Love is Julie.

I do not know where to start. I put off writing this one because I knew I would be too emotional while composing it. So here goes nothing….

This is my beautiful friend Julie. We met at my Zumba class. She had lived 3 days in Spokane and found my class. The moment she walked in the door and introduced herself I knew in my heart that we would be friends. Something about her just clicked with me. The next day she asked me to come to her house and have a glass of wine. Now I knew we would be great friends for life!

I will never be able to explain to you how much her friendship carried me through this fight.

So many times she was just there. She yelled at me when I wouldn’t call her when I was weak and feeling awful. She has chewed me out when she feels that I talk about how unattractive I am. She has walked (slowly) with me, fed me, visited. Taken me to her place just to have a change of view and different couch to sit on. I remember once after the big surgery she came over and hoped up next to me in my bed and massaged my swelling arm for me. We didn’t talk much because I was still so drugged, yet she stayed, petting my arm for me.

Nope. I can’t get through this without tearing up. There is no way I could have done this without her. As my husband put it he and Julie are my team. She has helped him out as much as me. I honestly think they planned the whole tag team thing.

Life is so funny. People come into your life for a reason and a season. There are friends for a moment. Friends for a season. Friends for a lifetime. Julie is a lifetime friend. I already told Keith that when she moves (her husband has a job that moves them a lot) that will be where our next vacation destination will be! When she is gone over the summer I miss her terribly. If we don’t text at least once a week I feel like something is missing. I can’t find any words now that will ever explain what her friendship means to me. I just know that I need her in my life. Always.

Love is Julie.

Love is: my neighbors…

Okay so they are my neighbors, that is how they prefer to be introduced. The reality is they are my landlords. And my life is so much better since I started paying them rent!

When I met them they reminded me so much of my former boss Jay and his wife Mary. Kind, thoughtful, smart, friendly and funny. It was like a little bit of home right here in my own apartment.

My neighbors Dan and Angie. They are kind an incredibly thoughtful. They make you feel like you have known them your whole life. We shared the news with them right away. Not that we had to, but because we wanted to. We wanted to let them know I would be home for weeks after surgery. We wanted them to know why our patterns were going to change.

They teared up, smiled and hugged us. Told me that I will beat this. They gave me a cushion to help me be able to sit up and get off the couch. Angie, a retired nurse, would check in on me when Keith went back to work. They have even shared their coffee with me.

There are two moments I want to highlight. One was when my mom came to stay and help out after the surgery, they rushed on trying to get the attic apartment that they had been renovating ready enough for my mom to have her own space to sleep. They put up a mattress and a chair for her. Some towels for the bathroom and a light for her to read by. So thoughtful and helpful for us too. The other was when my cousin Kris came with her RV. We asked for a good place for them to park it. Dan said he knew the best place. The back yard! He let them plug-in and stay in the back yard for a week. Dan and Angie played with the kids and brought their granddaughter over for playing too. They visited with Kris while Keith and I were at work.

Every year they go to AZ for winter. I find it funny because we moved here from AZ. They actually go back and visit where we used to live! My mom works at a tourist place and they always go there. When they went this last time they purposefully sought out my mom and then went to lunch with her. These are real people. These are real neighbors and I know that I was meant to live here at this time in my life.

Love is my neighbors Dan and Angie.

 

Love is so very blessed…..

This is Kathy. We met through work……..yada yada yada.

Kathy is kind. There are no other words. She is just kindness personified. I did not tell Kathy about my cancer. We rarely saw each other but when we did we always laughed and smiled and hugged. The story really  starts with Anita and Linda.

Linda and I became friends at work years ago. We sat at the same lunch table. Linda took a job downtown but we would text each other occasionally. When I started teaching Zumba classes Linda came. She came to ALL my classes. Anita was a downtown coworker and she heard about my classes and started coming. Linda and Anita were my two faithful students for years. When you teach fitness classes the few faithful become your friends and allies.

They were there when I had my scare all those years ago. They knew when I would go in for my yearly mammogram because the stress of it made me work it out in class and they suffered for it. They knew that I had to have a biopsy done and was waiting for my results.

I will never forget that day. I was parked in front of the gym and Anita came over to help me unload the Zumba Steps for class. She asked: did you hear from the doctor? I said, ‘yep I have breast cancer’ She froze. Asked me if I needed to go home. No, I needed to work out. She quietly agreed and continued to help me unpack my gear. We walk into the gym and Linda asked the same question. Tears started forming in her eyes. I yelled and told her I haven’t cried so she is not allowed to cry. We did our step class and worked up a good sweat. Then we hugged and parted ways. I asked them to please keep it to themselves.

That is when Linda shared with Kathy. A trusted person that she knew she could talk to. Someone who knew me. Someone who would keep my secret. Someone who wanted to be helpful. Linda and Anita and Kathy would come and visit me. They brought dinner and flowers and gifts. We laughed and ate and just enjoyed each others company. I can’t think of three better people/friends/coworkers/workout groupies to have.

I decided to combine the three of them in this one blog. Mainly because both Linda and Anita refuse to have Facebook or social media.  I don’t know why I don’t have a picture of me and Linda since we actually see each other out side of work often. I know I don’t have one of Anita because she is out-of-town every weekend working on her house that her and hubby are building.  And this is the only one I found of Kathy and I.

For Christmas this year Kathy gave me a gift. She actually MADE the gift. It is a fancy wooden block with wires to place pictures in that simply says “so very blessed”

This is how I feel about Kathy. She makes me feel so very blessed. Her kind heart and smile  are sincere and meaningful.

This is how I feel about Linda and Anita. I love these three ladies. They have done so much for me not just this past year but for so many years prior to the cancer. Stable, thoughtful, reliable, fun, energetic, encouraging, kind, sharing, compassionate are just a few words to describe these three friends of mine.

Love is so very blessed.

Covered in love..

Today I am sharing about my friend Daniella. The one day when I was blogging about the cancer and fears and such I somehow posted it to Facebook. I struggle with technology. As soon as I figured out it posted public I took it down. Daniella was one of the two friends who saw the post before I removed it. She saw it the same day that I was coming over to her house to workout with her. I walk in the door and hug her (our usual greeting) and she looks at me and flat says ‘do you have cancer?’  I was taken aback, yet at the same time a bit relieved. We talked about it for a few minutes then continued with the workout. It was comforting.

When I was recovering from surgery Daniella was kind enough to bring over her collection of movies for me to watch. She brought over a few fun books too. She would text me often. Always with kindness. Always wanting to know what else she could do for me.

Daniella had been learning to knit hats. When I decided to do chemotherapy I knew exactly what Daniella could do to help me. I asked her to knit some pink hats. She was overjoyed!! Something to help me. Really help me. It is cold here and as I lost my hair it became colder. The hats were perfect and purposeful. I used them this winter too. Every time I wear them I am reminded of the kindness of my lovely friend Daniella.

Daniella: supportive, comforting, talented, giving. Today I am sharing about being covered in love. Pink knitted love.

 

Haunted…

I am still haunted by fatigue. It overwhelms me at times. The fact that I am hot flashing all the time doesn’t help. The hot flashes have gotten worse. I turn red all over and get prickly skin. People can physically see me go through them now. Also the sleep, the sleep is less and less while I sweat and sweat.

So I caved…

I called the doctor in tears on my break and asked to prescribe the anti-depressant that should help me deal with the hot flashes. I had been counseled by three doctors about what my options were. If I was going to go on one I had decided the anti-depressant would be the way I go. I wanted to just get through them with no medicinal help but I guess I am not strong enough after all. I go to the local pharmacy and pick it up and start that night. It took about three days for it to make a difference. IT MADE A DIFFERENCE!!!

I didn’t have to sleep with the fan on in the bedroom anymore. I actually had to wear long sleeves and tights to stay warm at work. It was working. IT WAS WORKING! Relief. Sleep. Human. Normal.

Then I noticed that my urine looked a little pinkish in the bowl. I shake it off, I am sure it is just my eyes playing tricks on me. The next day I had some spotting on the toilet paper. That is not a good sign. Maybe I just wiped to hard and tore the sensitive skin down there. On Thursday there were no longer any doubts. I was bleeding. I had the darkest stool. In fact it was black. As it was floating in the toilet it had a wispy trail of blood following it too. So that means it was in the stool and around the stool. I call my oncologist right away. Feeling good about being proactive and doing something about it.

I get the nurse. I tell her what is going on. I am convinced it is the Effexor XR. It is the only thing that has changed in my life in the last week. She brushes it off and tells me it can’t be the med. I asked if she was sure because it was listed as a side effect in the paperwork from the pharmacy. She insisted that all the years that her and my doctor have been.  prescribing this med it has never happened and maybe I just have a virus. Maybe.

I asked if I could stop the med. It is one of those that they tell you to not stop abruptly. She said that I could if I wanted too but they are certain it is not the med. She then told me I needed to go get blood work done after work. Ugh, a blood draw. You know my experiences with those. And it was my 29th wedding anniversary and I had reservations that night. But I went, because you know bloody stool. It was the best blood draw I had ever had. Thank goodness for that. I stopped the med. Went to dinner and worried.

Friday morning my stool was a bit more normal looking. Lighter in color with just a few dark spots in it. The nurse said I should call the office on Friday because they will have the result by then of the blood draw. I called. Turns out they ran the wrong test. I had to go back for more blood draws after work, again. The regular nurse that told me it can’t be the med was gone. The covering nurse listened to me. Said she hasn’t seen that before as a side effect but knows it is possible. Was glad to hear that it looked more normal once I stopped the med. Apologized about the wrong test being done. Told me that if I had the dark stool over the weekend to go to ER immediately. In my mind a much better conversation.

I don’t like that nurse #1 made me feel like I am crazy and have no idea what I am talking about. She even admitted that she did not take the time to look up and verify if that was a side effect of the med. She just knows it isn’t. She has made me feel bad before when the office forgot about me and never made a follow-up appointment. I think this is what bothers me more than waiting for the test results.

Anyway the hot flashes are back with a vengeance. I can’t stop crying and being mad at my husband and my body. I can’t sleep again because of the night sweats. I think blood in your stool is bad, very bad but I am so crazy from sweating that I almost feel it is a small price to pay. The fatigue is back and haunting me. Making me crazy. This has been my week. Hoping for answers today. Hoping for another option to help with the hot flashes. Hoping to not be haunted anymore.

Love is Kristin

Today I am sharing about my cousin Kris. This woman blesses my life so much! She is one of my favorite people. Always has been.

In a time when everything becomes so clear and so foggy at the same once. A time when you know you don’t want to stay the same but are forced to remain stable. A time when you just feel overwhelmed and lost and focused all at the same time. It is comforting to have friends and family that will not leave your side, even if virtually.

So many times Kris would check in with me via text or Facebook. Sending me virtual hugs. Drinking coffee with me online. Laughing and encouraging and concerned.

Yet the most wonderful thing that my cousin Kris did for me was add me to her summer traveling schedule. Her little family of five jumped into an RV and traveled for weeks. They made sure to come through Spokane just to hang out with me. We went cherry and raspberry picking. We hung out each night and had dinner together and watched movies and laughed. I hung out with the kids so Craig and Kris could have a date night. We hugged, we laughed, we smiled, and we hugged and hugged and hugged.  It was wonderful and quite honestly exhausting. I was still getting my energy back from chemo. The thing is Kris understood that and made sure that I had time to nap or sleep in. This is love.

Love is my cousin Kris. Beautiful, smart, kind, thoughtful, encouraging, amazing.

 

Love is Michelle

Okay I took a hiatus from blogging for a while. I haven’t had the energy or emotions for it. A lot going on in my head and body lately. Today I am determined to start again and bombard you all with more love stories…..

This is my friend Michelle. We met at work (imagine that) We live very different lives yet have found this deep connection. We are incredibly optimistic people who will always work hard at finding and sharing the silver lining in any situation. Sometimes it takes us a moment or two but we ultimately find it.

I didn’t share with Michelle right away what was going on. She works downtown and will email me occasionally to touch base. My email said I was out of office. She knew something wasn’t right. I got the text. What is going on? So I told her. I have cancer. I had to have surgery. I am recovering. She replied with ‘ when can I come visit?’

When she arrived she just sat. She sat and listened. She sat and cried for me. She sat. One of our things is spending time together. Sometimes we have to schedule it months in advance. But we understand the value of it. We don’t do it a lot but we know the value of just being present with each other. It was the best thing she could have done for me.

I don’t know how I would get through life especially the cancer part without friends like Michelle. She is thoughtful, kind, lively, enthusiastic, encouraging, supportive and non-judgmental. Having her on my support team is why I am a fighter. Why I will always be a fighter.

Love is Michelle.

Love is my friend Pam….

Pam and I met at work….I have a lot of friends that start that way. We drink wine together too. I am sensing a theme….

I had the hardest time telling Pam. I didn’t see her at work that day or even for a few days after the call. As time passed it became harder and harder to bring it up. We went to the movies together and dinner afterwards and it still felt awkward to bring it up. We were having fun and I was feeling ‘normal’ sort of…  Finally I told her in the most awkward way, messaged her via Facebook. Ugh.  Her response was like the others. Stunned. Fearful. Supportive.

Pam and I enjoy watching movies and we share the love of Harry Potter. She had her friend make a light for me. When she brought it she tried to quote the line from the movie when Ron is given his light thingy majjiger (yes that is the technical name) from the will. It was very thoughtful and a very cool light. It is made out of one of those glass shower bricks. It is in my bedroom and it always making me smile. Like Pam. She always makes me smile.

I remember we celebrated with breakfast after I was done with chemo. It was Marilee and her hubby Curtis. Pam and Lenny and Keith and I. My little friend circle of six. I gave lots of hugs because I finally could. Pam gives great hugs. Pam gives great compliments. It was a wonderful breakfast of celebration.

She would check in on me often. She guarded my secret carefully. She cried for me. Worried for me. Laughed with me.

Fighting cancer is hard. Harder than anyone can ever realize until it is your turn to fight. Having a friend like Pam makes the fight just a tad bit easier.

Today love is brought to you by Pam.

Love is Russ.

My friend Russ. He is kind, caring, trustworthy and thoughtful. He has helped strangers stranded in the road. Opened his home to people who have had nowhere to live. Even trucked home groceries for someone who didn’t have enough room in their own vehicle.

We met at work. In fact on my first day I went to the lunch room and all the tables were full except one that had one person sitting there. It was Russ. I asked if I could join him. Of course he said yes. I asked how long he has worked for the company. He said this was his first day. I was excited and said ‘mine too’!! We have been friends ever since.

Many a date Russ, Marilee and I have gone on together. A booze cruise, the auction that you drink at, dinner, dancing. We enjoy each others company.

It was that auction we were at when I told Russ. Marilee and I were whispering about the cancer. He stopped us and said ‘I know there is something wrong, I can see it in your face just tell me, I can handle it’ So I told him. He was quiet for what felt like a very long moment then said “you are going to beat it” Simple as that.

After my surgery I couldn’t shower. So I had an appointment at the local beauty college. Russ asked if we could get coffee some time soon. If I was able. He missed seeing me at work. I said we could meet at the Thomas Hammer downtown after I get my hair washed. He was the first friend I saw outside of my home after surgery. It was great. His smile and laugh made me feel at ease even with all the drains attached. He didn’t care he just wanted to see me for himself to make sure I really was okay.

Valentines day of 2016 I get a text from Russ. Hey, I left something at your front door. Flowers and chocolate. Just so thoughtful.

One of the greatest gifts he has ever given me was introducing me to his friends Kathy and Scott. Kathy came with Russ to my Zumba classes and she and I hit it off. She is sweet and kind. Her husband (Scott) was recovering from intestinal/stomach cancer. I would often ask Russ for updates on a man I have never met. Then one day Scott came to work as the maintenance manager where I work. One day Scott sat with me for lunch. He shared his story with me. Turns out he went with the same cancer clinic I did. He talked about how great they were. How through everything the clinic was supportive and kind and informative. He never questioned his care. I was questioning if I made the right choice, I had friends telling me I didn’t. This was the reassurance I needed. The peace for my heart and head. What a blessing and he had no idea! If it wasn’t for Russ I may never had this moment.

Russ  hugs and smiles and cares. My life is so much richer having him in it.

Love is Russ.

Loving more…

This is Marilee. Marilee is my friend. Everyone should have a friend like Marilee. (:

I know it sounds like one of those silly memes on Facebook! Seriously though Marilee is a great friend.

She and I met at work but never really hung out. One day I was invited to go on a wine tasting tour and I could bring a friend. I invited Marilee. Let me tell you, once you drink too much wine and start over sharing you become friends for life! That is what I think of with Marilee: friend for life.

She was working that fateful day that the phone call came. I was walking out to the dock and she was coming in from the receiving floor. I walked up to her and said ‘guess who has cancer now?’ She was like,’who?’ I said, me. She was dumbfounded and just hugged me. She insisted it was going to be okay. I asked her not to say anything. I was only letting a handful of people know. She hugged me again and went on her way.

We got to this school fundraiser that involves wine and an auction. Brilliant on the schools part. Get people all warm and fuzzy from the wine and beer and then sell stuff to them. Anyway we go with our friend Russ. It was about two weeks after the diagnosis and she wanted to know if I was still going. Of course! Business as usual. We laughed and we ate and we did the silent auction (before the drinking) and we laughed some more. We had a good time. We savored every moment of it. Who knew what was in store for me? Nothing had really been decided yet. She made a point to make sure we had fun.

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This picture was taken at that event.

After my big surgery Marilee would come and visit. She brought dinner for me and Keith and spent time just visiting. She would update me about work and tell me how great I looked.

When I went back to work and still hadn’t gone public about the cancer a co-worker told me that she knew about it. I asked how and she said Marilee told me I think. I told Marilee and she was so pissed off! I NEVER told anyone Renee!! I know she didn’t. She was so upset  and fearing that she would lose my friendship she confronted the co-worker and made her apologize!! There is no way Marilee would ever lose my friendship. But she worried about it. I love her for that.

During chemotherapy she would keep her distance (hugging was severely limited during chemo) but smile and wave. I knew she was pretending to hug me.

After chemo and another surgery she and I went to another annual event that we enjoy. It is at a winery (imagine that) up on the hill. It is always a dress up and themed type party with live music and dancing. We always have a lovely time. The featured image at the top is from that event. We danced and drank and ate and laughed. All felt normal and right in my world for that moment.

Let me add just one more thing. Marilee has been giving me her hand me downs when she cleans out her closet. Every time and I mean EVERY TIME I wear one of her outfits I get compliments. She has fun and funky taste. Nothing I would ever buy for myself, yet it transfers over to me just right.

I adore Marilee. She has been so loving and kind to me. She has hugged me and supported me. We laugh and cry together. I am so thankful for her care and concern during my fight.

This is Marilee loving more..