Sunday, April 24, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Well, my friend Jamie has written another book. And it, my friends, is FABULOUS. I mean, life-changingly fabulous. (Think: The Last Lecture. Seriously, it's that good.)
And not only is the book itself fabulous, but he is giving copies away to librarians who might not otherwise be able to stock their libraries with this book. Check it out:
What author gives their book away to schools and children? An author whose mother was a single parent and raised four children on a school teacher's salary, that's who. I love him!
And it doesn't end there, people. The man has pledged to help my fav celebrity boyfriend's charity help kids who need to read.
Read this, it's totally awesome: http://coppervale.livejournal.com/365398.html
Do you see why I love him? Do you see? I love him, because he has a love of the written word, because he is a man of principle who - at the same time - believes in Magic (with a capital M). He wants to share books and money with children, and he's doing it through Kids Need to Read, one of the most awesome charities of all time. (And I'm not just saying that because Nathan Fillion is one of the people behind the organization. Really.)
Please help. Help me help him help children. The book is only $4.99. It's a steal and a half, for an incredibly good cause. And did I tell you that it's one of the best books I've ever read? ('Cause I'm pretty sure that I did. Don't make me do it again.)
Here's the link for the Amazon store: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004VN31NK
And if you don't have an e-Reader to download it to, here's the link for his website (where you can buy it in pdf - then they send you an email with the document that you can downland onto your own computer): http://www.heretherebedragons.net/
Seriously, folks. It's one of the best books. Ever. It's a true story, yet at the same time... Magical.
Go forth and read. Now.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Snapdragons. They scream "Spring!" at me. I love them.
Petunias. They always remind me of my Grammy & Grandad. Their smell transports me through time and space, it really does.
Johnny Jump Ups. How cute are they? Little mini-pansies. A-freakin-dorable.
Irises. Who knew you could grow bulb plants in the desert? Who knew?!
Geraniums. I like red and super blossomy flowers. A lot. This makes geraniums one of my favorite flowers.
Ahhhh... Bougainvillea, I love you so. Had you ever gotten close enough to notice that the "flowers" are actually just red leaves? I hadn't. Super cool. (And check out the awesome flower-shaped stamen.)
Would you take a look at these red beauties? I want a bush of them at my house. I mean, at my apartment. On my balcony, if possible. (Too bad it isn't possible. Because now that I've seen these, I really (REALLY) want them close to me.)
I'm in love.
The thing is, I'm also deeply in love with the orange version of the same flowering bush. IN LOVE, I tell you. Would you take a look at that? Oh my goodness gracious!
And how cute are these little orangey-pinky flowers on the hedge at my actual apartment complex? Adorable. I adore them. (Because they're adorable. Get it? ... Cracking myself up over here.)
These pink budded scrub-brushy plants are all over the place. I enjoy them, esp when the sun's hitting them and they look especially pink. Such fun little native Arizonan plants, methinks.
But did you know that these little pink guys actually BLOSSOM? Check out the yellow-orangey little flowers just budding out all over this thing. Beautiful!
These trees kill me. I mean, they do. They kill me with their yellow blossoms. Have you ever seen a more gorgeous yellow tree branch? I submit that you have not.
And because I am IN LOVE with the yellow blossoms, let me show you the same tree from a different angle.
Oh my gosh. In love!
And why do I love these trees? (Besides how incredibly awesome they look when they're all blossomed out in an almost florescent yellow?) Check out the blossom. It's tiny and intricate and delicate and... GORGEOUS! Those little red dots? I just think they're incredible!
Look at this. It's like a tree mated with a carnation... Awesome!
Except that when you look a little closer, they're less like carnations and more like jasmine. (But they're not jasmine, they're blossoms on a tree. Crazy!)
And here they are, just a little bit closer. How amazing is the center of that little flower? My stars. It blows my mind.
These purple trees are some of my favorites. They remind me of lilac bushes, but different. You know, since they're trees.
The blossoms are thick and clustered at the end of the branches. Stunning. The color? Unbelievable and almost unnatural. I'm in love...
Would you take a look at this tree? The size of it alone is pretty impressive, but wait until you see a close-up of all those pink flowers that are blossoming all over it.
Honestly, have you ever seen a prettier flower on a tree? Have you? Well, have you? ... I have not. It about took my breath away.
We saw this lovely orange tree on our way home from the park on Sunday. Isn't that awesome?
Check out the orange flowers. They're like little orange trumpets. (I totally thought of Kimmie. I have a Kimmie/trumpet association that cannot be denied. The End.)
And here's an even closer shot at the little orange flowers. Can you see the delicate, almost translucent film at the base of that little flower? Gorgeous!
This is what we lovingly refer to as: The Crazy Red Tree.
Seriously, check it out. Here's a closer shot. It's crazy.
Those red "flowers"? They're just fuzz! ... This tree is nuts.
Ahhh... The sunsets. You can't beat an Arizona sunset, you just can't. How beautiful are these? Honestly. They just get prettier, day after day after day. Delish!
I know this was a super long post, folks. It's because we go on a lot of super long walks. Also, there are a lot of super awesome flowers and foliage out there.
This world that we live in is a beautiful place. An absolutely stunningly (and often surprisingly) beautiful place.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
In other news, Mom and I walked to the park Sunday morning and sat and listened to the water trickle as we watched kids play and ducks beg for bread. Mom pointed out this crane to me, and I said:
"Now, that's a weird looking bird!"
Don't worry if you didn't think this was an altogether appropriate and/or funny post. Julie will, and that's what matters.
*There's no need to be jealous if the Ric-Rac sundress. They're at Wal-Mart, in about 10 different colors/patterns and they only cost $14. Go out and buy one today, you'll feel like a 6 year old, circa 1962. (Read: you'll feel adorable, esp if you put your hair in a ponytail while wearing it. I promise.)
Friday, April 15, 2011
It was a most educational afternoon. While I don't qualify for anything right now, it's good to know that if something does come up (esp if it were to come up in the next 12-18 months), I'd be able to participate in a trial that might help doctors learn more about this rare kind of tumor I have. I think it would be awesome to be a guinea pig and help them figure out what could help treat sarcomas (since we know chemo doesn't).
I was able to learn a little more about my cancer;
Sarcomas, in and of themselves, are rare tumors. Liposarcomas, however, are the most common type of sarcomas. So, I have a rare type of cancer - but within that family, I chose the most popular child. (Doesn't that sound just like me?) But all joking aside, this is good, in that there are more people out there with liposarcomas than other sarcomas, which means that the odds are better for finding something that's akin to chemo for me. What I'm learning is that cancer treatment/medication is very supply and demand oriented. A lot of people get breast cancer, so they HAD to figure out what to do with it. Same with lung cancer, colon cancer, etc. The more common cancers have standard treatment protocols because the sheer popularity of the disease demanded more research - years ago. I think its awesome that they're doing research on sarcomas - NOW, and in my city - and would totally love to be part of a trial that may help the medical field learn more about what I've had.
They are able, once a liposarcoma tumor is out, to do what is called "profiling". They'll sift through the fatty tissue to find the little cancer cells and then they go through something like DNA coding to figure out where that cell originated, and to see if it has any relation to other organs, or other types of cancer. (For example, while regular chemo wouldn't work on a sarcoma patient, if they were able to profile the sarcoma itself to determine the origin of the tumor, they may be able to kill it with chemo created specifically for liver cancer, if the cells found within the sarcoma had that liver cancer gene mutation on them. The doctor offered to have my most recent tumor profiled, but because it's uncertain whether any future tumors would have the same genetic make-up (and also because she wasn't sure my insurance would cover the cost, and it's $3-$5K for the profile), I opted not to have it done this time around.
Liposarcomas are tumors surrounded by fat. (Ewh.) That makes sense, though. Hi, it starts with the word "lipo" - as in "liposuction". (Which reminds me, I did ask my surgeon if he could do a little light liposuction down there when he was cutting out my liposarcoma. He said no. ... Curse words, I cannot get that man to give me a 2-for-1 for the life of me.) There are mounds or ribbons of fatty tissue that develop into a mass around tiny, little capsule cells of cancer. That the cancer cells are so small, and so hidden within the fat of the tumor, make it hard to do needle biopsies.
Even though liposarcomas are made out of fat, it isn't only fat people who get them. Per my doctor, "We see a lot of patients with liposarcoma who are less fat than you." HA! (I love it when my healthcare professionals say something borderline offensive. She was foriegn, so I'll give that one to her and just giggle it off.) Also, there's nothing that diet or lifestyle modification can do to decrease the chance of this type of tumor growing or recurring. (Read: eating fat doesn't cause this type of tumor. Having fat legs also doesn't cause this type of cancer. To me, this = bring on the bacon!)
It was a confusing, but fascinating day at the cancer center. I'm so glad I went.
For now, we're back to the Recover From Surgery, all the while PRAYING LIKE MAD that the cancer will never come back plan. I mean, that really was the plan all along, but for a while there I thought we'd have some medication or some type of treatment post-op that would lessen the likelihood of it coming back. No. No post-op treatment this time. But that's alright. Prayer's stronger than chemo, or anything else they may have thrown at me. So, prayer it is. And lucky me, I have the praying-est friends and family that ever lived, so I have faith that it'll all be okay. (You know, once I can sit up without a support staff of 4 pillows.)
Thank you to all of you sweet readers, for your thoughts and your prayers and your love and your faith. There is no way I could have lived the last few weeks, months... and, actually.... year without it. I am where I am, and who I am, because of the support system that I have. Thank you for your faith, for your friendship, and for your love. I love you back. So much that I can't even find words. (I know. Me, wordless. Says a lot, doesn't it?)
With the Lord, all things are possible. Thank you for constantly reminding me of this by praying for me. I love you.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I mean, obviously. Every day's a day. But today's another kind-of-maybe/possibly big one.
Remember last week, when I had the day to determine whether or not I'd have to go the chemo route? Well, today's the day that I go to the cancer center to find out if I qualify for a trial, and/or if there's anything they'd recommend for post-op treatment for Liposarcoma.
Here's a link to the Virginia C. Piper Cancer Center, in case any of you would like to check the place out.
I'm super pleased to announce that they are the people who have the slogan:
We Take Your Fight With Cancer Personally
I love their billboards. I always have. For years, I've driven past two of them on a semi-regular basis, and they've always made me happy for cancer patients. I know that sounds silly, but it's true. I'd always think "I'm so glad that there are patients out there who know that their doctors know they're people." For the last six months or so, every time I've driven past that billboard, I've teared up and thought "I'm so glad I didn't have to go that route, but if I had... I'd want to go there. I like their advertising, and all cancer patients should have a doctor who cares." And now, I do have to go that route. Which is a little bit scary - but kind of exciting at the same time. I'm just super grateful/glad that I get to go to the place with the excellent advertising and the billboards that make me cry.
The only downer? The doctor they assigned me to is female. So much for meeting a single, male oncologist who I could impress (read: make him fall smack in love with me) with my positive attitude and winning smile. Grrrr. ... Oh, well. Maybe she'll have a colleague she'll have to refer me to. (It could happen, yes?)
I'll keep you posted - on both the treatment plan and my marital status. It is, after all, what I do best with my little corner of the www.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I look like Zuzu!
I don't know that I've ever been happier to look like anyone in all of my live-long life.
My word, I love It's a Wonderful Life! If you haven't seen it, watch it now. I don't care that it's Easter time and it's a Christmas movie - it's a fabulous, life-changing movie, no matter what time of the year you watch it. Plus, as you've just seen, I look like Zuzu, so it'll remind you of me. And what's not to love about that?
Monday, April 11, 2011
It had been too long for a while, but on the off chance that I'd need it for a wig, I felt the need to keep it long and flowing.
But guess what? No chemo = no need for a wig made of my own hair. Which translates directly into "chop, chop!". Six inches, gone.
I am, once again, overwhelmed at the thickness and curliness of my hair. (It's not like it's thin and wispy when it's long, but when it's short? HOLY MOLY, I have a ton of hair. A ton of unruly hair, to be more precise.) Some day I'll actually curl it, or take a round brush to it and it'll look a little more "done", but for now this'll do.
It's short. I'm happy. The End.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I was thinking Madame Curie.
I figured we had more than just the frizzed bun look in common. "Hello, Radiation, how you doin'?" (Too bad I smile too much. I looked and I looked for a pic of Mme Curie with a smile on her face, but one was not to be found. Bless her sweet, hard-working little heart. She was too focused to smile, methinks. ... Totally not an issue I have. Clearly.)
But Mom thought I looked more like Mad Madame Mim.
You know, from The Sword in the Stone.
Bottom line: I need to comb my hair out, maybe wear it down a little more often. Oh, and work on not crossing my eyes or making other goofy faces.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Which made me burst into song. (Well, first a howl. And then a song.) Why? Because my life is a musical. (Of sorts.)
We were lucky enough to run into Amy Webb (instead of a big, bad wolf) on our walk, who was kind enough to take our picture (and not eat us up). Gosh, I'm grateful for friends (who aren't wolf-ish, even one little bit).
Friday, April 8, 2011
I parked next to this license plate at work the other day and saw this breast cancer license plate and it made me think of you. 2 time survivor. Way to go!
I love him. I have the best family. Ever.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
As grateful as I am that I will not have to go through chemo and the horror that those treatments are, this is a real and scary and hard thing I'm living with right now. I'm being as positive as I humanly can be, and I like to think that I'm doing a fairly decent job of it. It's hard to balance hope with reality. And yet, I have faith that someone, somewhere, will know that there's something I can do (or take) to give my body a leg up in not only recovery, but in ensuring my body's receiving the best post-op care it can, so I'm never in this position again.
At the end of the day - at the end of this very hard, emotional day - I am hopeful. My doctor referred me to a clinical trial/research facility in North Scottsdale. He thinks they may have some new medication there that would be beneficial, and I'm willing to try anything - esp if there's a specialist there who may know something that my general oncologist doesn't, just because of the rareness of what I have. (And how much better would it be if that specialist were single, in his mid-late 30's and looking for a wife who is a cancer survivor? ... I'm just saying that I'd like both a cure and someone who'd pay the bills around here. If we could please kill two birds with one stone, that would work for me.)
As always, stay tuned to Cancer Central for future updates. You know I'll give you the info as soon as I have it.
Not like it's the most important day ever.
But it is pretty important day, information-wise.
It's the day that I meet with the oncologist to find out what comes next.
So, it's sort of a big day. You know, in the grand scheme of how we're gonna attack the cancer this time around.
I'm nervous. But, at the same time, not. I mean, it is what it is. I've been told by the Lord in no uncertain terms that I need to do what my doctors tell me to do. That being said, it doesn't really matter what the doc says I need to do, I'll do it. (I just sort of hope that his plan is that I take the whole summer off work so I can eat half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie and then take a 2 hour nap every day, and that's it. ... I sort of doubt that's what the treatment plan will be, but it sounds nice, doesn't it?)
I'll be back, probably later this afternoon or tonight, to let you know what the plan of attack for the Tumor of 2011 will be. For now, I just wanted to let you know that today's the day.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Jen's a trooper and a half. She brought me water, she did my laundry, she walked me around the block. We shopped. We talked, we laughed, we cried. It was a great weekend.
While she was here, she and Captain Forearms put this fabulous basket on my walker.
The basket is a blessing, the likes of which very few people are lucky enough to know. Behold, it can hold not only a water bottle, but kleenex, lotion, keys, a replacement tennis ball (just in case you have a blow-out mid-walk) and non-meltable candy. (Also, it usually holds my phone. The only reason you can't see the phone is that I was using it to take this picture.) The basket is fan-freaking-tastic, and I can't recommend it highly enough to any of you who may be wondering what to get your 86 year old grandmother for Christmas. A walker basket. That's what you should buy your granny. Trust me, she'll love you forever. (I mean, I'm sure she already will. But the walker basket would ensure such a thing. I promise.)
Here's a true life representation of the smile your grandmother would smile if she had a walker basket. Trust me, I know. She would love it.
And if you're wondering exactly how to install such a walker basket, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Dr. and Mrs. Captain Forearms. I'm sure, for a nominal fee, they'd be more than happy to provide some instruction in the matter. (Look, between them, they have 8 children to feed and clothe. Don't judge. Every little bit counts.)
(Aren't the shoes fantastic? I love them! I love her. I love my walker basket.)
Monday, April 4, 2011
But I digress. As usual. ... I was going to tell you what's been making me laugh lout loud.
Netflix. Netflix has been making me laugh out loud.
I will explain.
First, let me just say that I have the best friends ever. My friend Genevra gifted me a 3 month Netflix subscription, because she knows me and knows that watching movies is pretty much my favorite thing ever (and a very easy thing to do while convalescing).
For those of you who haven't done the Netflix thing, I'll take a moment and explain that one of the first things the website has you do is go through and rate several movies. It does this so it can get a good feel of what type of movie you like to watch, so it can give educated suggestions as to what you might want to put in your queue.
This morning, I rated about 300 movies. (No, I'm not kidding. It's something I can do from the luxury of my recliner, and Mom's busy writing her memoirs in her 3-ring notebook over on the couch. We co-exist quite nicely, no?)
Rating the movies, alone, is a crack up and a half. Why? Because it has you rank them from 1 (worst movie ever) to a 5 (I freaking LOVE this movie and would watch it every day of my life) - there is also an "I haven't seen this movie, nor would I like to" option. After ranking the movie between 1-5, a little blip comes up that shows you the category of movie, and asks you if you watch this type of movie "never", "sometimes" or "often". (The "never" option slays me. Hi, I just told you I watched this movie. Clearly, I wouldn't say I never watch movies like this. Weirdos.) What's been killing me is the way they code, or categorize, a movie.
Some of them make sense:
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial was coded as heartwarming. (Okay, that makes sense.)
Runaway Bride was listed as a wedding movie. (Duh. But again, makes sense.)
Most of them do not make sense:
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was coded as a father/daughter movie. (Really? Because I'd have gone more with "action adventure". PS - I hated this movie. One of the worst dates of my life. Remind me to NEVER tell you about it.)
Finding Nemo was coded as an undersea adventure. (Undersea adventure, ala Jacques Cousteau? Uh... no. Whatever happened to "animated", or "animal tale", which is what Ice Age was given, btw? So random.)
Secret Window was coded as a movie about marriage. (What the heck?! Has anyone else seen this show? I have, and I like it, because I enjoy Johnny Deep when he's creepy as all get-out. But let me just say, a movie about marriage, this is not. Stephen King isn't known for his relationship dramas, y'know.)
Salt was coded as a movie from the 2010's. (Hi. 2010 was only one year, there's no need to pluralize that. Also, I think "spy" or "espionage" would have been a better category than "movie from the 2010's", but whatever.)
You can see why I rated over 300 movies. The descriptions of the movies alone was some good entertainment. But my favorite part is yet to come.
The suggestions of what to put in my queue. Priceless, I tell you. Priceless.
I will show you:
What Lies Beneath, because I enjoyed: Sweet Home Alabama, My Best Friend's Wedding and Runaway Bride. (Clearly, What Lies Beneath is another creepy thriller that was somehow mistakenly categorized as a movie about weddings - or marriage - ala Secret Window.)
LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring because I enjoyed: X2 - X-Men United, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Star Trek. (What in the world do these four movies have in common? I mean, WHAT?! PS - I would sooner die than watch LOTR. The creatures. Ewh. Wolverine, not creepy. Elves and fairies, super creepy.)
Conspiracy Theory, because I enjoyed: Runaway Bride, The Patriot and Hook. (Uhh... Other than casting, what do these movies have in common with each other? I don't watch movies just because Mel Gibson and/or Julia Roberts is in them. Weird.)
So, Netflix. It is a never ending source of enjoyment for me. Even if all I ever do is rate movies so I can see how they were categorized, it's a good time.
Friday, April 1, 2011
I'm so tired, that I can't sleep.
Probably because I took a 6 hour nap this afternoon.
Also, I can't sleep because I just can't get comfortable. Between my swollen bum (I tell you, I love this recliner and all, but sitting all day is causing complications for my already sore backside) and the fact that it hurts to lie in bed, because I feel like I've taken about 18 kicks to my left kidney in a street fight (the area the tumor was removed from is experiencing some internal trauma - this is normal, I know, because I talked to the surgeon about it today, and while he did smile/smirk a bit when I told him that I felt like I'd been used as a punching bag and would, in fact, take it very personally the next time I saw a movie with a street fight in it, he told me the soreness and internal swelling is quite normal.) Between my sad incision missing its staples (I don't know HOW removing staples can make an incision hurt worse, but it sure did), my bum and my kidney... I just can't win.
The good news? I still have some pretty good drugs.
Too bad the drugs are having quite the effect on my small motor skills. (It's taken me 20 min to type this. Ridiculous! So much for using this convalescent time to write the great American novel, or even some entertaining Chick Lit. I struggle to type a full sentence. It's tragic, really.)
So, I'm going to try and go to bed now. Mom's off to dreamland, and since I have no one else to talk to (and since it's troubling to me, how difficult it is to type), I may as well take my sad little kidney and go to bed. I'll be back with another progress report tomorrow. Hopefully, one with more pics and less words. (You know, to make it easier on my sadly (and hopefully, temporarily) grammar-disabled self.)