Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24

This morning, I had a work related question that led me to call my former workmates at the title company. (Was it a question that I probably could have asked my friend Google? Yes. But a little human interaction is always more fun. ... Well, maybe not always. Sometimes the Google Doodle is more fun than a person-to-person interaction, but almost without exception, I'd rather talk to a human friend than Google.)

Anyhoo, I called the title company and had a fun (also, work-related) conversation with my friend Kellie. At the end of the conversation, we exchanged email addresses (you know, in case I had any other "work" questions I needed to ask). She immediately followed up by shooting me an email to confirm my address.

This was the quote she had in her signature line:

"Faith is not about everything turning out OK... Faith is about being 'OK' no matter how things turn out."

How about that? It's my "everything will be okay" mantra, twisted just a little bit.

Yesterday, I had a friend intentionally send me a cancer comic that made me laugh out loud. Today, I had a friend unintentionally send me an inspirational quote that hit closer to home than I'm sure she ever thought it would.

I heart The Universe for the many (and diverse) ways in which my friends (and words) bless my life.

The End.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23

Today, my friend Myra sent me this comic of "Causes of Emotion by Year" with the accompanying translation:

Ken saw this and thought of you. Although I would change 'politics' to 'chocolate', 'code not working' to 'tv/internet not working', 'Josh Whedon' to 'Nathan Fillion', and 'people being wrong on the internet' to 'people having bad grammar'. Romance can stay the same.

It's a pretty accurate representation of my life, right? (Complete with the big, gray block of cancer-caused emotions starting mid-2010.)

I laughed out loud. Mostly because My knows me well enough to know that "people having bad grammar" is a serious stressor in my life. (And does anyone else love that the little pink "romance" line is one of the few causes of emotion that made it past the cancer blockage?)

My goodness, I love it when I (or one of my besties) can find a way to make me laugh at the cancer!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20 - Evening

Not to upset the current trend of funny stories and self-mockery that I have going here... but in the spirit of honest writing (and because I told myself that I'd journal the hard days, because experience has taught me that I'll just block/forget them later), I have to come clean and say that today was a hard day.

I mean, H-A-R-D.

This morning, at about the time that I pureed my last apricot, I had an overwhelming awareness that I am sick. (And I'm not just talking about my twisted sense of humor.)

As I was pouring my last batch of puree into a freezer-safe bag, I had to lean against the kitchen counter to rest. (Yeah, I know. I'm such a wuss that blanching three batches of apricots completely wore me out. Between the sore calves, the stupid scar tissue that gives me a backache and the hernia that makes my stomach hurt if I move the wrong way, I have a hard time standing for over an hour without hurting.)

And as I leaned against the counter and held my back and gave myself a pep talk that I was almost done and could sit down in a few minutes, I realized that I am sick.

I really am sick.

I have cancer.

Today, I am more aware of this than I have been in a long time.  Today, I am aware that this could kill me.

These are not thoughts that I usually have. ... Usually, I process more along the lines of "Gosh, I wish my oncologist would hurry up and cure me and then marry me" or "I wonder how much money Nathan Fillion could draw at a fundraiser" or "I sure hope that I don't have to live like this for the rest of my life". But today? Today, all day, I have been incredibly aware that life is short. And that I am sick. And that this could kill me.

Like I said, it's been a hard day.

May 20

So, uh.... remember how I climbed a tree yesterday? And how I reached and jumped for the really (REALLY) good fruit on the high branches?

Yeah, so do I. And so do my calves, thanks for asking.

I can hardly move.

I'm not kidding. I stepped out of bed this morning and thought I might just die from the pain of my feet hitting the floor. Darnit, if my calf muscles stretching out won't be the death of me, I don't know what will...

It turns out that when your calves are accustomed to a (very) leisurely stroll around the block, and then are subjected to the kind of insane workout that only a fruit-crazed fiend can put them through, there are serious consequences to be paid.


And in other fruit-picking related news, let me just tell you (in case you didn't already know this), that it is not a good idea to carry eight pounds of peaches around in a WalMart bag. It turns out they give away boxes at fruit orchards for a reason. And that reason would be so you can carry fruit that's been boxed evenly. While the WalMart bag may be easier to carry (it requires one hand/arm), the fruit bangs around and gets bruised (read: ruined). By the time I got around to unpacking my plastic bag of peaches last night, they were a soupy mess.

Not all of them were completely mashed and ruined, though. I saved five peaches. ... That's right. I had five salvageable peaches in my eight pound bag. The rest of them, I peeled and pitted and pureed. I am now the proud owner of 9 cups of frozen fruit puree. Not that the puree won't be delicious on waffles or in ice cream... it will be, and I know it... but so much for my plan of eating fresh fruit all week.

Don't be like me, people. Box your fruit. I can't say it strongly enough... Box. Your. Fruit.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19

This morning, Jo and I went to Schnepf Farms Peach Festival. Together. Just the two of us.

It was the best time ever.

I mean, E-VER.

The day started with The Breakfast of Champions (Sausage Egg McMuffins and a Coke), and then when we got to Schnepf's, we had dessert.

As in, we ate fruit right off the trees. Hello, sun-ripened fruit.... Where have you been all my life?

(Seriously. Would you look at those peaches?! They were clustered, LIKE GRAPES! And all perfectly ripe and delicous to the taste.)

Also, there were apricot trees. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to be both Blog Stalker AND Facebook Friend, I give you the lovely shot that Jo took of me climbing in the apricot tree. (Yeah, I said climbing. So what if I only made it two feet off the ground before I got too scratched up to go any further? I'm still saying I climbed that sucker.)

And like the fruit wasn't enough of a good time... There was a little booth area where some locals were selling these fine (FINE!) hand-crafted onesies.

Like a 0-3 month old doing the free "My mom's single" advertising isn't WT enough... We have obvious apostrophe errors here, people.

Egads. Who buys this stuff?! (Answer: Not me. I just take pics and then mock the lack of punctuation. Publicly.)

I tell you what, this has been a great day! A solid 4 hours with Jo, all to ourselves to talk and laugh and pick and eat fruit... Seriously, it was the best morning ever.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the 8 lbs of peaches and 3 lbs of apricots that I have sitting on my kitchen counter...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16

As some of you may already know, one of the more bizarre after-effects of my abdominal surgery of 2011 is a surgical hernia. It was found in September 2011, when I realized that I had a hard, kind of pokey-outy area in my belly button area. ... When I had my follow-up with the oncologist for my Sept scans, I asked about it and was told that it wasn't anything to worry about and should heal itself - in the next year or two.

Awesome, possum. Just what I wanted. A weird, bulging, area in my stomach that should heal itself in two years. ... But good news! Now I have another tumor that will have to get cut out of me, and the hernia will be corrected with that surgery. (And then I'll be super duper careful and ridiculously obsessive with the wearing of the binder to be sure this doesn't happen again.)

Every once in a while, I look down or feel my stomach and I roll my eyes at how lopsided my stupid stomach is. ... But when I mention it to a friend, they invariably say something along the lines of "I just don't see it."

People, my friends are liars. Well meaning and loving liars who are making an honest effort to draw my attention away from this (very obvious, thanks) flaw in my body. But still, they are liars.

Behold, the bump of 2012:

Note that I only look preggers on the left side of my stomach.

I mean, we're a far cry from the bump of 2010:

But I'm sure that no one's going to disagree with me that the (lopsided, thanks) bump of 2012 is a real thing and not just in my head.

I have my next scan in about 3 weeks. I'm curious to find out if my bump getting bigger is a result of my tumor getting bigger, or if it's just me eating too much cake combined with an unfortunate hernia that's making me even more pokey-outy. The upside? I can still breathe. So even if this tumor is growing, no way is it 22 pounds. ... This was the voice of experience, people. As long as I can breathe, I can live with a malignant growth inside me. (No pun intended, I promise.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13

This is a small picture, so I don't know if you can see it, but.... there's TOILET PAPER on that giant pine tree at the golf course.


I went on my walk this morning before church (since we're in the triple digits, I figured I may as well take a stroll at the crack of dawn vs. once the sun has had time to rise... walking a mile in 90 degrees is a whale of a lot better than it is at 105) and when I saw that some hooligan kids had ignored the "Workers Only" signs posted and jumped the fence, just to TP the trees at the golf course, I laughed. Out. Loud. I laughed out loud. (And then I totally jaywalked - across traffic - to get to the other side of the street so I could take a picture.)

Why? Because this is how I spent my youth. Growing up in a small town without so much as a roller rink to keep us busy (darn the Roller King for closing its doors in the late 80's, anyway!), we did a lot of toilet papering.

I'm not kidding.

I toilet papered boys' (yeah, multiple) houses to ask them to dances. Boys TP'd me to tell me they liked me. True story: On my first date of all time, the four of us (Diana, Scott, Charlie and I) left the dance early to go TP our band teacher's house. (Don't worry. It wasn't a malicious TP job. Murph was in the house, watching us and actually yelled out advise or correction/counsel on how we could do a better job.)

Now, if we were going to talk about malicious TP jobs, I'd tell you about how Travis Cartwright saved every dime he made for months, just to spend it on over 300 rolls of toilet paper that he carted over to Greg Sheppard's house in the middle of the night. (I say "carted", because I don't know what the actual term would be. Travis didn't have a car, so he hooked up a trailer of sorts (if I'm remembering right, his trailer had its roots in a little red wagon) to his 4 wheeler and then took mulitple trips on the back roads - in the middle of the night - to get several cases of toilet paper to Greg's house.) That TP job was a thing of beauty. I mean, he covered literally acres with toilet paper. The house, the trees, the fence, the grounds... It was awesome. (I promised Travis I'd never tell that it was him, but I figure it's been 20 years. That should be long enough for Mr. Sheppard to have forgiven that TP massacre.)

Or... here's another funny TP story. Once, we TP'd the Crowther's house with PINK toilet paper. (This was a household of boys. No daughters. They had three sons and a nephew living with them.) They had a sweet front porch that made for some fun decorating. ... We threw the pink TP over the rafters to create a faux curtain of toilet paper, and then tied the "curtain" into sections with big, fat, toilet paper ribbon bows. It was beautiful. Literally, beautiful. ... I could not have been more proud of that job. -- Until Monday, at school, when Lance (the nephew) told us that Uncle Larry had made them take down the TP and put it in a bag in the bathroom so they could use it. ... Yes, you read that right. Those boys had to actually use the pink TP that we'd decorated their yard with. (I don't recall ever TPing the Crowthers after that.)

I tell you, TPing was a rite of passage in my hometown, and Diana and I were the absolute queens. We had a standing date at our English teacher's house on either Tuesday or Thursday every week our Junior year. (I only wish I were kidding when I tell you that she gave me a "soaping kit" for my birthday when I turned 16. It had toilet paper, soap, corn flakes, forks, vaseline (don't ask), colored chalk and all manner of other evil substances in it. ... It's still one of my favorite birthday presents to date.)

So... this post was probably a bit of an over-share. Many of you (including my mother) were probably not aware that I had such an ill-spent youth. But now you know. I totally did.

Ahhhhh.... Toilet paper. It's not just for the bathroom. (Just cracked myself up. Sorry, Mom!)

Gosh, that was a fun little trip down memory lane. Thanks for coming with.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11

Yesterday, I noticed that one of my FB friends had posted something about having bought Jester'Z tickets for a fundraiser that's happening in Snowflake next month. My first thought...


Hello, who's in need (or will be in need, shortly, if my current medical costs keep up) of a fundraiser? ... Me.

And who loves Jester'Z? ... Again, me.

I mean, I love Navajo Tacos as much as (or even more than) the next girl. And I do hail from a great and wonderful part of the state that is known to throw a mean Navajo Taco fundraiser for hometown folks in need. ... But JESTER'Z?! That would be an even better (as in, more personal and suited to me) fundraiser than fried bread would be. (Not that I am dissing the fried bread. We all know that I am a big fan of the You Fry It, I Like It food category. ... I'm just saying that I prefer funny men to beans on bread. Amen.)

Tonight was my friend Christian's birthday party at... drumroll... Jester'Z. (My friends know how to party.) After the show, I talked to Jef (yeah, with one F) and asked how, exactly, their fundraiser thing works. He couldn't give me a lot of details, because he doesn't manage that part of the business, but he gave me a basic rundown of how it works (they take enough money to cover the cost of putting on the show, roughly $400-$600), and anything over that is profit. He explained that the amount of money made varies by advertising, the cause, etc...

Good thing I happen to be the CEO of Cancer Girl Enterprises and a few of my friends have been known to call me "PR Girl" instead of my actual name. Advertising shouldn't be a problem. Between Facebook, my blog, my connections at the printer, the contacts in my phone and my complete and utter lack of shame when it comes to asking people to donate to what I consider to be a good cause, I should be able to make a go of this.

Now, I just need to find some time in my hectic life to make some phone calls, do some research and start getting this put into motion. (Because I am leaning towards broke just paying for my routine medical costs... If and when I have surgery and have to be out of work for a minimum of two months (without any kind of disability pay coming in), the financial status around here is gonna go straight from unseemly to downright hideous.)

Wish me luck, folks. I'm crossing my fingers that I can play the cancer card (we all know that I like to) and get my own personal Jester'Z dream team to perform at the fundraiser. (What can I say? I dream big.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9

So, I'm looking pretty peaked these days.

As in:

peak·ed2    /ˈpikɪd/ [pee-kid]


pale and drawn in appearance so as to suggest illness or stress; wan and sickly.

How do I know? I will tell you. ... I've seen two friends in two days (neither of whom work with me or otherwise see me on a daily basis) and the first thing out of both of their mouths was, "Are you feeling okay? You look really tired."


And this is what my friends say. (My friends who love me and are truly and honestly concerned for my welfare and want me to sit down and rest while I drink a glass of water.) ... Who knows what strangers are thinking when they see my peaked self?

Just yesterday, I was so proud of all this energy that I have these days. (Seriously. I really was patting myself on the back that I now have the energy to come home from work and cook something for dinner before I have to lie down on the couch to rest. ... Six - even two - months ago, I used to come home and eat cereal for dinner before I had to lie down on the couch.)

Oh, well.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7

A couple weeks ago, I had a GNO with two of my favorite people ever (Whitney and Lizzie) and the not-so-recent ban of comments on my blog came up in our dinner conversation.

What exactly brought it up in the first place, I don't recall... but the reason that they thought I should reinstate the comment function has stayed with me.

They missed Genevra.

It turns out that my favorite new-agey friend has enjoyed quite a following here at Razzzberries for her unique style of communication. (I'm not kidding. These are not my only two friends who've told me they enjoy (and miss) G.)

So, for those of you who may be needing a little more Genevra in your life... I give you the contents of the latest and greatest package to come my way.

Dear ladies,

A few months ago I was meditating and something completely unrelated to what had been my meditation intention popped into my mind. So I contacted a woman I know who makes jewelry. I asked her to create a bracelet that incorporated the colors white and yellow and had a sun charm on it.

The last two years have brought some challenges and trials to my favorite Central Bank girls. In my meditation I saw a bracelet being a symbol of a strong energetic circle of love, faith and hope. A symbol to remind us that there was a group of people that loved us and was holding in trust for us, faith and hope when our own was fading.

The yellow is for remembering the fun times in our lives. The white is for healing and connecting with our spiritual source. The sun charm is a reminder that no matter what dark and stormy clouds or horrible storms are upon us, the sun is always shining behind them, waiting to shine down upon us once again as the storms of life pass over us.

Love to love to you all, Genevra

Oh, and the WTF stands for all the times you get blindsided in life and want to say, "What the ..." ;-)

Don't mind my freckly arm there, folks, but I had to show you my new favorite accessory. It's bright. It's sun-shiny. It's a little bit sparkly. ... And it's borderline swearing, which always makes me feel a little sassy.

I heart my bracelet, as I heart all of my CB gals... I do love knowing that we all have matchy-matchy bracelets. And I love Genevra, for following her heart when her meditation was interrupted with a thought to have these made. Truly, this custom WTF bracelet trumps any pre-fabbed BFF bracelet out there.

Thanks, G! You're the best!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6

Ahhhh.... What a weekend!

(I mean that in a good way.)

My sister and parents came down yesterday. It was super fun. Katie and I got to sing our Cinco de Mayo song - on actual Cinco de Mayo.

Kate and I were able to hang out all day, then we went to dinner at Chili's with the parentals. (I know, it's not Mexican, but we did go through two bowls of chips and salsa, so I feel like we paid appropriate homage.)

Here's a fun pic of my sister and me for your ocular enjoyment:

After dinner, I took Kate and Mom to Jester'Z. (We all know that I love that place!) Mom was laughing so hard that I thought she might fall off her chair. ... I'd consider that a successful night of entertaining my mother.

This morning, we headed over to Kirkey Turkey's. They blessed Baby Monson today, and it was an Evans Family Festival of Good Times. (All you can eat donuts, bagels & cream cheese and fruit salad galore back at Kirk & Mar's after church.) Ty did yoga and headstand poses with the little boys. I got to hold my new nephew to my heart's content. Kirk and I giggled like little kids. (I wish I had pics of all - or even some - of this, but I don't. I wasn't holding the camera and the pics haven't made the email rounds as yet.)

As Katie and I were leaving, Mary gifted me with this fabulous mug covered in pictures of my favorite little Evans kids.

How great is that mug? I freaking love it! ... I've said it before, and I'm sure that I'll say it again, but one of the serious (even if it is also one of the few) perks of having the cancer is the swag.

It was a fun weekend with family, full of laughs and good times (and bagels... lots and lots of bagels with varying flavors of cream cheese, depending on the time of day).

I love all of the people in my life, it is true, but I love my family most of all.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4

You know that mantra I've been chanting for, oh... months now? It seems to have paid off. At least a little bit.

So, far it's just one little bit of my life that's worked out. But hey, I'll take whatever I can get (even if it is only one little bit).

I had a call from the nice lady at the insurance company this morning that did not have an auspicious beginning. ... The first thing she told me that my request for Transition of Care had been denied. (Enter my heart beating rapidly. This was worst case scenario. Read: everything was not turning out okay.) As I'm not currently in a treatment cycle, it's automatic denial. (Fantastic.) I explained that I have a rare cancer and that I need to stay with Dr. H, as he's the only doctor I've ever had who'd seen a liposarcoma in his real life. I listed everything I could about my cancer and everything I know about Dr. H and why he simply must be my doctor. (I stopped short of telling her that I have designs on marrying the man. That seemed excessive. And probably not something that an insurance company would see as a medicinal reason to keep him as my provider.) She explained that the protocol at this point called for the insurance company doing a search in a 20 mile radius of me, to see if they could find a doctor who is contracted that would meet my needs. ... Again, I explained that I have a need for a specialized oncologist. She politely listened, then came back with a hard-line that she has to follow protocol.

Now, I understand the need for protocol. I really do. ... I have to follow it in my job, and I really do believe that most rules were written for a reason and we need to follow them. But ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME with how badly this call was going?!

A few deep breaths later, I was able to regroup and I had a thought. A totally wild, out-of-the-blue and seemingly random thought. (Thank you, Heavenly Father, for that moment of mental clarity. I love you!) I asked if she could do me one small favor before she initiated the search for another doctor. ... I asked if she could check their system to see if Dr. H was listed internally. She didn't understand what I meant, so I went on to explain that I couldn't find him online in the public list of providers, but that maybe (just maybe) he actually WAS a contracted provider, but was only showing on their internal system. She agreed to look, but told me that it was unlikely that she'd find him. I thanked her.

Drum roll please...

He was in their internal system, showing as a contracted provider as of January 2012. She was shocked. I was thrilled. (And humbled. And grateful.)

Dr. H can still be my doctor. Halle-freakin-lujah!

My shrink, on the other hand, not so much. (I had them look for her, too, on the off chance that she'd be in the same situation. No dice.) But I'm okay with that. As much as I'd like to keep all my medical care under the MD Anderson roof, I can't help who's contracted with my new insurance and who isn't. And of all the doctors that the insurance will or won't cover, the two doctors that I cannot lose (the surgeon and the oncologist) are covered.

I. Am. Thrilled.

I'm not quite to the "everything" part of "everything will be okay" chapter of my life, but I'm a whole heck of a lot closer than I've been in ... well, a month. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3

I got a call from the HR department today to let me know that my Transition of Care paperwork had been escalated on up the chain at the insurance company.

Wish me luck that my I (and my doctors, of course) get approval. ... These forms would allow me to stay with my current oncologist while the insurance paper trail catches up with us. As is, I don't know what I'm going to do. If Dr. H isn't an in-network provider, my maximum out-of-pocket literally doubles (and it's not like it's cheap in the first place). I need him to be in-network. Or, in this case, covered by the Transition of Care clause. I'm a little worried, because, technically, a cancer patient has to be in a radiation or chemo treatment cycle to get approval for this program - and I'm not currently recieving treatment. I did add an addendum to my application explaining that, while I'm not currently in a treatment cycle, I am being followed by a specialist within oncology and will most likely be given radiation treatments prior to surgery. Dr. H, bless his sweet little heart, wrote something very similar. (And he didn't even know that I'd added an addendum - he just added a special note that he was monitoring my tumor growth and would order radiation prior to surgery. Isn't it awesome that we're thinking along the same lines? I'm pretty sure it's a sign that we'll both want to name our first born Margaret. ... Just kidding. Sort of.)

So, that's the latest there. As usual, there is no actual news. I'm still just hanging out, waiting for some resolution, chanting the ever present mantra.

"Somehow this will all work out. Somehow this will all work out. Somehow this will all work out..."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2

Here's the thing about liposarcoma: It's hard to find predictable or even consistent information on it. One site I read stated there are 100,000 cases reported a year (rare, right?); another site reported as many as 15,000 cases a year (rare, squared).

It is what it is, and there's not a darn thing I can do about how rare/uncommon this stupid tumor growing in my belly is, but some days it frustrates me to no end that no one can tell me what to expect.

The upside of today's reading was this lovely article. It was oddly empowering, and I have now officially declared myself CEO of Cancer Girl Enterprises. Given the amount of time I've spent on the phone - and how persistent I've had to be in determining what tactic to try (NEXT) in the great insurance debacle of 2012 - I feel that I've earned the right to both promote myself to CEO and christen my "company". Next up: selecting staff. ... I've always wanted staff. Always. (Of course, it would be even better if my staff were the kind that do the dishes and vacuums the floors, but I'll take Cancer Support Staff, too. Since, you know, I am in need of that more than I am in need of a dishwasher. Darn it.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1

It is May.

Finally, May.

There's a Federal holiday in May. I'll have a three day weekend this month. ... I think I'll survive.

The End.