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.