A little food and a little wine…

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I love food. I love wine. I love food and wine at the same time. During the time following treatment, there isn’t much food that I find appealing and wine isn’t an option. I take a lot of medicine to try and curb the nausea but the food aversions are quite strong. I still have an appetite, which makes eating especially challenging because of how unappealing everything is. I have consistently been able to eat cheese, eggs, crackers and popsicles. Lots and lots of popsicles. Water is a challenge too but I work past it because I know how important water intake is to flush my system.

Today, we spent a few hours at Epcot with Grandma and Grandpa exploring the Food & Wine Festival. Despite the heat, which has been getting cooler and cooler each day, it was such a wonderful day. We visited many countries around the world and shared different appetizer sized plates and small beverages. Since it has been a few weeks since my last treatment, I am able to eat pretty regularly. And I did just that today. I savored many delicious treats.

I’ve been to the Food & Wine Festival before but this visit was a little more precious. Every moment with my family is precious. Seeing Grandma & Grandpa smile while little man dances to the music in Morocco makes my heart smile. Enjoying the fabulous food around the world, knowing there will be a time again in the next week where the thought of food is completely unappealing, makes me grateful for each and every bite while I am able to enjoy it.

While I sip a glass of red tonight, I am savoring the moments of today. The carefree joy of time with family, the ability to relax and the spirit of innocence while my little man met Mickey and Goofy…makes for a memorable and amazing day. Happy Friday, my friends.

The pain of progress

Throughout my life, I have taken up running a few times. I developed a love for running in middle school, thanks to the after school cross country team. I tend to run in spurts, taking it up for a few weeks at a time and then stopping for various reasons – a cold, a vacation or something else in life. Running has always been therapeutic for me. I way to clear my head and think through things going on in my life – whether work or personal.

Whenever I ran, I looked forward to the pain in my muscles as I progressed. I would wake up the day after a run and feel the soreness when I walked, sat down or stood up. I loved it because it made me feel like progress was being made. That progress motivated me to keep going; keep pushing.

Last week, my lymph nodes started hurting. My tumor had hurt after treatment previously but I hadn’t felt my lymph nodes hurt consistently since before I was diagnosed, when they hurt because the cancer was taking them over. Feeling this pain again was scary at first, until I thought – wait, it is working!

At my checkup with the oncologist this week, I shared that my lymph nodes had been hurting pretty consistently and that I thought it was a good sign. My oncologist looked me in the eye and smiled wide.

“We don’t expect anyone to tell us that it hurts. But it is a good sign. It is great news.”

My oncologist could feel the difference in size in my lymph nodes and my tumor and the look on his face said it all. The cancer is dying. I am winning. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after my upcoming treatment, I can’t even feel my tumor anymore.

How awesome is that?!

12 years…

2003

In 2003 Sheryl, one of my very best friends from childhood, wanted to introduce me to a boy she knew from a previous job. She had been asking me to meet him for months and I kept pushing it off and evading the question. We were walking through the mall one day and she asked me again. The conversation went as it typically did, except this time I caved.

Sheryl: “I am telling you, Joe is perfect for you! You will get along great.”

Me: “Yeah, yeah, I know. Maybe next week.”

Sheryl: “Oh come on! Just meet him! I’ll come with you, it’ll be fun!”

Me: “I’m sure he’s great. I’ll think about it.”

Sheryl: “Pppllleeaassseeee???”

Me: (Insert eye roll) “Fine! I’ll meet him. Tonight. That’s it though, if he isn’t available tonight then you can’t ask me again.”

Sheryl immediately whipped out her pink flip phone and made a call, smiling her widest smile. Within a few minutes, we were scheduled to meet up at Joe’s house with a few mutual friends.

That night, 12 years ago today, I met Joe. (And, ironically, his roommate who is also named Joe!) After an awkward introduction to the “Joes”, Sheryl and I sat and chit-chatted while the boys played video games. The night itself was low key but I decided that I did, in fact, want to learn more about Joe. I started hanging out with him more and more and started to get to know him better. He had a great smile, he was kind and he made me laugh. We started dating and, as they say, the rest is history.

When I think back to how this life with Joe all began, it makes me smile. My best friend knew we were perfect for each other, even though we didn’t at the time, and wouldn’t give up on us meeting each other. Who would have thought that night would change both of our lives forever?

How did you meet the love of your life?

Saturday morning blessings

It’s barely 10am and this has been an emotional morning – happy emotions, thankfully! I woke up to an event scheduled by a dear childhood friend. She is hosting a musical event at my parent’s restaurant in my honor this month. The event falls over my next treatment weekend and I already know that the emotional support received that night will help me through those challenging days.

Then my Facebook and Instagram were flooded with the green support that Saturdays offer. It is such a humbling and sweet feeling to see everyone finding unique ways to wear my favorite color!

Today is also the Race for the Cure in Albany, which many friends are participating in, in my honor. I see pictures of these incredible women – survivors – who are strong, motivated and true inspirations. They have been on this journey that I am on and they have beaten this horrible disease. Seeing their smiling faces – and all of the amazing family and friends out their supporting everyone – gives me chills. They are the definition of strength.

While my loves dance to the music of this beautiful Saturday morning in Florida, I await the arrival of two of my closest friends. They are coming over to help me learn fun ways to wrap my head in scarves and are also joining in on the head wrapping fun themselves. Then we are off to the beach on this gorgeous day for some girl time.

I feel so blessed on this incredible Saturday. Make it a wonderful day, my friends!

Giving back!

The Love Jar

Today marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I’ve been thinking about this month for weeks now. I want to do something to give back but I couldn’t decide what I have the ability to do.

This morning, I woke up and dressed for work. While my husband and I were getting ready to walk out of the house, I realized it was October 1st. I also realized that I wasn’t wearing anything pink. I went back to change my clothes and decided that I would commit to wearing pink every day this month. It is the least that I can do, especially since I have not been able to come up with a way to give back. At least I can show my commitment to awareness through wearing pink.

On the way to work, I commented to my husband that I had posted 41 times on my blog. He responded that 41 blog posts means 41 pages in a book. I smiled at that!

Changing my clothes made us a few minutes late leaving the house – oops. My husband had an 8am meeting so I dropped him off and brought little man to daycare. After dropping little man off, I started thinking again about what I can do. I recalled my husband’s comment and thought to myself, Maybe one day I’ll be able to hand out my book to people undergoing cancer treatments! This made me smile again. I asked myself what my abilities are, thinking that I can utilize them in some way. Ok, I can write. How can I utilize that to help people? And then it hit me.

The Love Jar!

I wrote about The Love Jar that was created for me a few weeks back. This is the second one that I have received and I absolutely and completely LOVE IT. When I am having a bad day, I pull out a one or two (or five) of the strips of paper in there. They make me laugh or smile or cry or all of these at once. They make me feel so good inside. It helps alleviate the stresses of treatment and it reminds me of how loved I am. It gives me strength.

I want to create Love Jars for people undergoing treatment for cancer. I want to fill them with inspiration, positive thoughts and words of wisdom, strength and courage. All of the things that can help someone through the challenging treatment days. I want to bring them to my treatment center and leave them to be shared with the people who receive care there.

While this is a small gesture, it is something that can help make people smile and feel good, during a time they need it most. All of you make up the Red Phoenix community, which will be the heart and soul of these Love Jars. If you want to help by sharing your thoughts, kind words and encouragement, please please please do so! Leave a comment here, on the I am Red Phoenix Facebook page or send me an email at Red@IamRedPhoenix.com and I will gladly include it!

Here’s to giving back – and helping to make people smile!

Goodbye, queen

When we purchased our home, one of the cool things about it was the queen palm in front of the bay window. It was massive, rising high above our house, and it was beautiful.  Every year the palm fronds need to be trimmed. We usually time this right around when the seed pods begin to form because once the pods grow, they are quite heavy and drop onto our roof and yard. Each time they fall, they bang loudly and roll down the roof. It’s rather annoying all day but we also worry about the potential damage to the roof.  With everything happening recently, we didn’t have the tree cut like we normally do so the pods are fully formed and the seeds have been dropping on the house. This time, my husband pointed out a rotten smell around the tree as well, which we associated with the seeds, although we don’t remember the smell in years past.

There is a lot of construction being done on our road and many of the trees around our house have had limbs broken by the equipment moving around. This made me a little nervous because I didn’t know if that caused harm to the trees. I don’t want the trees to start dieing and become a risk of falling.

Yesterday we had a tree company come out to trim everything back and ensure they are all safe and healthy. When the arborist looked at the queen palm prior to trimming it, he called to let us know that the tree is rotting. The smell was coming from the pods.   The tree would be dead in 3 months.

Three. Months.

This tree, which weighs thousands of pounds, could have fallen directly on our house if it wasn’t taken down.

Funny how things work out sometimes, isn’t it? A little tree damage from construction prompted us to call about our trees and it ended up raising a bigger issue that could have been disastrous.

Have you experienced a time where you happened to follow a certain path, that ended up being a blessing in disguise?