Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 Christmas is so much different from 2007 Christmas

First some really exciting blog news. I changed it so anyone can post a comment without signing in. I think you'll have to write your name at the bottom of your comment unless you want it to be anonymous. We'll see how this goes. It's super easy now. Try it out and let me know if you like this better. There is a (subscribe by email) link there too, but I DO NOT recommend doing this because it sends you an email every time someone posts a comment and not when I write a new blog. Still though, I need to figure out how you can subscribe to get the notification that I wrote a new blog. For now, if you want to get the blog notification send me an email with the address you want it to go to and I'll add it to the list. It's really no trouble for me.

Here is the Cut It Out shirt my sister got me for Christmas. Like it Uncle David?
I got my nephew, Drew a kids Sigg water bottle. He used to steal mine every time I came over. I think it was one of his favorite Christmas presents.
My sister Paige and nephew Miles hanging out.
Okay, now my blog
Christmas was different this year. Well, first I didn't have to wear a wig and I would consider that a huge difference. While we were visiting with the family I kept thinking about about how this Christmas was so different from last year. A year ago we we had just settled into our new house. In December we had to live at my dad and step-mom's house for a couple weeks as we waited for our new house to become vacant for us. We had about 10 days in the new house before Christmas. I remember last year we got the huge snow storms as well, but I was on chemo and could not help Kevin with the shoveling because I was pretty weak. Poor guy. This year I feel good and strong and I shoveled a lot of snow so far.

Last year, the main thing on my mind was how I hated drawing on my eyebrows and eyelashes because I didn't have any of my own. I also hated to have to wear my wig. My eyes were also running with tears constantly. It's a chemo side effect and the dry winter winds didn't help the situation at all. My feet and hands were getting numb and tingly from Taxol. My face was getting the dark spots along with my arms. I kind of felt like crap and thought I looked hideous. Now I feel a lot better and look better. My hair has finally gotten to the length where I can put barrettes in it. That was a pretty huge day and I was very excited when the barrettes went in. Now, we're styling.

Kevin and I now feel at home in Michigan. Our house is all set and it is a healthy haven for me. I got the sauna, my super juicer, a huge fridge to house all my veggies, the huge jetted tub to do my soaks in, my yoga room, and the basement is turned into our wellness room with the rebounder the elliptical machine, our perfect push up things, weights, yoga mats (even though I do all my yoga in the yoga room), the infrared sauna, and our vision boards are on the wall to remind us to go after what we want in life. We spend a lot of time down there watching 24 and Alias on DVD while working out and sweating in the sauna.

I love our house and I love being back in Michigan. It's been a year and we're not packing up to go back to Texas. I also got reconnected with so many friends from school which has made it so much more enjoyable being back in Michigan.

My nephew, Miles was born and I got to witness it. He has already grown and changed so much. He is making all sorts of noises because I think he discovered his voice. My other nephew, Drew has grown so much too. He walks around and pretends to make juice and says "Juice, Shannon, Juice" It's so cute that he associates me with juice. My sister, Paige has grown so much too. She is so much fun to play with. Our niece Lauren is a year older as well. She talks so much more now and she really likes me. We have fun playing together. I love watching all the kids grow up without having to say "they've gotten so big" every time we see them.

Well, another year is wrapping up. We all have a little less (or a lot) money thanks to the stinking economy, but somehow we have all united in this struggle together. I'm glad we all remember what is important in life like our health and friends and family. A year is passed and I am a year closer to passing the 1-2 years I was originally given to live from my doctors. Yep, I had to bring that up again. I know I am supposed to forget that number and remember that it is just some crazy estimate based on people who are not ME, but I will never really get it out of my head until that day is passed. Crazy enough it lands on my Dad's birthday, June 6th. Kevin and I were married July 6th (1 month after my re-diagnosis on June 6th). Once my dad's birthday comes and goes a huge weight will be lifted off my chest. Last year I was scared about making it to this day. This year I am confident that June 6th will come with no troubles at all. (maybe a port area infection or something, but nothing too serious)

Last thing to discuss......what is my New Year's resolution???? I have so many rules for myself that I try to enforce on a daily basis, I honestly don't know what to make my resolution. I know.....less TV (except for work out time). That's a good resolution. I never feel like I am living my life to the fullest when I watch TV, but I sure do when I am out interacting with people or being physically active. Okay, I think I got it. Less TV. Okay, now I got the ideas rolling off my brain. The other resolution I want to try is to try one new raw food recipe a week. I never make something unless I have don it before and am confident that I will make it right. I need to learn some raw recipes so I can eat stuff other than salad and zucchini pasta. maybe I'll write about the new ones I like.
Kevin and I are doing nothing tonight for New Years eve, so we've left it up to our own imaginations. I'm sure we'll have fun hanging out together. Kevin is looking forward to not working tomorrow.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I cannot wait for an even better 2009. 2008 was a wonderful year and I enjoyed it so much.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stevia Approved BY FDA!!!!!

As I am typing right now, we are getting even more snow. About 3 more inches and it's still coming down. This was the day of our first big storm. Our backs hurt the following day.
Kevin and I are responsible for this mountain of snow.Oh My God and Holy Crap!!

The FDA Approved Stevia as an additive in all foods as a sweetener. And guess who was responsible?????? Not me (Mrs. Stevia lover and preacher) I'm glad you all think that highly of me where I could have that much influence. lol. No. Would you believe it that Coke and Pepsi were the ones who pressured the FDA to make this monumental decision? They were.
Read this article. It's not long and it's an easy read. It explains how unfortunately the FDA did not make this decision to benefit consumers. They made this decision because big money (Coke and Pepsi) pressured them. Aspartame used to have the FDA right where they wanted them where they were rejecting all proposals to approve Stevia. Thank you Coke and Pepsi for stepping in and pushing their dollars around (also not for our best interest and only for their profits, but I'll take the decision any way I can get it)

Do you understand how HUGE this is????? This is HUGE. This is the biggest step in getting America healthier I think I will ever see. Why didn't I put this on my bucket list? Probably because I thought I would never see the day. Now people with Diabetes can eat all sorts of food that is sweet and not have their insulin rise at ALL from the sweetener. People with cancer can eat without the same worries.

NOW, I am not saying that processed foods are good. They're not. I will still maintain the same diet and it won't really change things for me too much. I do not drink pop. (yes, Texas people, I said pop) These processed foods will be a hell of a lot better than processed foods with sugar or cancer causing Aspartame. I wonder how long it will take before we see the products on the shelves? Goodbye Aspartame and synthetic chemical sweeteners. Coke and Pepsi have patented the Stevia and call it Truvia so that is the additive name you will look for. Now I'm sure they won't grow it organically, but we'll take this big step they have made to squash Aspartame once and for all. Yeah!!

I hope this drives down the price of Stevia. Most importantly, this will make Stevia popular. So many people have never heard of it and it is HEALTHY for you as the supplement. Go back and read my entry on SUGAR for the recap on Stevia and the health benefits of it. I'm always preaching Stevia, Stevia, Stevia, and now the general public will know what I have been talking about.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I will leave you with a picture of my sister and I planting my latest batch of wheatgrass.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SNOW SNOW and more SNOW... And Cancer Christmas

Holy Snow!! Yep, it's that time of year again in Michigan. I was planning on going snowboarding today, but we got about 10 inches of snow and it finally just stopped. That means the roads are a crazy mess right now. If I wanted to make it to the mountain (or small hill is a better description) it would take me hours to get there. Never mind that. I'm not leaving the house for the rest of the day.....well, until we go to the Piston's game tonight. (Thanks Kevin and Wendy!)

Cancer Christmas!! This is the best looking group of cancer survivors ever.
Last weekend we had some super fun Christmas parties. I had one with the Young Adults group I am a part of at Gilda's Club. We called it "Cancer Christmas". I love this group so much. We are a melting pot of different kinds of cancers. Brain, lymphomas, sarcomas, thoracic, stomach. My breast cancer seems pretty simple compared to the rest. I quickly learned that even though I consider myself a genius on breast cancer, I know next to nothing about other types of cancer. It's a great learning process being at the meetings. This group is super cool. I love hanging out with them outside of the walls of Gilda's as sometimes, but the walls of Gilda's is what brought us all together. There are even boys in the group which I thought was very exciting the first meeting I went to. That was when I realized I had been to way too many breast cancer groups.

Me and Jessica

Honestly. Isn't this a great looking group?

Kevin and I also got to go to his work Christmas party. It was much more fun this year since I knew everyone better (last year he was brand new). We had been on trips to New Orleans and Chicago with everyone together and hopefully will be going on other trips soon. I got to hear all about how great Kevin is doing at his job now. Go Kevin! Nice timing. I am so proud of him and of course we all know that he deserves only the best in his life.

Love you Kevin!

Here is Kevin's awesome boss, Sean, rocking out on Guitar Hero at the party. The leg kick was his trademark move. The fans loved it.

Last night I joined the local toastmasters group. I want to get better at public speaking and what better way to do it than with a bunch of strangers. I had to do an impromptu speech for 2 minutes. I was scared, but before I went up there I recited The Greatest Salesman Scroll #2 to myself. It's about greeting the day with love in your heart and loving all manners of men. Once I applied that to how I was feeling, I was instantly more comfortable with everyone in the room. I think I did just fine and came across as a likable person. The one thing I will have to work on is my filler words. I think I say "um" and "you know" a lot. I bet if I did a planned speech I would use a lot less filler words though. Anyway, I'm moving forward to crossing off one more thing from my bucket list (Become a good public speaker)

Health update: Well, the old port area is infected AGAIN. Not where the port was, but where the tube went up from the port and connected to my vein. The tube is gone but there is scar tissue making a tube shape still inside me. Inside that area there was infection brewing again. So this morning I drove all the way to Beaumont Royal Oak in this terrible snow storm to see my surgeon. She had to give me a shot to numb me up (OUCH!!!! I guess it burns way more when you have a bad infection) and then she made a little slice in my skin where the tube area is and she let all the yucky infection stuff drain out. Then she pushed and squeezed and took a syringe to suck out the rest (OUCH AGAIN!!!) I love her to death but have a bad association with every time I see her. I drive through all that crap for an experience like that??? Not a fun morning. I now just have a bandage over it and hopefully I will get better. Once again, I have antibiotics because I could get a blood infection. Sucks. I really hope this is the end of it and I can completely heal. It's been months for crying out loud (literally)

That's about all for now. I'll write soon....Oh, I found Halls Natural. Check it out at CVS or Wallgreens. The ingredients are all natural compared to the regular Halls with Asparthame and other stuff I cannot pronounce. Yeah Halls! Good job!

Love you all. Drive safe you crazy Michiganders

Shannon : )

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sick in Austin

(I have MD Anderson pictures up on the post before this one if you want to check them out)

All my old Riata Apartment Complex friends. This was right before I got REALLY sick.
Scott and Cole. I'm a sucker for super cute kids.
Here is how I spent all my money in Austin. Puffs Plus, Riccola, Halls, Cold Eze, Emergen-C, Garlic, Lip Medix, Netti Pot, Epsom Salt and I also got hand sanitizer which didn't make the picture.
Well, I went to Austin and man did I get sick. I need to watch myself when I say I am really sick or got really sick. A lot of people immediately think “Oh No!! Did she have to go to the hospital” Yeah, when you are a cancer girl just saying your sick can make the imaginations run wild. People are wondering if I am puking from chemo, do I have a fever and need to go to the hospital because my blood count is so low I might die?? I don’t know what saying “I’m really sick” is making people think but I could tell from the reactions that they weren’t thinking really bad cold. Then I would say it’s a cold and they would look relieved.

Honestly, I would have rather been puking from chemo. Seriously. This cold was NOTHING to mess with. I felt like HELL. I was starting to wonder if I would ever feel good again. Right after I wrote from MD Anderson everything went down hill. Go figure, with no sleep for that long, airplanes and hospital marathons I was asking to get sick. All of a sudden I had pounds of snot all stuck in my nose and my brain. I sneezed all day long. My throat was raw and so was my nose from blowing it. I had a fever, a headache, and my whole body hurt. I barely wanted to move. Call me a wimp, but colds are a sickness I am not cut out for. So the whole time I was in Austin I was sick like this. Sucks. I wanted to do the rounds and see everyone. Instead I was on a relentless search for the natural cure to a cold. I didn’t want to take medicine but wanted so badly to get better.

I went to CVS and first bought Puffs Plus with ALOE. VERY IMPORTANT to do this early on. If you don’t you will blow your nose on the other sandpaper tissue and rub your nose raw. Then it will get aggravated and it will make you sneeze starting the whole vicious cycle. Then I got Riccola (says natural and herbal) for my soar throat, but it didn’t do the trick. I needed straight up Halls with the vapors. I got another Netti Pot to try and wash out my sinuses. That helped, but they would fill back up a half hour later. Angela and Kasey fed me a steady diet of Emergen-C. That stuff is really good (raspberry and Tangerine). It’s a fizzy drink and for some reason drinking it made me feel good, plus I was getting extra Vitamin C to fight off the cold. I stopped the trial drug for one day because I couldn’t imagine putting my body through any more. I kept up my supplements (probiodics, sea weed extract (minerals), multivitamin, enzymes, my homemade turmeric supplements, ) Then, I bought some garlic supplements because garlic is wonderful for you body and works really good to fight infection if I had any in my body. I also bought Epsom salt and did a soak to pull toxins out, warm up and relax my achy body. I also got one of my monthly massages, but the snot kept draining forward as I was laying there, so I had to keep asking for Kleenex during the massage and blowing my nose. Not sure if the massage was a smart decision. I don't think the therapist enjoyed giving me a massage at all.

I remembered when I was at Hippocrates we were being taught about fasting. Brian Clement (the head honcho) was telling us that when animals are sick they don’t eat until they are better. (They fast) When your digestive system doesn’t have to work on breaking down food you body can use its power to fight off sickness. He told us that our instincts were right as a kid. When we were sick as kids we never wanted to eat, but people would always be concerned and say “eat, eat, eat!” So, I didn’t have an appetite the whole time in Austin, but I didn’t let it bother me. I drank an excessive amount of water, green (powder) drink because I was too lazy to get juicing ingredients, and ate fruit throughout the trip. I snacked a little bit on some other foods, but decided to let my body heal if it needed. After the first day when I got lunch with friends I had no meals the entire time in Austin.

I also went in the sauna with Angela and Michele’s Gold’s memberships. I had a fever and wanted to break it. Without overheating my body I was looking to burn off the virus or infection that took over my body with the fever and I was going to help my fever with the sauna. I think because I had the fever, 170 degrees in the sauna felt wonderful to me. I was in there 15 minutes and barely sweat when people around me were soaking wet. Finally I broke a sweat the second time in there. It wasn’t until a really good night sleep until I really broke the fever and began getting slowly better though.

Which brings me to the two most important parts of getting well naturally: Almost everyone takes both of these for granted. The first is water. You are supposed to drink 2 liters of water daily if you are healthy. Who does that??? I do, but I have that crazy water bottle I bring everywhere and I obsess about drinking water. Plus, I basically only drink water or green juice. So, if you are sick, you should drink more water than that. That is step uno of getting better. The second and equally important step is sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Our body HEALS when we sleep. That is a known fact. Make sense to sleep when we are sick then huh? The most important thing to do when we are sick is get really self absorbed. Your sleep schedule should be more important than any to do list, friends you have to meet up with, or party you have to host. The world needs to revolve around your sleep schedule if you want to get better. This is the one I am the worst about (to do lists and hanging with friends is always important to me) I think sleep and water alone can cure you from any cold, but no one sleeps enough to let it happen. I couldn’t sleep because my nose and throat were keeping me up all night. I broke down and took a Nyquil after 2 weeks of not good sleep every night. Finally I slept 10 hours, slept through the night and broke my fever. Sleep was the magical touch. I got off the Nyquil (1/2 dose each night) after 2 nights.

Anyway, I wrote this because a lot of people are getting NASTY colds and I can relate. I just wanted to remind people about the two most important things to do to help your body do what it does. Heal.

I wish I could have felt better when I was in Austin so I could have made the most out of my time. I barely got pictures with all of the great wonderful friends I had been looking forward to seeing for months. I feel like I need a redo.The timing was really crappy. We need to take care of ourselves so we can get through the holidays healthy. We don’t want to have our heads in the clouds for some quality visiting time like I did. We also want to be able to give hugs and kisses without getting people sick.

Take care of yourselves
Drink lots of water
SLEEP. Because your body needs it
I miss all of you in Austin and wish I could be there again.
Feeling much better
AND here is the absolutely cutest version of the ABCs by Cole (my friend Cindy and Scott's boy)....... Click the play button to watch the video.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jaded because of MD Anderson and Scans

Here are some MD Anderson pictures as promised. This is the HUGE granite fountain. I'm sure that didn't cost a lot.
I LOVE sitting by these bubbles in the breast center. The sound is very relaxing and they have recliners in front of them. It's hard to get up when they call your name.
This is the famous tree sculpture. I don't know the story behind it. This is where Paul always meets me when he has to pick me up from MD Anderson. He always says "I'm by that crazy looking "tree" thing in the lobby"

They had a silent auction of decorated wreaths. I loved this Beatles one. Gets my vote. There were about 100 of these, so I got to check them all out with all my down time.
This wreath made me think of my little sister. She would like the Hannah Montana wreath.

Just want to write a post because a few things are on my mind and I have some time to kill here at MD Anderson on their computers. My prescription takes over an hour to fill and I now have an hour to kill. Earlier, I had to wait over an hour to get my name called for my appointment and then finally "Shannon (long pause) EZZZI???" All I have to do is hear Shannon and a long pause and I know it's me they are attempting to call. I haven't yet changed my name here because I have seen what has happened here when you change just a medication. Getting any information changed is this messed up maze of a computer system they have here at MD Anderson (or any hospital for that matter) is a near disaster I wish to avoid. Then, after I got called I got weighed (take off a pound because I have my big boots on), got my temperature and blood pressure taken and then back out to the waiting room to wait for yet another hour.

This was nothing compared to the marathon day I had of scans on Tuesday. I got to Houston at 2am and got to Paul's at 3am. On the plane I realized that they scheduled my first check in for 6:30am the next day. Thankfully the appointment times are more like suggestions here at MD Anderson. I took the suggestion into consideration and showed up at 7am tired as hell. I had a bone scan, then got some blood work done, then I got my MRI done, then had a chest X-ray and finally a CT scan at 7pm. Yep. I got done at 8pm. 13 hour marathon of waiting rooms, needles and scans. The CT was the worst. I waited for 1 1/2 hours while drinking banana flavored barium (BARF!!!) then they called me back and I was so excited to get the last scan done. All to find another waiting room they dropped me off in with 12 other people, some of whom had been waiting there 1 1/2 hours as well. And that is just what I did. Luckily I had my computer and dvds. There are other reasons that the CT is the worst. I never told you all this before because it is kind of private and has to do with private parts but the CT scans that I get for the sake of the trial involves rectal contrast. They violate me. Yep, I have to get a barium enema contrast to get a nice look at my colon in the scan. You honestly do a walk of shame out of the scanning room. I hate these CTs.

As this day dragged on I kept thinking about how over-scanned I was. CT, MRI, Bone Scan, Chest x-ray every two months??? Whatever good this new drug was doing for my body could very well be completely cancelled out from all the radiation being put into my body from all these scans. I know the trial sponsor (who has STILL not paid me back a single dollar of the $5,000 I am out on traveling costs) has no interest in doing what is better for me. All these scans are way too much for me, but all this info is huge in the trial for getting this new drug approved by the FDA (I won't even go into what BS FDA drug approvals are. Anyone remember Vioxx?) Even the oncologist I saw today thought it was ridiculous how often they were scanning me. And he also thought it was really shady that I hadn't gotten paid yet. At least someone in this building understands me.

Test Results: My blood test went down to 276 which is the biggest drop yet and that's really good. All the tumors are stable (no bigger no smaller) there are a couple bone spots that I am concerned about. One on my ribs that was new last time but looks a little bigger. Another new spot on my spine. Both are very small. Scary to have a spot on my spine. I understand that when the bone heals and gets rid of cancer it gets bigger and looks worse while it gets better because the bone heals around it. This is what the doc seems to think is happening. I could have had this spot on my spine before but it isn't showing until now because it is in the healing process. Still, this doesn't make me feel any better.

I'm starting to wonder if staying on this study is right for me. My results are good but not amazing. I could get results like this from hormone therapy potentially. Also, I could drastically cut down the scans, travel, and money that is also affecting my well being. I don't know. I have to fly out again on Jan 1st New Years Day. Awesome huh? I'm getting pretty jaded with all of this. But, if this is going to extend my life, isn't it worth it? Ahh the wonderful world of cancer and NEVER knowing what the right decision is. I hope the trial ends soon. If it does, I can continue getting the medication minus all the scans and trips to Houston. Cross your fingers. This is the scenario I need to play out.

Well, I messed around enough and I hope my prescription is ready. In a couple days I'll post some nice MD Anderson pictures. I will be driving to Austin as soon as I leave and I am so excited to go. I love hanging with Paul in Houston but I am always so tired and grossed out from my day of scans (especially after the CT) that I'm not much fun. We were all excited to watch the MSU vs North Carolina basketball game last night and it was terrible. I have never seen State play so bad. North Carolina is awesome, but man, it was a tough game to watch. Paul got on Facebook and we were hooked on that all night. He's only the most popular person on Facebook EVER.

Starting fresh as soon as I walk out of this building.
I promise

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2 reunions in 2 days

Cute Thanksgiving cookies my Aunt Beth made. I didn't eat them but they were cute enough for a picture.
Whew! I’m exhausted. First Thanksgiving, then Black Friday shopping (yes, I am one of those people out there, but I am not crazy and crabby like some of the rest), then Kevin’s Berkley High School reunion Friday night, followed by my Clarkston High School reunion Saturday night. (Does this mean I get to cross off going to the 10 year High School reunion on my bucket list twice???)

First I'll write a little about Thanksgiving. So how the hell did I stay on my diet on this day? I did cheat, but not a lot. I started the morning out with a huge 32 oz green drink of cucumber, celery and kale juice and also did about 4oz of wheatgrass. I figured I would start out completely alkaline and then it would all be downhill from there. I actually didn’t do that bad with the meals. At my mom’s I loaded my plate up with squash, mashed potatoes, green beans, and my grandpa’s famous rutabagas. This stuff was all good. I took a tiny piece of Turkey (tiny) a little stuffing and had to have some canned cranberry sauce. God, do I love the canned stuff. I had about 1/8th of a slice of pumpkin pie. Not bad if I might say so myself. I made sure to fill up on the healthiest veggies first so I would be full and not eat all the stuffing and turkey, although I am never too stuffed for the cranberry sauce. The only moderation with the cranberry sauce was only putting a small amount on my plate.

I went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house after my moms. I got to meet Karl. Remember Karl?? He was the guy who wrote the story about me last May that was on Caringbridge and is now in my blog. It was cool to finally meet him and put a face with the name and the writing. At my aunt and uncles I ate about the same except I had some raspberries instead of pie for desert.

Me and Pat at Kevin's reunion
Kevin’s reunion was really fun. Smokey, but fun. We did get spoiled living in Austin with the no smoking indoors law there. Kevin was one of the really popular guys in his school so he knew everyone there. He was really good at introducing me. I also know a number of his friends that are very nice to me. I ran into a couple snags when people asked me my dreaded question “What do you DO?” I’d freeze and look at Kevin like “Help me! What do I say?” It’s not like I don’t know what to say, but if I tell people I have cancer the automatically adopt the “Awwww” face and I DO NOT like to be pitied at all. So I try to tip toe around it and it’s hard to do when I don’t have a good answer to that question.

Me, Jamie and Ronny Grinold at the Clarkston reunion.
Me and all the girls at the Clarkston reunion. I used ot have the long blonde hair like the rest of them.

The cool thing about my reunion was that they had a webpage where we could write our stories. I wrote a paragraph about my life including my diagnosis, but after that I assured people I was not a person they should feel bad for and then I wrote down my blog address so they could see for themselves that I am really FINE. So, a ton of people had already checked out my blog so I didn’t have to answer those kind of questions as much. When I did get asked, I just told the truth. I had the job, got diagnosed and then re-diagnosed and decided to spend all my time getting healthy and doing what is important to me.
I had so much fun and am so excited I decided to go. Everyone gets nicer with age. I was surprised how similar everyone looked and I was also surprised how easily people recognized me. Once I graduated from Clarkston I moved to college and my family moved from Clarkston to Sterling Heights. So, when I did come home, I didn’t really spend much time in Clarkston. A good majority of the people I had not seen since graduation.

I went to my Grandma and Grandpa's house today and learned how to make Pizzelles (not healthy but fun to make) We have an old school iron that we make them with. I'm giving them all away, but it was fun to learn. See how proud I am? My grandma and I made some hummus.
I leave for Houston tomorrow. Yep, it’s that time AGAIN. This is my 9th trip I think (8th or 9th) in the past 3 months. I will be in Houston Dec 1st Monday through Dec 4th Thursday. I have all my tests (CT scans, MRI, Bone Scan and blood work) on Tuesday and then I have the doctor’s appointment on Thursday. I decided to go to Austin while I was in Texas. I will drive to Austin on Thursday and stay there until the next Tuesday. I’m so excited because I will be there for Tim and Michele’s annual Christmas party. I’ll also get to see the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls at a little event they have at Crate and Barrel. Maybe I can even make it up to Applied Materials so I can go around and see some of my old co-workers. I’m excited for the trip. I need to stop writing about being excited about this trip and I need to get up and get the suitcase out and start packing.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get a blog post in while I am in Texas.

See all of you Texans soon!!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Health Lesson #8 Small Changes that make a HUGE difference

The jewelry and craft party was a HUGE success. A lot of people showed up and a bunch of people I wasn’t expecting went too. It was very fun and busy the entire time. I sold about half of my stock. I really wanted to take pictures of all the jewelry set up and take some pictures of everyone during the party, but I was so busy the entire time I didn’t get a chance to snap a single pic. It was so great seeing and meeting everyone that came by. I wish I could have spent more time with you all. I pretty much was cashing out people the entire time. I’ll bring some extra stuff to Austin since people were asking about it

.. But now…….A long overdue Health Lesson #8 (diet tidbits and tricks)

Small substitutions that make a HUGE difference
So, I figured I would do a lesson that shows you all the easy small changes I have found and prolong he more radical diet info (especially before Thanksgiving when no diet rules apply for 1 day only). I was thinking about all the diet changes I have been implementing over the past years. I’ve had many struggles, much confusion, boredom, guilt and anger and all sorts of emotions. Sometimes I feel like I am not doing enough. Some days I eat perfect and I feel great but I‘m not perfect every day, which I am striving for. I’m sure there are many many more changes I can make.

It has been said that a major diet change can take 1 year to implement. I started thinking about this and I started thinking back a year in my life to re-examine what my diet was like back then. I made some major changes in the past year that I am now very comfortable with. Then, I started thinking that the changes I made were easy, because they were just substitutions I made in my life. I think substitutions are easier to implement in your every day life because you don’t have to change your routine too much or give something completely up like a favorite meal. These small substitutions over time can make a huge difference in your diet and health long term. I wanted to share these small changes that make a huge difference with all of you. Some changes you won’t understand why I recommend them yet because I haven’t done a health lesson about it (the one on meat and animal products is coming up also some tidbits on fiber and whole grains) Just know that whatever I mention to substitute has been mentioned in my many health books, at Hippocrates as being better than the latter. And here we go……

1. Sweets: Use Stevia instead of sugar (this makes a world of difference) Make sure to get the liquid droppers. (Look back to the sugar lesson for all sorts of info on Stevia)

Use Agave Nectar over sugar and honey (look in the sugar lesson for more info on Agave Nectar and why we should minimize our sugar intake) It also tastes much better than honey. It tastes just like sugar.

Agave will be right by honey and Stevia will be in the supplements aisle
2. Milk: Use Almond milk instead of regular milk (this makes a big difference) (you can get it in a box and it is always by the soy milk. I like Almond Breeze brand and I always get the unsweetened Vanilla over the plain flavor. HIGHLY recommend vanilla over plain.) If you eat chocolate cereal I recommend you use the chocolate almond milk with it. Instead of drinking Hershey’s chocolate milk, drink unsweetened chocolate almond milk with Stevia or Agave nectar (I like it with the toffee Stevia) It fills you up and satisfies your craving for something sweet.

Hemp milk is also a good choice. You should try both and see if you like how one tastes better than the other. (With almond milk and hemp milk you don’t have to worry about growth hormones and antibiotics being in them like milk has) Also you don’t have to worry about the other negative impacts milk has on your body. I have learned that milk does NOT do a body good. All those advertisements are paid for by the dairy companies.

Here is the Almond milk I buy
3. Breads: Mana bread over regular bread (they keep it frozen. It’s kind of gooey and sweet) It’s really good. I love it. I toast it in the oven really good before eating)

Ezekiel or any kind of sprouted bread instead of white bread. There are many flavors like cinnamon raisin, regular, and others but I can’t think of them because I use cinnamon raisin and the regular all the time. Ezekiel also makes English muffins. I like the sliced bread though. I toast it really good. This is an easier transition than the Mana Bread with the texture, but Mana bread tastes really good.

Ezekiel or any other brand of sprouted flour or corn tortillas instead of regular flour tortillas or corn tortillas (This bread is sprouted grains) The secret is to get sprouted bread products. Read about them or ask me if you have questions, but I don’t want to make this entry too long.

Romaine leaves over tortillas (You know, lettuce wraps, but with a little more nutrition than iceberg lettuce)

Here is the Ezekiel bread and Mana bread I like. They are both in the frozen section
4. Grains and Pasta: Spelt pasta over regular noodles (there are white ones that are just like regular noodles. Kevin really likes them.) (I think the darker ones have more grain, but they taste WAY better than the whole wheat pasta I sure some of you have tried. My favorite brand is Vita Spelt.)

Quinoa pasta is also a very healthy alternative. I haven’t tried it yet but I just got some and am excited to give it a try. I heard it is really good and I don’t know why it has taken me so long to try it.

Quinoa instead of rice or couscous. The grains are very small and cook wonderfully. Kind of like couscous. Whole grain brown rice over white rice (that’s an easy one). We’re looking for complex carbs over the simple ones with all these changes. Way more nutritious and not harmful on your body like the simple ones are.

Here is the new Quinoa pasta I have to try and the Spelt pasta I love

5. Drinks: Instead of drinking pop (soda, Coke) drink La Croix (unsweetened carbonated drink that has many flavors) with some Stevia or Agave added. I know you will never match the flavor of the syrup of coke, but sometimes people are just looking for some carbonation fix, and this is a great substitution. Or just get sparkling water and flavor with flavored Stevia.

Fresh squeezed lemonade really makes your body alkaline and healthy. Take one fresh squeezed lemon and some stevia or agave nectar and enjoy this wonderful drink. I make pitchers at a time.

6. Gum and Snacks:
Instead of sugar gum or gum with HARMFUL artificial sweeteners use gum with Xylatol like Trident, Spry or Xylichew.

Instead of regular chips use rice chips

Instead of regular tortilla chips use baked tortilla chips

7. Fruit or fruit juice for nutrition?
Choose whole fruit over fruit juice. Why? Because whole fruit has fiber in it which slows down sugar uptake from the fruit you eat. This is huge for improving your blood sugar level as well as stopping too much insulin from being produced too fast which wreaks havoc on your body. (With veggies the whole veggie or juice is very good because they don’t have much sugar and they all have tons of vitamins and enzymes) Any fresh veggie is good for you whole or juiced.

8. The best substitution:
Here is one of the biggest and easiest substitutions because the alternative tastes better….Eat Organic food over non-organic food. Go back to lesson #2 to see what a huge difference this will make.

All of these changes take you from the far spectrum of acidic PH (which breeds disease) and get you somewhere towards the middle or over to being alkaline like we want to be (because disease cannot grow in an alkaline environment). This is a kind of “get you started to being healthier” kind of diet. Honestly though, these changes can make a huge difference down the road.

How about small things that can make a huge difference in the environment?
1. Get those re-usable grocery bags and keep them in your car. Use them everywhere you go shopping.
2. Always choose paper over plastic
3. Don’t let people give you a bag when you don’t need one. You ever go to the store and buy one thing and then they give you a bag to carry that one thing? This never made sense to me. Why do I need a bag to carry my one pack of gum in it?
4. Get a water filter and water bottle and use it instead of buying bottled water all the time. Get one of those Sigg aluminum water canisters so you can just keep refilling them. They are very cute with many different designs. It’s an accessory as well as a water transportation device. I carry mine everywhere (if you know me well, you know this is no lie. It's almost glued to my hand). Worth the money in the long run.
5. Plant a tree
6. Recycle Recycle Recycle
7. Buy organic –stop all these toxins from going into our land water and bodies
8. When Christmas shopping, don’t get a new bag at every store you go to in the mall. If you can fit your item in the bag you already have, do that rather than get another bag.

Me and my favorite Sigg water bottle.

So I found the greatest book last week. It’s called The Green Book. It’s a great easy read reference book that tells you about every tip to making your daily routine more green. I loved reading it. There are so many small easy changes it suggests. The cool thing is the book tells you what a HUGE difference these small changes can make if everyone did them. It’s kind of the same thing for your body with these small changes you can make that would make a huge difference for your health and all your happy little cells. I’m putting that book on my Christmas list.

Okay, this is very long.

That’s all for now. We’ll just completely skip over discussing the Michigan State – Penn State game this past weekend. The rest of the season was great.

Everyone have a HAPPY Thanksgiving. Load your plates up with green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, veggies, salad, (and some stuffing and turkey if that is your thing)

I’m going to my 10 year reunion this weekend. Wish me luck. Hope I have a good answer when people ask me “What do you do???”

I'm going on a run in the snow now. So excited. Need to condition for snowboarding this year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jewerly Party and Comment Posting Instructions

Hi Everyone,

This entry will be a little random. I am having a jewelry and craft party at my house where I am selling stuff I made. Saturday November 22 from 3pm to 9pm. It will be an open house format. I love visitors however, so you are welcome to stay and hang out as long as you like. The house will be open to all interested from 3pm until 9pm. I will have a lot of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. I will also have a bunch of sets of wine glass charms that are adorable. I also have some homemade book marks. Lastly I have some decorated serving pieces. We’ll have food and drinks of course.

If you are interested in going, email me and I’ll send you the Evite. I would love for anyone to come. Don’t worry Austin people. I’ll bring the leftovers when I visit in December.

Yesterday I got the group picture from the Pistons game with Chauncey. I cracked up because you can barely see Rebecca and me. You can only see the tops of our heads. It’s like Where’s Waldo.
Lastly, I am giving you all a lesson on writing a comment in my blog. It just sucks posting and not getting any comments from all of you. At the bottom of this entry I am writing right now, you will see a purple link that says 0 Comments (and hopefully soon will say 20 comments or even more) Click on the 0 Comments link. I have a picture wher I am pointing to the comments link nelow. It will take you to a new page where you will see other people’s comments on the left and there will be a box to write your comment in on the right. (DON”T write the comment yet unless you already have a Google account)

So, first you have to set up a Google account (I even have pictures to make this really easy) See where I am pointing? This is where you go to set up a Google account. If you already have an account, you might not see this option.

To set up a Google account click on that link and it takes you to another page. Type in your email address and then type it in again. Create a password and then type it again. Type in the name you want it to display for you. Do a word verification where you write the letters you see above. Then check the box saying that you agree with the terms. Once you do that it will take you back to the comment page, which will now look like this.

After you write your comment there is a word verification where you type in the letters you see above. This time I don’t think you will need to enter your user name and password, because you will already be signed in. If you do need to enter your user name and password your user name is you email address and your password is the one you created when you made your account Then, click the orange box that says “publish your comment”
The thing about the comment page is that the latest comment is at the bottom, of the list not at the top of the list of comments, so to see your comment scroll down.
The next time you read my blog and want to post a comment it will be much easier. Click on the comment link, write your comment, your user name is your email address and all you have to remember is your password. Easy Peasey. Please email me if you have any trouble, because I want everyone to be able to write a comment if they feel so inclined. I can even write responses to everyone’s comments. How cool is that?
Just remember if you have a Google account and sign in to Blogger you DO NOT necessarily have to have a blog I think my instructions are good. We’ll see huh?

As of this whole tooth crisis I had. Well, I just paid the $450 and it hurt. I called Aetna and they admitted to misquoting me (even had what they said in the phone call in their records) on how much they cover for my root canal. So, essentially I did everything I could and still owe the $450 because I was misquoted. I’ve just been so stressed about money and I think it is crazy that I have spent more money on my teeth in the past two months than I have on my health in the past year.

It wasn’t really about the tooth stuff which was the whole point of my entry. It was a meltdown triggered from the stress of the tooth stuff. Maybe I needed that release? (Not of the money, but of the tears)

Okay, that’s all for now.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I had an emotional breakdown.

First some good news. Actually this blog will be like a negative sandwich. I have positive stuff at the beginning and some good news at the end. We went to the Cold Play concert which was awesome. They came all the way into the back of the crowd to the section right next to us and sang my favorite song “Scientist”. I LOVED it. AND….because I am so cool, I got a video of it on youtube (I get to check one more item off the bucket list) AND I figured out how to add a video to the blog. Check it out.

He he. I'm so proud of myself.

We went to game 2 of the Pistons which was awesome. Then the Pistons traded Chauncey and McDyess for Iverson. I see that it is good for the Pistons especially next year when they will have a ton more money, but at the same time, I’m not sure he is a good fit. They look like a completely different team without Chauncey and so far they are playing pretty crappy with Iverson. He’s kind of a ball hog. We also went to the Michigan State vs. Purdue game (this is after the breakdown) which was cold but awesome. Then, Iowa beat Penn State, so if Michigan State beats Penn State (and Ohio State loses) then they could be big 10 champs and also go to the Rose Bowl. SWEET!! Go Green!! We also went to the Last Comic Standing show here in Michigan and saw the 5 finalists from the last season. Fun stuff.

Now let’s talk about my big emotional breakdown I had. I think I have these breakdowns because of the fact that I have such a good attitude about everything all the time. I have small amounts of negativity through all of this but I don’t acknowledge it. Those small amounts of negativity have to go somewhere and I think they sneak into my subconscious. They all hang out together and figure out a little plan of attack to be released all at once when the opportunity presents itself. I am not a crier when I get sad or scared for the most part. When do I cry??? I cry when I get angry, frustrated and just plain mad. If I feel like I have been wronged and am being treated unjustly, then, all of that negativity that has been congregating in my subconscious sneaks out and then the meltdown happens.

Background story: I have a tooth that broke (almost in half) eating a peanut M&M when I was 18 years old. Go figure a peanut M&M could do that. I had a filling on that tooth then another filling and then had to get a crown because the fillings kept falling out. I got that crown fixed because it didn’t fit and then this crown broke a couple months ago. I went to a new dentist to get it fixed, but Insurance only covers the new crowns every 5 years. Of course, it was right under 5 years since I got the last one so I had to pay the full $1,200 for my new crown. Then (as you might remember from my journal) I had the worst tooth pain in my life and I had to get a root canal on that same tooth a week later. (misdiagnosis??)

I went to the oral surgeon referred to me and asked their price on root canals. Then, I called my insurance company and asked what they covered of that price which was 80%. So I paid $240 (my 20%) that day and got the root canal. Then, I get a bill in the mail a week ago saying that insurance didn’t cover the rest and I still owe $450. WTF?? So, I called the office and they said insurance only pays a set amount on root canals (obviously they think root canals should cost less) and they only pay 80% of that charge. Not what I was told. The lady from the surgeon’s office was really short and rude to me like I didn’t do something right and this surprise was my fault. What else could I have done to prevent this?

So, I have paid $100 twice for fillings, $500 twice for the crown (when insurance covered them) $1,200 for the latest crown, $240 for the root canal and now I need to pay an additional $450 for the root canal. I still haven’t gotten the hole on the crown from the root canal filled. I feel like I am being ripped off and I didn’t want to give anyone any more business until I feel like all these charges are fair. So I still have a hole in my tooth to be filled and who knows what that will cost. This tooth has cost me $3090 already. This is what it cost to someone who HAS insurance. Crazy huh? I would have just pulled it out of my mouth if I had known it would be that much.

So, I called Kevin to tell him about this situation and I ended up starting to cry. Then the floodgates opened and I was getting a little hysterical. Then it got into me apologizing for being such a financial burden to us as I was crying uncontrollably. Then it got me going about how stupid my insurance is and how unfair it is and how mean all these people you have to deal with are. “They cannot quote the amount they cover over the phone. If you want to know what they will cover on a procedure you have to fill out a request form and wait for an answer that takes 6-8 weeks” Yeah, because anyone getting a root canal has 8 weeks to wait. You can’t win no matter how diligent you are. I thought I crossed all my T’s and dotted the I’s and I am still getting this surprise bill. It makes me so mad.

As I am getting more and more worked up and crying my brains out of frustration about this situation and my entire health and financial situation altogether I am in the car on my way to get my MRI results and infusion of Zomeda. I’m sitting at a light and as I’m crying to Kevin and…. BOOM!! I get rear ended. Yep, this girl hit me pretty hard. I had bad whiplash. She sees me and thinks I’m crying because she hit me and I am just about as low as you can get now. Then, I had Kevin (who I was on the phone with when I was hit) call the cops because he said I needed to file a police report because my car was running funny and you need a report if you do an insurance claim. The cops came and told me they recommend that I don’t do a report because the accident will show up on my record and my car insurance will go up. It doesn’t really matter anyway because I just changed my car insurance to not include collision because it costs too much to cover the worth of my car. TALK ABOUT IRONY. Great, so now I am screwed by car and dental insurance. ARRRGGH!

One last thing to top it off…I wasn’t supposed to have a root canal while being on Zomeda because I could get such a bad infection that my jaw could essentially rot and I would have to get it all dug out and have my entire jaw reconstructed. (Worst case scenario) The surgeon didn’t tell me anything about this and I went and had a Zomeda infusion after the root canal. (Supposed to wait 3 months before and after) I know you are all thinking that a malpractice claim will fix all my problems, but that’s not my style. I will talk to him and make sure he understands what happened. I had an X-ray today to make sure I don’t have an infection in my jaw. We’ll see. Maybe we can come to an agreement that involves a $0 balance on my current bill.

Okay and here is the bottom of the negativity sandwich. More positive.
Since then, I brought this issue up at the Rack Pack meeting and we devised a plan of action to deal with these bills, make some calls and not have another emotional breakdown. I had the X-Ray today and hopefully the results are good. I’ll let you know how all this crapola works out. I got some important blood tests back (CA2729) and they went down (down is good) 30 points to 335. I had a MRI and everything looks stable. Can’t be upset with those results. I feel fine. Last happy news, today I knocked off a few items from my bucket list. I got a cool video on Youtube. I reconnected with an old friend from childhood. Lastly, I sent the check to pay for our tickets to my 10 year high school reunion. AND I am in the process of scouting out the right dance class to take.

Long entry because I had to rant and haven’t written in a while. I won’t let so much time pass next time. Hope everyone is wonderful and don’t let your dental insurance screw you over.

Insurance tip: ALWAYS ALWAYS – Write down the name and ID number of the person you talked to on the phone every time you are given information about your health insurance. File it exactly where your medical bill will go in the future.

Peace love and no more meltdowns

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pistons Game for Breast Cancer Survivors

Here I am sitting on the Pacer's bench right before all the Pistons ran out of the tunnel and entered the court right next to us.

Me and Rebecca in front of the court waiting to go out there. (in our pink Piston's gear)
Happy Halloween!!! My nephew, Drew, was the cutest little Mickey Mouse EVER.
My other nephew, Miles was the cutest little newborn pumpkin.

And Paige was the cutest white cat. We missed our Neice Lauren in her skunk costume, but she gets to wear it around the house a lot. Wish we could have been in two places at once.
That’s right. Pistons season started and I have already gone to a preseason game, the home opener and game 2. My friend and fellow natural cures buff who I met in the young adult’s support group, Rebecca, nominated me to be one of the nine breast cancer survivors who got to stay in a suite for game one. James Edwards (Buddha, one of the original Bad Boys) came up to the suite to sign autographs, but we weren’t there yet. We did though get to go to center court at halftime and we got a picture with Chauncey. I got to wave up to Kevin Schnieders and his father who were sitting in their season seats so they got to see it all. We walked by the sports writers and I saw Rick Mahorn (who probably also went up and signed autographs with Buddah because he is another notorious ex-Piston bad boy, but all the women up there had no clue who he was so they couldn’t tell me who the other guy who went up there was). He smiled at me and I said hi and he said hi back. We sat on the Pacer’s bench while we waited to get the picture. We were right there when all the Pistons came out. Rebecca and I stayed in the back of the group knowing that the player would be in the back of the picture since they are so tall. And then, I turned around and Chauncey walked right up to me. I said “CHAUNCEY!” and put out my hand and he shook it said hello and smiled. We were supposed to look at the picture, but I was too busy looking at Rip, Sheed, and all the rest of the guys warm up right next to us. I was looking at Afflalo, Amir and then I saw McDyess looking right at me so I said “Hi MyDyess and gave a little wave and he smiled (he has to have the nicest, most kind looking smile I have ever seen) and said hi back. Anyway, as you can see I was in heaven. We tried to get Chauncey to take a picture with me individually, but he said they weren’t supposed to and he had to warm up. He was very nice about it though.

Too fun. This was not on my bucket list, but had I known it could happen, I would have put it up there.

What else was fun was getting to know my friend Rebecca some more. We are fellow metestatic cancer survivors with liver ….we’ll call them polka dots. Polka dots sound about 100 times better than tumors. We both thought the other person had the whole natural cures thing figured out and also thought we both had everything together mentally. I was happy and relieved and so was she that we both have down times. We both have doubt, fear, anger, frustration, feelings of helplessness and on and on. Now I understand how you all see me. I always saw Rebecca as this girl who has it all figured out and has everything together. Things can seem much different from an outsider’s perspective. We both struggle just the same regardless of our outside composure. I’m not sure if anyone has everything all figured out.

Well, I hope you all like the new blog. I’m kind of sad knowing that I will most likely not get as many messages from all of you that I used to on the Caringbridge site. (I only got 1 so far) PLEASE email me if you need help figuring out how to post messages, become a follower or anything else. Also, please email me if you want the email notifications for my posts. Soon, I plan on doing more health lessons very soon. I kind of needed to just take one deep meaningful breath and go PHEW after all that work getting the blog up and going with all the pictures.

So, next Wednesday I am going back to MD Anderson. I guess the study sponsor (this unnamed woman who I am not allowed contact with) said that she WOULD in fact pay the rest of my travel expenses as well as all the past expenses. Still, right now I am out over $4,000 and I haven’t seen a penny yet. This is a little frustrating. Nonetheless, I fly out Wed night, go straight to MD Anderson, get blood work, sleep at Paul’s, go to my appointment in the morning, and then straight to the airport to fly back home on Thursday. I will get the blood test, but no scans. Then, December I have the scans and everything. I plan to go to Austin and visit this trip. I have a MRI scheduled for Tuesday here in Michigan first. We’;; try not to stress out and worry about those results.

You all might be happy to know that I am completely street legal now. I have insurance (in my car), Michigan registration, a Michigan license, and Michigan plates. I will never go through that yellow turning red light ever again. After my Rack Pack meeting this past Tuesday, I saw one cop in that same spot waiting to pull someone over for the same offense. Then, I saw another cop who had pulled over a person right around the corner. Both these cops stake out this spot every Tuesday night apparently. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.

Okay, that’s all for now. I’ll post again soon.

Goooooooo Pistons!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unveiling of the Blog


That’s right. After countless hours on the computer I have finally gotten the Blog ready for all of you. I haven’t been in front of a computer this long since I worked at Applied Materials. I wanted to bring every journal entry I wrote in the Caringbridge website over to the blog, so it was all in one place. After doing that, I decided I wanted pictures to go along with every entry. So I now have pictures on every entry. Take some time and go back though and you can see the last 3 year journey I have been through. A lot has happened and I have a few new pictures in there. Some of the pics you might really enjoy. (especially the revised bucket list picture)

You can go to the blog right now and this is the first entry and you can follow the instructions from there…..

Now, I will list all the wonderful features the Blog has.
I can have up to 5 pictures on every individual blog I write. They stay there with the blog and I don’t have to change any pictures out. There is no more photo page. I could put up a slideshow of photos, but I think that pretty much have most the pictures I want to show in all of my entries. Also, if you ever want to look back on the blogs the pictures will help you remember the topics I covered.

I can also separate paragraphs so I no longer have to color code paragraphs to separate them.

On the right hand side there is a short version of my profile. You can click on it and see my complete profile where I list my favorite hobbies and interests and stuff.

Below the profile there is the blog archive. As you will see, 91 of my entries were in September because that is when I started copying them over. You can click on a month and then all those blogs will be on the page and you can scroll through the page and see them all. You can also click on the grey arrow to show the list of all the blogs that month if you want to view one particular entry. All the blog entries have a name.

Also on the right you will see the blogs I follow. I have my friend, Jodie’s blog, my friend Nichole’s Caringbridge site, and Kris Carr’s blog. They are links so you can always check them out.

Lastly, on the right you will see my followers. I have ten followers already because I tested the blog out on a small group before the big reveal. You have to set up a Google account to be a follower. It’s pretty simple to do. Just like you did for Caringbridge. Email address and password.

To post a comment you also have to sign in with a Google account. It’s easy.

At the bottom of each blog there is a link to post a comment. Now all the comments will be specific to the certain blog. Scroll to the bottom of the entry and you will see it.

I know you are all used to the Caringbridge site and maybe you may be a little resistant to change. Don’t worry. I think eventually you will be loving the blog before you know it.

I think I know what everyone will miss the most. I think it is the email notifications everyone gets when I write a new entry. I haven’t figured out if the Google blog has any feature for that other that the followers tab, (but you have to go to a certain page to see if the blog you are following is updated). I’ll keep looking into it and see if I can figure it out.

Anyway, I have a solution. Everyone who wants the email notification when I post a new blog can email me and I will add them to a list I’ll keep. Send me your email address and I will make a big group in my email. Then, when I post a blog I will send all of you an email with a link to the blog. It will be just as easy for all of you to go to the blog and see what I wrote and will only take me an extra minute. Please make sure you do this because I don’t want to loose any supporters. I need you. So, send me an email (I am ready for all of them) and give me your email address and let me know that you want me to add you to the notification list. Also, I would love all of your feedback on the new site. What you like and don’t like. Any questions.

From now on, all my Caringbridge entries will only have a link in them to take you to the blog. I will only do this a few times. I want to make sure this is an easy transition for everyone, but eventually, we’ll all need to switch over.

Hope you LOVE it like I love it.
And a new journey begins…..


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Used the Cancer Card and Feel Ashamed

But first, here are some pics of our recent Cedar Point trip. This is how we usually start the day on the Power Towers. Really gets me ready for the coasters.

Kevin in line with me. The lines were not that bad when we were there. Weather was perfect too.
This is my friend, Todd, going on the Top Thrill Dragster. A little nervous. Stranger next to him.
If I hadn't alreay went on it, this would have been on the Bucket List. It gos from 0 to 120mph in 4 seconds while your head is plastered to the seat back. It goes 420 feet hign and drops you at a 90 degree angle to the ground. Top Thrill Dragster is awesome.
Now, let me tell you about my most recent cancer card swipe.

I feel ashamed because I used the cancer card to get out of a ticket. If you don’t know what I mean by the cancer card, let me quickly explain. Once you have cancer, you get preferential treatment from everyone. It soon can become an excuse for everything. Why didn’t you get your work done? Because I have cancer. Why were you so mean to me? I’m dealing with having cancer leave me alone? Why didn’t you get anything done today? Cancer. Why didn’t you email me back? Cancer. It can be an excuse out of everything. Why shouldn’t I impound your car and give you multiple tickets?…….well, I have cancer and have enough to deal with. The sympathy can even pour out of the angriest of officers

Last night as I was driving home from my Young Adults cancer support group meeting, I made a right turn from Rochester to Auburn on a yellow (turning red) light where there is a no turn on red sign. And there he was. Waiting for me. He pulled out and I knew I was in for it. He asked for my insurance which I knew was in my other purse and not in my car yet. Doh! Then, I knew I was in big trouble because I am still sporting the Texas plates (expired) and the Texas registration (expired as well) Then he asked me was where I was going. “Home”. “From where?”

Now I have to say I AM NOT A FAN of using the cancer card. Actually I will tip toe around the subject as much as I can so I can be treated like everyone else. I know I have this whole proud survivor identity, but I don’t like to be completely defined by it and I DON’T like being treated different. Anyway, I didn’t know what else to say. If I just said a support group he might think I was an alcoholic or drug abuser or something. So, I said a cancer support group. He said “you have cancer” and I said yep. Then he asked me if I had anything to drink. I thought this was weird because I just told him I have cancer. Then again there are many people who drink even though they have cancer. But of course I continue to use cancer to get me out of this potential disastrous situation and I say, “The tumors are on my liver. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in years.” I don’t even know why I said that. Probably because I thought it was a stupid question. (Because we’re not pounding beer at this cancer support group)

This guy was very upset at me for driving with expired plates and registration (can you blame him?). I did in fact try to get this taken care of, but went to Secretary of State on one of the last voter registration days which was a huge mistake and I left wih 40 some people still to be called ahead of me. I explained this to him and I think it got him more upset at me because that was over a week ago. He was talking about impounding my car. (Honestly: wrong plates, expired registration and no insurance card with me not to mention the light. I could have been in trouble.) I THEN told him that I have been flying back and forth to Houston for treatment and testing and my life has been crazy lately (Oh my god Shannon stop with the cancer excuses!!!) I think by now I had spiraled out of control. If he wouldn’t have gone back to his car he would have gotten my life story. But, the cancer card worked. He said he will let me go if I promise the next place I drive is to Secretary of State to get this taken care of. He said he patrols these streets and he will be looking for me.

I don’t like using the cancer card. I feel yucky after I do it, like I did something really wrong. I came home and told Kevin about getting pulled over and I didn’t even tell him I uttered the word cancer because I was so ashamed. I don’t know why it makes me feel so bad. Its one bit of leverage a cancer survivor gets for having to deal with this disease. Why should I feel bad? Anyway, I feel a little bit better like I went to confession except it is me confessing to all of you (and Kevin once he reads this). Maybe that is the only reason why I wrote this?? I honestly don’t know, but I feel better.

Thanks for listening and feel free to chime in If you think it is or isn’t okay to use the cancer card

Thanks for listening and I am off to the Secretary of State

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My 100 Item Bucket List

My dad is a genius with photoshop. We thought this would be hilarious to add me in the movie. And it was. I still crack up when I see this picture. Me Jack and Morgan all all good old friends. I don't know why Jack has to block me out with his arm. lol.

Okay, here is the list I promised. It’s my bucket list. Now, please do not think I am getting ready to die or anything. I would love to call this my dream list or my goals list, but since there was the movie, The Bucket List, it has become a term everyone recognizes. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about two men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who are told they will die soon and set out to complete their bucket lists. The bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. Since we all will eventually kick the bucket I don’t see any harm in writing one. Also, now that I have this awesome list put together I can keep looking to it and make sure I am living my life to the fullest. It was very fun to put together.

I would love to hear what other people would like to have on their bucket lists. Why not write down what would make you life full and complete? It’s a great way to keep your life and goals on track.

The list is in no order by importance. However, I did put certain themes together while I had a ton of extra time while I was at MD Anderson.

My 100 Item Bucket List

1. Go to Alaska
2. Go to the Grand Canyon
3. Climb the Grand Canyon (some of it)
4. Camp and kayak the Grand Canyon
5. Snowboard in Utah, and Lake Tahoe and Mt Whistler
6. Snowboard in the Swiss Alps
7. Go to Hawaii
8. Walk to the top of the Statue of Liberty
9. Go see Saturday night live filmed
10. Go to Niagra Falls
11. Go to Europe and have Kevin show me all around
12. Go see the remaining seven wonders of the world
13. Go to Disney World again as an adult with Kevin
14. Go backpacking in Australia
15. Travel to Africa, South America and Asia (as well as Europe and Australia)
16. Go on the Kinda Ka rollercoaster in New Jersey which is larger than the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point
17. Do an East Coast road trip with Kevin
18. Go on a cruise with Kevin
19. Go surfing in the Pacific
20. Go base jumping
21. Go on a hot air balloon ride
22. Skydive
23. Go white water rafting
24. Go paragliding
25. Do the rip cord
26. Climb a mountain
27. Jump out of a helicopter on my snowboard at the top of a mountain
28. Go scuba diving where the water is really clear
29. Drive dune buggies in sand dunes and on the beach
30. Take a hip hop class (and be in the recital)
31. Take a jazz or ballet class
32. Learn salsa or ballroom dancing
33. Ride 75 miles on my bike at one time
34. Do 50 pushups in a row and in perfect form
35. Balance in a handstand for a long time
36. Do a back-handspring
37. Exercise every single day of my life and run at least 3 times a week
38. Run 10k races again
39. Become a good golfer
40. Swim with a dolphin
41. Play on a slip and slide
42. Become a public speaker (and not be nervous speaking)
43. Learn how to speak Spanish fluently
44. Get a lot better at playing the guitar
45. Get really good at photography
46. Become a professional necklace maker
47. Solve a rubix cube
48. Learn origami
49. Learn how to play a classical song on the piano (or Piano Man)
50. Go to a Superbowl game
51. See the Lions make the playoffs
52. See the Lions get through the first round of the playoffs
53. See Matt Millen fired (Check)
54. Sit courtside at a basketball game
55. Attend the Olympics
56. Go to a Monday Night Football game
57. Witness a Miracle (check – my nephew Miles Eli being born)
58. Host a successful Art Bra Show and raise $50,000 for Gilda’s Club
59. Write a book and have it published
60. Sell over 1,000,000 copies of my book
61. Write 1,000 journal entries
62. Write a children’s book about health and the environment
63. Get in a popular magazine (someone else writing a story about me)
64. Get an article published in a magazine (that I wrote)
65. Get on a well known talk show to tell my story
66. Start my own business
67. Have the Gilda’s Art Bra show become a national event
68. Complete the Hippocrates Health Educator Course
69. Master the steps of the Greatest Salesman in the World
70. Meditate every single day
71. Learn to forgive
72. Write down 5 good things every day
73. Really have inner peace and love (really)
74. Loose all anger, hate and jealousy for good
75. Make a huge mark on improving the environment
76. Plant a tree
77. Get really really green (more environmental than I already am)
78. Pass the 2 year from diagnosis date
79. Have NED (no evidence of disease)
80. Have 1 million in assets (while still doing everything on my list)
81. Own a Jeep Wrangler
82. Create enough passive income so I don’t have to worry about working anymore
83. Go to a U2 concert
84. Be happy with the paint color I choose for the Kitchen (and have Kevin happy)
85. Have or adopt a child
86. Live on a lake
87. Learn to love wheatgrass
88. Be a member in the audience of a talk show
89. Go whale watching
90. Become a complete vegetarian then vegan then raw vegan
91. Make my home follow all the Feng Sui rules
92. Pick a Lemon from my Lemon tree
93. Go to my 10 year high school reunion (if they actually have one)
94. Stay in a place on a beach for a week or more and do nothing else
95. Get in touch with an old friend from childhood
96. Own an Iphone
97. Get a cool video on youtube
98. Go to a Broadway show
99. Go see The Nutcracker Ballet
100. Have my port hole heal up completely

And there it is. My 100 item bucket list to celebrate 100 journal entries.

Hope you all enjoyed.

Lots of love


Friday, October 10, 2008

Houston, MD Anderson, and no Rental Cars

Tricked you. No list of 100 things this entry. I’m saving it for the next one.

It’s my 100th journal entry though (in Caringbridge not in the blog). Yeah!!!!!

And all you get is an update about my Houston trip.

I didn't take any Houston pictures so here is a couple of our trip to the Cidar Mill the weekend before.

My nephew, Drew came with us too. He loved looking at all the dogs people had there. They are getting big so fast.

Trips to Houston and MD Anderson are never uneventful. Never. Well, I got to the airport at 1:00am and I was tired. As I got into the rental car building I noticed that half of the car rental places were closed. That was weird. So, I went to the Avis counter and asked for a car. She asked if I had a reservation and I said no. Then, she looked at me like I was insane. She said they didn’t have any cars. Then I went to Alamo and National and they didn’t have any cars. Then Dollar and Budget and they didn’t have any cars. There were people who even HAD reservations and they didn’t have cars for them. So at the Hertz counter she explained to me that because of Hurricane Ike all the rental cars were gone because volunteers fly into Houston and drive to Galveston to help with the cleanup. All the rental places stopped taking reservations 4 days ago. No rental cars anywhere. So I had to wait for an hour and take a cab to Paul’s. $60 later I was waking Paul up at 2:00am to let me in, and then also letting him know I needed a ride to MD Anderson in the morning. He loved me.

I spent the entire day at MD Anderson getting Chest X-ray, Bone scan and blood work. I moved my CT scans to the next day, but I was stranded with no car. I walked about 3 miles to some shopping in Rice Village (love the shopping there) and then proceeded to walk to an Enterprise. Even thought they told me all day that they didn’t have any cars I just happened to get there when someone was dropping off a car and I scored. CT scans were the next day and then I went back to Paul’s and sat by the pool and then went on a run around all the mansions around his house. Lot of Oil money in Houston and they love their huge houses.

The last day was the appointment day where I get blood tests every couple hours all day and where I get results. ….and here we go….first, my blood test went down from 394 to 366, so that is good. Not great, but good. The chest x-ray didn’t show anything (good). All my blood work was fine. The CT scan showed all the same spots as before. Some were a tiny bit bigger and some a tiny bit smaller. When it is that close they call it stable because they can cut it different spots for the pictures and the cuts are 3-5mm and none of my changes were more than 5mm, so it could just be cut in a different place. The bone scan report said something about a new spot on my right hip. That doesn’t make sense because I have always had a spot on my right hip. My doctor needed to get clarification that it wasn’t an entirely new spot because if it was, I would get kicked off the study because I would be showing progression. (tumor progression) I guess that the last bone scan didn’t show that spot and now it does, so they consider it progression. I don’t know what to think because I know that it was there before.

The protocol of the study says that if someone has progression on the study (as I do) then they either have to stop the study or increase the dosage. I have no option to keep trying on the same dose. My doctor is skeptical of the “progression” in my hip, so she didn’t want me to stop the study and I feel the same. My blood test went down and I put a lot of weight on that as well as the fact that the other spots are all the same. It doesn’t make sense that only one spot would grow and all others hold still. So I decided to stay on the study but on the increased dose. Only thing about increasing my dose is that I go from taking 100mg to 400mg twice a day. 4 times what I did before. Guess they are worried that my blood counts will go down on this dosage, but we’ll see.

All and all, I really don’t like these visits. It always serves as a reminder to me about my situation. I don’t like reminders. They bring me down. I got this really cool hat for $5 at Urban Outfitters. I was so excited that my hair is long enough that I can wear it for style and not look I wore it to cover up my bald head. I wore it all around Rice Village (Rice University shopping area) and I felt great. Then, I went back to MD Anderson with the hat on and this lady says “that is a cute hat” I say, “thank you”, and then she says “Too bad you need to wear that. Hopefully soon, you won’t have to wear hats anymore” I just stood there and didn’t say anything and thought to myself “I don’t NEED to wear this hat. I want to wear this hat because it’s cute.” See, that’s the thing about cancer centers. Everyone there assumes anything on your head is because you lost your hair. If you have short hair there, you are considered a cancer patient. When I wore a wig people would ask me who colors my hair outside of cancer centers and in cancer centers people would ask me where I got my wig. Nothing gets by them.

THEN, the study nurse proceeded to tell me that the sponsor said that they would only be paying my travel expenses up to my last trip and not even including this trip. WHAAAAAT!!!! And here I went again. I said…. “No Way. She told me that sponsor said they would for sure pay for all of my travel expenses. That weighed heavily (not true, but helps my argument) into my decision as to whether I would do this study or not. I decided to do the study because my expenses were covered, and now that I am two months into it you are telling me my expenses aren’t covered???? You can’t do that to someone. This is my life you are messing with. I can’t just start and stop drugs because people don’t tell the truth. I can’t afford this if you don’t pay for my travel. I also can’t afford to stop the study if it works.” So, the study sponsor is the person behind all of this. I don’t get to talk to the sponsor but boy would I like to. I am trying to get the study nurse to see if there is any possibility for me to do so. Anyway, they are trying to get in touch with this person and see if there is any relief for me. I have spent over $3,000 so far on all my 5 trips to Houston. I am hoping to get most of that back from them (since they are now claiming that this trip isn’t covered). Here is to hoping that they don’t screw me over. At the same time I have to pay back $5,000 lump sum back to short term disability because SS disability paid me first and now I have to pay that back. I always knew the money wasn't ours to keep, but I could use that $3kfrom MD Anderson about now. Money crunch.

Paul got to go to the last blood draw with me because he picked me up there. It was funny. He walked out of the room while they had the needle in my arm. No one likes to be around that. I was joking with him and Kevin about it and Kevin told Paul, “there is no shame in being squeamish around needles.” He's still not comfortable with it after all this experience. I did get to show Paul how nice MD Anderson is. There is a lot of Granite all over that place. I wonder how much research money went into the building. Granite walls, huge granite fountains, huge aquariums everywhere….Hmmmmmm….

Well, as you can see, the big 100 item list is not here for my 100th journal entry. Now, I am listing 101 things for my 101 journal entry. It’s about done, so I’ll put it up in the next couple days. I think we’re going to Cedar Pointe this weekend and I am sooooooo excited. I am such a little rollercoaster addict.

Excited to get home and go to Cedar Point.

Talk to you all soon!!

darker pink dots