Monday, December 30, 2013

Yet another insight into my (candy loving) soul...

You guys love it when I tell you (crazy) stuff that I think sometimes, right?

Well... hold on to your hat, because this is good.

Have I ever told you how much I love salt water taffy? ... Because I do love it. A lot. (I blame/thank my Grandma Evans for this. She always had pockets filled with the stuff, and would give us a taffy any/every time we'd hug her and tell her we loved her. We all know that I have a heck of a lot of love to give without a candy reward. You can imagine, I am sure, how lovey-dovey I can be when there's a piece of candy (or 27) in it for me.)

Anyhoo... I love taffy. A lot.

And one of my *five favorite flavors is the peppermint kind.

I seriously love peppermint taffy. (This won't come as a surprise to anyone who's ever seen me scarf down a box of Junior Mints, a bag of York Peppermint Patties, a candy cane (or four), the peppermint/white chocolate M&M's, or anything of the like.)

Like I said, I love it. A lot.

So much so, that as I just popped my third peppermint taffy into my mouth, I actually thought "I love eating this candy. It's better than brushing my teeth!"

... True story.

And then I remembered that WE BRUSH OUR TEETH TO GET RID OF THE SUGAR THAT CANDY LEAVES BEHIND. So much for just eating peppermint candy and not brushing my teeth before I go to bed. (Sometimes I really hate being a grown up.)



*Just in case you're ever wont to hand-pick a pound of salt water taffy and send it my way, my other four favorite flavors are: black licorice, orange, root beer float, pina colada, and grape. (Also, I'm going to include an honorable mention of egg nog -- it'd make the top five, but it's seasonal, so it's not always available.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

God Bless Us, Every One!


I re-read A Christmas Carol on the flight home from Utah on Monday. By the time I got to the final chapter, I wasn't on the plane anymore. Rather, I was in a land all my own, sitting in a bedroom created by Charles Dickens, over a hundred years ago. The first (and last) few sentences in the last chapter say it all. (Italics added for emphasis)

The End of It

Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!

``I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!'' Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. ``The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!''

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.

``They are not torn down,'' cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, ``they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here: I am here: the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!''

His hands were busy with his garments all this time: turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.

``I don't know what to do!'' cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laoco├Ân of himself with his stockings. ``I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!'

Anyone who knows the story knows that after Scrooge got dressed, he went outside and asked a boy what day it was. ("Today? Why, Christmas Day!") And then he sent for the biggest turkey in the shop and had it sent to Bob Cratchit's, and he met with a gentleman collecting for charity and gave a huge donation ("including a great many back payments"), and then he set out for his nephew's house for Christmas dinner. The next day, when Cratchit got to work, Scrooge sat him down and told him that he needed to make amends, that he was going to give Bob a raise and help him with his struggling family.

Scrooge was a changed man.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

May we all be better than our words, have laughing hearts, and know how to keep Christmas well. Not just today, but every day.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Christmas *Adam!

*Because Adam came before Eve. (Can you tell I've been spending a lot of time this weekend with small children?)

On a more serious note... A few of you have asked if there's anything you can do to help my sweet cousin and her adorable family.

It's a little late to be getting this up, but... I figure it's better late than never, right?

The family has set up a PayPal donation site to help Mark and Rachel with Christmas (and other costs). Click here to go straight to the site. If for some reason the link doesn't work, you can always click on the Cancer Girl Donation Center icon on the blog (upper right corner). Any funds that I receive through until January 1, I'll transfer to Rachel.

Thanks, all, for your thoughts and your prayers on behalf of my cousin. 

Much love (even more than normal, because it's Christmastime!) to each and every one!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So... I've been MIA. Again.

As you may have noticed, it's been a while since I've posted. (Assuming you're not all too busy with your own lives to be looking for an update.) I haven't even done True Stories this month! (It's killing me, too, because I had some seriously rockin' stories about Evans family  Christmases. Picture the Griswold family tree hunt in the first scene of Christmas Vacation, taken up a notch because, instead of a trusty station wagon that could take a flying leap off the highway and still keep on ticking, I grew up with a suburban that was wont to break down on the side of the road -- for no apparent reason. We always traveled with hairspray in the car, because Dad had learned that if he sprayed some under the hood, it would start right up. ... You can't make this stuff up, kids.)

But alas, it seems that my laptop has bit (bitten?) the dust. Again. ... And we all know that blogging from ye olde phone doesn't always work so well. So, I haven't been online so often.

I'm going to make an honest effort to be better... More than anything else, I wanted to throw a post up as a caveat to explain why a) you hadn't been seeing anything lately and b) to let you know why there's going to be an uptick in typos 'round here.

So all the only electronic device I have with which I can blog is my phone. ...



Sunday, December 8, 2013

A plea for prayer

As my sweet cousin Rachel put it, "Mark needs your help".

Mark is a heck of a guy. He's a fabulous friend, and incredible husband, and exactly the kind of father I'd want my children to have. (And I'm NOT just saying that because he has the cancer. I've been saying those things for years, and that's so much of why his getting sick has been so gosh darn difficult to swallow.)

Please, if you are willing and able, join our family in fasting and prayer for my cousin.

I know, personally and intimately, the overwhelming feeling of support and love that comes of an army praying for you. (Thanks for that, btw. You people are awesome, and I love you!) I know miracles happen. I know that faith can move mountains. I know that love is the most powerful force on earth. I know that prayer can make a difference.

Please. Please, pray with us. Mark needs your help.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ahhhhh....

I can't tell you how awesome it is to know that the bulge in my stomach really is just my guts trying to come out through my bellybutton.

Seriously. It's awesome.

I woke up last night in the middle of the night because I was thirsty. That's it. Just thirsty.

No bad dream. No anxiety. No nausea. No headache. No panic attack. No crying. No hysteria. No need to get out of bed and make a list of all the things I'd need to do, the people I'd need to contact, if the PET was positive for new growth.

Just thirsty.

I'd never been so happy to get out of bed at 3:00 AM for a glass of water in all of  my life.

Of course, one of the effects of the release of all the stress that scan week makes me carry around is that I'm tired. As in, dog tired. I cannot get enough sleep and I'm completely worn out. (Maybe because I keep interrupting my own REM, waking up because I'm thirsty or something? ... Just kidding.)

Anyway, I'm relieved. And happy. So, so happy.

I've been cancer-free for 18 months now. I'm only one check up (since we moved my PET scans to every 6 months, so as to appease the insurance company) away from having been cancer-free as long as I ever was sick.

I cannot tell you the down-deep joy this brings me. My goodness, I'm so grateful for modern medicine - for the men (multiple) who've saved my life. I am the luckiest person I know.

(Oh, and... something fun I learned yesterday when I was blogging from the cancer center, between appts with H and G... typos abound when I'm using my phone keyboard. So sorry about that. I just wanted to get the information out as soon as I possibly could. ... And the typos (at least, the obvious ones) have been fixed now. All is right with the universe once again.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Live Reporting from MD Anderson

Streaming live, I bring you the news from the office shared by H and G: The  PET shows I'm still cancer-free.

Wahoo!

Merry Christmas to me!

I was able to con an actual  hug from Homsi (double Merry Christmas to me!), and while I told him that I am NOT going to invite him to Sunday dinner anymore (he's told me no twice), I'd be happy to be his escort through the Gilbert temple open house. (He's thinking of holding a reality show where he chooses his temple escort/date through a series of rose ceremonies. He told me I'd have to participate as a contestant, but he could tell me that I'd start pretty high on the chain.)

Henry will be sticking around for a while. I'm on a doctor-ordered Spanx routine again. G wants me to try some lifestyle modifications (including wearing a binder and/or supportive underwear), to see if that helps with pain. While he COULD cut Henry out of me, it's not a surgery without its risks... so he wants to put it off as long as possible. G did recommend that I find a physical therapist/masseuse to help with my weird charlie horse pain under my left ribs. I'm hoping against hope that I'll be able to come back to Lee here at MD.

So, no cancer. Yay! But I'm keeping Henry for the next several months. ... Good thing I already decided to be friends with him, eh?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

So... Scan Day

So, I thought it might be fun to do a little virtual tour of the prep for my PET scan. (Also, I happened to ask EXACTLY the right person if I could take pics today. Not only did she say yes, she purposefully posed the tube o' poison, for your optimum enjoyment.)

I apologize upfront that I neglected to snap a pic of the super cozy "recliner" where I get to nap for an hour after being injected with the tracer. I also didn't think to snap a pic of the PET machine. My bad(s). Next time.

Okay, so... this is the Injection Room. AKA: The Radiation Chamber (if you read my fb posts). This is the room where they inject me with radioactive matter, and then leave me in solitary to brew for a good hour or so before they put me in the PET chamber.



Once I get into the room, there is this HUGE glaring caution sign. (Good news I'm NEVER pregnant when I go in for my PET.)


I did ask, once, what would happen  if I was pregnant. Answer: the PET would not happen. There are too many risks to the fetus. The hospital may still do a diagnositc test, once the pregnant woman knows the risks, but the techs at MD have the right to refuse. And Dave the PET Guy will always refuse. (I like Dave.)

This is the locked container that my radioactive tracer comes in. Note the hazmat signs all over the box. (I love my life.)




And this, my lovelies, is the tracer itself. The push this radioactive matter (see the yellow hazmat sign at the top of the canister) through an IV, and then wrap me up in blankets, turn down the lights, and leave me to marinate in radioactive juices before actually running the scan. (I'd like to report that I only got stuck twice today. Mind you, the stick that took was in my wrist and HURT LIKE THE DEVIL - be looking forward to pictures of the bruise, it's gonna be a beaut! - but at least I only got stuck twice.)



This is the trash can that the waste goes into. Pretty crazy, no?



After an hour of sitting very still/sleeping in solitary, they come and wake me up and take me for the PET itself. But first... we make a pit stop.

That's right. At the HOT restroom. ... How special is it that there's a restroom set aside solely for the use of those of us who're packing radiation in our bowels/bladders.




Once the pit stop is over, the PET room is the next stop. I walk down the hall, seeing all kinds of signs like this:


And I thank my lucky stars that there are people who know more than I do about stuff like cancer, and radiation, and the need for hot restrooms, and how to read a PET scan.

As much as I am a silly girl who likes to have as much fun with the cancer as I possibly can... I'm so incredibly grateful for the staff at MD Anderson. From the receptionists to the nurses to the techs to the doctors... they are fabulous. I am still here because of them. ... Them AND their radioactive injections.

After it was all said and done, I went downstairs to get a muffin in the little cafe. (Best. Pumpkin. Muffins. E-ver.) and I tied a grey ribbon on the Tree of Hope for Mark. It's not much, but it was all I could do for him - for them - today.


As always, a day spent at MD Anderson is a day spent with a grateful heart. I am still tired, but I'm not anxious anymore. (What's done is done. Now all I need are results. And those will come soon enough.)

Life is good. ... Life is EVEN BETTER when you can take pics of stuff with biohazard warnings all over them.

This is my life, kids. ... And it is AWESOME!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reason #253 why I am in love with Dr. H

So, today was a fun day. Spent the first 20 minutes or so at work in the copy room, huddled over the shred bin, talking (read: sobbing) on the phone with Julie about Mark and Rachel, while random employees came in to make copies, and then returned with tissues.

I love my life.

Good thing I had Ativan at work, because I popped two at once around 10:00, which dried me out and I seemed to be doing fairly well until about 3:00.

Which was exactly when my phone rang.

My sweet little scheduling girl was calling to let me know there had been a problem with my insurance approval and we needed to reschedule my PET.

Insert deep, ugly, raspy sigh here...

Why? Why, I asked, did it not get approved? And how had it happened AGAIN that we didn't know until the day before the scan that the approval didn't come through? ... I told her that I knew she was just the one stuck making the call, and I wasn't mad at her, but I needed to know why/how this kept happening because this was not okay. That I am not okay, and I need this scan now.

Poor little thing. She was not expecting me to have a high-speed-come-apart. (Clearly.) She asked if she could put me on hold... and then came back about five minutes later to tell me she didn't want to keep me on hold, but she would do what she could to work it out to get me scheduled for a PET Friday morning, and a followup Friday afternoon.

Not best case scenario, but... it's better than waiting a week. So, whatever.

About 30 minutes later, my phone rang again. She was all apologies for the false alarm. My scan is back on for tomorrow morning. She talked to scheduling, and it was too late to make any phone calls. She wasn't sure what to do, so she walked back to Dr. Homsi's office and explained the situation to him. She said, "He picked up the phone and called the insurance company himself. He gave them hell... and they approved it."

As per the scheduler, I owe this appointment to my good doctor doing verbal battle with the insurance company. Again. (I hate that he has to call to get me approved for a routine scan, but I looooove that he does call and he does get me approved. Dr. Homsi is the man!) She gave all the credit for this getting worked out to Homsi, and said, "You'll have to give him a hug when you see him, because this was all him."

I said "Oh, I'd give that man a whole heck of a lot more than a hug... if he'd just let me near him." She laughed out loud. I may or may not have double dog dared her to tell him I said that. (She knows that I'm ridiculous flirty with him, and said she wished she could come in to the room and listen to our conversation.)

Friday's appointment should be fun. (Who's kidding who? They ALWAYS are!)

As for me and my house, we are just so (super, duper, incredibly) grateful that tomorrow is still scan day. I need this week to be over. I need this PET done, I need results. I need them this week.

The lack of sleep and general pain about my bellybutton is getting to be too much. Tonight, I went to a movie with a group of friends, and then spent a good 45 minutes after the movie, talking to a friend while I literally soaked his shirt with my tears. ... And wiped my own boogers off with my sweater. (I tried to keep the tears on his clothes and the boogies on mine - but I'm not sure if I was 100% successful.) I am tired of being tired. I am tired of wondering if this is only a hernia, or all kinds of bowels gone wrong. Or worse. I am tired of being on the verge of tears at all moments of every day. ... In short, I am tired.

And, thanks to my blessed Dr. H, because he is exactly the kind of doctor who'll pick up a phone and give an insurance company hell... the end is in sight. This is why I love him. (The dreamy accent and fabulous looks are some perks, to be sure, but at the end of the day... he is a doctor and I am his patient - and he makes sure I get what I need. And I love him for that more than I'll ever love him for looking good in a lab coat . .... Which, btw, he can rock like none other..)

So, tomorrow's the day that I get injected with radiation and they take colorful pics of my innards. Friday, I'll get the results. ... Be looking forward to that!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Worst. Scan. Week. Ever.

I'm nauseated.

I'm not sure why.

The possibilities are endless, really: I could have a touch of the flu. I may have OD'd (sp?) on theater popcorn for dinner. It could be that I suffered through Captain Phillips, and came out of it with a whole lot of motion sickness. (And don't even get me started on the blood. Ewh.)

Also, it could be a serious lack of sleep.

Oh, and the anxiety.

I hate scan week. I hate it so badly. ... I hate it in a way that I hope no one single person I love will ever have to hate anything.

And this week's been more anxiety/emotion-riddled than usual.

My cousin Mark isn't doing so well - and that bums me out. Big time.

Like I told my mom tonight, I'd be a mess if all I had to deal with was scan week. I'd also be a mess if all I had to deal with was the emotional fallout of reading update emails from my sweet cousin Rachel. ... But, as luck would have it, they're both happening at the same time.

So, I want to throw up. (So much so that I don't even want to eat Oreos. That's serious, kids. Real, real, serious.)

Friday cannot come soon enough.

The End.

Monday, December 2, 2013

'Tis the season

You guys know how much I love Oreos, right? (And, if you don't... SHAME ON YOU for not having paid attention when I had to create a food rule specific to double-stuffed Oreos earlier this year.)

I love them, man.

I love them... A LOT

I mean, so much.

But if there is one thing that I do love more than double-stuffed Oreos, that thing would be... CANDY CANE DOUBLE-STUFFED OREOS:

.

People.

They are SO good!

(Like, so good that I may or may not have eaten half the package since I opened them. Less than 24 hours ago. ... And I spent a good 9 hours out of the house today for work, and I got 8 hours of sleep last night. Do the math. That's a lot of Oreos in not a lot of hours.)

If you are a fellow lover of all things mint-chocolate, get thyself to the store and get a package of these bad boys! (Maybe two.)

Happy Holidays!