Ordering Meghan’s Cross

WOW!! The response to donating for Meghan’s Cross has been nothing short of amazing!!

I understand that there has been some confusion regarding how to receive one, so I updated the Give page with how to order. I’m so sorry for the confusion!

Toni & Mark are already planning to spend some time this weekend making more but in the meantime, I can ship out orders purchased this week! I’m SO excited for everyone to be sharing in the love and faith Meghan’s Cross represents. 

Keep spreading that love! 💚

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Meghan’s Cross 💚

Over a year ago, a dear friend of mine handed me a gift that her husband picked out for me. It’s a cross that he made himself. I wrote about it at the time because it meant so much to me. It’s no secret that I was finding my faith again after diagnosis and that the last year of my life, it has grown even stronger. I wear the cross they gave me regularly because I love it and because it reminds me that God is by my side every step of the way – and so are my incredible friends.

See, these crosses aren’t something that they found and thought of me…they are hand made, with love – every single one of them. We enjoyed a meal together recently and at the end of it, they surprised us with an incredibly kind and generous gift. 

They wanted to help us through this journey and help with donations for all that lies ahead. So…they made us crosses to share with you. Each one is quite literally made with love by my friends, Toni & Mark. They even picked out some of my favorite verses and sayings and printed up cards to send with each cross. And if that isn’t absolutely amazing enough! They asked me to say a little something over each cross – like the favorite verse – before they mail it out. 

Looking past their unbelievable generosity, the process of making each cross simply amazes me.

First, they take a box of masonary nails. They secure them into a vice and heat them up with a torch to bend them. Next, they pair each bended nail together to make a cross.

Once paired, they use gold to weld the nails together – creating a bond between the nails and the gold that is unbreakable. Isn’t the afterglow of the brazing amazing?!  I love that these are brought to the fire in one form and made stronger at the end – with a new purpose. Just like the phoenix.

Next, a hole is drilled in the cross and a jump ring is placed for it to be hung.

Now it’s ready to be wrapped with wire around the gold and leather is used to hang the cross. The end product? 

Meghan’s Cross

When Toni & Mark shared with me that they wanted to make these amazing crosses to be sold for donations, I was immediately brought to tears. But then I saw Joe’s reaction and my heart swelled even more.

“I can’t wait for one!” He exclaimed excitedly. I smiled, “but you don’t wear necklaces?” I asked. He looked at me, eyes wide and animated, “but I can hang it from my desk or rear view mirror and always have Meghan’s Cross nearby.” ❤

If you are interested in one of these gorgeous crosses, head over to the Give page or you can mail a check. The crosses are only $15 each! That includes shipping and a few words of love said by Meghan (me!😉) over each one before it’s sent on its way. 💚

If you are local and would love one, let me know and we can arrange a pickup!

I am incredibly excited about these wonderful creations and I cannot wait to share my love for these crosses with you!

Spread the love, my friends!!

Whew – what a day!

It’s been about 3 months since my last follow ups with the brain radiation oncologist and the neurosurgeon, so today I had both of those. I had my routine 3 month head CT last Monday so both doctors were happy to report that my head is stable. Yay!!! Happy dance!!  💃💃💃  My CT looks the same as it did 3 months ago so, as my neurosurgeon said, stable is a great word in their world.

Since I will be having my surgery to remove tissue expanders soon, we talked about how my 3 month follow up will be an MRI instead of a CT of my head. This is a much longer exam, about 45 minutes inside a machine, and uses magnets to take the pictures instead of xrays like the CT. Since it uses magnets, that’s why my tissue expanders need to be removed prior to having one done. I haven’t had an MRI of my head since all of this began, so it’s a good thing to have this as – hopefully – a baseline for what my head looks like now. He indicated that it wouldn’t be surprising to find 1 or 2 very small tumors inside my head on my first MRI. Obviously we are praying for NONE but he indicated that if those 1 or 2 showed up and are not symptomatic, it’s ok, just something that he would want to know and keep an eye on. 

Since the morning was filled with appointments, I decided that it would make sense to use the rest of the day for appointments as well. The radiation oncologist who handled the radiation to my chest was next, where we discussed the never-ending open wound. When she first asked me about it, I told her I didn’t know what to do anymore because it didn’t seem to be doing anything. I showed her and she was excited that it, in fact, did look smaller than it had a month ago. Whew, I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear that! So although it stinks that it’s still there (stinks is totally not a strong enough word!), at least it is slowly healing even if it doesn’t appear that way to me. She checked out the rest of my radiated field and then commented that the breast cancer on my skin appeared to be stable as well. I had actually had a similar thought this past weekend but it was nice to hear a doctor state that, especially with my rising tumor markers.

Next up was my plastic surgeon. This appointment was a pre-op for my upcoming surgery. My tissue expanders will officially be removed on Thursday, March 9. It was a lengthy appointment and we discussed the pre-op procedures, the actual surgery and the post-op instructions. I’ll have a drain on each side, similar to last year, that will require draining about 3 times a day for about a week (hopefully). No shower for the time that I have my drains, blah, and no changing the bandages until I see the plastic surgeon for my 1 week checkup. I’ll have just the surgical bra and underneath some bandages, steri-strips and internal soutures.

My plastic surgeon decided on a different approach to my incisions over the last 2 weeks. Because he wants to be conservative, he is obviously staying away from the open wound on my chest and has decided to go through my original mastectomy incisions. His initial decision was to create new incisions, under my breast, to stay away from the scar tissue that will have formed on the area of my original incisions. Since there was an extra boost of radiation given to my scars, there is likely significantly more scar tissue formed there. After thinking it over more, he decided that he does want to cut the original incisions, likely close to the original size as well, so that he can remove the tissue expanders and close up my chest without having extra skin leftover. Honestly, neither is ideal and although I didn’t cry today when we talked about it, the idea of no reconstruction makes my heart hurt. I get it and I understand the medical rationale behind it, it just stinks. 

We went over the risks of the surgery, with the most significant risk being that I don’t heal – potentially at all. This is obviously concerning , especially after this open radiation wound, and I asked him to go into more detail so that I fully understand. He indicated that there were certain things that he did not want to get into because he is optimistic about them not happening but did discuss some of the potential issues that I could have if I don’t heal. There is the potential for additional surgeries, infection and even that I quite literally never heal & have open wounds forever. Yikes. Double yikes. My head was swirling a bit and I couldn’t help but second guess the decision to do surgery. But…at the end of the day, the ability to have MRIs is important. The ability to detect cancer at its beginning stages in my brain is extremely important. 

I did have another appointment to end the afternoon but I canceled it previously, knowing that today would be exhausting – which it was.

Since I had so many appointments today, I didn’t have the home health nurse come (the times didn’t work out) and instead Joe drained my lung for the first time. I am always nervous about pain now but he did awesome and stopped as soon as I mentioned that it was starting to hurt. Another 725 ml drained this morning – ugh. But, I at least feel better for a bit!

Todaybwas a bit long. Thankfully, I am blessed with an amazing husband that was by my side for all appointments. This man never ceases to amaze me and I continue to be reminded of his unwavering faith in me. I can’t imagine anyone else helping me to make these impossible decisions.

I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! Enjoy this day and snuggle your loves!! 💚💚💚

“My ‘noculars!”

I can’t stop looking at these pictures from school today – and I love my big hug before he headed there!

Jacob received his “noculars” as a Christmas gift from Grandma & Grandpa. They were a thoughtful gift to help Jacob find fish when out fishing. He absolutely loves them and hasn’t really put them down since Christmas. He likes to take them everywhere and will often bring them in the car and tell us what he sees through them, including mommy and daddy.

For the last week, Jacob has been asking to take them to school. Typically when he does this with a toy or book, we can talk him out of it because he doesn’t want to lose them at school. And we promise to bring them with us when we pick him up. With the binoculars though, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was so adamant that we asked the teachers if it was OK that he kept them with him. They happily agreed (oh gosh, I sure hope he is sharing!) and I don’t think he’s missed a single day of bringing them with him since.

He accidentally left them at school last night and was a bit distraught over not having them. When we explained that he would find them at daycare when he went, he was anxious to hop in the car and get there. I imagine he found them soon after arrival and didn’t take them off much afterwards. 

His school uploaded the pictures of him drawing on paper and then checking it out with his binoculars. I love it so much! They are helping him to embrace the use of his favorite toy and learn more about how he can use it. I love that he has such a wonderful imagination to go along with these binoculars and that his school helps him to foster that. I love that he loves a toy that has practical uses. I love that he enjoys his binoculars so much. I love everything about these pictures. 

I love that I see these pictures and it makes me take a step back in my own life. It’s easy to get caught in the thick of things and lost in the weeds. It’s hard to pull yourself out and find yourself & your purpose again. Feeling as badly as I have recently, I have been losing myself in those very weeds, focusing solely on the pain and discomfort. 

But there’s so much more to it. There’s all last week, which I am still not over emotionally. There is all of the incredible upcoming events and visits that are planned. There are the little things (that are actually quite big in the long run), that I want to incorporate into my everyday routine and have no excuse for why I keep pushing them out. There’s my purpose, my desire, that I want to focus on now, not later.

No, I can’t stop the way that I feel physically, but I can take a look through a different lens and see the things that I want to focus on. Things that I’ve been excited about but pushed aside because of the way that I have felt recently. 

It took Jacob and his noculars to remind me that I am in control of the lens that I use to see life through. It’s time to start using the one that helps me focus on what’s truly important. It’s time to switch my lens.

Pain, pain, go away!

It’s a rainy day here in Central Florida…one that worked well with my impromptu nap this afternoon! It’s crazy to think that the week is already half over. I spent almost all weekend and a lot of this week “relaxing”. This really means that I’ve been too tired or uncomfortable to do anything. Thankfully my husband and little guy have been wonderful with taking care of me and ensuring my comfort.

I’ve consistently been draining a lot of fluid from my lung, which is drained every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Last week ended at 850 ml, which was the amount drained again on Monday, and then 600 ml today. I owe a phone call to the doctor because Monday and today’s drainings hurt enough that I asked them to slow down and stop. I’m not sure if it’s close to the end and that’s why it hurts or if the tube is in a weird spot. It’s worth the ask, either way. The fluid causes discomfort and pain in my chest because it fills so quickly and in general, my back has been hurting a bit. I imagine this is also caused by the fluid but who knows.

My appetite is not awesome and I’m losing weight rather quickly because of it. This may be because of the mixing of chemo pills, Afinitor and Xeloda, so we will see how I feel during my week off, starting tomorrow. During my first trimester of pregnancy with Jacob, I had major food aversions. Everything seemed to upset my stomach and I basically lived off of cereal (this actually remained true throughout the rest of my pregnancy). Just the smell of foods would make my stomach turn. Even the times that I would crave something like crazy, I would eat it and immediately it would become unbearably unappetizing to me. This is reigning true now, only times about 10. Thank goodness for smoothies.

I’ve been able to get things done off of my to-do list, which helps me to feel accomplished, though my list is taking significantly longer to accomplish than it once did. I’m tired relatively quickly and often need to lay down after crossing a few things off. I’m grateful to be able to accomplish as much as I can, despite not feeling wonderful. 

It’s frustrating. The pain, the discomfort, the utter exhaustion and the overall feeling of not being well…it sucks. Throughout most of the last year and a half, I have been able to push through the times that I’ve felt bad, knowing that I would eventually feel good again. I’m struggling with that right now. The times that I feel bad are becoming more frequent than the times that I feel good.  And that hurts. I don’t like that. Despite putting on a smile and going out to do something, I am finding it harder and harder to force aside the feeling of discomfort. It’s frustrating because I want nothing more than a sense of normalcy, for my family to feel comfortable going out with me and enjoying our time together, rather than worrying if I am doing ok. I know they will worry either way, it’s just hard to come to terms with the fact that my new normal changes by the day. 

Tonight Jacob asked me if he could bring me to the doctor to feel better. While his innocence warms my heart, it stings for him to know that I’m not feeling well. I told him that I went to the doctor and have medicine to help me get better. He squealed in excitement at that and hugged me big.  He exclaimed, “Yay!! You get better! Did you see Dr T?” I laughed at his reference to his pediatrician (it amazes me what he remembers!) and held back tears, knowing that I will never get better despite his excitement.

I don’t share this for pity or to cause concern. I am not giving up and I know how very blessed that I am – if the last week has shown me nothing else, it’s that I am truly blessed. I share this because it is the reality of how I feel in this moment. Cancer sucks. It’s not all pink and frilly, sprinkled with rainbows & butterflies with a dash of survivorship. It’s constant pain, a forced smile and a lack of appetite. It’s a hope for a good day, the need to not have to nap, and to sleep through the night without waking up in pain.

It’s not letting my family see the struggle or witness the constant discomfort. It’s being afraid to make plans for the future, out of fear of how I will feel. It’s wondering if I will truly feel worse than I do during my worst moments now.

But, I will push all of those thoughts and feelings of discomfort aside. I will hug my boys and snuggle them to sleep. I will watch them breath deeply with sleep, knowing that for now I am blessed to wake up by their side and embrace another day with them. That, in itself, is one of the biggest blessings of all.

💚

God Winks…

I have been a believer in God Winks for many years. I remember when I was around 18 or 19 & I read a teeny-tiny book about God Winks. It explained them in plain terms for me & provided examples that I could relate to in my own life. Some examples were simple, perhaps opening a book – particularly the Bible – to the exact passage that you needed to hear in that moment. Or something bigger like an unexpected visit or gift that answered your unspoken question. Sometimes they were shown as a way to remind me or show me that I made the right choice.

Once you change your way of thinking to start seeing these winks sent by God, they seem to be more noticeable. They were likely always there but it was a matter of changing your thought process to ensure that you can pick them out. It’s not something that is necessarily seen in the moment, although that certainly happens, but often times it’s thinking back over the last week or month and realizing just how many – and how BIG – God Winks surrounded you.

I’ve been thinking back over the weeks of this year. I was struggling with making a particular decision and over-thinking it, as I often do. Without realizing it at the time, every question or hesitation that I had was answered or removed as a non-issue. Before it was even time to make a decision, the decision was made for me because the God Winks laid out the answer for me by eliminating every possible burden or roadblock. There wasn’t a choice to make because the path was laid out before me.

This week has been filled with blessings. Many I have written about and others that I haven’t, but this entire week was filled with tears of pure happiness and joy. I can’t fathom what I have ever done to deserve the incredible blessings that my family and I have received. 

I won’t pretend this week was easy, because it wasn’t. I had my fair share of frustrations, I have been in continuous discomfort, my tumor markers are rising, my fluid output isn’t getting lower (850 ml on Friday) and my energy levels are the lowest that I’ve ever seen them. I have a lot of decisions to make, a long list of to-dos and I can’t seem to catch up on life, despite making more room for me to handle life.

But…I think back to the blessings of this week and I smile. They overshadow any of the down moments that I have had. They make me smile and make my heart feel full. These God Winks remind me that I am on the right path in life. No, it’s not perfect and yes, I have a lot of things to do (I am stalking UPS and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new planner that I hope will help me to organize my life!).

But I must be doing something right. If these God Winks – these amazing blessings – show me nothing else, they show me that I am headed down the right path in life…the path that I am meant to be on.

💚

“I will bring you butterflies”

Every year for the week of Valentine’s Day, Jacob’s school has a Heart Art Sale. All the kids in school create a special piece of artwork (thanks to the amazing teachers!) and the art goes for sale to the parents for $5 each. As part of this sale, the kids learn about what philanthropy means and the proceeds are donated to a charity.

This year, Jacob’s school surprised us in a BIG way. They decided to donate all of the proceeds from the Heart Art sale to the Rallying for Red Phoenix fundraiser! They even bought Jacob’s artwork for us!  As if that isn’t enough to make me cry, an anonymous donor asked to match all of the proceeds from the sale. Wow. There are no words to express how this has made us feel. His school made us promise not to use the money towards any adulting – just something FUN for our family. They even suggested a weekend away at the beach – how perfect does that sound?!

Throughout this entire week, the school celebrated Spirit Week. They wore a different color each day and learned what it means to be a philanthropist. They have spent the whole week decorating the school with all of the art they have been working on this week, as the Heart Art artwork pieces are sold.

On Thursday, we picked up Jacob to find that the entire lobby was decorated as the Red Phoenix Beach! Each classroom chose a different piece of beach themed art to make and each child created their own masterpiece. They took all of these amazing pieces of art and created a beach – just for me. And wow, is it incredible.  The imagination, the vision and the depth of dreams that these children have is amazing. Truly amazing.

Then there was today. The color of the day was green and it was Red Phoenix Day!  Everyone wore green – many even wore a Red Phoenix shirt! Walking into the school today, I couldn’t help but smile with tear filled eyes. Seeing the incredible beach pictures, the art work made by all of the different classes and everyone – kids, parents & children – wearing GREEN…for me. Every time I thanked someone they responded by telling me that they should be thanking me, for being an inspiration to them. I’m just me. It’s you all that are so amazing.

Picking up Jacob tonight, the director stopped to tell us that she had a surprise for us and to stop on the way out. After picking up little man from the playground, we headed back to the lobby. There, the director came out of her office with a jar and two books.

The Jar.  She shared that the jar is a Love Jar for us, from all the kids in the school. It is filled with paper that is cut into the shape of mason jars and each child in the school decorated their own jar with their fingerprints or drawings or hearts or words just for us. The title of this post? One of the awesome jars I found in there.

The Beach Book. They made “Our Beach Book For Ms Meghan”. It’s filled with beach scenes, made with love. There are beach chairs, boats, fish, sharks, crabs, palm trees, lots of sand and the sun too. It’s…perfect.

The Book. All of the teachers and directors of the school wrote messages to Jacob in the book, “Mama, Will You Hold My Hand?” by Anna Pignataro. I was told to be ready for tears from the book but I imagine many will be from the notes to Jacob also. ❤

Amazing. As I hugged each of these incredible women, I couldn’t help but wonder how we ever became lucky enough to find this school. Not only do they adore Jacob and treat him like their own, they are unbelievably kind to us as well.  They are a part of our family and a reminder of just how blessed we are.

We are truly too blessed to complain. 💗