Tuesday, February 24, 2015


We think of our birthdays as celebrations with parties, presents, balloons, cake and candles to blow out with a wish... Since cancer, I have felt like every day is a gift, so it's like my birthday every day. Feeling this way changes a person. It means ordering dessert first at a restaurant. It means eating ice cream for breakfast. It means dancing in the middle of Costco with my daughter to a song only the two of us can hear. Every day, it means being presented with the most precious of gifts. It means taking this gift in my hands and holding it and unwrapping it. Sometimes, tearing into it. Sometimes, carefully, slowly revealing what is inside. Every day, feeling incredibly grateful. Every day, feeling deeply humbled to be offered this gift.

The day I was born, I was welcomed into the loving arms of my mom and dad and big sister, Amy. I cried that day. They smiled at me. They comforted me and let me know I was safe in their arms. Birth is the beginning of a life that will end someday, but none of us were thinking of it like that. Not then. We were falling in love with each other, getting ready for a lifetime of adventures...

A day will come when each of us will open our last gift. Everyone who has come to know us and love us will cry and miss us and struggle to move forward without us. When this day is my day, I hope you will find ways to hold and comfort and keep each other safe.

My 34th birthday started with a goodbye to my sweet, stubborn, loving mother-in-law, Ireane. She was 71 years young. Ireane loved God. She believed. She was not afraid to die. Rest in peace, Ireane, safe in God's arms.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I am very grateful to Becky, a sweet family friend, who started a gofundme fundraiser for my family. I had mixed feelings about this at first. In our culture, we are told we can do it all by ourselves. When we need help that means we are small or weak or sick. I guess have never seen myself as any of those, even when I have been all of them at different points in my life. Being independent, I have always struggled to reach out to people when I need help. Mark always says he wishes when people ask how they can help us that the offer came with a menu, a suggestion, or just somebody doing something they want to do.

Being a mom, I know how feeding people is a very basic, real way to say we love and care for them. I hate wasting food. When I get chemo or radiation all food tastes the same- like glue or paste. I don't eat much these days. Mark told Dr. Laudi I eat like a supermodel while Mark himself eats like a 12-year-old boy. Our teenager is a picky eater and our two younger girls either pick or eat everything in sight. On the days I feel well, I cook and freeze things for the days I don't feel well. I know everybody cares and loves us and means well and I don't mean any disrespect by not accepting meals from you. I just hate wasting food.

We were so thankful for all the gas gift cards and money given to help us get back and forth to Chicago (this allowed us to go together and spend time with each other), for the gift cards for Target and Walmart to help with Christmas, for Becky's gofundme fundraiser, for the flowers, clean house, food, hugs, smiles, prayers and thoughts from you. I am deeply grateful for each and every one of these beautiful things. From my heart, Thank You!


Friday, February 20, 2015


We ran to Target today. We had to stop at Walmart, too, so I told Mark I could run in the second store myself, because he is supposed to take it easy after his procedure. Mark decided to go in with me, but once inside he realized he was overdoing it. Jokingly, I suggested he use one of those motorized carts at the entrance of the store... and he did.

This is fun!


What Mark thought of the paparazzi giggling along behind him :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Thinking of Death

Mark is sleeping at the hospital. The girls are tucked into bed. Amore is snuggled next to me. I lie here lost in my thoughts...

Death... What words come to mind? The end. Heaven. Hell. Goodbye. Peace. Pain free. Last breath.  Another one bites the dust. Six feet under...

When someone gives you a expiration date... What do you do with that?

On September 1, 2009, I was told I have Stage 4 Breast Cancer. Yes, I have had my fair share of tears, of being mad at God and the world, but I have never felt like my time was up. One of the hardest days I have had with cancer was finding out I was pregnant and feeling this bitter ache in my very soul that I may bring a baby into this world who might not ever even know me. I did take a leave of absence from work for a year, but then I went back. I am still working now.  I have 3 beautiful daughters that need a mom. Yes, I may need a nap or a pain pill, but I want to be there for them.

When Dr Laudi said 6 months... my heart sank. What about Mark's birthday in June? Olivia's in July? Larissa's in September? Natalie's Sweet 16 next March? What about summer camping, fireworks, melty ice cream, soccer games, and swimming. I'm not done! What about school shopping and sending my baby to kindergarten.

Will Mark remember everything? All the little things a mom does? Like notes in the lunch box? A good luck text to Natalie before a big test or a big soccer game? Tying bows in hair? Helping the tooth fairy? Helping Santa with stocking stuffers is my favorite part of Christmas. Will Mark help make Halloween costumes? Will he help with those last minute school projects, the ones that require glue and glitter.

Mark's a great dad, but girls need a mom too...

I like my job and I feel I will work until I can't work. I work with a wonderful man named Soloman. I love this man I have had the pleasure of working with these past 7 years as well as all of the nurses and Hucs and nursing assistants I have worked with, especially on the old 5th floor.

I'm not ready to go now, but if I do... I am ok... I have never felt like I have given up on life. Oh, how I hoped and prayed with all my heart that life would not give up on me...

Mark's heart

This morning, Mark had a CT scan which showed his left anterior descending coronary artery was blocked. He went to surgery and had 4 stents placed.
Arrows show the area of blockage on Mark's heart.

Same area after the stents were placed.

Visiting Dad in the hospital.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Palbociclib (who thinks up these drug names?)

Palbociclib is an experimental drug- a pill- taken once a day for 21 days followed by 7 days off. It can be taken any time of the day and it's taken with food. I started on it on 2/16 with no side effects so far. I am having a few aches and pains, so Dr Laudi increased my Fentanyl patch from 35 mcg to 50 mcg to see if that would cover my pain better.

Glad I can read.
Thank you Elementary School Teachers!
(Those pictures are doing nothing for me.)
Palbociclib pill.

Sadly, Mark's mom is in the hospital and not doing well. Today, we were headed down to the hospital to see her when Mark started to have chest pain, his left arm felt heavy and he was nauseous. I told him to pull over so I could drive to Abbott, the hospital closest to us. He refused to get out of the driver's seat, so he drove himself to the hospital with me riding shotgun. The EKG and CT showed nothing, but they wanted to keep him overnight and do a repeat CT in the morning.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Scans and Plans

Yesterday, I had scans of my brain and liver which showed the liver tumors were now 25% bigger than my last scan. Just think, 5 months ago they weren't even there. Dr. Laudi stopped the vinrelbine, because it was essentially a lot of nausea for nothing. He ordered neupogen to boost my blood counts. If we do nothing else, he estimates I am looking at 4-6 months...

There is a new drug, Palbociclib, that was just approved by the FDA and Dr. Laudi is trying to get me on it. This drug is a pill. He also wants me to take Femora which is a hard drug for me, because of the way it affects my hormones which affects how I feel...but here goes...