Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Monday, December 31, 2007


New Year’s Eve

I’ve had some really wild ones.

In high school I remember my junior year hanging out in the neighborhood, standing in the middle of the street singing the B-52’s Love Shack.

My senior year we were at my friend Melanie’s house. Her mom was always going out on dates, so that left her house open for parties. My friend Norma and I actually looked in the phone book and called our French teacher at midnight to wish him a Happy New Year. Obviously alcohol was involved.

One year in college I spent the big evening in Boston with my then boyfriend…now husband. We spent fifty bucks a ticket to go to a club down the street called The Roxy, and being a college student, that was a lot of money I remember thinking that if I was going to spend that much money, I was going to drink all the free champagne I could down. Not much I actually remember about that night. However, I do recall going to the bathroom, standing in line for a long time, then forgetting where I had left Melvin. I spent at least 30 minutes wandering the club looking for him. We did manage to find each other for the midnight kiss…but it was close. Now the next day I remember very clearly, and it was not a pretty sight!

One year when I lived in New Jersey I spent the big night in New York City. Not in Times Square though. My friend Lanette and I took a group of kids from her high school Cross Country team, and we ran a race in Central Park, which began at midnight. Half-way through, in addition to having a water station, they also had a champagne station! I was SO COLD that year, but we had a lot of fun...and encountered some interesting characters on the train ride home.

The next year was the year 2000! I was VERY excited about Y2K. Melvin and I decided to ring in the new millennium in style by going to Vegas. We went to a club called Rum Jungle at Mandalay Bay, spending $250 for a ticket to get in! We were really going all out. And I had the same mind set that night as I did back in Boston…trying to drink my money’s worth! I remember the DJ playing Prince’s “Party like it’s 1999,” ringing in the New Year, then Will Smith’s “Willenium.” And like in Boston, I wasn’t feeling all that great the next day…and we had to catch a plane back home!

Since having children, our New Years have been more kid-centered, including a First Night celebration in Ocean City, NJ, and last year hanging out at our town’s sports center, watching the kids jump in the inflatables, dance to a DJ and create crafts.

This year...well...nothing. Melvin’s on call (and as of 8:30 PM is at the hospital), I’m fighting a sinus infection and Ella has a fever of 101. So no exciting celebration this year.

But next year……we’re going to party…preferably someplace hot!

Happy New Year everyone!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

I can't believe I'm posting this picture!

My hair is starting to grow back.

I mean it must be coming in pretty fast.

Because a couple days ago, while walking around the Mall of America, a guy at one of those carts came up to my sister and I, not once…but twice…asking us…

if we wanted our hair straightened or curled.

Does it look like I’m in need of any kind of styling device?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A little Michelle Kwan?

Some people might think that I was a little bit crazy to take my 6 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old ice skating.

But this is Minnesota…hockey country…where kids skate before they can walk!

I was not a little crazy….I was ridiculous, out of my mind, what they hell was I thinking, crazy!


I guess I should elaborate on the above, since some have asked for more details.

Two years ago my sister and niece took Cameron ice skating. He HATED it...didn't like the falling, didn't like the cold, etc. The only thing he did like was the hot chocolate! But this year, having gone to a party that involved roller blading a couple weeks ago, he was more confident and actually was excited to get out onto the ice. He had no inhibitions and just took off. At one point he came off the ice to proclaim that he had made it around and only fell 4 times. When I asked him how many times he usually falls when going around, he said, "Like 20 times! But if you just go really fast, then you don't fall as much." I fear how many lives he put in danger out on the ice, with his going so fast and crashing constantly, but I couldn't watch because I had my other two to deal with. (Oh, and later when he was taking his skates off, we discovered that he had skated that whole time with two left skates!).

Max on the other hand was different story. He's very different than Cameron personality-wise. He has very little confidence with trying new things, so why I thought I'd be able to get him out on the ice is beyond my imagination. And he didn't really know what he was getting himself into when he told me that yes, he wanted to go skating. As soon as we got him out on the ice, he had nothing but complete fear in his bone. Even though I was holding him under his arms and keeping him up straight, he wanted nothing to do with that ice. He kept yelling, "It's slippery! I'm gonna fall!" The boy had tears streaming down his face. So our five minute stint on the ice was soon over, skates were off and returned, and a refund received.

Ella wanted to be like everyone else, in the beginning. I rented the smallest pair of skates, and she was very excited to get out there with the rest of the crew. Since Max was with me, my sister had to take Ella. She was NOT happy about being out on the ice, and she kept crying for me. We ended up taking her right off the ice, taking off her skating boots, and putting back on her snow boots. She was much happier running around the outside of the rink than sliding on it. Another refund.

I don't think we'll be venturing out to the ice rink together this year...actually, maybe not for a few years.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The unwrapping

Christmas morning is always fun when you have a household of kids. They each approached their wrapped mountain in a different way.

Cameron tried to begin his day at 12:30 AM. Melvin and I were still both up doing the usual last minute gift wrapping and toy assembly. All the lights were on, so Cameron assumed it was morning. He came bounding down the stairs, “Merry Christmas guys!” We quickly sent him back up. At about 6:30 AM he came to our room and woke us up for the day. Cameron took awhile to open his presents because he wanted to see what his brother and sister were getting as well, and with each present that he opened, he would express such excitement and tell us how much he wanted it.

Ella didn’t run right to her pile, but when given a gift, she joyfully ripped open the paper. Then she would immediately hand me the opened gift and whine, “Open it! Open it!” because she wanted to play with whatever was inside immediately.

Max was very interested in the opening of the presents, but not the presents themselves. In about five minutes he was done with his heap of gifts and then kept saying, “I want more presents! I want more presents!”

The rest of the day involved playing video games on Cameron’s part and playing with all of Ella’s toys on Max and Ella’s part. Max’s pile remained fairly untouched. I’m working on putting the SmartCycle together.,…but I’m not sure if I’m smart enough (ha ha).

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Monday, December 24, 2007

A wet time

We're home from the Dells. Thankfully, my pain was not as bad as it had been on Thursday and Friday. And my husband was really great with taking care of the kids and going on all the water slides with Cameron, when I just wasn't comfortable enough to myself. (It really took all my effort to put on the bathing suit...and I basically wore a cover up and carried around a towel most of the time. The whole fake boob thing was just too weird and I was worried that I looked lopsided the entire time!)

The kids absolutely loved spending time in the indoor water park. This was Cameron's first time when he wasn't afraid of all the big slides. And although Max was too afraid to go down any slides, he loved hanging out in the hot tub with me. If you just mentioned the word "swimming" to Ella, she would get so excited, she could hardly contain herself, speaking in some crazy tongues so it seemed the whole walk down the halls to the park. When we told her that we were getting ready to go, she would rush to get her shoes on, grab my hand and pull me, saying, "Come on Mommy! Swimming." And she didn't care that her snowboots weren't really the proper footwear for the occasion.

Despite all the time they spent in the water, the only picture I can show for it is this one:

It was impossible to take any pictures in the actual park because Ella just kept taking off to wherever she wanted to go, with no concern as whether I was with her or not.

I also had a really great picture of my husband sleeping, to demonstrate how exhausted he was after literally spending almost the entire day with the kids at the park on Saturday, but he told me that I am NOT allowed to post it. And since he was such a good sport with the kids, I must respect his wishes.

Overall, it was a good time. It was especially great that because we were indoors the entire trip, we missed the snowstorm that blanketed the area. And when we came home, our neighbors across the street had shoveled our snow. Now how wonderful is that!

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

So what if it's a lie.

Cameron apparently is too cool for Santa.

Ella wants nothing to do with the scary-looking man.

But Max, he’s all about the jolly white-bearded guy from the North Pole.

And somehow he’s quite aware of the ramifications of being on the naughty or the nice list.

If I even say that he’s acting naughty, the first words out of his mouth are, “But I want Santa to bring me presents!”

Today, I didn’t even need to say the word naughty; he knew that when he was screaming and spinning around when we were waiting for a table at restaurant that he was not on good behavior. All I had to do was look at him cross, and he flashed those big eyes at me and started whining, “But I WANT Santa to bring me presents.”

This morning was the best. We were eating breakfast at the buffet in the resort where we were staying and Santa was sitting right outside of the eating area, just waiting for little kids to come by. He had a clear view of Max. During breakfast, Max was a very good boy, and remarked about his own good behavior quite often during his morning feast.

I figure I have maybe one more season to tap into this Santa thing with Max…oh and you bet I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

The kids are excited.

I had my 6th chemo treatment on Monday (my 2nd Taxol treatment). The shooting pains are back…but worse. They’re mostly in my legs. What I described last time as just annoying is a bit more agonizing. The docs gave me pain meds, but I have this fear of getting addicted to them ,so I take the mildest form possible. It’s not working very well.

It should be an interesting trip to the Dells this weekend. 3 hour car ride. 2 days at a waterpark. One day I’ll look back and laugh.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

A brief exchange

I love everything about Christmas….especially Christmas decorations. I love to see everyone’s houses lit up and all the special holiday displays in and outside of the house. Tonight I even took the kids on a tour of some of the extravagantly lit houses in the area.

But sometimes there’s this pressure to have everything look too perfect.

So when my Mom’s Spiritual Spa small group decided to do an ornament exchange, I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit and see who could have the WORST wrapping of their ornament.

I really thought that with my ornament adorned in a diaper and duct tape, I would win.

However, my British friend Libby wrapped hers in a panty liner box.

I think the vote was unanimous. Those darn Europeans…have they no modesty!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jingle Bells all over the place.

A preschool Christmas program:
It doesn't get much cuter than that!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A little gross

(Christmas tree scarf made by my friend Lanette)

One of the most obvious side effects of chemo is hair loss. But what many people don’t know is that it’s not just the hair on your head. I noticed some eyebrow hairs falling out the other day. Just another temporary cosmetic issue to make me look even more abnormal.

But the hair that you don’t see, that you don’t really think is that important is what’s really bothersome to me right now. I’m talking about my NOSE HAIRS! Warning…if any talk of boogers bothers you, than just skip over this post.

Normally, when you have a cold/runny nose, the snot seems to run down the back of your nostril onto your upper lip…giving you plenty of time to feel the slime and to find a tissue.

However, when you don’t have nose hairs, the thin mucus quickly makes its way down the front of the nostril, giving you about 3 seconds to find a tissue before the snot just drips from the front of your nose like a faucet, with nothing to catch it. I now go nowhere without a tissue in my hand or pocket.

So I’m telling you right now…appreciate those little things…they’re there for a reason!

(One of my favorite scarves made by my friend Angela)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

True Christmas Cheer

Last night I witnessed first-hand true Christmas spirit….true Christ-like giving.

Melvin and I took the kids to Red Lobster. I don’t know why. There’s something about that place (ever since we first went there when Cameron was only 5 days old), that brings out the worst in the kids’ behavior. This time was not much different.

Cameron, actually, was really good. Until his food came, he ignored everyone so that he could read his new Junie B. book. (I had a heavenly vision of someday sitting at the restaurant with all 3 of my kids quietly reading!)

Max kept busy with his new dragon fuzzy coloring book that Santa gave him the night before. But the boy likes to talk. And he doesn’t seem to have any awareness of voice volume. He yells most of what he says, which is a lot, and we’re shhhhhing him all through dinner, encouraging him to do less talking and more eating.

Ella was our monster this night. She wouldn’t color, she wouldn’t eat, she played musical laps and chairs. She had her hands in everyone’s food and she wanted to keep getting up to see the lobsters in the tank. It’s hard to eat crab legs while attending to all her ridiculous needs. Thankfully Melvin dealt with most of her issues for me, which was so nice of him.

There was a couple sitting right next to us. Melvin actually remarked to me that they were probably out for a nice, quiet dinner, and yet they get stuck by us. They looked quite young and I thought to myself that our table actually created instant birth-control for them. When they left Melvin even apologized for all the commotion caused by our kids. They brushed it off, said they have 3 kids of their own, and that our family was beautiful.

Seconds after they left, our waitress came over and informed us that the couple that just left paid for our kids’ meals! We were so pleasantly shocked. The waitress then informed us that the man said years ago when his kids were little (they’re now teenagers), he took his family out to Applebees and someone anonymously paid for their dinner. So around the holidays every year he’ll do the same thing for other families.

How humbled Melvin and I felt. We were so moved, we plan to do the same when we go out to eat.

Merry Christmas to all of you who go out of your way to volunteer and give of yourselves during this season and throughout the year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ho, Ho, Hmmmmm....

Yesterday we were invited to a neighborhood Christmas party where Santa showed up. After reading a story to the kids and taking photos with each of them, he handed out gifts that we parents provided.

As toy after toy was opened, I began to get a little worried about what was in Santa’s bag for Cameron (who by the way remained on good behavior about the Santa issue, even taking a front and center seat to play along with the big guy). I had wrapped him up a book. I thought that maybe he’d be disappointed in his present compared to all the other kids.

But when he unwrapped his non-toy, he was so excited, and immediately ran to his friend Patrick to show him what he got. Then the two sat down and actually started reading it together!

Gotta love that Junie B!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

If you're a guy, just don't read this.

In case you didn’t read the title, if you’re a guy, just don’t read this. Really, you won't be interested. Nor will you at all understand!

I went and bought some boobs today….one of those things you just gotta do if you have a mastectomy.

I’ve been putting it off, and just managing with the temporary foam ones I bought before I had my surgery. But my husband wanted to take the kids to the Dells this weekend…and well you can’t go to the Waterpark Capital of the World without wearing a swimsuit. So I needed to go shopping for swim forms!

I already had purchased a special mastectomy swimsuit from Land’s End; I just needed something to fill it up with!

So I went back to the wonderful A Fitting Place, in Hastings. And I was there for an hour!

Mainly because they don’t make breast forms small enough to match the side of me that wasn’t chopped off! So I was going to have to get a form for each side, to help match things up. But of course the forms had to be different sizes, and even shapes, to account for the tiny little lump of a breast that I still do have. That little thing was causing too much trouble. Seriously, I wish I had it chopped off with the original, since it’s going to happen during reconstruction anyway…but that’s another post for another day.

Anyhow, we got it all worked out, and then I decided to just go ahead and get the regular breast forms that I should have purchased right after my surgery to replace the foam ones. I decided to just get the B cup size, since that’s what I plan on being when I have reconstruction. So that too, involved the matching up, and the finding of the correct bra and size, and color, etc. No simple task, let me tell you.

And although the two ladies there were just so wonderful, kind and professional, I was just so uncomfortable with having my boobs being examined so closely! I mean seriously, when two ladies are staring at your boobs (fake or not), what are you supposed to do and say? I didn’t even know where to look but at the ceiling!

But in the end, I walked out of there with a very comfortable bra and some boobs that I hope look natural. They do regular professional bra fittings there as well. I highly recommend it.

I did decide this, however. The B cups don’t look much different from my super-padded A cup bras. I think I might have to ask my plastic surgeon to kick it up to a C cup size… when the time comes. I have several months before I need to make that decision. But it will be on my mind….or on my chest! Might as well go for it, right?

And one more thing. You know how when you buy an electrical item or some baby toy, you get a little card to fill out to register the item…usually in case of a recall. Well, my breast forms come with those registration cards. Are your boobs registered?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The truth is...

Last year Cameron's friend British Ben told him about the truth...or should we say lie...of Santa Claus. I was totally fine with that because in all honesty, he was asking a lot of questions, and I didn't really like making up lies to try to keep the legend going.

I've explained to him that he is not to tell other kids. It's up to their parents to tell them, and it's especially not fair, and quite wrong, of him to take away the fun of Santa for the little kids.

I've been nice about it, stern about it, threatened punishments, etc.

However, Cameron, in all his 6 year old wisdom, thinks it is his duty to inform everyone about Santa's actual status.

So I will just apologize now to anyone who feels my son has ruined Christmas for their children. And I would not be offended at all if you choose to keep your kids away from my little informant, at least until the Christmas season has faded away for the year.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

New side effects

It has been a week now since I started my new chemo treatment. And I can certainly say that for me, Taxol is not the beast that AC was, although it does have some funky side effects of its own.

When I was given the chemo, I also had Benadryl dripped directly into my veins. So that entire day I was just worn out.

But that evening and the next day, before my after-chemo shot, I felt wonderful! No nausea, no fatigue, nothing out of the ordinary.

After my neulasta shot, I experienced the usual bone achiness, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, by the end of the day, I was incredibly fatigued. But my spirits were up, and none of that depression crap was setting in. (Yeah!)

Thursday afternoon is when I started feeling the pain that I had read about. While I was lying down for a nap, I had a really hard time falling asleep, as I’d feel odd spurts of pain all over my body. Nothing intense, just annoying. Then as the evening progressed, I felt them more.

The pain is just weird. I could sit down and in 30 seconds feel pain in 7 different parts of my body..first my finger, then my shin, then my wrist, then my head, then my arm. Sometimes it would last a few seconds, sometimes it would linger longer. Again, it wasn’t any kind of debilitating pain. It wasn’t pain that prevented me from being active. As a matter of fact, moving around and doing stuff kept my mind off the pain.

What it prevented me from doing was relaxing and sleeping! Because when I was doing nothing, that’s when these oddball pains were most notable, and most uncomfortable. And if anything woke me up in the middle of the night (a coughing Ella, a crying Max, my husband’s pager, etc.), I had a really hard time falling back to sleep because of the sporadic throbbing.

Needless to say, I’ve been rather tired. Coffee has been a wonderful friend.

The strange side effects lasted for about four days, and seem to have faded today.

Hopefully I’ll get some good, non-drug induced, sleep tonight.


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Sunday, December 09, 2007

The smart one

Yesterday, after three months of helping out in my very loud and crazy household, my angel of a mom left to go back home and get back to her normal life with my dad.

I was saying to the kids when we were in the car how much of a help my mom was to me and then I started asking them:

“Now who’s going to make your lunch, Cameron?’

To which he simply responded without any thought, “You.”

“And who’s going to get you breakfast in the morning?”

Again, “You.”

“And who’s going help get you guys dinner?”

Without hesistation, “You.”

And who’s going to give you baths and help put you to bed.


Then Max finally decided to chime in.

“Well, what about Daddy?”

I knew I kept that kid for a reason.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

It's gone

Today I heard a sound coming from my upstairs that I had never heard before. It was a combination of a shriek mixed with an incredibly loud holler.

Next thing I know, Cameron comes bounding down the stairs in his socks….ONLY his socks, shouting that his tooth came out.


This child has been claiming to have loose teeth for the past two years, ever since his friends started losing them.

He can finally add his name (apparently the last in his class) to the chart in his classroom, and as proof, he even brought the tooth to school.

However, there will be no coins (or dollars) left under his pillow, because of course he left the tooth at school.

The boy doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy anyhow, although he still does expect a little dough for his pearly white.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Number Two

Today was my little baby girl's birthday.

Cameron woke up before 6 AM, so excited for her special day.

This afternoon we had a lowkey lunch and cake party with her young friends from my weekly mom's group. She was very excited about her Backyardigans' cake!
When Cameron came home from school she opened a couple more presents.
Then we were off to the Mall of America for more celebrating at the Rainforest Cafe.
And we ended the night on some rides.

My mother-in-law called this morning and asked if I was ready for more since my baby has grown up.
Ha! Ha! I laughed. I am quite content with the three that I have.
Happy 2nd Birthday Ella!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It tastes better

With all the medical research out there, you'd think instead of my nasty chemo,

someone would think of a way to make this:

cure cancer.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Last night we finally decorated the tree.

But it was not without a little interest and charm.

When Ella woke up in the morning and saw the tree all lit, ready for the ornaments, she said, "Christmas!" in the sweetest little voice. But when it came to actually decorating it, she was tired of trying to hang the ornaments on the tree properly with the hooks. So she would just lay them on the branches and run back for more. After about 15 minutes she was done, and wanted to do nothing but watch a movie.

Max thought it looked best if he had 4 ornamets in the same spot.

Cameron's goal was to get the ornaments as high as he could. The tree is 12 feet high, and he really wanted to get some at the top. This caused way too much nervousness on my part.

In addition, a string of lights died on me (which caused 4 other stings attached ot it to go off as well). I had spent hours, and I'm not exaggerating, getting those lights on the tree. There are at LEAST 2000 lights up there. Luckily I was able to find the defective lights and replace them, getting the tree lit properly again.

The star kept toppling over, so our tree is topless.
Melvin had to break out the vacuum, as a couple ornaments bit the dust!

Some of the ornaments still need some adjusting, and I need to do some more trimming with some ribbon, in addition to finding a new star topper, but overall, I think it still looks pretty good.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Stuff

Monday I start a new round of chemo called Taxol. Like my AC, I’ll have 4 doses, one every other week. Then I’ll be done with chemo….YEAH!

In order to prepare for this new poison, I have to take steroids..5 pills 12 hours before my treatment and 5 pills 7 hours before my treatment. I looked at the pharmacist and said, “Are you kidding me? If I take five pills of anything I’ll feel like I’m overdosing.” She laughed and assured me it was okay. I wanted to ask her with all these steroids was I going to grow a beard or something…then I stopped myself…no hair growth happening around here, with or without steroids. When I asked about side effects, the nurse just told me I’d have trouble sleeping, but I wonder though if I’ll start looking like the young Arnold Schwarznegger.

With this new drug, I’m a little nervous again of how my body will react. Most people say that it’s a lot better than the AC chemo. I’ve been told that I may have some tingling of my fingers and toes. But not much else has been said to me about side effects. No one told me about the depression side of AC, and I kinda wish I was more prepared with that. So I decided to go ahead and look on a bulletin board of the website Young Survival Coalition, a site for younger women dealing with breast cancer.

Although many people said it was an easier drug to deal with:

"I'm not sure how many weeks of Taxol you're doing. I did 12 weeks of a smaller dose and found it very tolerable. Just a little achy, but none of the nausea and such like the AC. The worst side effect had to be losing my eyebrows and eyelashes. Definitely gives you an alien appearance. But, they do grow back just like everything else. Best of luck to you!"

Some of the comments said otherwise:

"I would have traded A/C for my Taxol and I had a hard time with A/C.1) Nails turned black and peeled back from beds (just now growing out)2) Excrutiating bone pain from the Neulasta+Taxol combo (hips to tip of toes- days I could not walk)3) White blood cells plummeted4) Acne5) Extreme Dry skin6) Extreme fatigue7) Bruised if you sneezed at me8) Numb toes 9) ABSOLUTELY no change in the size of my tumor from this treatment!There were weeks when I would go through 30 percocet and it barely touched the pain. My husband and I both questioned if it was doing anything...the article on Taxol's effectiveness came out 3 weeks after my last dose...hmmmmI pray that you have an easier time! I would not have wished this on my worst enemy or my ex-husband!"

Obviously after reading a couple responses like that, I am quite nervous.

So to all you prayer warriors, feel free to add me to your list this week.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Dancing Elves

My family has never laughed so hard. Even Ella was cracking up.

Here are my little elves!


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