and the genes still don’t fit…

At least tomorrow I will be wearing underwear!

Bleh.

Tomorrow is the day I go in for an extraction. An extraction! It is what they call the out-patient surgery of removing the margins of an a-typical mole.

A-typical. A-typical mild this time. Last time was severe and they had to take a large section out to make sure the margins were clean. I am hoping not so much this time. Especially since it is on my right arm and I am right-handed.  I know it will be fine. I have been down this road before. I have had more difficult surgeries before.

A scar is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

So why am I a bit anxious about it? I have no idea.

I have the mutated BRCA2 gene. It was something we found out after the diagnosis. It means I am most likely to get breast cancer..duh. Also very likely to end up with ovarian cancer so out they went (welcome hot flashes) and susceptible to skin cancer.

That is how I ended up at the Dermatologist for a full body scan and mapping. Not a big deal. You stand there in your underwear and they take a bright light and look at every inch of your skin carefully calling out markings and quadrants. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t forgotten my underwear.

Tomorrow I will have my underwear on and a bra just to be safe.  Even my jeans if they fit.

 

What!?!?!

I am using every excuse in the book today to not workout. Headache, lack of oxygen, bloody boogers and awful, awful hot flashes. Cats on Instagram and making a butt load of coffee. No not a coffee enema! 
Oh the hot flashes!! Why are they back? I don’t get it. I am taking the meds faithfully. I know this because I have alarms set to remind me to take them no matter where I am. I have a timer on my computer at work that goes off and my cell phone has a daily alarm set too! I have to put everything on my calendar including this. Yet, I am back to having night sweats that last for at least fifteen minutes each time, and in the course of writing this very long running paragraph I have had two major hot flashes that my hair is dripping. YUCK!!!
I blame the headaches, boogers and lack of oxygen on the surrounding air quality. Our city is filled with smoke from the surrounding fires and it is playing havoc on everyone.
Yet the hot flashes….. I know it is a side effect from being shoved into menopause but I had them pretty well under control. At least manageable.  Why now? What in the last two weeks has changed that they are like this now?
Okay, I wasted enough time complaining that now I only have time for a shower and to get ready for work!!! HA HA HA HA HA my evil plan worked, no time for a workout now!!!!
and the excuses keep coming.. so easily distracted…..
I will get back on track. I will beat this hot flash monster. I will beat the lack of motivation. I will be a good example again. Right after another cup of coffee and a few more happy cat videos on Instagram. #goals

After all this time…

You would think that after all I have been through with diagnosis, cancer treatments and surgery I would not be at a loss of words when someone tells me about a cancer.

Well, I still have no words. What do you tell someone who’s aunt just finished her fight with breast cancer and was doing so well only to find out now she has a completely different cancer in her lungs.

You don’t.

You sit there dumbfounded and selfishly thankful that it hasn’t happened to you yet. You spit out words of how they have really made great strides with immunotherapy for lung cancer and not to give up hope. That she fought before she can fight again. Words I say knowing that I would probably not fight the next time.  Words that really bring no comfort to anyone. Words that make me feel like I am making it worse.

I just stopped talking. It is safer that way. I know this from my own experiences of people trying to comfort me with their words. I stop and hug. I cry with her. That has to be better than the words, it has to because that is all I truly can give.

After all this time..

I participated in a fundraiser event today for a woman hit by cancer. Her friend wanted to help with some of the out-of-pocket expenses. I was honored to be asked to come instruct a few songs. It has been soooo long. I am rusty. I practiced and practiced and practiced.

I should have practiced better words to share with her. Better words of encouragement. A better game face of how lucky I was in all of my treatments. How lucky I am to be on this end of it.

 

After all this time I still have so much to learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many spoons…

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The other night I was at my son’s apartment helping him clean before his move. We were listening to 80’s music in the background and chatting. I was savoring every moment since I knew they will be few and far between now.

Then I hit my wall. I was exhausted and just couldn’t push myself through it. I needed to reserve enough energy and alertness to drive home.

I explained to him that no matter how healthy and energetic I am getting I still have a limited amount. When it is gone, it is gone.

He paused and shared a story with me that resonated with him.

A woman shared about spoons. We wake up in the morning with twelve spoons. We eat breakfast that uses one spoon. We drive to work that uses a spoon. We spend eight hours at work, that uses 3 spoons. At the end of the day we are out of spoons and we start over.

The woman explained that people who have had a life altering trauma or struggle with something like depression may wake up with twelve spoons or wake up with five spoons and try to make them stretch. Once the spoons are gone they are gone.

I tell you that I was so glad I didn’t have to explain it to him. That he just got it.

I am gonna miss that kid.

Then there is this morning…….

There are mornings where I get up because I know that I can have a good cup of coffee if I do.

There are mornings when I get up because I have to. I have to water the yard. I have to do my workout. I have to do my homework. I have to go to work.

There are mornings, more of them lately where getting out of bed is difficult. Not because I am tired but because I physically struggle with it.

There are mornings where I overslept and have to rush around getting lunches made and shoes on, and out the door in record time.

There are mornings where I wake up from a dream that seemed so real that for a moment I am unaware of my surroundings.

Then there is this morning. This wonderful delicious morning that I am reminded that I have been fortunate enough to wake up one more time and be alive.

One more time for a good cup of coffee.

One more time to get the chance to take care of this yard we have earned One more chance to make myself stronger from a workout. One more chance to do homework that will make me a better, more confident and free person. One more chance to work hard at my job and be a good example to others.

One more time that even when it is hard to get out of bed I CAN GET OUT OF BED.

One more time that I can get ready in a pinch if I have to. I like being low maintenance.

One more time to understand my reality is beautiful. I have the husband who adores me, a son who hugs me and shares with me, a home that we own that makes me smile and never feels like work.

One more time to be thankful.. I am a fighter, survivor, mother, wife, sister, friend, neighbor, co-worker, dreamer.

This morning reminds me I have one more day of life that last year was questionable.

This morning reminds me that all things are possible but to focus on the points that really matter.

This morning is beautiful.

 

 

Stairs..

In this picture you may just see stairs. I see so much more.

When I was released from the hospital after the seven hour double mastectomy/reconstruction surgery I had to face stairs. It is funny to me that you could have such an intense surgery that basically is an amputation and they send you home the very next day. But that is not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the stairs.

We had two short flights of stairs to get to our apartment. My sister and husband were on each side of me. My son and his girlfriend were behind me. I was drugged, and tired and full of drainage tubes and bandages. Yet I had to get up those stairs to get to my home.

I remember my husband’s voice so clearly when we got to the top. He was so impressed and proud of me for taking the stairs like a champ. I guess I walked up them like a ‘normal’ person would. You know one foot on one step at a time. He was so proud of me.  It has been over a year and I can still hear him saying that in my head.

I like to make my husband proud of me. I catch myself doing things around the house hoping he will be impressed with what I got done. Like unpacking.

We recently moved from the cutest apartment in the world to a house. A house that will be our home. It has stairs leading to the master suite. This is a picture of those stairs. They creak on every step. They are steep. Yet none of that bothers me. Every time I walk up or down those stairs I think how far I have come from that day. How proud Keith is of me for walking up stairs. How thankful I am that I am capable and able to walk up and down stairs every day. That my knees and legs are strong enough. That I have balance and sure footedness. That I have strength and energy to go up and down these stairs several times a day.

My husband told me that when we get old we will have to convert the main floor into our living space because we won’t be able to make it up the stairs someday! I told him that if we keep going up and down the stairs our bodies will only get stronger and we won’t have to do that for a very long time. They are like a built-in treadmill/stairmaster.

These are my stairs. My victories. My motivations. My source of pride. One step at a time.

I had good intentions……

Last night I prepared my stuff. Roast is in the crock pot with a special ingredients for the bacon taste testing going on this afternoon. Coffee maker filled with water ready to go at a touch of a button. Workout clothes and shoes laid out on the bathroom floor for easy access.

My intention was this I was going to get up and have my own Sunrise aka SON rise service this morning while on a one mile wog. One mile of worship music. One mile of slight dark yet prospect of the morning sun coming. One mile of training for a seven mile race that will be here in three weeks. One mile to make myself feel like I had accomplished something. One mile.

The result: sitting here typing about going for a simple wog and how I have already talked myself out of it.

#1 it is still too cold. I went out yesterday afternoon because the sun was out and I was too cold

#2 things are blooming. I came home yesterday with a runny nose and itchy eyes. This morning I could barely get them open because they were sealed shut with all that allergy gooey buildup! Eww and ow!

#3 my knee is really not well. Seriously stairs are hard without using a support and going slow. Yesterday in my walk I noticed that any type of incline is hard on it.

#4 we are going to church today so having my own commune time isn’t really necessary.

#5 the coffee pot is full so I should really drink that and warm up first before attempting any outdoor activity

#6 the roast needed attending too. I had to take time to shred it and check the seasoning.

#7 I can’t find any of my knit hats to cover my ears.

I have really good intentions. I really do! I have terrible, terrible follow  through and as you can see will come up with any excuse to justify why I haven’t gotten out. Revenge will have to wait until I can figure out how to trick my mind into it too!

PS The picture I used was from our little tulip trip. It is a picture I took through the front window of the car because it was ‘too cold’ to go out and get a closer look. I think there is a sea otter in there somewhere..or maybe an eagle? This is my failure at lazy photo taking!  Ha ha

Happy Easter to you all! And to my friends on here who get out and run Kudos to you! Now send some of the stick- to- it- ness to me!!

 

 

 

 

 

There was no tip toeing…….

TULIPS!! I love tulips. My favorite flower for as long as I can remember. The list is tulips, daisies, daffodils, sunflowers. Tulips are always at the top of the list of favorites.  When we moved to WA I had heard this stories of fields of tulips. I kept saying we should go. Then the season would be over and I would say ‘next year’. Eight years later and we were still saying ‘next year’. Having the year I had we have learned to not put things off. There may not be a next year.

I was so excited! I get to see the tulips, I get to see the tulips! Keith was excited because it was a road trip. Something we haven’t done for what feels like forever. He made all the plans. I had all the dreams.

It rained and stormed. It was cold and there were only a quarter of the tulip fields starting to bloom. IT DIDN’T MATTER! It was a dream come true for me. I could not stop smiling. I was there. I could see the acres getting ready to bloom, they just needed a little more sunshine. I could stand next to the rows that had bloom without having to fight big crowds. There were acres of yellow daffodils. There were manicured gardens that had hyacinth and larkspurs. My heart was so happy that it took every ounce of my energy to not cry. EVERY OUNCE OF MY ENERGY!  Keith was thrilled to see me so happy. I think it makes his heart full to see me happy.

We tried new restaurants and drove around the neighboring cities. We saw bald eagles and sea otters. It was a lovely trip.

I had posted on Facebook we were heading that way and a freind I haven’t seen in about three years contacted me and asked to come see the flowers with us. It was a nice surprise and a great time to hug.

I do feel really, really bad that I brought Bear with me for the trip so he could enjoy some good times with me YET forgot to mention to Paula (Neveradullbling) that we were road tripping. SHE LIVES ON THE WAY!! I was so enthralled with tulips and Keith so enthralled with a road trip it never even crossed our minds. Keith and I felt so bad about that. He was worried that we may have made them upset. I hope not, but I sent an apology gift just in case. ❤

Anyway here are some pictures from the trip. The trip that made my heart so happy it cried. The trip that made my heart warm.

 

I am now a nut cracker, and other odd things I want to share…..

Not really a nut cracker but definitely a knuckle cracker. I never like cracking knuckles. Creeped me out when others did it. I would never do it. I always heard it was bad for your joints. Now suddenly I catch myself cracking them at least five times a day!

Decided that part of the reason I can’t get out of bed in the morning is because with my heated sheet it is so warm and I don’t want to get out into the cold room. So last night I decided to not turn it on. I won’t make that mistake again! I had double yes, DOUBLE charlie cramps in my legs. I can still feel them hurting.

I have to renew my license this year. First tie since I have moved here. I would like to think I have changed physically but the number on the scale says differently.

I think cancer has taken my humor. I can’t seem to find it anywhere. I used to be somewhat funny. Smart funny at times even. Now I struggle to smile at anything I say.

I have only logged twice in the last month! How am I going to finish the big race that is one month! I have no idea .

I think it is odd that I get all of 50 in 50 Marathon (James) blogs emailed to me but his wife Paula at Never a Dull Bling (first blog I followed) doesn’t. I get Shameful Sheep but not Runner Girl or Diane’s Lady who reviews lunches. Why is that? I subscribe to the all the blogs the same way. Technology baffles this old body.

There are stressful things going on in my personal life that I feel I have no input in. In turn it is causing me to hot flash. I take meds to fight the hot flashes but the stress and anxiety always  wins.

I found bird poop on my car that looks like the mother mary. Even the birds are Jesuits in this city.

I want to tiptoe in the tulips this weekend but I am afraid it will only be green stems. No matter I am going on a road trip and I like it! Skagit Valley pictures to follow. That is if I ever take the time to really blog again.

OVERWHELMED!! that is a good word for my brain right now.

Okay that is enough venting to strangers.

 

 

 

Family fulfills…

A while back I blogged about my grandmother passing. We had just booked tickets to see her and a few days later she passed. I was devastated. It was hard to lose her. I was unprepared and at a loss of what to do or say. I was however thankful that my Aunt Kathy still wanted us to come and visit. So that is what we did.

My little family of three flew to GA to see family. To see the Pepper side of my family. I knew it was going to be an emotional yet much-needed visit.

We were trying to figure out how long it has been since Aunt Kathy and Uncle Tom had seen my son Richard. He is going to be 28 this month. The last time they have seen him was when he was 9. How did that happen? How have I let that happen? I am so glad we were able to make that right.

We had a fabulous time! We ate so much food. Seriously I gained six pounds in four days. SIX! We snuck into the new Atlanta Braves stadium. Yes, snuck. We toured the Coca-Cola museum (Keith hates Coke) and we ate…did I mention that?

The picture above is one of my favorite places to sit early in the morning at my aunt and uncles house. I love the way the light streams in. It is a cozy and comfortable place to have a cup of coffee and just reflect.

Reflect on how much love there is in this home. My cousin Jenny and her boys bring energy and youth. My Uncle brings hustle and financial insight. My Aunt brings love and encouragement. When I sit here I feel all of that while at the same time peace. It is where I would sit when I was hanging with my grandma all those years ago. Sitting here on this trip reminds me of the love and unity my grandma brought to this house as well.

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This is the door to my grandmas room. It took me nearly two days to enter that room. I didn’t realize that my grandma kept journals and I knew I wanted to read them. I also knew walking into that room would be very emotional. I can’t even imagine how my aunt did it. The scratches on the door are from the dogs. They loved granny. She would always drop crumbs on the floor for them. The dogs miss her too and keep trying to see her. Makes my heart hurt.

When I finally had the courage to go in and sit down and read through her journals I was so thankful! She just talked about her everyday things. Playing bingo. Missing a phone call from a sister. Knee pain. Everyday things. It gave me some insight into her life when I wasn’t around. I found the journal from the year that my dad passed away. I was only able to read parts of it. I have the journal with me now and I still haven’t been able to read it. Someday I will and it will help my heart heal and grow.

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This is a picture that I took of my Aunt Kathy without her knowledge. I wanted to capture her in this pose. She places her hands together like this and moves her fingers up and down. I find it endearing. My grandmother did the same thing. Sometimes I catch myself doing it and smile and think of Grandma and think of Kathy. It must be a family trait. One that I somehow picked up.

Our trip was fast and furious. It was wonderful and emotional. It was needed. I hope it was as healing for my Pepper family in GA as it was for me. I hope my son has some good memories of his Pepper family now. I know my husband is thankful for the little time we have had with granny and family.

This is what I know to be true. Family fulfills. Fills your heart, mind, soul and your eyes with tears.