Tuesday, March 22, 2011


we are entering a new phase. perhaps we've been entering this phase for about 6 weeks since my treatment officially ended february 8th. but i was waiting for my first official oncology visit to officially transition. i looked it up. "the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another." that does seem to best describe where we are at/going. it's a good place to be. it's also weird and strange and different. it's as if i've finally accepted not being in crisis mode. maybe in some twisted way i didn't mind being in that mode/phase. as i sat on the examining table at my doctor's appointment yesterday i was reflecting on how straight forward my treatment was. there seemed to be no questions about how they (the doctors) were going to treat me. chemo, surgery, radiation. those were the 3 words i heard from the very beginning. and that's how it played out. and now i'm done.

recently someone asked when i'd feel like i was on the other side of this. for me it'll be after my reconstruction. my body is a daily reminder of what cancer has done/is doing to us; how it's changed us. even after reconstruction this will be true. but other things are "getting back to normal" in a way. my hair is growing back. it even seems to be thicker. i "feel" good and have the energy to exercise and do "normal" things. i'm still having hot flashes many times throughout the day and night. another indication that my body is not "back to normal." that is why i say we are in transition. we are moving forward and changed.

one thing i don't want to lose as we move forward is my complete dependence and trust in the Lord. it seems when this storm came i knew i needed Jesus like never before. entering the cancer world can be overwhelming whether it's the fear or the bombardment of advice or the changes that happen to your body. it's easy to get tricked into trusting others and other things too. but i have to say that when it boils down to it what i have left is Jesus. he has not changed or waivered since those early days in the waiting room. studies and statistics do. i choose to trust him still. i know what "they" say about recurrence but there is so much possibility and what-ifs. i believe that God designed this for us and therefore i accept whatever he has in store for us even still.

one thing i forgot to ask my doctor yesterday is if i was "cancer free." partly b/c i forgot and partly b/c my other doctor said they would never use those terms. not sure why. i realize with a lot of things i don't care about the why. it seems everyone else wants to know if i'm "cancer free" or "in remission" or "all good" more than i do. the language of recurrence seems to communicate that something is gone. so even though i don't have an official-the-doctor-says-i'm-this-term, it's suffice to say i'm free of something. i'm free.

i've journaled a lot in this process and will continue to do so. there are a ton of things i've learned about myself, adam, God, others, my body, cancer, doctors, and so much more. breast cancer has been hard. it seems to be a "popular" cancer with all the pink and the boobs and the campaigns. but it's completely over-sexualized. the rhetoric used can sometimes be ridiculous. you'll see this all over. and yes it can be funny. oh, because we need to be funny. i, of all people, love to be funny. i know that God has gifted me with a sense of humor to "get through" tough things. but i've learned a lot about what is funny and what's not. i mean, if it came down to saving my "ta-tas" or my life, we clearly chose my life. to say i don't care about breasts would be a lie. but, mine weren't worth saving. let's just say i've been challenged in new ways. i've been living without my breasts for 4 months now. it's hard a lot of the time. it's liberating too. it's beautiful and ugly all at the same time. i saw something online recently and am awed and amazed. let me warn you that if you click on this link there are some images that may be hard to see. but they are brave and beautiful nonetheless. The Scar Project.

so, here we are...transitioning...moving forward...trusting...clinging to hope. life is full. adam and i are at a new and unique place. i wouldn't trade it for anything. we have a vivacious little lady that fills my heart with so much joy i might explode. i've experienced new levels of realness and intimacy in friendships. God has used this. he will continue to use this. i have the privilege to walk a road uniquely designed for me. i wouldn't take this back. i wouldn't. i trust God with abandonment. i know He is for me and with me. i know His love is deep and wide and high and long.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Restaurant Review--Luna's Living Kitchen

I haven't done a restaurant review in a while. but i recently ate a yummy veggie garden burger from Luna's that i had to share my thoughts on this place. Luna's Living Kitchen is located in southend beside the atherton farmer's market. the place is strictly vegan. since my mom is a vegan i went there for the first time with her. i had their veggie garden burger that comes with a side salad. my mom had the Lunasagna which we don't recommend, unless you are a true vegan and used to eating stuff like that. but the veggie burger is pure flavor deliciousness. the food at Luna's is a work of art. everything is always plated with purpose and care presented to the customer like a piece of art. see..

i have yet to try anything else at Luna's because i like the veggie burger so much. it's like like most veggie burgers out there because this one is more grain (quinoa) based. it is savory and served with fresh avocado on two slices of hearty whole grain bread. the side salad is fresh and yummy too. eating at Luna's makes me feel good because the food is fresh and local. my two favorite things.

i also went to a meeting at Luna's about "preventing breast cancer" last month. i was skepticle because a) i already have breast cancer and b) i'm not sure i can totally prevent cancer and c) i get nervous when people tell me i can do so by what i eat or do. but i have to say that it wasn't so bad. it was a small group of women, led by a life coach, who talked about risk factors both that we can't avoid (genetics, family history, being a woman, hormones, etc) and those we may have some control over (diet, lifestyle, exercise). i was tempted to be overwhelmed but i decided to have some perspective. i'm not willing to cut out dairy b/c i don't think it's the main culperate, for example. but i am willing to exercise more and incorporate more veggies (the really good ones like brocolli and kale) into my diet. for me it can become a slippery slope of playing God. how much do i really have control over? granted there are things i can do, but ultimately God is in control and i do totally trust him. there is a chance i could totally transform my diet and still get cancer. i think all this can be controversal and we all have our thoughts about it. but as someone with cancer it's different.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

when life hands you oranges...

make orange juice! duh.

this past sunday we had our Young Life 5K at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It's our 5th year doing it. the main goal is to provide a fund-raising opportunity for YL areas in our region to help kids raise money for summer camp. (this year we had over 600 people and raised over $20,000) if you've ever been to YL summer camp you know it's amazing. we get lots of folks there, mainly because they are associated with YL somehow. then we get some hardcore runners who find something wrong with our race. i mean it's nothing professional. we put it together ourselves. it's unique because it's on the track which is kind of fun. to make it feel more like a race we have Smoothie King come and provide mini smoothies. and we have bagels, oranges and bananas because i think that's what runners want after a race.
it's always hard to know how much food to have. i hate (really hate) wasting or throwing out food. so when we had 2 boxes of cut up oranges leftover on Sunday i decided to take a box. it sat at the bottom of my fridge a couple days. then i decided to pull down the Jack Lelane juicer. after peeling the oranges i proceeded to juice the oranges. while i had the thing on i decided to do some carrots too. mmmmmmmm so yummy.

after peeling the orange quarters

i'd like to drink more smoothies & juice and incorporate more greens into my diet. i think this can just be good for anyone. this particular juicer doesn't juice greens so i'm in the market (i.e. saving) for a Vita Mix. it's a far cry from our little (well more bulky than little) Jack Lelane and it does greens like spinach and kale. to make room (one day) for the new one i'm selling the Jack Lelane. it's been good to us when we've used it. i mean, i just had a refreshing glass of fresh orange and carrot juice. yummy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sweet 16

She's getting closer to 2 and further from 1 but she is still our baby. I would say this past month has been the hardest. And I will quickly add that hard is completely relative. As I've said from the beginning Charis is such an easy baby. Sleeps great. Eats great. I guess this is the "just wait" that everyone was talking about. And on that note I've vowed never to say that to a mom cause it pisses me off. Anyway. In this past month she's been sick more and having more interrupted sleep. This has caused her to be more clinging and cranky. Two characteristics that are hard to deal with. Even if just for a couple hours a day. Last week I found myself praying and asking God to help me enjoy her clingyness because that is when she is most cuddly and wants me more. I know the day will come when she'll slam her bedroom door in my face, so I want to relish these sweet (& hard) moments. All that to say that it's just a couple hours a day. The rest of the time is fun as we watch her curiosity grow.

too cool
- She's been waking in the middle of the night more. A handful of times we've just brought her to bed with us and she's even slept on me. Way different from her new days. Part of me wants to freak i'm-becoming-one-of-those-cospleeping-parents-and-she-is-going-to-sleep-with-us-til-she's-15. Then I get a grip and actually enjoy her sweet breath as she cuddles with us and her dollie. Some nights I try to ignore her and she can put herself back to sleep then there are the nights where she is too far gone and needs some mama love which I am "happy" to give.

- She still loves to read. She signs "book" and say's something like "boo" when she does it. I'm amazed that she'll sit and read a whole stack of books. She even has preferences for which book we read to her, which is funny to me.

looking at the ducks at freedom park
- She is using the potty lots. We introduced the potty early and did some of that "elimination communication" stuff so she is familiar with it. By no means is she potty trained. She can sign "potty" and sometimes tell us she needs to go or take us there. When she poos on the potty, she loves to read. I'm not saying where she gets this from.

- She's talking a lot. Some are recognizable words and some are sounds that refer to something and some is straight up jibberish. I love it all. Some of the words she is saying are "cracker" (which is any dried good), "go", "mommy", "daddy", "Amy", "bubble", "no". Some of the sounds/words she says is "book", "doll", "dog", "boat", "shoes", "school", "nose". She repeats a lot of sounds. Sometimes it sounds like she says "cool."

enjoying the sunshine in shorts...so cute
- I'm constantly amazed at her ability to remember and make connections. She loves birds. Whenever she sees one or looks out the window she points and makes the whistle sound with her lips. (if that makes sense) When Adam's parents were here in January his dad did this funny thing with her where he'd stick out his tongue then slap the back of his head. The other day on Skype Adam said that when Charis saw his dad she immediately put her hand behind her head. Things like that are crazy to me. They just pick up on so much more than we think.

- Charis is so outdoorsy. She loves to be outside. If she is in a struggling mood and we take her outside, she is so happy and content. Which makes me so ready for Spring. We took her on a bike ride up to Freedom Park a few weeks ago. I think she is still getting used to a bike helmet and the bike trailer.

getting situated in her Adirondack
- She is officially down to one nap. Doesn't really seem to make that big of a difference, which means I guess I don't really remember what 2 naps were like. Some days it's 1 1/2 hours and some days it's as much as 3 1/2.

@ buxton's party...getting warmed up
- She has such a curiosity and attention to detail. She'll notice a crumb or even a speck of dirt and work really hard to get it. Once she has it in her (pincher) grasp she hands it to us. I've also noticed that she doesn't like to have her hands dirty. Figures.

I think I've taken less pictures this past month too. I'm not sure why but I can't seem to find many pictures. And I definitely neglected to take her official 16 month picture. Mainly b/c she's had a "tough" week. She came home Thursday with a blazing fever, then woke up last night at 3am burning up. So, she slept on me. I have to admit that I love that more than I don't. She babbles a bit then gets herself all cozy and goes to sleep. I love the closeness but I don't like the heat. Hot flashes and a feverish child do not mix.

i love when adam dresses her