Thursday, December 02, 2010

Still here. Still alive. Still plugging along.

It's been a little while since I posted an update but in this case no news was news. I work at 9am and on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I've still been going to class which ends on Dec 13. YAY! Needless to say, I've been getting home late and tonight, I'm cranky and tired and should be studying for either my lab practical or my final. I don't feel like doing either. Tomorrow, I work a double shift and then spend the weekend doing the retail thing. Thanksgiving was nice and almost relaxing. I got it in my head that I was going to clean the carpets. So after work, I trudged to the store in the freezing cold, the day before Thanksgiving and rented a Rug Doctor. I stayed up until 2am cleaning carpets and moving furniture so that I could put up my tree. As I was moving couches, chairs, and tables, I thought, wow! I feel thankful that I feel well enough to do this. I then collapsed in an exhausted heap into bed and was awakened at 6:30 am by a very excited Emily who was anxious to get the party started. I was VERY annoyed but through my annoyance I thought wow, I'm thankful that I have a healthy child to annoy me. So I dragged my still exhausted and now achy body to the kitchen to make coffee. Of course the kitchen was a mess because that is where I moved the dining room chairs. So I hauled the chairs back to the where they belonged and cleaned my kitchen so I could mess it up again when I put out the pre-dinner spread. I barked at my kids for lounging around while I ran around and was thankful for two lazy teens that I could bark at. Then we went to a buffet and ate good food and I was thankful that after 5 months of living on unemployment, I could pay for a nice Thanksgiving dinner and that I am current on my bills though there is lots of debt. My new job exhausts the heck out of me but I am thankful for that too. Most of all, I'm thankful for all the family and friends, old and new, that have taken an interest in my journey.

Happy Hannukah to my Jewish friends!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Unemployment....the saga....ends for now.

It happened pretty darn quickly but I was hired as a contractor to work in tech support for a company that provides voice services. I will be working on, of all accounts, the dedicated Walmart team! I will be the 3rd shift girl. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Though it is not in health care, it is doing a job that I like and the money is not bad. I am paid hourly and susceptible to over time. On Monday, I will sit at my own desk, with my own little phone and work tickets just like the old days at AT&T when I worked tech support. It's amazing to me how even though the place has changed, the people I'm working with are different, and the boss is different, there is an air of sameness. Telecom has a feel to it. There is stress in the air. The sky is constantly falling. The problem tickets mount and mount. Second line managers take heat from the top and pass it downwards. Stressed out customers dealing with outages push the heat back upwards and in the middle of all this displaced stress, is me, your friendly neighborhood help desk technician. It's a beautiful thing. It's familiar. I know this world. Being back in this call center, working trouble tickets brings back feeling of nostalgia for the last job that I felt that I truly contributed something to the team. But, I know this is all it is and I tell myself every day to give this job my all but never get distracted from Nursing school. The world of Telecom can suck a person in. You ride on a tidal wave of adreneline, get caught up in believing that it's all the most important thing in the world, and bask in the glory of fixing trouble after trouble after trouble. But when all is said and done, telecom has an inflated sense of importance. It deludes a person into thinking it is THE singular most important thing in the world. I will never forget that after 15 years of nights and weekends, holidays and overtime, working 12, 13, 14 hours a day while going through chemo, sacrificing health and family time, AT&T thanked me by showing me the door. Sobering!
Yes to EMPLOYMENT but Nursing school is where the heart is. I pray that He never lets me fall away from the path!

Friday, November 05, 2010

I'm not sure if anyone was aware but there was a national election on Tuesday. Yesterday, I finished deleting the last of the many election related voice mails and am now looking forward to the removal of the billions of election related signs plopped in every nook and cranny up and down the street. I am not disappointed in the results of this election as I like the idea that there is some check and balance in Washington. It is not my intention to start a political discussion about who is more patriotic, who cares more about the people, who caused the current recession, or who is responsible for the atrocious deficits. Yesterday, I logged onto to Facebook and noticed that one of my friends had changed his status to ""my friends name" believes that Republicans love America...they love it like the mother who loves her baby so much she drowns it in the bathtub to save it." My friend is a progressive. I chose not to comment as political discussions of any sort on his FB page usually leads to me being bombasted up side and down by some of his progressive friends as I found out when one told me to die and get off the health care roll during the health care reform debates. But his status bothers me as a similar status saying the same thing about Democrats would bother me on a Republican friends site. I am a mutt politically. I am red on fiscal issues. I am blue on some social issues. And I am purple on a lot of issues I don't particularly care about. In America, there are 307 million people. To suggest that there are only two points of view, Democrat and Republican, is ludicrous. Every person has a unique situation and a unique point of view and our founding fathers knew this when they drafted the Constitution of the United States. They knew that 500 representatives with 500 different ideas would come to the table and write legislation but they wanted a 2/3 majority so that those 500 points of view could write legislation based on what they could agree on. The party out of power is not an enemy. The people that choose this party to represent them is not the enemy. We are all Americans. We all need our voices heard. We all care about people, our country and our country's future. We disagree on whether people are better off with big government or small government. We disagree on whether more taxes or less taxes, more tariffs or less tariffs, protectionism or free trade, or whether or not it is Governments responsibility to take care of our neighbor or each individuals responsibility to care for our neighbor, is the better course of action and is best for our country. But to paint each individual member of the other party with the same brush, is hugely short sighted. I don't base friendships on political affiliation. I have friends of all viewpoints, Communist included. But though I may disagree vehemently with what they feel is best for America and would fight against their point of view in the voting booth, I do not consider them the "enemy". Last night, as I was flipping through channels, I landed on Stossel who was having a discussion with a Conservative and a Liberal at a table and DEBATING the issues, not calling their opposing viewpoints stupid, Un-American, or traitorous. If anything, it is this we should be celebrating here. Our country did not like the policies, the unemployment rate, the bailout, healthcare reform, whatever the pet issue and the people took it in their hands to change it, to restore some balance, whatever the mind of the voters was. This process does not happen in Cuba. It does not happen in Venezuela. It does not happen in many Middle Eastern countries and even in some Western ones but we Americans, all of us, are empowered with this phenomenal right to send to Washington by a simple majority, those we feel best speak our voice but once in Washington, they are bound by a super majority to ensure that the legislation reflects where we can agree. I am not my friends "enemy" and I do not care any less about my country than he does. Neither are those that were elected to serve, who put their personal lives out there for scrutiny, campaigned hard, and sacrificed privacy and family time to represent our interests. We Americans...should be proud of who we are, what our country is, and all the blessings that come from living here. There is NO OTHER place like the US in the world. We are unique. We have individual rights and we care about each other and should celebrate what unites us, not what divides us.
God bless the USA and prayers for all those who serve us in Washington..

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life has settled into some sort of routine. I get up, I have coffee, I fight with Emily about almost everything pertaining to getting ready and out the door in the morning. When I come home from dropping her off, I enjoy peace and quiet for a couple hours. At some point, I straighten up the kitchen, wash floors etc. On Mon, Tues, and Wednesday night, I go to class. Usually, I have no problem being in class and even enjoy it. Today, as I sat in the large lecture hall learning about T-cells and B-cells, I was overcome with doubt, maybe worry. I've put everything into going to Nursing school. What if I don't like it? What if I am terrible at it? What if I am sorely disappointed in what I am striving so hard for? After 15 years in IT, I know how to sit on a phone and help someone troubleshoot a problem. I know how to order equipment, push vendors to deliver it faster, and draw up excel spreadsheets. I don't know anything about running an IV or drawing blood and I worry that in a critical moment in a patients life, I'll crash and burn. I know it stems from the unfamiliarity. I enjoyed my CNA clinicals but I never felt entirely comfortable. I worried that I would inadvertently hurt someone, drop a resident, forgot something important, you name it. But, I've come too far in this process to turn back and I'm pretty sure that I can't fit myself back into corporate America so easily anymore.
So, I am moving forward.

Nick and Friends Sarcoma Foundation,, is having a fundraiser for Sarcoma in Comanche Park on October 30. There will be games, music, and food, LOTS of food. If you live in this area, near this area or are passing through, consider stopping by.
The official press release:
When: Saturday, October 30 · 11:00am – 10:00pm

Where: Comanche County Park, Pavilion #2, San Antonio, Texas

Brought to you by: Nick & Friends Sarcoma Foundation, AT&T Telecom Pioneers , Briggs Equipment and Many others.

Join us for a BBQ fund raising event. There will be concerts, a dance, kids costume contest, raffles, games and much more. The entire day will be jam packed with great food and fun activities. All proceeds benefit Nick & Friends Sarcoma Foundation.

For more information, please contact

I unfortunately, am sitting this one out due to unemployment and debt but send my very best to all my friends who will be there and am hoping and praying that the event raises some significant funds for research and patient support.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Desiderata

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

I have recently started to read "Eat,Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's a story of a journey to self discovery that the author took after a particularly nasty divorce. At the beginning of the novel, she talks about the bickering and fighting that she and her soon to be ex engage in as she begs and pleads for him to sign the final agreement and she puts forth her final offer. The divorce had gone on for over a year and she felt trapped in one place. Desiring to move forward, get over the emotional roller coaster and work on rebuilding her life, she desperately wanted his signature on that agreement. She speaks to her divorce attorney and says that she doesn't feel comfortable praying to God for that signature. The Creator of all things wouldn't want to be straddled with such a petty request when He had wars and other larger sufferings to tend to. Her attorney says, why wouldn't He want to intercede? She was a child of the universe after all. She had every right to petition the universe, God, the Creator to end the suffering. Liz writes a petition to God and her attorney signs it, her friends sign it, and shortly after sending her petition to God with the many signatures, her husband signs the final agreement. Later that evening, as I was typing along on my computer with the TV on in the background, which is a noise I usually ignore. Anyone who knows me well knows I rarely watch TV, however, Emily and I were watching a movie on ABC Family and Emily had settled in on the couch to fall asleep in front of the TV. Joel Osteen, who I never listen to though I know many of my friends do, had come on after the movie and recited this same theme. "Talk to your mountain," he said, "Tell the mountain how big your God is. Petition the mountain to GET OUT OF THE WAY." I'm a firm believer that God, the Universe and everything speaks to us every day through many means, through others, through email, through music, through books, through whatever means possible to get our attention. I had read in the book "Conversations With God" that in everything give thanks. God has already provided everything you need and will continue to do so. Every day, give thanks for the blessings. Shortly after I lost my job, I had a moment of worry as I drove down the highway to an Oncology appointment. What about the kids? What about the mortgage? What about the insurance? How am I going to make it on unemployment? A few minutes later a car zoomed ahead of me and I started when I saw the license plate. It said "Give THX!" So I am writing a petition of my own to God.
Dear God,
I know you have much on your hands but as I sit and write this I am asking for a successful surgery in December and the perfect job whenever that may come. More importantly, I am asking for success for the many organizations that raise money for Sarcoma. I am asking for new treatments for those suffering with this disease. I am asking for comfort for those who have lost a parent, a child, a friend, or someone that was dearly loved to this cancer. I am asking for the power to generate awareness, raise funds etc. Please lead me to the right people. Cancer needs to GET OUT OF THE WAY. My DEBT needs to get out of the way. Those things are holding me back. They are holding back many of your people. Those things NEED TO BE ELIMINATED to reduce the sadness and suffering in the universe. Those things NEED TO BE ELIMINATED so that these children, young adults, and seasoned adults can DO GREAT THINGS in your honor!
I am humbly asking for a resolution to this problem and THANK YOU for what has already been accomplished and all the great people you send to help!!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our sarcoma car made the finals!!!

This could mean awareness and funding for the cause.
You can vote every day from every computer available :)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bye Brivanib..

Last Wednesday, was my birthday and I spent it at the hospital. I had an 8:45 and an 11:30 appt and spent hours and hours literally, waiting. I'm actually used to that and brought my Physiology book (which I hate) and "The Memory Keepers Daughter" with me (which I finished while waiting). Since the Summer, I have been toying with the idea of having the nodules removed from both my lungs. The large one had been growing slowly and since I had awhile to go before it would grow enough to open the sealed file on the Brivanib trial, I did not feel comfortable letting it get that big. I was sent to see the Thoracic surgeon and the question of the day was "Would he operate?" The answer I was hoping for was "Yes!" and that is the answer that I got. How crazy is a world where surgery is a good thing? In my world, it is because it means there are options. So, sometime during Christmas break, I will go through surgery again and it will be less intense than the last one. Three to four days in the hospital will be all that is required and then I can start over. I don't know what the future will bring. I don't think my battle with Sarcoma will be completely over. Once one enters this world, it's rare that we leave it completely. Even patients 10 years out are subject to yearly scans and appointments with the Oncologists. Without a viable chemotherapy option, recurrence will have to be dealt with in the realm of experimental but I will cross those bridges when I come to them. For now, I will say Adieu to the Brivanib trial. On Tuesday, I will head to the hospital, hand in my leftovers, go through a post trial interview, turn in my med diary and say goodbye to some of the people that have been keeping an eye on me these past two years. Other than a complete remission, this is the BEST way to leave a trial and for those that stumble on this blog looking for information on Brivanib, I wish you the same success that I enjoyed with almost 2 years of stability under my belt to show for it and hopefully a closed door on this chapter of the journey. For those with MPNST or any form of Sarcoma, I hope that me and some of the others I met on this trial gave you a weapon, an option to add to a meager pile of chemotherapy choices. The most distressing side effect I encountered was dramatic weight gain which I am slowly in my middle aged-ness taking off bit by bit. In December, a new chapter begins hopefully with an acceptance to Nursing school and a path to clear some of the debt that I have incurred through two years of constant treatments and wonderful "unemployment". My efforts to find gainful employment have not led to anything but a lot of rejection letters and a maxed out credit card but, I have faith it will get better and given the choice between debt and death, I'll take the debt.

The large circle of life is composed of hundreds of little circles that weave and interconnect with each other. Childhood, adulthood, marriage, divorce, all a part of the larger picture. Life should teach us that virtually nothing on this plain of existence is permanent and all are subject to changes, good and bad. There are is a continuity between each circle as all those lessons we learn from each phase, every person that we ever meet or know, is carried from one life journey to the next. There is never a finished creation of ourselves because we ALL change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Cancer is a circle that never ends. It's impossible that even if I achieve remission, that I can ever fully close and forget all the people that I met on this leg of the life journey. I will carry you all with me and modify the relationship. I feel like I'm standing on the edge of something greater, me with all my debt and uncertainty and I can't wait to see what it is.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On the Eve of Pink

I feel like a pin cushion. After my Tuesday appointment, I was suddenly scheduled for all sorts of consults and tests: urinalysis, arterial blood gases (which was especially fun since they needed an artery and not a vein and that resulted in a few extra pokes), ECG, Pulmonary Function, and the usual blood work. On my birthday Wednesday, I will spend the entire day at the University of Chicago medical center to go over all the results of these things this past week and hopefully will hear the words "strong enough to handle surgery" and "Yes, I can take these out." My PFT showed that my rate of diffusion was in the low average range but when they opened my bronchioles with albuterol, the rate of diffusion improved. Don't know how the Dr. will interpret that but as I spent half an hour coughing up mucus, my guess is my seasonal allergies are partially to blame. The only other thing that stuck out was that my blood doesn't carry as much oxygen as a person my age should. It was "good" but low average for my age. I wonder if that is why I faint in areas of low oxygen? I remember a trip to Pike's Peak as a 12 year old. The thin air didn't bother the rest of the family. I found myself on the ground after a slight swoon and I had a HUGE cramp in my side. Living above the tree line and mountain climbing are off my bucket list!

It is the end of September and we are on the eve of "pink." Yes, October is breast cancer awareness month. We celebrate the success in this area. Breast cancer went from one of the least talked about, least researched cancers to one of the most curable. We have made great strides in this area but ladies, though we celebrate your success with you, we mourn that so many other cancers are left in the dust and we are mounting losses by the day to cancers with no treatment options, inferior treatment options, or a lack of effective treatment options developed solely for that tumor type. July is the unofficial "Sarcoma Awareness Month." The events surrounding this area were little discussed, unadvertised and unless you know of someone with this cancer, you were probably unaware that events for awareness existed. Curing this cancer is no less important. The lives of these patients are no less valuable and we need everyone's help to bring awareness and funding and a cure to them. As a woman, I threw my money into curing breast cancer. I threw my money into curing Ovarian cancer. I threw my money into curing cervical cancer. How ironic that after being aware of all these other cancers, that I completely missed the signs associated with having a Sarcoma. For 5 years, I walked around with a little lump that never blipped my radar as being something to be concerned about and how fortunate for me that it was a slow growing, lower grade cancer or I would be among the 50% destined to die after a sarcoma diagnosis. How absolutely fortunate that I am stable with stage 4 sarcoma after 4 years. I can dare look towards some sort of future. For some of us diagnosed with Sarcoma every year, that is not as possible. Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that occurs mainly in children, has a 20% survival rate over 5 years. That is for ANY stage. If the cancer recurs after the first line treatment ends, the child has a 5% chance of surviving. 5%!! Can you imagine being a parent of a child with Rhabdo and being told that this is the chance your child will survive? Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath tumor, the tumor type I have, has a 50% survival rate among all stages. If the cancer recurs, the odds slip to about 24%. 1 in 4 will survive. Over the past 4 years, I have met 5 people with MPNST. 3 died. 3 children, a 9 year old, a 14 year old and a 19 year old: Kelsie, Derrick, and Tyler. Milly and I continue to live with stage 4 disease. Melissa is NED, the only one of us who had caught it small enough, early enough and low grade enough. Whereas breast cancer is most often operable, Sarcomas, more often than we like to see, are inoperable. Growing deep within the soft tissue, they weave in and out of arteries and veins making total resection an impossibility. With chemo as the only treatment option, imagine being told with your inoperable tumor that there has been no research and therefore no chemo that has been proven effective on your inoperable tumor. If they occur in limbs, amputation is often the course of treatment. Children with Sarcoma lose arms and legs sometimes before they even learned to use them. Rarely do we see a breast cancer amputee and whereas breast reconstruction surgery is paid for by insurance now, a prosthesis that will allow the children and adults complete mobility are often denied by insurance and we deal with debilitating, unsightly disfigurements that are not so easy to hide. One gentleman at the U of C, had a sarcoma in his face. One little boy I know of, had a sarcoma on the salivary glands. He lost his jaw and his teeth and his family fought long and hard for reconstructive surgery. So while we focus on pink this month and celebrate the successes, please look at the body count that has mounted and mounted and mounted. With your pink, wear yellow and gold in honor and memory of the children and adults lost to rarer, underfunded, little known about cancers that need as many voices as we can get. Someone in my family said "I can't look at sick children." That right there is part of the problem. We don't like to look at ugliness. We don't like to see the young people suffer but we cannot sweep this under the rug and pretend it doesn't exist and it's not happening. Sarcomas are cancers of the young, the forgotten groups: the children, the teens, the young adults, and those in their 30's, often with young children, are most affected.
On the eve of pink, remember yellow and gold.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

The results of my scans showed 3 more months of sweet stability. Though my 2.3cm nodule had been growing at the rate of about 1mm a month, there was no growth to that nodule in these past 3 months but more importantly, there were NO new lesions and this had to be the most boring report ever as the comments focused on the staples and screws in my right acetabulum and some diverticular disease in my colon which is normal for a woman my age. Now the fun will begin. We discussed the Brivanib trial and my participation in it and decided that I will stay on the trial and will need to have a Pulmonary Function Test and a consult with the thoracic surgeon at the U of C. If the thoracic surgeon says "Yes, I can resect these," my participation in the trial will end and the next leg of this journey will commence as planned. I cannot describe my life in any terms these past two years other than a complete dismantling. Some aspects have remained the same but others have transformed and changed in ways that I never anticipated. I experienced loss, more loss in the past two years than in my entire life: loss of job, loss of security, loss of health, loss of so many good friends to cancer, loss of financial security, and loss of a way of life I was content with. Nevertheless, the foundation and some aspects of it are still intact and as I sit here and type this, a new house is being built. Without a blueprint, I don't exactly know what the final product will look like but the frame is there, even though sometimes I try to move myself from this house and veer towards the old one, I am propelled forward but to what? Time will tell. Signs that I'm moving in the right direction: no new lesions for over 2 years and no growth in a period of growth to the existing nodules. I scored a 99% on the NLN even after believing that I bombed it, the entrance of new friends and some old ones that have made a grand re-entrance in my life, my two best friends are still my two best friends, Kristopher said the words "Mom, I have to study for a test" for the first time in his young life, my family in cancer who have adopted me into their community, success in school, bills are getting paid even though I have medical bills in collection and I'm sure my credit score is sinking daily, I'm not living in the street and I'm anticipating that the new job that I'm supposed to take will come when I need it.
PFT test is scheduled for Monday. I have no doubt my lungs are fine and my kids can verify that. A full day at the U of C, my new home away from home, is planned for Wednesday. Thank you to all who so diligently voted for our Sarcoma Awareness Nascar. I have my fingers crossed that we made the finals.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scans tomorrow. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate them?

Please help us with our nascar. Thank you for all your clicks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sarcoma Fundraiser!

For those of my friends that live in San Antonio or heck, even in Texas or one of it's neighbors, Nick and Friends Sarcoma Foundation is throwing a HUGE BBQ on October 30th.
Comanche County Park, Pavilion #2, San Antonio, Texas
Join us for a BBQ fund raising event. There will be concerts, a dance, kids costume contest, raffles, games and much more. The entire day will be jam packed with fun activities. All proceeds benefit Nick & Friends Sarcoma Foundation. See you there!!!

For more information, please contact

New Edit: One of the Nascars that we have been voting on is one of the 100 semi-finalists. Please vote on every computer available, every day to get our car in the top 10. This could bring awareness to this disease.

They have been planning this event for a year and we are so hoping it will bring awareness and research dollars to this cause. Nick and Friends is run by my very good friend. She puts so much heart into making her foundation a success and she has brought so many sarcoma patients and families together. This is a good and honest charity to put your hard earned dollars to help us find a cure.

This is scan week for me. I have been putting off and putting off making the appointment as I consider this to be a major interruption in my life. Yes, Sarcoma is being a pesky mosquito in my ear and though I am trying to smack it, I keep missing! Pesky! Pesky! Pesky!
I took my NLN last Wednesday. I was feeling pretty confident through the Verbal and Math portions. Then, I got to Science and well, not so sure about that one. Yes there was Physics and no, I had no idea what the correct answer was on any of those questions. I still fail to see how knowing how many Newton's a human weighs has diddly squat to do with Nursing but we do what they tell us. Results should be in my next Monday.
Today, is my first Physiology test. I should be studying but I am finding that the material is just absolutely BORING AS HELL! I am about to leave my fun little computer and lock myself away to study. Fortunately, we only had 5 class periods and only covered a couple chapters and one basic Chem lecture. As I took Chem over the Summer, I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference between acids and bases and an ionic bond vs. covalent. Wish me luck!
Thanks to EVERYONE who has used my book portal, DVD portal and blog. It's appreciated more than you know!

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tomorrow, I take the NLN, the National League of Nursing entrance exam. I heard from my Physiology lab partner that it was a hard test and that there was a substantial amount of Physics questions on the test. That's not good. I haven't taken Physics since High School and the 3 months of introductory Physics was a huge challenge for me. I got a D on the simple machine test, a crushing defeat and it so surprised my teacher that he pulled me aside and insisted that I come in for after school tutoring. Simple machines never were very simple, at least not to me therefore, I am hoping to all heck that there are no inclined plane or lever problems on the test anywhere! The other side of my brain is reminding me never to fully believe anyone regarding any test and to go into it confident in my own reasoning abilities. I heard from many that Anatomy was impossible. I got an A. I heard from many that my Chem teacher was horrible. I learned a lot from him, enjoyed the class and got an A. So, what is a little simple machine question, right? Perhaps it's important to know how potentially dangerous it is to push a wheelchair up a ramp without some resistant force behind it or know the potential speed of said wheelchair if I accidentally let it go on that inclined plain! So, after I finish wasting time online, I'm hitting the basement study and doing Math problems until numbers swim through my head.

Labor Day weekend was ok. I worked my usual shifts at the Mart, went across the street for a little beer around the firepit and took Kris and Cass to the Schaumburg Labor Day parade as they were marching with the Band. Cassie, being the semi organized one who doesn't like to be late for anything, had her socks laid out, her uniform ready, and her band shirt cleaned for the next morning. Kris, Mr. Scattered and Disorganized, stayed up too late, slept through his alarm clock, couldn't find a pair of black socks, couldn't find his band shirt and couldn't find his gloves. Cassie was standing there freaking out that they were going to be late while Kris ran through the house blaming me for not putting his shirt away after I washed it and rummaging through all drawers trying to find black socks that did not necessarily have to match. They then fought all the way to the school. When I came home, I sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet before heading out to the parade. Much to the kids chagrin, I learned that there is a video function on my camera! Who knew? I filmed their band as it came down the street and as if the universe knew that this would be the last band performance with both my kids in it, the band stopped in front of me to play their song. I didn't do a professional job with the video tape. At one point, I had thought I turned off the camera and I guess I hadn't. Oh well. We'll just scratch Director off the list of possible careers. I'll upload the video and post it for anyone interested.

Remember September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please see my "Favorites" list for worthy charities that support childhood cancer research. If you are on Facebook, some of my friends with cancer have opened businesses to help them with their expenses AND will donate to research with every sale. I Love MakeUp is my friends Avon site. Momma's Aroma Shop belongs to a friend whose husband was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma and was laid off during his treatment. She will donate a dollar for every sale to Nick and Friends Sarcoma Foundation. "Like" their businesses for product updates and specials and if you are looking to buy these products for yourself or others, please keep them in mind.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month....

Wear the gold ribbon this month and advocate for treatment options for our smallest and youngest warriors.

Every year, 12,500 families hear the words "Your child has cancer." That is about 47 children daily. 20% of all childhood cancer diagnosis are sarcomas. Yet, childhood sarcoma is underfunded and kids are left without treatment options if the cancer returns. Some pediatric cancers such as certain brain tumors, are a death sentence as kids rarely live past 2 years once diagnosed. We can make a difference this month and help our youngest warriors against cancer. Donate to Pediatric Cancer research.

Yesterday, I watched this video. This child has a rare cancer diagnosis called PPB. She has multiple cancers. Every tumor in her body is a different form of childhood cancer. At three years old, she has seen more pain, endured more surgeries than most people endure in 30 years. Yet, she dances. She smiles. She gives thanks to God. She exudes such JOY. Cancer has ravished her body and she dances. We were told that the little children shall lead us and indeed she is.

I hope you dance

I'm donating a percentage of anything sold at my stores or book blog specifically for childhood cancer research.

Gold ribbons..
EDIT: I forgot to mention that in my links list are a few really great charities that tackle pediatric cancer. If you can, please check them out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

School and how to help a cancer patient

All children have officially returned to school today and as I type this, I am sitting in perfect and peace and tranquility! Emily started the first grade! She has been excited for WEEKS and was completely and totally consumed by getting ready. We went clothes shopping last week and school supply shopping as well. She rummaged through bags of supplies asking what was hers and also trying to take things from the high schoolers as if she needed a composition book and college ruled paper. But, she and I spent Monday night packing her backpack, making her lunch and choosing her outfit for the first day. In the morning, she was too excited to eat and absolutely unfocused as to what she should do first. Even though school didn't start until 8:30, she insisted that we leave 40 minutes before the bell and so we stood in the parking lot listening to the crickets until the bell rang and she was ushered off to class. Today was not quite so smooth as she has been throwing major temper tantrums and has been absolutely impossible to deal with. Though she is excited about school, she isn't used to her routine. Yes, I understand that transitions are hard for her but this morning, I was ready to drive her to her dads and say HERE! It took her 30 minutes to decide what to wear. I tried to have her do this last night but she was absolutely not going to budge on the issue as she wanted to wear a specific pair of jeans and we couldn't find them. So it was a bloody battle this morning. She refused to brush her hair, brush her teeth, pack her lunch in her backpack, put on shoes and when we did put on the shoes, she didn't like the way I tied them and pulled off her socks and shoes and threw them or eat her breakfast. It was not fun. Emily has ODD, oppositional defiant disorder. This along with her ADHD, means I deal with periods of temper tantrums that would try the patience of God, defiance to the Nth degree as she absolutely REFUSES to do anything and as she cannot calm herself down, she throws things, punches, kicks, and slaps. I will admit I have lost patience with her and the past 24 hours has been extremely difficult for all of us. It will die down as she gets used to the routine and I have failed time and time again at restoring order and control when she is out of control. It's hard NOT to react and extremely difficult to be proactive. We try but we are human.
Physiology started up on Monday night. I HATE the section I'm in. MW lecture, Tuesday lab. YUCK! I would prefer to have the lab before or after the lecture period on MW but nobody wanted this section and when the teacher asked who would like to switch, only those with Tuesday lab stood up there. Hence the reason it was the only section open when I registered. But, at least I got the class and my instructor stated if there were conflicts, she would allow us to switch a section for the week. My Oncology appointments on Tuesdays are the only conflict at this time as I still am unemployed.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a relative. As a cancer patient, I hate conversations like this one. If you are a cancer patient or relative of a cancer patient, avoid this please.
Relative - "So you think you might have surgery in December?"
Me- "Yes, that is the plan provided that there is nothing new on this next scan."
Relative - "What are you going to do about the kids?"
Me- "I haven't figured that out yet."
Relative - "Are you still looking for a job?"
Me- "Yes, haven't found anything though"
Relative- "What are you going to tell an employer about the surgery? Is it because of that that you can't find one?"
Me- "I don't know. I usually don't mention my medical issues in an interview and I have no idea what is going to happen or even IF there is going to be surgery."
Relative - "Well what are you going to do about Unemployment? What if you have surgery and you can't collect any? How are you going to pay your bills?"
Me- "I don't know."
Relative - "Well what are you going to do about the house then?"
Me- "I don't know."
Relative - "Well don't you think you better figure that out."
Me - "Well obviously, I'm going to lose the house to a foreclosure an we're all going to live in my van." (Yes, I did say this)

By this time, I wanted to hang myself. I was increasingly frustrated because though this is a person that is local, I was never asked what she could do, what SMALL thing that could be done to help me out. After I collected myself, I said, "I don't know what is going to happen. I can't plan for something that may or may not happen in 3 months without the scan, without a surgical date, without a battle plan. But you CAN help me by telling people about my book and DVD store. That would help." She said she'd pass the info onto her family and friends.
I went to bed feeling very uneasy. So many loose ends to tie and I know she's well meaning but "What are you going to do?" is not a helpful question. If there is someone in your neighborhood going through something like this, here is how you can help.
-- Bring a meal. Cancer patients and anyone going through chronic illness get tired. Dr. appointments take time, LOTS of time. I know even though I feel healthy, each Oncology appointment takes a minimum of 6 hours before I'm done with the labs, the waiting and the traffic. Medications cause nausea and fatigue. Being around food when nauseous is very difficult. Meals help a lot.
-- As one of my relatives dishes on the condition of my house a lot, see above. Even offering to weed a garden is a HUGE help as is helping with any household chore.
-- If there are children involved, offer to take them somewhere with your kids. Speaking for my kids only, there are a lot of unresolved issues. I have 2 very scared children who prefer to deny the existence of the disease because it's too hard for them to look at. Kids with a parent who is ill live with constant fear that that parent will die. The feel helpless, powerless, fearful and apprehensive for the future. As a single mom, who is going to be there for the kids is the NUMBER 1 concern. I go to appointments and things by myself. IF this surgery takes place, I need to know they are safe and cared for while I can't do it. Any patient, irregardless if they have a husband or other family member will tell you that the kids are their main priority. If there is someone in your neighborhood with these issues, that is the number one thing that can be done to help them.
-- Don't avoid talking about the disease. We want to talk about it. It's OK if you don't understand 100% what we are going through. An ear is good enough and we don't expect you to understand.
-- Don't give us YOUR fear or back off because of you. Cancer is not contagious. Most don't like to hear unpleasant news. It brings a person closer to facing their own mortality and we face that daily and we figure out how to live with that. Your fears on top of our own is a big load to carry.
-- Never ever ever imply, hint, or outright say that the person with the illness is a burden. It is difficult enough to have to ask for help. We don't need to be reminded what a big encroachment it is on your life. We didn't ask to be sick. It's not our fault. Cancer is not a disease that affects just ONE person, it affects everyone that knows that person, cares about that person or is related to that person. That is the sad, sad, reality. We are bombarded by societal messages daily that if you are sick, you are weak, you are useless, you are an expense on society. We don't need to hear it from you. This can happen to ANYONE. The value of life, any life, irregardless of disease, cannot be measured or thought of on monetary terms. No one is a burden because they are sick.

Now for the shameless plug:
The biggest help to me right now is to keep my web businesses in mind when you need anything. If there is a product you are looking for, please consider ordering from me. My primary focus is books and DVD's but I can also provide links to household products, electronics, games, music, anything. Just ask :)
My websites are

Shameless plug 2,
please help us generate some awareness for our cause. All it takes is a click on the link and a click on "Vote"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We have a new contest link...

We were third in causes and 7th overall the last time which is awesome! But, we're trying it again! Thanks to everyone that voted. I hope you have a few clicks left in you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More odds and ends and bits and pieces..

Last Tuesday, I took my tri-weekly trip to the Oncologist to tell him my decision regarding the clinical trial. I changed my mind several times with my heart telling me to drop it and my head telling me not to. It is never easy getting the two to agree and they bicker constantly like my 3 kids. But heart and head were able to come up with a sensible compromise. The end game is surgery but I also want to finish Physiology and submit my Nursing school application for the Fall 2011 semester. Therefore, I decided to stay on the trial until the results of the September scan. If there is nothing new and it's just the same old little pests that we already know about, I will drop the trial and prepare for surgery in December. If there is something new, I will go back on chemo and re-stabilize and then will have them removed...eventually. I am praying for the first option as $1600 of medical debt was transferred from the U of C to a collection agency. SIGH... I pay them a little every month. I went to a finance person to see if I could negotiate that they just take what insurance gives them. I was handed a stack of papers that asked for all my savings account balances and my W-2's from last year. Needless to say, I didn't even bother to fill that out. Last year, I was working and this years W-2 with my paychecks and severance won't help me either. OK, enough whining. This too shall pass. For now, I am thankful that all my other bills are paid. I am also thankful that Brivanib may be a viable option for those of you with MPNST as it heads into phase 3. My time on the trial will be documented and hopefully has helped the Sarcoma community with one more bullet in the arsenal. Lord knows, we need that!

Thanks to all who have been voting for our Nascar design. We are #3 in causes!!!! THis is such a great accomplishment. Vote on every computer you have.
Thank you for your support on this..

Lastly, I opened a blog for my sites:
My Book Blog
AND a facebook group. I am now sorta wishing I had an advertising course and took one course in Java and web design but I'm a quick learner and will be figuring things out as I go along.
Thanks for tuning in. School will be starting for Em on the 24th, for Kris and Cas on the 25th and for me on the 23rd. I am feeling good, keeping busy, and trying to look forward.

Monday, August 09, 2010

I'm back from the great beyond known as Wisconsin and my few day trip to our little cabin in the woods. The weather was beautiful albeit a little hot and muggy for the first few days and the kids and I were able to enjoy the beach and the scenery associated with the deep woods in the Wisconsin state forest. Emily had a ball and spent the entire time in high gear and was quite the big pest on the last day as we wound things down, cleaned up and drove home. Our Wisconsin cabin is a great place to read which leads me into why I asked the book and movie question (sit back. this may be long but there is a method to my madness). My mother was an English teacher, something I thought odd as my mother was an immigrant from Europe who like many immigrants in the late 40's and 50's were escaping Communism and Nazism. English was not her native language. My mother was Czechoslovakian and she, my aunt and grandparents walked 20 miles through Czech forest and spent two years in a displaced persons camp in Munich before they made their way to the States. As my mom had a heart condition and had to avoid activities with a lot of physical activity, she read books, lots and lots and lots of books. Reading was her outlet and in our early days, my mother required that we read at least 25 pages a day. The first book she forced me read was "Pippi Longstocking". Did I enjoy the book? NO! But, I did become a reader eventually and every two weeks, my mom dropped us kids off at the library and I chose my stack of novels. I read every night before bed and on every vacation to the cabin and of course, other places. I majored in two subjects in college. My main major was Psychology but I took English courses for fun and to force me to find time to read. I added it as a second major my Sophomore year. Not every classic I read tickled my imagination. I suffered through "The Crying of Lot 49" and "The House of Seven Gables." But, I loved, loved, loved Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon" and Daphne Dumaurier's "Rebecca." While "Wuthering Heights" may have made most of the guys in my class gag, I couldn't put it down. These three novels are my most favorite of all time. Did they change my viewpoint? Not really but I was so engrossed in them that the rest of the world melted away and I became part of the world these authors crafted. George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" did help shape my world view. "The Lord of the Flies" spawned a great debate on the nature of man and Steinbeck's "Winter of our Discontent" illustrated so well that sometimes people are not who they seem to be as it follows Ethan's descent into moral bankruptcy with actions that appear to be well intentioned.

I am not the kind of moviegoer in line for a blockbuster on day 1. You will never seem me standing in line for hours for a ticket to "Harry Potter." I prefer to see them after the excitement has died down and usually on DVD. I love anything Star Wars and Indiana Jones (except that last one. I don't even count that one). I loved "Shawshank Redemption," "The Usual Suspects," and "A Fish Called Wanda" which I maintain is the funniest movie EVER. "Dead Man Walking" and "Schindler's List" rocked my world. I can watch "The Sound of Music" over and over and over again and never get tired of it. What is not to like about "The Music Man"? And when it comes to guilty pleasures, the old movie "Meatballs" and of course "Animal House" fit the bill. "Jaws" still makes me afraid to go in the water. And, my favorite Disney movie is "Toy Story", all 3 of them. I think I was more excited about "Toy Story 3" than the kids but I dragged them along anyway.

So... now that you've suffered through my diatribe about books and film, I decided to open my own online book store and DVD store. I wanted some reader recommendations to help with the launch and the blog I am trying to write about book and movies and the ones that made the biggest impacts. The sites are located at these web addresses

If you buy books and movies online, please consider using my web portals and if you don't but have friends that do, please let them know about them. I plan on donating about 10% of proceeds to Pediatric and Adult Sarcoma research which is a cause I care tremendously about and if you read something or see a movie that is so good that it deserves a mention, please let me know and I will read, see and promote or write a guest review and I'll publish it. My links are also listed on the right margin under my websites.

While on the subject of Sarcoma Research, we are trying to promote awareness, via Nascar once again. We did not finish the last race in the top 10 but we were so close we decided to try once more. You can vote for our Nascar design at

Winning this design contest could mean awareness. Awareness could = research dollars. If you have access to more than one computer, you can vote more than once every day. Thank you so much and thank you for your support in advance.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I got an A on the last Chem test. WOOHOO!! The class is over in a couple days with my last test on Thursday.
Signed up for the NLN today. I will be taking the Nursing school entrance exam on Sept 8.
I hope I can be a good nurse and do some real good for people.

In a couple weeks, I am launching a web business. I have some websites that I am in the final process of touching up and launching. As I am unemployed and have no idea how long I will be that way, I was looking for something that I can do and manage and market from home. The proceeds from my sites will go towards my medical bills with 10% going towards Sarcoma research. I am very excited about launching these but I have a Pre-launch question.

What book or movie made a huge impact on you? Why?
Did your choice change your viewpoint on an issue? or did it give you hours of pure happiness?

If you want to answer, leave me a comment or email me or join my Facebook page.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sarcoma Awareness Week

It's International Sarcoma Awareness Week and many events are taking place to advocate for and teach about Sarcoma. I know I sound like a broken record. Before diagnosis in 2006, I erroneously thought that all cancers were the same and that treating Sarcoma would be no different than treating breast cancer. Little did I know that there were no chemotherapies for my Sarcoma type and grade, at least nothing outside the experimental realm. Little did I know that the subset of the population most afflicted with this disease were children. Little did I know that a typical sarcoma patient tries multiple chemos, endures multiple radiation sessions, and goes through multiple invasive surgeries only to have this cancer return again and again and again. Little did I know that the prognosis for stage 1 high grade sarcoma is only slightly better than stage 3 breast cancer.

During this Sarcoma Awareness week, please tell someone, forward an email about Sarcoma, show someone a patient blog, or donate to this most worthy cause. 10,000 sarcoma patients are diagnosed yearly. 5000 die before the magical 5 years. While the prognosis for some cancers has improved little by little, the prognosis for Sarcoma patients has not gotten better. This week is yellow ribbon week. Help us spread the word. For more information on sarcomas, make a donation towards the CURE or meet some of the great fighters out there, see

Monday, July 12, 2010

My last scan showed without a doubt that the largest nodule is growing at a rate of about 1mm a month since Christmas. I did not walk out of the office skipping with joy but nevertheless, I have gone on with the business of living. As my Onc was out that day, I could not speak to him about the possibility of just zapping that little bugger, removing it or negotiating with the drug company to open my file and determine if I'm on the live pill or the memorex. I will have this discussion with him tomorrow. Since that lovely revelation, I spent an awesome 4th of July weekend at the ball game, eating BBQ, hanging with friends and family, riding coasters at Great America, studying Chemistry and taking a weekend trip to our Summer home for a little R&R among the trees.....and bugs, but like cancer, I for the most part, ignored the little critters until they became too obnoxious. Then I doused myself in bug spray. The weather was perfect. It was sunny, warm but not hot, and there was little humidity. The clear sky gave me a perfect view of the stars and up there, they are like nowhere else.
I have a "totally cool" list. Those are a few of the things in life that I just do not get tired of. My partial list:
1) Lily pads. I have no idea why I find lily pads so great but on my way to the cabin is a small minnow pond that is loaded with them. It's welcoming eye candy.
2) Cat tails. What is NOT to like about cat tails? As a little girl, I used to slosh through swamps to get some of them. They line the sides of the county roads by our cabin in clumps and bring back some great childhood memories.
3) Tadpoles. I can watch those little critters swim in a pond for hours. When I was a kid, I went to a local pond often and caught a few. I never could keep one alive long enough to see the metamorphosis so now if I find a pond full of them, I leave them alone.
4) Hummingbirds. I love Hummingbirds. One of my absolutely frivolous purchases this weekend, a Hummingbird feeder which is installed in plain view of the windows of the screen porch at the cabin. I hope they find our feeder so when I get to take my real vacation, I can watch them. It's a little late in the season but, there is always hope.
The sighting that I get all excited about the most is shooting stars. Last year, I traveled to the cabin during the annual meteor shower. I saw MANY driving up there. What a GREAT drive! It was the middle of the night but I didn't feel tired. This trip, I saw three!
It was a good trip.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Please keep the families of these children in thoughts and prayers.

Vincent lost his battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma this month. This is the second child that this family has had to bury. You can read about him at the link to Annabella's Garden I have posted under links. This is a foundation established by his parents as they stab back at pediatric illnesses despite the loss of two of their children.

Gatlin lost his battle with Ewing's Sarcoma this month. Before Gatlin died, he organized a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and raised almost 15,000 dollars and was featured on Fox News in New Mexico as well as in their local paper. Gatlin lived his life as fully as possible until the very end.

Ellie lost her battle with Rhabdomyosarcoma two days ago after a long and very courageous battle. Ellie leaves behind a twin and two of the most faith filled parents I have ever met. Lance Armstrong tweeted about Ellie. You can read about her at

Matthew lost his battle to HLH. Matthew lost his little brother Andrew to HLH a year ago. His parents have buried both their children in the span of a year but despite their grief, they fight for new treatments and therapies for this rare disorder and carry on with undying devotion and faith to God.

I am always struck by the strength and faith of these families. They have experienced the worst that life has to offer yet they still hope. They still dream. They still carry on. They teach and inspire and though I wish with all my heart that I never had to journey on in cancer, I can't help but be thankful that I have been shown and taught about life and death from this community. Too often in life, we get caught up in the "shoulds". Children should be playing and happy and be spoiled. Every child should have two parents. Every family should have 2.5 kids, a suburban mortgage and a faithful golden retriever. No parent should bury a child. No parent should have to deal with cancer when they still have young kids. We all should live to 88 and die in our sleep. Shoulds do not exist. There is no specific way life is supposed to be. "Shoulds" are something that humans create. They rarely reflect was truly is or what is truly important. They don't point to anything important. This past Tuesday, I watched the finale of "Saving Grace". I was not a regular watcher but I was interested in seeing how the series, which focused on a police officer that walked the line between good and evil, ended. God sends her an angel who emphasizes that God has a task he wants her to perform, that only she can do. Grace took three seasons to tell God she would do what He asked. What that task is, is to face evil. She does and she wins but how she wins requires her to perform the ultimate sacrifice for her fellow man. The critics stated that the show forgot to save Grace. There SHOULD have been a happy ending that resulted in the defeat of evil without a sacrifice. But there was a happy ending and Grace was indeed saved. It was a more spiritual definition of saved, not the human definition. With God, there is no life or death. There is only life. Death is a change of state, like a solid ice cube evaporating into a gas. It's still water no matter what form. And though I've met many families who have lost children, parents, sisters and brothers, those gone from this planet are still alive...alive in memory, alive in their writings, musings, grief, joys, and successes. How we face death, speaks volumes about how we face life. We should do it without a preconceived notion about what should be and just deal with what is.. It is a shame that the greatest teachers for such a lesson are the children.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day to all the dad's out there!!

What a difference a week can make. Slowly but surely all these little nickel and dime issues are being worked and resolved. The new stove and washing machine are up and running. The dishwasher is defunct but Cass and Kris work if you feed them. Emily was horrible for about a week but thankfully, her father had FINALLY put her on his plan. It only took him 4 years! She is medicated. COBRA thing is straightened out and it's affordable until December. After that...well, I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Unemployment is straightened out for now though I missed a day of class to tend to it and it turns out the class was not the issue. I am still scratching my head trying to figure out what the issue was exactly but whatever! I certified my benefits and will have to do it again in another week. The last things on the MUST GET DONE LIST, are brakes and oil change and find a job.
I got a call last week to interview for a 3rd shift dispatch position for a logistics company. I was excited about the interview but received a call at the last minute canceling the interview. The company decided they wanted candidates with dispatch experience. All they wanted was customer service experience at first. Then the rules changed. I was disappointed. But the very next day, I received a call from a company that I was HOPING and PRAYING would call me for an interview, AND THEY DID!! If I get the job, that would be wonderful and it would scratch a HUGE to do off my list. I'm trying so hard not to get my hopes up but I am excited about this potential position. I'm trying a little visualization and sending my order out to the universe ala "The Secret" and we shall see what happens. It's a tech support position. MY FAVORITE! COME ON JOB!!!!!
I applied for a job at my old company in their customer service center. I have 3 years experience as a team leader in an inbound call center. As I met all the other criteria, I sent in my application. It took less than 45 minutes for them to send me a bong letter. "While you certainly meet the requirements, we are looking for candidates who more CLOSELY meet the requirements." HUH? "But.." the letter went on, "If we are lacking in qualified applicants, we will give you another look." Yes, I'm scratching my head a bit. I looked at my candidate profile today. It appears they are lacking in more closely meeting the requirement candidates because my application is now "under review."

Chemistry is going well. I am finding that I *gasp, ENJOY the class. I may change my mind after this first test but, the labs are fun. Maybe I just secretly like setting things on fire. I did a good job of accidentally setting on fire a beaker full of wooden sticks. Here's a lesson for all you novices out there. Make sure that after you do your flame tests, you double check to make sure that the fire is completely extinguished on the match before you put it in the waste container. Fortunately, I noticed the flames before we were evacuated. But a day in chem lab without flames is well, an oddity for me. I don't know why my teacher likes me. I've got this little black rain cloud, which may have come in handy on Thursday if it had actually rained, following me around. And, speaking of rain, we had a gully washer blast through here on Friday. Thanks Iowa! The storm came through at 75 mph and brought 90mph wind gusts with it. All 6 cats, 3 kids and I were downstairs. I had kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights and a change of clothing ready JUST IN CASE. When the first wind gust hit the window, my house shook, the lights went out, and the kids shouted an expletive because they didn't have time to save their WII game.. While I was fiddling with the candles, the lights came back on. Thank goodness! (This time I made sure the match was out. Good thinking huh?) The storm blew through in 30 minutes. WE ventured on back upstairs and life returned to normal for a time. Round two was scheduled to hit us around 9pm. As it was Friday, I had a shift at Walmart. When I got there, all the employees in my strip mall were standing outside. The store was pitch black. Power had been out to that side of the road since the first gust which knocked down a pole. I didn't complain. I sat down outside and chatted with my coworkers until the lights came on 90 minutes later. Hoards of people came running into the store when we reopened. I looked at the steady stream of people running in here like we were the last bastion on the planet for paper towels and expected big important things to cross my belt after all, the second storm was less than an hour away and it was just as red on the radar as the first. I looked for granny's heart meds, maybe some diapers for the baby or extension cords and flashlights for those who still didn't have power. I got none of that. My first order that night was little trees and soft soap. LITTLE TREES (car air freshener) AND SOFT SOAP???? That guy trampled over tons of people to buy LITTLE TREES????? This dude risked his life in cruddy weather so his car will smell mountain rain fresh??? God bless America! The subsequent orders were just like that. Hair dye. Doritos. Pepsi. Condoms (which I can ALMOST see), make up, perfume, and those stupid animal shaped rubber bands. When round two hit, the store looked like the NY stock exchange. Of course the power went out for a few minutes. When we got the lights back, the registers were having a very hard time getting back in action. I looked at a sea of angry faces and heard the same question "How long is it going to take?" over and over and over again. I wanted to say "I dunno. Weather fairy is not in my job description" but I simply stated that it took over 20 minutes for the registers to reboot the last time but it was difficult to tell and it was still storming outside with some very nasty lightning and wind. Some took their place in line and waited and I also watched a mass exodus of grumbly people who did not want to wait and then spent the night picking up and sorting abandoned carts. Good times! Good times!

So..there you have it. I have a nice tasting glass of red in my glass, a chemistry book that I really should be looking at and my blog right now. Back to the books!
oh yeah..scans are on Thursday.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Unemployment......the saga.

One week of unemployment and life has been .....irritating. I call these nickel and dime days because nothing has been life threatening just.....irritating.
Last weekend at the Mart was Hell. Friday night, I worked from 6pm-11pm non stop. After returning home at 11:30, I had a very hard time falling asleep and didn't drift off to dreamland until way past 1am. Four hours later, the alarm went off. I dragged my butt out of bed at 5am so I could be at work at 7 and it was of course, really busy all morning. I could not WAIT until lunch. After my hour lunch flew by, I reluctantly walked back to the front. One of my co-workers met me and "suggested" I head back to the break room and take cover. A fire in a transformer knocked out all the power. The store was on backup generator and only 3 registers in the entire store were functional. Hundreds of customers with carts full of everything from flowers to frozen foods were read to hang us in effigy. It was my job to collect all the abandoned carts, sort them and refer all the screaming customers to management so the customers could scream at them and management could tell them that there was nothing they could do about the power outage. Wal-mart is huge and powerful but we do not own our own electrical grid. We were down for almost 4 hours. The doors were locked and no lie, people were pressing their noses to the glass, screaming at management in anger as if we were not one of 5 Wal-Marts in a 10 mile radius but that's OK. Obviously for them, it was cathartic. Sunday was equally as hellish without the power outage. After lifting at least 200 48 packs of bottled water, 20lb bags of dog food and kitty litter, I was pooped when I left the store on Sunday and once home, I hit the couch and didn't move. Monday, it rained. It rained out our BBQ. Fine. Whatever. It was a great workout for the new stove. On Tuesday, I had a 504 meeting planned for Emily at her school at 3pm. I received a call from the U of C that I had an appointment scheduled with the Dr. at 1:30. OOOO! Not good! With the traffic, there was no way I was going to be able to make it to her school by 3. Called early to see if I could have the blood work done another time. "What if we got you out by 1:30" said the nurse. UGH! OK. I made the trek in. I sat in construction and horrible traffic and it took 90 minutes to get downtown. Of course there was a delay in the blood lab. I didn't get out by 1:30. I got stuck in the elevator and the valet took 30 minutes to get my car. At 2:20, I was finally on my way and sitting in traffic....a LOT of traffic. Traffic that translated to 2 hours to get from the downtown to Arlington Heights. I missed my meeting. I was annoyed. We rescheduled it for Wednesday at noon. Emily's kindergarten graduation was at 5. I made it home from the hospital at 4:20 and we had to be at school by 4:30. I raced in. Kristopher was not home. I was annoyed. We left without him. At 4:45, he called from somewhere. "You have until 5 to get to the school" I told him. After the graduation, I raced Emily to tee ball. While there, Cassie called to ask me to bring home hot dog buns. As it was 7:45 now and I had not been home since 11:45, I stopped off at the little Mexican tienda on the corner. They had 2 shelves full of hamburger buns but not a single hot dog bun. I went to dollar general next door. Nada. 7/11 had them for 3.50 but I didn't care about price anymore. I just wanted to go home. Wednesday, I woke up early and sat down at my laptop. It wouldn't boot up. GREAT!!! It was making a grinding noise before it stopped working all together. That makes one stove, one washing machine, one dishwasher and now one laptop on the fritz. Fortunately, the laptop is on warranty. After shuffling through piles and piles and piles of papers, I found the warranty info and of course, there was no 800 number. I called Tiger Direct, now COMP USA and was met by two confused employees. After being "disconnected" twice, I was given 800-comp-usa to contact. Whoever answered the phone was not the nicest and told me they had nothing to do with warranties and try whoever gave me the warranty in the first place which was Bankers with no 800 number. He did find me the 800 number and I called only to find myself in a huge VRU loop. The option that applied kept disconnecting me and when I tried other options, it referred me to option that kept disconnecting me. In absolute irritation, I kept pounding 0 which connected me to a person...finally and the technical equivalent to Nurse Ratchett answered the phone. I told her i believed that my laptop had a bad fan. It's not the first bad fan I had ever had so I recognized the symptoms. "Well, let's do some troubleshooting anyway" she said. "OK," I said, "but it's the fan." She wanted me to remove the battery. Try as I might, I couldn't get the battery out of the back of the laptop. "Maam, you're going to have to call me back. I have people waiting." LIKE HELL I AM!! This person was going to WAIT until I wrestled that DAMN battery out of the back of the laptop and if she so much as thought of disconnecting me after the problems I had getting to her in the first place, she had another thing coming. As she tapped her pencil, she said once more to get a neighbor to help me and call back. With a final pull, that battery finally came out. OK, she said. Power it down, remove the power cord, hold the power button for 40 secs and then plug it back in and boot up. Done, I said. "What does the screen say?" She asked. "Fan error!" HA! ....I'll get my laptop back in 3 weeks. In the meantime, I'm on the slow as molasses backup computer. I was annoyed. Yesterday, in the mail, I received a letter from the State of IL that they are not granting my unemployment benefits until I have a face to face meeting with them regarding my school schedule. The meeting is in 2 weeks. WONDERFUL!!! As it will take 8 weeks for AT&T to give me my severance, what in the world will I have to live on for 2 weeks? Annoyed again. Apparently, full time school schedules are not allowed on Unemployment. As I put down that I am taking one class this summer and one class in the Fall, I think it's pretty clear that I'm not going to school full time. But if they want to waste time with a meeting, so be it. My employers have been paying my unemployment insurance for 20 years and my little Chem class is now an issue. I don't see how a phone call could not have set things straight but this is the government.
Wondering why it smelled like crap and dirty socks in Kris's room, I investigated. I found my answer and EWWWWWW!!! is all I'm going to say about that. I cleaned two rooms from top to bottom. I have done oodles and oodles and oodles of laundry and am one sweaty tired out mess by the end of the night and the house still looks yucky because I have disassembled in order to reassemble if that makes sense.
I hope I find a job soon. This "nothing to do" is exhausting.

As a PPS: I went to the pharmacy yesterday to pick up Emily's meds. Her first day out of Kindergarten was hard for me and for her as her routine was disrupted. She was absolutely horrible all day. When they said it would cost 200 dollars, I was stunned. The pharmacist told me to call the company and find out what happened. I was practically in tears when I walked away. No unemployment, no paycheck, no 200 for prescriptions. AT&T canceled the benefit but had not put the COBRA through. This means that the Dr. appointment I had on Tuesday was not covered either which means another headache. All shall be cleared by Wednesday but will we survive an unmedicated Emily? We'll find out.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial happy an appropriate word for this holiday? We are commemorating all those that have lost their lives fighting for our country. For millions of families, this is not a happy day.

Many years ago, I worked as a server in a small local restaurant associated with the Holiday Inn in Iowa City. Holidays and weekends are meaningless when you work food service so on this particular Memorial Day, I was serving breakfast and lunch to the few people in our hotel and I met, Wayne. Wayne was a homeless drifter thumbing for rides down I80. He was also a Vietnam Veteran who saw the front lines, came back to America suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was vilified and crucified for his service during this hugely unpopular war. On Memorial Day 1989, Wayne drifted into Iowa City, Iowa and found his way to breakfast in our restaurant after spending a night panhandling. Wayne's behavior was erratic. He stuffed his pockets with buffet food, refused to sit at a table, and wandered in and out to purposefully harass guests and workers in the Hotel. At one point, Wayne went outside and relieved himself in the bushes outside in full view of all restaurant patrons. Then came back in and sat at his table demanding more coffee. I was Wayne's server that day and in his coherent moments, he talked to me about Vietnam with a pained expression on his face. "This is Memorial Day" he said. Then louder he repeated it. The few diners turned around to look at Wayne who by this time, had climbed onto his chair and started screaming at the top of his lungs, "DOES ANYONE HERE KNOW WHAT MEMORIAL DAY IS!!?? ANYONE?" (Our Manager left the restaurant quietly to get security) Pointing to each guest he repeated "Do you know what Memorial Day is? How bout you or you?" Guests looked away. One women looked terrified. At the top of his lungs Wayne shouted "MEMORIAL DAY IS WHEN WE WENT TO WAR, GOT BLASTED AWAY, AND NO ONE GAVE A SHIT!"
At this time, security entered and led Wayne away. He was still yelling as he was led out the door. The diners sat in stunned silence and we workers could just stand and stare.
I think of Wayne every Memorial Day. I wonder how many like Wayne are out there. Soldiers who saw Hell and came home to careless indifference to what they sacrificed. Provided these soldiers survived the war but inside Wayne was just as dead as those who didn't. Let us never forget the magnitude of this sacrifice. America is not perfect but our country is something to be proud of and we must never forget all those people like Wayne who were willing to lay their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. Thank you, Wayne for your service. Though you may have felt forgotten in 1989, I have not forgotten you and I never will.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today, is my last official day on the payroll. Tomorrow, I file for unemployment. Many people have asked me how I feel about it. Truth is, I don't know. Sometimes, I feel empowered. Sometimes, I feel a little down. Last night, I typed up my official goodbye. To some, I sent a personal note and noticed I was getting a bit weepy as I typed on. I remember the feeling I had on my first day on April 5, 1995. Fifteen years later, there are no words that exist that can describe the feelings on this last day. As I said goodbye to my co-workers this morning, I was getting ready for a job interview. After I closed out my email, I made plans to get together with CNA friends this Saturday. At 5pm, after my exit interview this afternoon, I will print out the Waiver form to send priority mail to the benefits center first thing tomorrow morning. Then, I will mix myself a Pina Colada and quietly move to AT&T history. I'm leaving with little fanfare and quietly closing the door.

This week, has been filled with the good and the bad. My appliance usurpation has not finished as my dishwasher joined the ranks of non-functional household appliances the other day. Frustrated! VERY FRUSTRATED!! After I cursed the darn thing out, I logged onto the computer and visited several of my friends blogs. Five sets of parents that I know of are facing the loss of their child soon and here I am worrying about losing a dumb dishwasher and a job.. To quote my late friend, Charlie, "You never know how good it can be till you've found out for yourself how bad it can get".
Life AIN'T bad....and you're right Sue G. "Man Plans. God Laughs."
He's been laughing a whole heck of a lot.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The first day of....

I'm not quite sure.
Yesterday, I took the last final of the Semester and received my longed for A in Anatomy. WOOHOO! After my Anatomy final, I came home, poured myself a glass of red and celebrated by doing nothing except enjoying the wonderful glass of cheap red wine and a movie. I relished the wonderful feeling of having nothing pressing to do for about 2 hours. Today, I looked at my wreck of a house and asked myself, where do I even start. Piles of laundry are stacked up in every room, under every piece of furniture and yes, even hidden under the stairs. But because this is my life and nothing goes very smoothly in it, my washing machine died this morning. The timing just could not be better. With a broken stove to match it and impending unemployment less than a week away, I once again will have to put buying a new stove on hold and buy the new washing machine instead. One of these days, I will have a functional stove and not a decoration sitting in my kitchen. My crock pot, toaster oven and microwave have served me well. Perhaps they can hold up a little while longer. I made my way to Walmart to buy cleaning supplies. Tomorrow, after I do my morning job search, I'll begin on removing dirt and putting it back outside. This will be no easy feat. As a matter of fact, my house could probably be a great episode for "How Clean is Your House." I welcome those two British ladies to try and make this disaster look habitable again. Three weeks ago, I yanked the cable from the computer monitor and told the kids that Facebook is defunct until they actually finish a chore. Yep, three weeks ago I told them that. They still don't have their cable back. They are all of the sudden really interested in writing papers and doing homework....on my computer. Considering my son hasn't handed in an assignment in his Law and Government class YET this quarter.....
So, tomorrow will be the first day of getting a chore finished, the first day seeing my floors again after 8 months, the first day of unfettered free time that really isn't free until after I remove dust, dirt, fingerprints, old food, cat hair (LOTS OF THAT) and bacteria that probably thought it had a permanent home from my house. Then we'll take it from there. Monday, school starts up again but class is for two hours in the morning. Then what?

Monday, May 17, 2010

I took my Anatomy final tonight. When I came home, I had no idea what to do with myself. Without my book, I feel so naked. That book traveled with me to Atlanta, Iowa City, Walmart, Dr's waiting rooms, and church and as it's been a constant companion, it feels like I just spurned a lover and am moving on to the next one in one week. I'm waiting on the final grade. I need at least an 80% but hopefully better and I keep my A. Tomorrow, I will take my Biology final but my instructor said if I wanted to stay home, stay home. There are 600 points possible in the class. I have 606 now without the final. BUT, I am taking the final. No matter what happens, I still have the A but I want the knowledge. The whole purpose of the class was to help me on the NLN. Though some of the material overlaps with what I studied in Anatomy, much of this last unit did not and it is a good overview for the entrance exam for Nursing school which I will be taking on July 22.

Today, I was hired to do a temporary project for a large grocery store chain. As the end of my career at AT&T is coming to an end and I have received no job offers from the company or anywhere else YET, I have time to do some 2 or 3 audits a week on the store's customer service in the various stores around the Chicago area. The schedules are flexible, it pays $11 an hour, reimburses me for mileage and I can take Em with me if I want to. Sounded like a winner. I can work up to 25 hours a week without affecting unemployment. As I usually work 18-20 at the Mart, the additional 6 hours won't interfere and if by chance I have to take a weekend day off, I can make it up here. The project will last 3-6 months. I'll keep looking for a job in the meantime and even if I do land something full time, I can schedule this around it.
This is relatively short tonight. I've been hibernating and trying to get this class finished. Physiology in the Fall will be my next textbook ball and chain. I want an A there too!

PS: Clinic visit this past week was fine. All blood counts are good and my BP is excellent.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

To all my mommy friends. Our work is just never done!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

May 5 is an anniversary of one of the most life changing events in my 42 years. It was the day I heard the words "You have Sarcoma." It is a close second to the words "You have a son."
Four years. As I'm in my 40's, four years is a drop in the bucket but it seems like a lifetime ago that I was living a life free of it, without Dr's, scans, MRI's, and Scanxiety. My cancer journey has been bumpier than some, and smoother than others. But the impact is the same and anyone who has ever heard the words the first time, can tell you the date and the time and how it was said and can describe the gut wrenching feelings that transpired afterwards. It feels like a blow to the stomach. We are paralyzed for a moment, then as the wind returns we say "I'll fight! and I'll WIN." The journey starts out about I but the further we go down that path, the more we come to understand that the journey is about "WE". No cancer patient can do it alone. Cancer is a disease that not only affects the patient but the family and the friends. Some old friendships are lost. Some old friendships get stronger. New friends are made.
Where do I want to be in another 4 years? Cancer free and a nurse. That is the goal. But I have problems dealing with any event that is further out than a month and sometimes that is too long. Life can change in a second.

You can't tell when strange things with meaning
will happen. I'm [still] here writing it down
just the way it was. "You don't have to
prove anything," my mother said. "Just be ready
for what God sends .............William Stafford

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I have now returned from Atlanta after an amazing 24 hours meeting the most amazing women. After listening to their stories, I felt hugely unworthy of the honor of receiving one of the 7 scholarships awarded this year.
The Possible Woman Foundation seeks to grant scholarships to non-traditional women, those of us who do not qualify for "normal" scholarships, whose lives have been interrupted by hardships, challenges that most normal people do not see. Yet despite these challenges, their scholarship recipients forage ahead, using the challenge to do good in the community.
The other women experienced the absolute WORST that life had to offer but turned it around, refused to be victims, focused on what is POSSIBLE, not what is impossible and through education propose to make dreams come true.
At 11:56 on MOnday morning, I boarded a plane. I sat next to a Nurse Practitioner on her way back to Atlanta and we had a conversation about Nursing and about Sarcoma. I landed at 2:40est and stood for a minute to get my bearings and then headed towards the baggage claim area to find the driver. The Atlanta airport is HUGE and I walked what felt like a mile, taking in the people, the sights, the sounds, the busy-ness of the terminal and the excitement. I don't care for flying but I find airports exciting and full of possibility. I have suppressed wanderlust. When I see all these people boarding planes, I imagine exotic places, lush vacations, sites of beauty and I want to travel and see and experience. One of these days, I hope NOT to suppress the wanderlust anymore. I found my driver and I sat down and waited for the arrival of the other award recipient scheduled to land shortly after my flight did. We were driven to the hotel, a lush, elegant, modern and HUGE Hotel. He gave us directions to meet him at 5:30 at the door and he would take us to dinner. How cool is that? We had our own driver! I checked in and flopped down on the bed. I realized I was starving and dug into the lunch I packed for myself that I had hoped to eat on the airplane but didn't. I got dressed and was sitting there watching T.V on a nice large flat screen. About an hour later, my roomie checked in and we had a chance to talk a little before the banquet. At this time, I had met two women and I knew that they had a story to tell and I was interested to find out what that story was. At 5:30, we all gathered downstairs. We introduced ourselves and had a chance to talk a little bit on the ride to the banquet. We were treated to an open bar. We had LOTS of pictures taken of ourselves. Dinner time. On the table was a card introducing the 7 of us and what our stories were. Among us was
A survivor of 3 types of cancer.
A rape survivor
A former heroin addict and single mom of 2 who cleaned herself up and now wants to work with Juvenile offenders.
The founder of a 501.3c that transitioned women from prison to outside life
A former Meth addict and single mom of 1, who grew up in foster care now a straight A student with a bright future.
A domestic violence survivor and single mom of 4, now pursuing a Nursing degree.

As we were all individually introduced, my jaw was on the table. They chose me to be one of the seven of these incredibly strong and brilliant women. I felt hugely unworthy. WE all shared later that we all did listening to the challenges of the others. This is my life. I live it every day. As this is just my life, I never thought it was anything incredibly different or special from anyone elses. Needless to say, we were all fast friends. We had a lot to talk about. We had a lot in common. Our circumstances may have been different, but the journey and the lessons were very similar.
After our banquet was over, we were driven back to the hotel where we had a chance to talk a little bit before bed. And in the morning, we attended a conference for women who have focused on what is POSSIBLE.
This was a conference about power, not power over anyone else but power over ourselves, harnessing the power within us, using that power to institute positive change in everything we do. No matter where we are in life, we are NEVER power-less. We ALWAYS have choices. Do not make excuses. Make changes. There is never a bad time to do good and make what is POSSIBLE, a reality.
I am incredibly blessed for having the opportunity to be there. It was a 24 hours I will carry with me for life and I'm so happy that I met these women and that we decided to keep in touch and hopefully enrich each others lives.

I am also going to thank my kids, Kris and Cassie, for doing such a great job on their service project: Sammie Hartsfield's 4th Annual Bunny Drive.
Sammie was a child I met in Outreach. She died of Osteosarcoma in October but in her honor and memory, her family opted to continue her idea. Sammie urged her family to collect stuffed animals for the kids in children's hospital. and Team Sammie teamed up this year to make Sammie's idea national. Kris and Cassie appealed to the congregation of St. Marcelline Catholic Church to donate stuffed animals for the kids at Comer Children's Hospital. They attended all the masses last weekend asking for the donations and we all attended all the masses this past weekend to collect them. While I was in Atlanta, they braved the rush hour traffic to deliver the animals. Great job, Kris and Cass!! My role was small. I asked the youth pastor if we could do this and I made the call to Comer to arrange the drop off. Kris and Cass did the brunt of the work. I'm proud of their effort and thankful to St. Marcelline for all their generosity.

Focusing on the POSSIBLE! I WILL get an A on that Anatomy test on Monday! Well, it's possible. Better get to studying :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything. Busy..very busy!
I have a lot to update but today, it will be short. Tomorrow, I am flying to Atlanta for the PWFI scholarship banquet. I will return Tuesday night. I do not care for flying. I am a control freak. I want to feel the wheel in my hand. I want to steer my ship or um Honda minivan, myself. I don't find it particularly comforting to be in the air 30K miles up...I just don't. When we hit turbulence, I look around the plane to see if any of the more experienced flyers are reacting. If they aren't, I try to relax. If they are...... someone better have a barf bag or some Depends handy.
Wish me luck or ship me Valium!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fundraiser for

Goodsearch will donate $1 for every toolbar that is dowloaded up to $5,000! Download it here and every time you shop at 1,300 participating stores, a percentage of your purchase will automatically go to our cause! The download is free and there are many discounts for you while shopping. I love this Sarcoma charity and the people who run it. toolbar linkee dinkee do -----> Fightsarcoma Toolbar

Every dollar counts towards fighting this cancer :)
Thank you for your support.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Scan results ( Brivanib, the second year)

Stable but with possible growth of a mm to one nodule and 2mm to another. I was not too thrilled with that but my Onc was not concerned and was questioning how the radiologist could even say that as there is a 2mm deviation on CT scans due to respiration (took a deeper breath) and the CT scanner takes pictures at 2mm intervals. Because I'm on a clinical trial, he mentioned this. If I were a regular patient on a regular mainstream chemo, 1-2mm of growth would not even be mentioned as cancer usually grows a lot faster than that. In the past 15 months, the big nodule grew 2mm POSSIBLY. That is almost the rate of growth of a benign lesion sooooo, I wait for 3 months for the re-scan. My Oncologist said not to lose any sleep over it and my clinical trial nurse asserted it looked to him to be air and not to worry. SOOO...there is hope that these &*)*)& haven't really started growing again.
Things are on hold at ol Ma Bell. I uploaded a resume onto our career website and do check it daily for something I might be interested in doing. If I am forced into this then I want to be picky about my next step. Five years ago, I would have taken anything. Today, I am looking for quality. I don't want any old job just to have a job. I want a job that well, I want. For now, I'm doing my job until I hand it over to the overseas group. I still don't know who will get my government account as that cannot be done overseas but, we'll figure that out.

Emily starts Tee ball tonight. She was angry at me at first for signing her up. Baseball is for boys, she said. Today, she is excited and excessively irritating about when she gets to start. I think her new pink tee ball bat and pink cleats sparked her interest. Today, we get her a mitt and she is insisting she wants baseball socks. She will be playing for the White Sox BOOOO! So far, neither Kris nor Cass ever played for the Hanover Park Cub's teams dagnabit. Emily's father might be thrilled but in a house full of Cub's fans, I guess we'll just have grin and bear the offending uniform.
A couple weeks ago, I took some time and watched "Passion of the Christ" and I cried through the whole thing. I read the reviews of the movie and thought that many missed the point. They focused on the violence and only on the violence, called it violent pornography. Well of course crucifying someone is VIOLENT.. DUHHHH! The movie was about the SUFFERING. I say SUFFERING in capital letters because there is a big difference between SUFFERING like that and suffering with let's say a cold. It wasn't easy to make that choice to SUFFER. But, this man did. He, Son of GOD, also questioned WHY? Couldn't this have been done a different way? Why this unimaginable SUFFERING? Before He was taken into custody, He begged God not to have to do this but He did, took on the cross and carried it. I had to look away from the screen a few times. All I could think was WOW. Just WOW! And Mary, His mom, watched the whole thing. WOW! That must have been so excruciatingly difficult. She could have said no to all of this. Jesus could have said no to all of this. They didn't. Sometimes, we are called to do things that are hugely difficult. But even through this Passion of such HUGE SUFFERING, little bits of the compassionate God shined through. Why would it not for those of us dealing with our own suffering? Have a very HAPPY EASTER everyone. And to Sue, a blessed Passover. Many upheavals in many lives during this time of renewal. I hope that these upheavals will lead to a new and better life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The end is still unwritten

I had barely poured my first cup of coffee Friday morning when my cell phone rang. Seeing it was my boss, I was surprised. She never calls me, not for any reason whatsoever. Surprised she had my cell phone, she called me back on my business line and started the conversation with "I have some bad news for you." blah blah blah "surplus" blah blah...last day May 25th blah blah severance package for you to look over...blah blah blah. Can I say I was shocked? No. I called this day a year ago. My gut was warning me in March. It was telling me in July that it was time to jump ship. Here we are. I was given Friday off to "digest" the news. Despite the conversation, my boss seemed a bit surprised that there was no reaction from me and commented that I seemed to be taking things awfully well. What exactly was I supposed to do? Beg? I simply asked her to forward me the paperwork and I would look it over. She urged me to consult an attorney and a financial consultant and make a decision: upload a resume and try for a position open elsewhere in the company or take my severance and permanently close the door on my career at Ma Bell. I spent Friday doing nothing in particular, went shopping, enjoyed the sun, picked up a prescription, treated it like any other day. Did some thinking over the weekend. Questioned whether I was really OK or just in some sort of denial. Would this layoff leave me in a sea of fear and grief eventually? I slept on it and woke up Saturday morning feeling absolutely.......LIBERATED! Excited even at the thought of a Summer without working two jobs, at resting after back and forth and back and forth to the U of C, Alexian Brothers, endless needles and poking and telling someone my name and birthday. I was excited about studying outside on my deck with a big glass of juice. And then, tonight, while I was taking a shower I remembered April 5, 1995. A young single mom, newly liberated from her husband, started her first day at a company called Advantis. It was the first non restaurant job she ever had and she was scared to death at the thought of working on a computer when she could barely type her name on one. She drove this old beat up two door Dodge Charger without air conditioning and both doors stuck so that she would have leave the window open in order to get into the car because it would only open from the inside. Two little kids were fastened into the back seat for their first day at the new day care. As she stopped off for gas, a million things were running through her head like "Can I do this job?" "OMG! I'm running late!" While deep in thought, she filled her beat up car with gas and realized that she FORGOT TO CRACK THE WINDOW. Kids in the back seat, purse with the money for the gas on the front seat and 45 minutes to show time, she stared at the full gas station, sighed and opened up the hatchback, crawled through a pile of debris while onlookers snickered and opened the door, ran into the store to pay for the gas and tried not to notice the people laughing. The attendant took the money and said "bad day??" "Yep" she said and she drove off for her first day. Once in the call center, she met her boss, Carol. Carol was a sweet and wonderful lady and though young single newly liberated from her marriage, mom was worried sick she could not handle the job, Carol had no doubt she could and boss was right. What was a new adventure, turned into a LOT of new friends. Every day at work was FUN. Weekends were for study or reading or hanging out with co-workers and talking when it was not busy. Relationships. Mary Lou, Ruby, Tom, Joe, Jim, Mahmoud, Doug, Eric, Tina, Ron, Mike and Mike and Mike, Gregg, Faraz, Phil, Leilani, Diane, Lou, Dwayne, Jason, Sherwin...a close crew. Good friends. Many laughs. Good times.
The AT&T that is now, is not the company that young single mom joined 15 years ago and it's not this AT&T that she will miss. Young single mom, now me, will always remember working for Advantis, my very first job. I will always remember kicking the back of Doug's chair on my way to my cubicle EVERY DAY. I do not now why I did that but it became part of the friendship. I will always remember when some smart ass in our group switched the coffee mate with flour. I will always remember Saturdays in the call center. We'd have weekly pot lucks and sit around and girl talk when it wasn't busy. I will always remember Friday nights at Bennigan's, doing blow job shots and winding down after the work week. I will always remember the thrill I had learning, being encouraged to learn, and the great bosses I had who took the time to try and build, not tear down. I have missed the feeling of being valued and wanting to contribute just for that feeling of doing a good job. I have been corporately beaten down by offshoring and outsourcing and feeling devalued, by layoff after layoff since 2004. I've been beaten down by a 40 hour work week somehow slowly growing into a 50 hour work week, then 60 with weekends and nights, feeling guilty for taking time to talk to the kids, eating dinner or going to the bathroom. So, my gut says, no. No resumes. No looking for a job in the company. Take the money and close the door. The fondness you feel is not for this. It's for what was. What was was pretty great. What will be....I guess that's up to me. I'm not saying there isn't a little fear but 3 years ago, I made a promise to God during the Relay for Life. I vowed that as long as I am living I will be a voice for cancer and that I would do anything in my power to eradicate this disease from the face of the Earth. He is holding me to my promise. Whereas He led me to what I needed 15 years ago, I have no doubt He is leading me now....and I'm following. So, goodbye AT&T. It's been a good run. I've learned a lot about what I want, and what I don't. God, now what?