My apologies for the late post…

It’s been a long week post surgery. The surgery itself went quite well and frankly, I felt wonderful for the remainder of that day and most of the next. Then the weekend came and it was back to the insane headaches that leave me in tears in bed for days. I finally decided through gritted teeth and tear stained cheeks that it was time for a hospital trip. It’s not that I thought cancer was taking over my entire body but something has to give with the way that I’ve been feeling lately. 

Joe called my oncologist and spoke to him Sunday. As it turns out, my nurse practitioner was doing her rounds at the hospital that we were planning to go to so she was able to set up all of the admissions paperwork and initial consults for me so that there wasn’t any waiting around and I was guaranteed a bed. So, a bit of light packing later while Jacob finished a nap and we were on our way. I won’t lie, the ride there was horrible and the idea of an ambulance each way quite tempting but I thought better against it. We dropped little man off with Grandma (he was a little too quick to say good bye to us and go play) and went to check ourselves in.

We’ve only been here since Sunday night but I had my first official brain MRI with tissue expanders removed – wahoo!! I had a breast MRI when initially diagnosed to confirm tumor placement but that’s all folks. A brain MRI was exciting and nerve racking to finally have done. And guess what? It’s ALL CLEAR!!!  That’s right – I said it – ALL CLEAR!! TOTALLY STABLE FROM ANY BREAST CANCER IN MY BRAIN!! How awesome is that?! God is good, my friends. God is GOOD

Now, that doesn’t quite tell us what is causing the headaches – the horrible, debilitating headaches – but it does tell us that it’s not from a tumor in my brain. Hallelujah!
There is talk about wanting to do a spinal tap / lumbar puncture to grab a sample of the spinal fluid to be tested for infection or cancer. There is also the possibility of the headaches being a side effect of taking Afinitor or Afinitor mixed with Xeloda. So for now we are taking a break from those to see if it helps. Basically, we are trying a bit of everything to see what helps…which I’m ok with because of how unbelievable these have been!

We have received an incredible outpouring of love and support over this last week – even when folks didn’t know what was happening in our lives. We can’t thank you all enough for every drop of that LOVE!!!

Almost all of the crosses that have been ordered have already been shipped and received – I’m just LOVING the pictures showing up of them, keep them coming! Please send me a message if you think you should have received yours by now and haven’t.  πŸ’š

I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be released but I anticipate being behind on life a bit when I am out. I also know I’m behind on responding to texts, emails and messages so I am sorry already for that. I appreciate your patience as I work to get caught up, though it will take time. I feel like “relaxing” in the hospital should be just that….but it’s not. I spend the day covering my face from these insane headaches, trying different combinations of medications to to stop them, figuring out what to eat  without vomiting and trying to sleep in between. Blech.

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and love. πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

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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.

πŸ’š

“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. πŸ’—

Tonight’s blessings…

As I lay in bed tonight, I cannot help but smile. Today was not easy and honestly, I left the hospital in tears over the way my discharge was handled. It was after 8pm by the time we arrived home and to say that I was exhausted would be an understatement. But as I lay here surrounded by the dark of night, I am reminded of just how blessed I truly am.

I am blessed because…

I have the most amazing husband who stands by my side and sits through surgeries and holds my hand and fills my prescriptions and helps Jacob brush his teeth and makes sure I eat and drives me around and the million other things that this man does for me because he loves me.

There is a procedure available that allows me to deal with this fluid in the comfort of my home and before it becomes painful.

My in-laws adore Jacob and are more than happy to watch him – and he loves them just as much!

We came home to a sparkling clean house, courtesy of dear friends.

I have the ability for a nurse to come to my home and help teach Joe how to drain my lungs for as long as we need.

I could feel all of the prayers, positive thoughts and good vibes today. They swirled about me and my family, touched the hands of the surgeon and his staff and are helping to ease the pain from surgery. I have the most amazing support system that lifts me up and fills my heart.

So as I fall asleep tonight, it will be with a heart full of love from the incredible blessings that I am gifted with tonight & always.

#TeamRedPhoenix

Thanksgiving…

I have been thinking about traditions and blessings today. I read my post from last year and couldn’t help but smile at the traditions we share and Joe’s first Thanksgiving with my family. I remember many Thanksgivings, though many meld together in one happy memory.

I remember my dad making popovers every year and if they didn’t come out just right, he would try again…and again…and again. We would often have a few dozen popovers half risen before dinner. I recall the first time that I made popovers for Joe and, though he thought me crazy at first since he had never heard of them, he enjoyed them so much that we ate them for dinner with gravy all by themselves for about a week straight.

My mom’s mom would always make fresh made biscuits from scratch and would let us grandkids cut out the circles. I remember being propped up on the counter or standing high on a stool while she rolled out the dough and showed me the best places to fit a circle.

I remember the first year that I sat at the “adult” table at my dad’s sister’s house and felt a little sad that I wasn’t at the kid’s table. The next time I sat at the kid’s table.

I made green bean casserole for Joe’s family one year and somehow managed to mess that up despite it being the canned kind. I have since learned to make it from scratch and that seems to come out alright.

I know how proud I was of Joe when he cooked our first turkey in our home. We hosted his parents and were determined to make it perfect. It was perfect because we were blessed with family by our side.

Opening the windows and letting in the beautiful fall breeze wasn’t an option in New York. But it’s something that I have grown quite fond of in Florida. The year that we served appetizers on the back porch while watching the birds play in the yard is one of those times that I was so grateful for Florida weather.

Pecan pie was always a staple in our house growing up. I would typically stay up late the night before with my dad making two pies for the next day. We made two this morning too.

One year at my aunt’s house, my cousins and I were jumping on the bed (a no-no) and I heard my older cousin come in from work and say “I need caffeine!”. I had no idea what caffeine was but I was parched from all that jumping and needed some. I expressed that to my parents, aunts and uncles upon walking downstairs and they looked at each other and laughed, knowing I had no clue what it was. I drank my water and smiled, oblivious to how big of a role caffeine would eventually have in my life!
When my baby sister ventured to Florida for her first Thanksgiving a few years ago, the Brown-Hall-Rivers-Thanksgiving-Extravaganza began. We have celebrated together each year since, taking turns between our states. Though this year was Florida’s turn, we were anxious for fall weather and with all of our recent travel, Georgia made sense. I imagine this is a tradition that will not ever end.

When Jacob was born he sat at the head of the table and we made hand turkeys on a table runner with him each year. It’s a new tradition that I love so much.

This year, we were surprised with wrapped gifts on our plates. Our brother-in-law has a family tradition of receiving a new Christmas ornament from his mom every Thanksgiving. This year, the three of us were blessed with this wonderful treat of a tradition – one that I may have to begin myself!

As I write out these few memories that make me smile and warm my heart, I cannot help but think about how blessed I am. This time last year, I was mid-IV chemo and completely bald. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet just the other day. This year, I have my family by my side as we celebrate this holiday and create new traditions.

As I see all of the smiling faces and delicious meals on social media, I smile at all of the wonderful traditions that surround us. We are so blessed to have the most amazing people in our lives, incredibly lucky to be here to celebrate this day and so loved as we acknowledge the lives that we have lived so far.  There have been many memories created and there are still so many to be made.

I hope you all enjoyed this holiday with your loved ones and snuggle them hard tonight. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! πŸ¦ƒβ€

A little straight…

When I was pregnant, I traveled to NY for my NY baby shower and it happened to be my birthday weekend. My sisters gifted me money for a new hair straightener that I had been eyeing. I was super excited and purchased it immediately (gotta love 2 day shipping on amazon!). It worked amazing and I used it constantly. 

After I shaved my head last year, I offered it to my sisters since I had no use of it for a while. They all responded with a “No way! You’ll need it soon enough!” It’s been sitting patiently in a drawer awaiting the day my hair would be long enough. 

Today, I braved the straightener. My hair went a little crazy in the process (rightfully, it wasn’t really sure what was happening) and I thought for sure a headband would be needed with all its craziness. To my surprise it all calmed down and although short, it’s settled in nicely! I’m excited for a bit more versatility in my hair styles now. I don’t know how long it’ll last (eventually IV chemo will be needed) but I’m totally enjoying it in the meantime.

My feet are sore today after all the walking this weekend (totally worth it!). I think the sand at the beach dried them out a bit and made them a little more sore too. I’m rocking my Sanuk’s today though so the extra cushion helps. I’ve always purchased my Sanuk’s at Ross, the discount store. Thanks to an incredibly generous gift card, I’ll be purchasing my very first pair of Sanuk’s on their website today. I am SO excited for that!!! ❀

It’s the little (big) things in life, friends. The moments like these that make me smile, well they make the day a little easier. Happy Monday! I am definitely too blessed to complain.πŸ’š

Fall fun…

When I was little, my mom always bought window clings for the holidays. Easter, St Patty’s Day, Christmas, you name it. If they made window clings, she bought them for us! I always looked forward to climbing up on the couch and decorating our big front window with them. I would come home from school and rearrange them just because. It never got old for me.

When we bought our home years ago, one of the things I was excited about was the bay window out front. I’ve always decorated it with window clings. Though I’ve missed a few holidays, I always look forward to putting them up on the window. I especially love when I find them on clearance and can stock up for the following year!

Jacob has watched me put up the clings each year but hasn’t shown a lot of interest. For some reason though, I knew this fall would be different. I forgot about the clings during our travel and when I decided to (finally) start decorating for fall today, I wanted Jacob to enjoy it. I remembered the clings and sat down by the front window with him. He was instantly hooked! He put up each one by one, making sure to describe them to me. He put some “up high!” and some “over here!” and I can’t help but smile at all the fun he is having.

The clings are “falling down” (aka he pulls them off and has to put them somewhere else) and he is loving the rearranging. He hasn’t left the window for at least half an hour and keeps showing me the different clings that he is putting up. He is moving them all around and playing with a random lizard (come here lizard!) that stumbled across the outside of our window.

At every age I say it’s the best. But something about this age and his sweet discoveries leaves me so speechless. He loves to learn, enjoys these traditions and will try mostly anything. I am blessed with such a wonderful little man!