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, March 31, 2008

Unwanted hair

Now that my hair is starting to grow back, I need to do the following.

Purchase shampoo.
Appointment for brazillian wax.
Purchase mascara for new eyelashes.
Appointment for brow and upper lip wax.
Purchase razor for legs.

JUST KIDDING about the brazillian wax. I would NEVER put myself through that kind of pain!

But I should alter my brow and lip wax item and change it to "All over facial wax." Seriously. The mirror in my main floor powder room has just the right amount of lighting so that I can see every little detail on my face. Needless to say, I often avoid this mirror. But yesterday I was in there washing my hands and noticed hair...a lot of hair...all over my face.

I can't believe no one told me. I can't believe one of my friends didn't say, "Hey, I see your hair is growing back...all over your chin!" or "How cute is that. You and your husband are growing matching beards." Really, I wouldn't be offended. I'd be grateful.

Remember my burka post...I'm telling you...I sure need one of those!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just disgusting

Lately, Ella has been picking her nose...then immediately licking those boogers off her fingers!

"Ew gross!" I tell her. "Don't do that. That's icky!"

So now she picks her nose, then offers her booger finger up to me and says, "Here Mommy."

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Definitely counting down.

My skin is getting better.

The goopy dressings are helping, and I'm now on a very altered radiation therapy regiment that is just focusing on the scar area. They call it the "booster." The radiation literally takes only a minute. Actually, it takes longer to set me up than the actual radiation!

The tech said that although it seems ridiculous to come out here for something so short, it's really important. I often wonder why radiating the scar is so important, but I don't ask, because I really don't care. Just do it, and be done with it!

I have 3 more. Only 3! Unless of course, they're joking. Because my last zap is on April Fool's Day!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Now that's undomestic!

I'm writing this during a commercial break from my Project Runway replacement, Top Chef.

I'm reminded of a Wii game I saw in the store the other day.

Cooking Mama: Cook Off

Never heard of it? You can learn about it here. But basically, it's a video game where you're preparing a meal.

At first I was intrigued and thought it might be rather fun.

But then I realized that if I'm down in the basement cooking a virtual meal, then I'm not up in my own kitchen cooking an actual meal.

And that would be a problem.

But just think how easy the clean up would be!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lunch break

After a very harried morning, I just wanted 10 minutes to sit down, enjoy my lunch and read a bit of the newspaper. Just 10 minutes.

Except everytime I tried to eat, something happened to pull me away from my food.

First, Ella kept trying to get into everyone's Easter candy. Then Max was screaming that she was eating his chocolate bunny. And I found sticky marshmallows smeared on the dining room table with Ella smiling as if she did something to be proud of.

After I cleaned all that up and tried to distract her with some Sesame Street, Max started screaming that he had to go potty, then proclaiming that he had a really big poop. "Want to see it, Mommy?" "No!" "Why not, it looks like a giant snake!" "Max, I'm trying to eat my lunch." Flush. "Uh oh! Mommy, something's wrong with the toilet!" Off I went to find the plunger.

Once I was done with that non-appetizing issue, I returned to my lunch, only to find Ella in my chair, with her hands in my rice, stuffing my food in her mouth. Just as I was about to take it away from her, she started to spit it all out onto my plate, shreiking, "Hot!"

Can't imagine why, but after all that, I just wasn't that hungry anymore.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Just the physical

Going through cancer treatments can be downright humiliating.

You get part of your body cut off.

You lose your hair.

You feel sick and weak.

You lose your eyebrows.

You lose your eyelashes.

Now with radiation my skin is so burned and raw it hurts to wear the bra that gives me my "boobs."

How much more freakish can I get?

Anyone have a catalog from Afghanistan? Because I'm thinking a Burka would be the perfect addition to my wardrobe right now!

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Springtime in Minnesota

Beautiful Yellow Daffodils sprouting from the ground?

NO...these were cut flowers donated to patients at the cancer center.

Lovely pink roses blooming in my garden?

Of course not! Sara gave me these for my birthday.

Snow, snow and more snow?

Most definitely!

When will it end? Not this week, more snow in the forecast for Thursday!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cinderella v. Snow White

Since there was no school on Friday, the kids had friends over to play. Cameron and Ben played tennis and boxing on the Wii for 2 hours straight. Max and Abby of course played princesses.

One time I overheard them screaming at each other back and forth, back and forth.

Abby: When I grow up I'm going to be the most beautiful princess!

Max: Well, when I grow up I'M going to be the beautifulest princess because I'm going to have a crown!

Abby: Well, when I grow up I'M going to be the most beautiful princess because I am going to have a crown, and earrings and glass slippers!

Max: Well, I'm going to have earrings, a necklace a bracelet and a crown so I'm going to be the most beautiful princess!

Abby: Well, I'm going to have jewels and a crown and glass slippers and make up and a wand so I'M going to be the most beautiful princess!

This went on for a good ten minutes. And they literally were screaming in each others faces.

The argument was so heated, I was waiting for the hair pulling, nail scratching and biting to begin. I was forced to interrupt their tirade before anything physical began.

Not very princess-like behavior. Not at all.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008


Yesterday was my birthday.

But the festivities began the weekend before. On Friday, a group of my friends planned a gathering at a local restaurant. I didn't know it was to celebrate my birthday. I showed up to some balloons, a cake, some nice cards and gifts. It was such a great surprise. This group of ladies always brings me such happiness.

On Tuesday some ladies in the neighborhood got together for lunch to celebrate my birthday. About 11 of us were able to make. It was very nice. I've been a bit antisocial of late around the neighborhood, so it was good to reconnect with people again.

Yesterday my first gift began at 7 AM, when I woke up and realized that all 3 kids slept through the night and were still snoozing. Cameron usually wakes me up around 6 AM, so the extra hour of slumber was surely welcomed.

Cameron couldn't wait to give me the presents that he tried to steathily make the night before. I thought he just drew a bunch of pictures, but to my surprise, he did more than that. He wrote me a poem!

Now if that was the only present I received, and the rest of the world crumbled around me, my day would still have been perfect. I was touched by his kindness, especially because he never expresses such sentiments. I figured he just thought I was the evil mom who made him read all the time and wouldn't let him play video games. He also gave me some pictures and some coins from his wallet.

Max gave me the card that I helped him make the previous night.

Now I'm sure you're having no trouble figuring it out, but just in case you need a little help, to the right is a picture of me, and to the left it says "I Love Mommy"...just a little jumbled...but all the letters are there. He also spent much of the rest of the day making me a picture, then wrapping it up, and giving it to me to open.

Ella was the last one up, and came down the stairs shouting "Happy Birthday Cameron!" It took awhile to get her straightened out.

My husband also came home from his fishing trip, so that was great. While Sara watched the kids, Melvin and I went out to dinner and to a Bon Jovi concert. Bon Jovi was the first concert I had ever been to, back in high school, almost 20 years ago! So it was exciting to get to go again. It was a blast. And although they played a bunch of new songs that I didn't know, they played all the great classics as well.

So now I'm 35. Why does that sound so much older than 34?


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

10 more treatments

The side effects of radiation have hit me hard this week.

Up to this point, I hadn't felt any more fatigued than normal. As long as I had a short afternoon nap, or a nice latte, I was fine. If I was really tired, it was usually because Ella was keeping me up at night. But these past couple days I've felt really exhausted. Today I even had a 2 hour nap, and yet still, all evening I was functioning in quite the daze. Thank the Lord the kids have been pretty good about entertaining themselves.

My skin is still really bad. It hurts to have anything touching it. But I can't exactly go around topless! I saw the doctor today, and he said that because of the damage, they won't be using the bollus at all anymore. I have to change the dressings twice a day, and will be sporting the makeshift net tank top for the next couple weeks through radiation (my last one is April 1st), and a couple weeks afterwards. I did actually ask for black or hot pink....but they only have white.

Right now I just want some sleep...some wonderful, non-interrupted, non-drug induced, non-hotflash-filled slumber.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm too sexy for this skin.

After having my mastectomy, my skin in that area and under my arm has been fairly numb. The lack of sensation was quite annoying at first, but then I've just gotten used to it. With my radiation, it has actually been a blessing. Because what one person described as feeling 20 times worse than your worst sunburn, has been mostly pain-free for me. Although it looks horrible, I didn't really feel too much discomfort. Until this weekend. It seemed more "prickly," and in some particular areas just plain painful. It also now itches like hell.

Today after my radiation, one of the very kind techs looked at my skin and said that it was beginning to break open. I noticed some parts being much redder, but I didn't realized that this is what was occuring. The tech sent me right to a nurse for some dressings.

And "dressed" me she did....in a fish-net stocking! No really. She had white elastic fishnet material over her arm. She cut holes with some scissors and told me that my arms would go there. I started laughing, becauseI thought she was joking. The net was so small. But it streteches. And over my head it went, covering my entire torso, strong enough to hold the wet, soothing bandages in place, but loose enough as not to cause any pain.

I am literally wearing a fishnet tank top.

I think I'll see if they have black tomorrow. It would be much sexier, don't ya think?

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is it Monday yet?

My husband has been away on a much-deserved fishing trip, so I've been flying solo this weekend.

I'm lucky that I have some great friends and neighbors helping me out by coming over to keep me company, having some of my kids go to their house, etc.

Despite everyone's help, I didn't get any naps in. And my kids' 6 AM wake-up calls were really taking their toll. Tonight I was just exhausted.

So tired that I actually gave the kids cereal for dinner. Yes, just plain old cereal.

I've NEVER done that before, and certainly don't want to get into the habit of it. But I was just beat and had no energy or desire to cook anything.

So at least they ate something. And they were actually very happy about it!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

For Sale

Playstation 3 for sale!

Playstatin 3 for sale!

One very new Playstation 3 for sale!


No, I'm not fed up with the game. We've set the parameters so that it doesn't take over our house. No, Cameron hasn't been so bad that I'm following through on a threat to sell the darn thing.

It's just that my husband brought home a Wii.

No need for 2 gaming systems in our house.

Let me know if you're interested.

Playstation 3 also play Blu-ray discs. Surely you want one!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

A little confused

The other day Max was looking at the little "beauty marks" all over me and asked what they were.

"They're moles," I told him. "Do you have any moles?"

"Yeah, I have two big ones," and he promptly pointed to his chest.

Laughing I corrected him, "No Max, those are called nipples."


Later that day, as I was giving hin a piggy back ride, he was examining my bald noggin.

Giggling, he observed, "Mom, you have a nipple on your head!"


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's bolus.

Whenever I get radiated, the therapists place this rubbery like covering over the radiated area. It's called a Bolus. I thought it was there to protect the skin.

Silly me. I was wrong. It does the opposite.

Below is an explanation I found online:

"High energy x-rays are skin sparing. Because IBC requires a need for skin irradiation because of skin involvement by the cancer cells, the addition of tissue-equivalent bolus material placed over the radiation field can circumvent skin sparing. Bolus, a flabby, rubbery material, is used to 'fool' the radiation beam so it will deposit the maximum dose on the skin surface instead of a fraction of an inch deeper, as it would otherwise. Therefore, a skin reaction is almost inevitable in this scenario. Bolus is usually incorporated into radiation therapy when a surgical scar, such as a mastectomy scar, needs to receive a full dose of radiation therapy."

In order to address the skin issues I'm having, at the end of this week, the therapists are just going to apply the bolus every other day.

We'll see if that helps.

And just to clarify any confusion, my skin looks a lot worse than if feels. Currently it is somewhat irritated to the touch, but no huge pain. No agonzing burn. Let's pray that doesn' t happen.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A good day.

It reached 50 degrees today.

The kids were outside.

Cameron rode his bike.

I was finally able to break up the block of ice that had accumulated on the sidewalk at the bottom of our driveway because I hadn't shoveled adequately all winter.

50 degrees.

Praise God.

It was wonderful!


Monday, March 10, 2008

Warning: Gross skin picture.

Factoring the added radiation sessions, I'm now just past the halfway mark.

I should be happy.

But instead I'm worried.

Because my skin is REALLY red and rashy.

Last week the doctor told me to put Cortizone on it 3 times a day, in addition to the regular lotion I'm supposed to apply.

On Friday, they gave me a prescription strength steroid creme, which is helping with the itching a little bit, but doing nothing for the redness. And it's beginning to hurt a little as well.

I fear what another 16 rounds of radiation is going to do.
(Below is a picture of my skin under my arm. At the bottom is what my regular skin looks like, and above that is part of the red, radiated area. It actually looks worst than if feels, for now).

After I get zapped tomorrow, I see the doctor. We'll see if this is normal, or if there's something else they can do.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cabin Fever

My kids are going crazy, certifiably.

Yesteday, Cameron ran laps through the first level of our house. From the kitchen, to the foyer, past the front door and stairs, through the living room, into the dining room and back to the kitchen.

He counted his laps out loud.

100 times.

This snow has got to go.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

An endless search for the cause

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer back at the end of August, I never thought to myself “why me.” Actually, my initial reaction was “why not me.” I’ve led a pretty nice life. I grew up middle class. We weren’t rich…we shopped on a budget and didn’t have designer clothes, but we never went hungry and my parents always worked hard enough so that we could vacation every year. My parents never divorced, and my college was paid for. I never had any major illness..no broken bones. I didn’t have anyone in my family die until I was out of college, and no one extremely close until my grandma died a few years ago. I had no trouble getting or staying pregnant. I live in a really nice house with a wonderful husband and very healthy children. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I’d wonder when my “time” would come. When I’d have my cross to bear. When my bubble would burst. So as I write this, I don’t ask, “Why me?”

But I do ask, “Why?”

Why do I have this breast cancer?

Or maybe the real question is, “What?”

What caused this cancer?

That’s what I really want to know. Because whatever caused it, I want to change. I don’t want to ever have to go through this again. I don’t want my husband or kids to ever have to deal with me like this again.

I want to know if it was the water I’m drinking, or some contaminated food I ate. Was it the charcoal I used? Was it something I drank, or something I breathed in? Was it something medical? Something natural? Something spiritual? Some cleaning solution I used?…oh wait a minute…I’m pretty sure we can rule that out.

If I knew what caused this, then I would change. I would stop doing whatever brought on this cancer. I would stop right now.

But no one knows. There are studies that show something or other may cause cancer. But nothing is ever conclusive. And for every study that states one thing, there seems to be another that refutes or questions the findings.

I actually stress out when I go shopping now because I find myself constantly thinking…Could these very red strawberries, that look so good, but are obviously well preserved with chemicals, have been the culprit? Or what about this meat? Maybe this milk? I could go on and on and on and on.

But instead I think I’ll relax and have a glass of wine….unless of course it’s the wine that did it.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Forget about the Jonas Brothers!

It's always risky getting a shower in the morning when the kids are already awake. I never know what I'm going to come down to. In the past all sorts of shenanigans have occurred while I took a few minutes to get myself clean...like entire cereal boxes poured all over the floor, OJ containers spilled on the counter and laptop keys picked off .

So today, when I stepped out of the shower, I didn't hear anything. And as any parent with young kids can tell you, NO noise is usually not a good sign.

But as I dried off, I heard the kids scramble up the stairs....and then I really heard the noise...really loud noises actually.

Ella was playing a guitar, Max a keyboard and Cameron had some egg shakers (kind of like maracas).

Cameron told me that they made a band and had been practicing a song for me in the basement. They continued to play for the next 20 minutes.

Look out Partridge Family...here we come!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Still being zapped

I originally began this post this morning stating that after today, I'd be halfway done with radiation. I was so excited to finally be able to say this.

But then I actually met with the doctor today and made sure that I'd only be radiated 28 times. He confirmed this, but then went on to say that after those 28 treatments, if my skin is okay, I'll have 6 more that just focus on the scar area.

"So it's more than 28?" I asked.
"Yes," he said, "but the last six are only the scar area, a really small area." (as if that was any consolation).

Maybe medically that's significant, but to me, it still involves the 90 min to 2 hour interruption in my day (including travel and waiting time) that I must plan around. It means I'll be doing this through the end of March. It means I can't plan any trips out of this frozen tundra.

It means I'm NOT halfway done.


Monday, March 03, 2008

I can't keep everything!

Cameron comes home with lots of papers...math worksheets, reading logs, art projects, social studies magazines, permission slips, spelling lists, district and school announcements, etc. I can't possibly keep all of them. Each night (or morning) I go through his folder, deciding what's important, what to display, what to send back with a check, and what to trash, etc. If it's some artwork, I might hang it up, or I often keep it in a pile, wait a couple days to see if he asks for it, and if it's never mentioned again, I trash it.

Today I get an e-mail from Cameron's teacher, stating that the art teacher wanted him to bring back his project because she was going to set up the art winners at the District center tomorrow afternoon.

"Umm, what art project?" was my response.

I finally figured out that it was the one he brought home a couple weeks ago, rolled up, with some line art pieces in a baggie. I had no idea it was in some contest. I hung up the art piece, because I thought it looked pretty cool. Cameron told me that he brought it home to finish. Later that day, with Sara as my witness, I told him that he needed to complete his piece. He told me that he didn't HAVE to finish it...only if he wanted to. At that moment, he chose not to.

I kept the pieces in the baggie around for a couple days, but like all the clutter, since it was never asked for, I tossed it in the trash.

I still have the main piece, but the smaller pieces (a football player, a dinosaur and a finger paint creature) are gone.

Today, when I told him this, he was literally on the ground screaming and crying.

After a really long time of enduring this tantrum, and trying several different tactics, I finally convinced him to settle down. Later he added some pictures to his piece, but I don't think it's what the art teacher really wants, as it now looks very cluttered and messy.
That Mom of the Year Award is slipping farther and farther away!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008


Happy Birthday to my husband today!

In his own words, he's "crossed over to the dark side." Meaning, he's now closer to 40 than he is to 30.

Last night to celebrate we all went to the Mall of America to the Rainforest Cafe and on the amusement rides. (Okay, that was more for the kids, but still fun for all of us).

Today we let him sleep in while I took the kids to church. Then we all went to our favorite breakfast place. Tonight Cameron and I are taking him to NBA City and to a Timberwolves Game.

The man works too hard and needs a little fun!

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