family. Todd married into a great family. Prior to a conversation with Meghan's Uncle Brian, I had not known that his wife was a breast cancer survivor.  I enjoyed talking with him and getting the story from a husbands point of view.  After the wedding I was able to talk with Nancy and was encouraged to see her cancer free and living a normal life 9 years later. 

The wedding was so much fun. Ella did a great job as the flower girl and loved spending time with all the bridesmaids.  Rick enjoyed being the best man for his brother and best friend.  I enjoyed the cupcakes! Ella danced the night away and loved every minute.  And I got to be there for it all. 

After the answered prayer of being able to make the trip, I prayed that my hair would hang on until at least the wedding.  It did. Then I prayed that it would hang on until I got back to Minnesota.  It did.  On the plane ride home I would comb my hair with my fingers and would have an abnormal amount of hair fall in my hands.  I made it back to Minnesota with a head full of hair.  But as I sit here and type, my scalp is aching mildly and tingly.  Those poor follicles are trying so hard to hang on, but it's a losing battle.  I have been planning on just shaving it off at this point, but I'm finding that I'm really struggling with each strand of hair that falls out.  Breasts are a private thing and with each fill from the plastic surgeon, I become closer to be like a normal person.  I never really was phased by that loss.  Losing my hair is so public.  It screams cancer. It just begs for pity. It's just hair. It will grow back eventually. It's still hard. Rick is being so supportive and attentive, trying to help me sift through the waves of emotions that keep coming.  Ella was aware that I might have lost my hair while we were in Arizona and was so encouraging as she made sure that I still had my wig, just in case, as we moved from location to location.  While driving in the car today after dropping Todd and Meghan off at the airport, she didn't look up at me, but stated very matter of factly, "Mom. I don't want you to lose your hair, but you will be just as beautiful with your wig." 
The trip was great. I was able to rest.  It came at a perfect time, but I'm glad to be home. Tomorrow I go for my second chemo treatment. Here's hoping everything goes as well as the first round! 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week Two of Chemo Treatment

One week out from my first chemo treatment and if the rest of chemo goes like this, I'd be okay with that! The first three or four days following chemo I got nauseated very easily, but one Zofran at the first churn of my insides and that took care of it. Rick made popcorn in the microwave and it smelled like "a mess that turned weeks ago." (Can anyone name the show that quote is from? Someone on that same show said, "In my opinion, you're not a proper woman if you don't have a goat or two." I guess I'm a proper woman!) That was my first clue that my sense of smell was affected by the chemo. But that was about it for side effects, except for the fatigue. Sleepiness. Tiredness. Lethargy. Whatever you want to call it, I have it. All. Day. Long. I wake up and either prepare Ella's breakfast, or she wakes me up and prepares me breakfast. Then after sometime of catching up on e-mails or other sedentary household task or finishing the show that I fell asleep watching the night before, I take a shower. Then comes my after shower nap. Who knew showering could be such a chore! The length of the naps throughout the day get significantly shorter the farther out I get, but I'm almost always tired. All the time. And then there's the whole compromised immune system thing.
Post surgical pain is almost all gone. My left under arm still hurts and I'm still not used the living with plastic pods in my chest. I can feel the plastic through my skin. That is not normal. I've been to Dr. Kadkhodayan twice for what we call fills. She uses a large syringe with saline and an equally large needle to fill the plastic pods and voila...instant puberty. I went from a six year old to a fourteen year old in a week! This stretches the skin and gets it ready for the implants that will be coming some time in 2014.

This is my off week. No treatment, just getting my body built back up so we can crash it again. I went in for blood work today to see if my counts were high enough to head to Arizona (just in time for the winter storm heading towards Minnesota). And they were high enough! Yay. Ella and I did a happy dance when we got this news.  I was just as excited that Brittany from the cancer care clinic was able to draw the blood from my arm with only one poke!  My hemoglobin was even in the normal range for normal women not on chemo. Thanks for praying everyone! And thanks for the meals, you're keeping me well nourished so my body is fueled to fight!

Did you see the huge picture of my family in the paper this weekend? This past Sunday, Molly Guthrey from the Pioneer Press, featured my journey to this point  in her Turning Point column. Our mutual friend Andi is the matchmaker here! Thanks, Andi! I spoke with Molly on the phone while sitting in my chemo chair during the two hour blood clot delay. The result is what can be read in the paper, or on the Internet. We showed Ella the article and her response was a little unexpected. "I'm in the paper? Ugh. How embarrassing." Then she came home from school the next day and was mortified that her friend, Nick, had seen her in the paper! The first time my picture was in the Pioneer Press also had something to do with me writing. (Should I be catching on to something here?). The title read, "Essay writer wins trip to fish camp with dad." I was in third grade at the time and the picture next to the article was me with my fishing pole complete with a fish on the end. I had written an essay telling why I wanted to go to fish camp with my dad. And I won. I don't know if the essay was really that good, or if there was a shortage of kids that wanted to go fish camp with their dad. But we went and had a blast.

So, with my energy slowing returning, my family and I are off to Arizona for Rick's brother's wedding and a tiny bit of family vacation. I think Rick needs it more than I do. He's worked 10-12 hour days every day since my chemo treatment on a remodel project. It will be a good trip. Our original plans were to head to the beaches in California and DisneyLand, but that had to go when we shortened the trip to get back in time for my next round of chemo. It would be nice if the next one is just like this, but I also know that each treatment will be a little tougher than the last. Thanks to all of you out there praying that I would be cleared for travel! Prayer works. I'm convinced.

Well, I'm off to relax and explore with my little family and will returned refreshed (probably bald) and ready for whatever comes next!  Thanks for all your support!  You're each helping to make this whole cancer thing a little less horrifying.  Oh, and if you didn't guess the show I was referring to in the beginning, it's Duck Dynasty. It's been my favorite show for almost a year now.  I can't tell you how many episodes I watched and rewatched since surgery and still can't help but laugh! Any other Duck Dynasty fans out there?!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

So THAT'S what chemo is like!

This morning I woke up to Rick's alarm, or maybe it was the alarm he set for me since he was still in bed when I was finished showering.  I'm trying to think of the best word to describe my state of mind, and I think I'll go with, curious.  Before I got a personal invite to this circus that is cancer, chemo was one medication that was given to anyone with cancer.  Not a cocktail of two or more out of many possible chemo drugs mixed to your specific body, your specific lab results, your specific cancer and then some.  When I heard to expect to be there 4-6 hours, I pictured myself reclining in a chair and napping while IV fluids containing "chemo" was pumped into my body through my port for 4-6 hours.  But now I know what chemo treatment really is. 

We arrived in Suite 130 at 8:00am with a small bag packed since I wasn't sure what I was in for. I had my vitals taken (all time low blood pressure for me!) and my port accessed for the blood they needed for labs.  While the blood was sent off to be spun around in that machine and looked at on a slide through a microscope, or whatever they do with blood, I updated my nurse on all my symptoms and side effects: Zero.  She gave me some reminders about chemo and then I met with Dr. Shanks.  He looked at the lab results. Someone, somewhere in there must have called the pharmacy to have them start mixing my chemo meds. I ran our new plan for going to Arizona by Dr. Shanks.  He put in orders to make an appointment for labs only the day before we are to leave.  Just one look at him and I knew that if those numbers were not where he wants them, I will not be leaving on jet plane.  He asked if I had any questions.  I did not.  He called down to the Infusion Center to see if they had a chair for me.  They did.  He looked at me.  I said, "It's go time."  He smiled and said, "It's go time."  Then he walked me down to infusion.  That's when I learned what chemo really is like.  I got the chair I had picked out during my tour of the infusion center.  I sat down.  I met Joan, who would be my nurse and giving me the chemo.  She was very cool. I like her.  I'd go back to see her.  I don't think she liked me, though. I'll tell you why in a minute.

She explained everything as she did it and I really liked that.  First came the pillow and the warm blanket.  Well, actually, first I found out where the bathroom was since I had been drinking so much water.  Even now, I'm not sure if my stomach is a little upset from the chemo or from drinking too much water.  Then I was given a steroid to prepare my body for the chemo.  A little boom before the bang.  Then an anti nausea drug.  Then another anti nausea drug that lasts a longer time.  Those are called pre-meds. Somewhere in between the pre-meds and my first chemo drug, my port stopped working.  After several saline flushes there was still no sign of blood (they want to be able to push a syringe of saline into the line to make sure it goes in, but then they pull back on the syringe hoping to see a flash a pink.  Then they really know the medicine is really going in.) Around flsuh number 8, Rick asked if they charge for each syringe used.  Thankfully, they don't.  Two hours later, 25+ saline flushes, a Heparin flush to clear the line from blood clots, a couple runs up and down the stairs, a couple fake coughing spells, different arm positions, standing up and leaning forward, leaning way back in the chair with my feet over my head (that has a medical term, but I don't remember it), bearing down and pretending to have a baby, an order from Dr. Shanks for TPA and time to let TPA do it's thing, and two hours later, we finally saw blood.  The Adriamycin has to be given directly by the nurse.  She doubles up on gloves and wears a special gown, covers the syringe with a towel, and slowly injects it in the port and the coolness courses through the line and I get cold.  That takes all of ten minutes.  More saline flushes.  Then she hangs the Cytoxin and that gets pumped in over a half hour.  Then it's all over. It didn't feel like anything. I didn't feel anything.  Strange when you think about what the drug is doing. More Heparin is added to the port to keep it open until next time.  Next time will be quicker. 

The time flew by though.  I checked e-mails once.  Had six visitors.  Watched the birds, geese, squirrels and bunny outside the window. Got a lavendar oil hand massage. Counted the cars not obeying the 30 mph speed limit.  Looked for any cars I might recognize.  Was interviewed by a Pioneer Press columnist.  Texted friends. Ate lunch brought by Kara. Drank a lot of water. Made appointments. Rescheduled appointments. Took pictures, had Rick take pictures of me.  Then said good-bye until next time. 

So now you know what chemo is like!

Rick and I were able to talk with Ella tonight. When I asked her if she wanted to read some books about mommy's sickness, she said, "You mean breast cancer?"  She had picked up on more than she had let on.  But she had not yet made the connection between children with cancer and bald heads and mommy with cancer and a bald head. The first words out of her mouth, "We should get a wig." I'm so glad that conversation went well. She also thought it was pretty cool that her teacher's mommy had breast cancer too. She had questions and wasn't afraid to ask them. The books answered some of them.  We were able to answer the rest. Parts of the books needed a little help. The Mommy in the book admits that she's scared, and while it is okay to be scared,  this Mommy isn't scared because "What does the Team Melissa bracelet say, Ella?"  That precious smile, and "God's Got This."  I know and Ella knows who I've given all control to and I am completely at peace with that. If Ella gets scared, she knows who she can come and talk to and most importantly, she knows that God can do anything and she has the faith of a child that believes that. That faith started the day she was listening to a Go Fish song in the car with me on the way to the farm and said, "I don't want Joy in my heart.  I want Jesus in my heart." We prayed right then and there.  So simple, so easy, and all along God has been preparing that tender heart for this season. That will be three years ago at the end of April.  At least every night, but also at most dinner times and some random times in the car, but for sure every night before bed for the last three years she has prayed and asked God for a baby brother, a baby sister, or both.  We told her she should keep praying for that, Mommy and Daddy were, but that Jesus couldn't put a baby in Mommy's tummy while I was so sick.  But it will be a great surprise to see how Jesus makes our family grow. We just need to be patient.  Bottom line(s): Ella knows she is so incredibly loved by her momma (and daddy and grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends).  She did nothing to cause this cancer.  She cannot catch it.  Cancer happens when for reasons we don't know, bad cells start growing next to good cells and grow faster and need to come out.  Mommy will be tired.  Mommy will be sick.  Mommy will lose her hair.  Mommy will wear a wig.  The chemo medicine they are giving me isn't smart enough to tell the difference between good cells and bad cells, so both kinds of cells are destroyed and the good ones will grow back.  In all this, Mommy is still Mommy on the inside and that's all that matters. And God's Got This. Thank you to those praying for this specific conversation.

bottom left picture: look closely and you can see the red...that's the Adriamycin. That's the one responsible for hair loss and nausea and every other side effect known to chemo!  I've read that some people call it Big Red, others the Red Devil.  Joan, the chemo nurse, called it Adria and quoted that one guy from the Rocky movie (I've never seen the movie, but recognized the quote!)

Oh, and a little more detail about the 31 Bags Fundraiser for those interested, in case you don't read comments on blogs (I don't.) Here's Jodi's comment:

"Ok, the ThrityOne online party is open to take Orders on April 2nd-28th. All proceeds will be going to you, YEA! So yes, everyone stock up on all our wonderful bags!
Also, Thirty-One stands for Proverbs31, that is you Melissa! It's an honor for me to hold this Special party for you.  Just click on 'My Parties' and you'll see the party for Melissa B.
Thank you!"

I'm sure there is some big detail I left out of this synopsis, but the steroids are wearing off and my little upset stomach is getting worse. And Ella is laughing in her sleep, I better check on her.  Pray for no side effects, please! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

In Honor of Chemo Start Day

***Disclaimer: Read at your own risk. My sister, Ali, the English teacher, read this post, she recommends I have a proofreader read the post prior to posting it. Or just stay away from posting on chemo days altogether. Sorry. ***

In the last couple months, nurses and other providers I've talked with have said that when things like cancer come up, you quickly learn you will stick it out with you. "You find out who your true friends are", is what they say. That is true. I already had a really good idea who my friends were before all of this, and they have stepped up and have been an amazing emotional support system. Coming out of a time in my life where it was hard to trust friends, God brought some amazing women into my life and I'm blessed to know them and to live life with them.

Something else happens when cancer strikes, you make new friends! That has been just as encouraging to me. And honestly, on this side of the chemo side effects, strengthening my current friendships and nurturing these new ones is worth it all! (If you ask me again in six weeks I might tweak this answer!) Pam was a friend before all this started. She moved from acquaintance to friend when I told her, in the copy room at church, that Rick had just lost his job. She immediately responded with, "What are you doing on Thursday? You're coming over for dinner." And we did. She was one of the first to reach out and I will never forget that. Pam has willingly offered us her services as "fundraising coordinator". She did the research and got the Give Forward page up which has been such a HUGE blessing. My mom updates me on the total every week or so, then I go on the website and cry. Thank you to all of those that are helping us financially. It eases a huge burden as we start to see the bills rolling in and know that help is on the way! Thank you! Named or anonymous. Thank you! God knows who you are, and I have asked him to return the blessing to each and every one of you as He sees best. Pam also hosted the Pampered Chef dessert night. That was one of my first outings after surgery and it was fun. It was also quite successful. Pam received over 50 orders. Can you believe that? Pam is gifting us with what she would have made on that show and it will be substantial! Thank you, Pam!  And consider this as thank you to all of you who ordered. I am so behind on thank you cards and my list is long! And thank you to Tom (Pam's husband) and Landen (husband of Heather who sent the best chemo kit ever! Seriously Heather, thank you!) for taking Rick out for a play date. He needed that. Oh, which reminds me...Ali, sweet sister, thank you for the care package that came to Rick AND Melissa today. He loved his parachute men, even though Ella thought they were for her! I have the most amazing husband and through infertility, unemployment and now cancer treatment, he is my rock. Our marriage is stronger than it was five years ago and just keeps getting better! While dropping off our meal tonight, (which was delicious by the way. Thanks! You should have seen how excited I got over the green beans! And thanks for bringing lunch to us at chemo. We had planned on Rick leaving, but I didn't want him to, so this was a blessing. Thank you.) Kara reminded me of the woman who told me shortly after Rick and I returned from our honeymoon, that May 24th was a day of mourning for mothers all over Cottage Grove. That was the day that Rick Borner got married and their hopes of him marrying their daughters were shattered. And he married me! Anyway. Where was I? Did I tell you about the bunny at chemo today?

Seriously. All that rambling was the steroids. More on that to come. The point to this post is to let you know about a new friendship that is blossoming. Her name is Jodi and she sells Thirty-One bags. In honor of my first day of chemo she is doing a Thirty-One fundraiser to help with medical costs! Yay! Hey, the company is called Thirty-One and I am 31. Isn't ironic?  It's like ra-e-ain on your wedding day.  It's a free-e-e ride when you've already paid. Anyway, starting today, the proceeds she would get for the sale of the bags is going to help pay for the port they put in during surgery and use during chemo (among other things). Talk about sticker shock! Anyway, if there are any bag lovers out there like me, here's a great chance to buys a bag or two. I love the ones I have and am ordering my new chemo bag tonight! I think Jodi said she will keep this open for the month of April. If I'm wrong she will correct me by commenting below, right Jodi!? Thank you, Jodi! Anyway, here's the link. Do what you want with it! I am going to cut Rick's hair and then will try to get out the post about chemo. I might wait for the steroids to get out of my system. I am not responsible for all the rambling I just did there, but I mean Every. Single. Word that I wrote! I would not be able to sit here (now I'm crying. Thanks, guys!) at Day One of A-Lot-of-Days of chemo treatments and be thankful. Yes, thankful, for this seemingly awful thing God allowed to come into my life at a really bad time. But because of the amazing support, cards, pajamas, gift baskets, meals, play dates for my daughter and husband, blog posts about me, texts from Florida, texts and cards and e-mails and singing rabbits fromTennessee (oh, Tennessee, you will be your own blog post when I can sit down to write about you or to you without crying. I have to rewrite the thank you I wrote to you after it got a little smudged with tears), care packages, meals, scripture verses, books, alcohol prep pads (that will have to stay a secret between me, Joan the amazing chemo nurse, Laurie, Roshell and Holly!) flowers, plants, meals, little gifts for Ella, jewelry, bags, meals, lip balm, emesis bags (thank YOU, Dr. Bryant. You are my hero.), DVD's, CD's, kids art work, oh, and did I mention meals?! For everything, all of it. Thank you. While all the things mentioned are wonderful, my love language is gifts after all. No joke. It's the people and the hearts giving the gift that I am so moved by and so thankful for. After recovering from broken friendships years ago, I didn't want to bother with friends that are girls and everything that come with friends that are girls. I had enough of that in junior high and do not wish to repeat that. But then I came to miss the deeper friendships with women. And I had changed so much. So I prayed for God to bring me some friends that were girls that I could be friends with that, when combined with me (I'm not perfect!) don't bring junior high drama to coffee outings. I found them. Several actually. And several more in the making. And many that I don't see enough, and many that I may never meet, and one that I have talked to since college (hi, Jennifer!).  Friends are just one of the many ways that God is using this cancer to answer other prayers I've prayed.  God is using this season to show His love for me through others and all these experiences to show me how much I have to be thankful for, all of his gifts to me that I have to be intentional to stop and count. Tonight's entries in my gratitude journal will reflect just a few of those gifts. I'd tell you about how my gratitude journal came to be, but I'm trying to wrap this up. Maybe after my next chemo treatment with the steroid pre med. That steroid is the star of the show, the chemo is just the chaser! Anyone need their house organized in the next twelve hours? Athletes should try this stuff. Oh, wait..... Okay. I'm really going to go cut Rick's hair. Oh no, after I help the neighbor catch her runaway dog. 

Here's the link:

I don't know how to make it blue. But you all know how to copy and paste, right? You all are making me feel so loved. Thank you! Love you back!