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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Just a photo...I love these things!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's all good!

I called the Oncologist today and spoke to her nurse.

I'm free and clear of cancer!


To celebrate I ran 3 miles...without stopping...the longest I've gone nonstop since starting all my treatment.

And now I'm going to have dinner with my friend Andrea.

So the big pressing question right now is....

What drink should I have to celebrate?

I'm thinking a creamy chocolate martini! Mmmmmmm!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No results yet

I had my PET scan yesterday. They told me that the scan would be read later that day. So I figured I'd get my results today.

But I didn't. No call from my oncologist.

This could mean a number of things that are going through my mind right now.

1. Everything is perfectly fine, my oncologist was just very busy today. This is what I pray is the case.

2. The nurse/tech who did the scan screwed something up and it wasn't completed correctly or for some reason just was never read. Despite my positive experience I had back in August with this scan originally, I was not impressed this time around. The lady who administered everything with the scan was not very professional, and she had me lie with my arms above my head for the entire 30+ minute scan. This was NOT comfortable. And by the end, it took all my will power not to jump out of that machine, for my arms hurt so badly.

3. There's something the "reader" doesn't understand, so they need some extra time to research whatever the issue is.

4. There's something bad...more cancer...and the doctor didn't have the time to call to explain it all today.

I'm sure it's number one...but until I hear those words...that there is no cancer, I think I'll be a bit on edge. I'm DEFINITELY calling tomorrow!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Swirling Emotions

I ended my boys' night by telling them that I was so upset by their not listening to me that I wasn't going to tuck them in and they were going to have to just say prayers by themselves. How mature of me. And then as Max came down asking me if I still loved him, over and over again, after assuring him that I did, I then sternly sent him back up to his room. No mom awards here tonight.

Then I was going to write in my blog all the things that led up to very poor attitude tonight to justify my anger. But reallly, is there there any appropriate excuse for not praying with your kids? .... Guilt...Guilt...Guilt.

And then I also thought of those 50 families just North of me who are homeless today...whose houses were flattened by the tornado on Sunday. I thought of the little 2 year old toddler who was killed, and all those who are injured. And I realized that I really have NO reason to be crabby.

I have my home; I have my family; I have my life. Now I better get upstairs and pray with my whiny 3 year old.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Bible Study BBQ

The other day I told one of my neighbors that my Bible study group was coming over on Sunday for a BBQ. He kinda smirked and said sarcastically, "Oh that sounds like fun. Hanging out with your Bible Study group."

Well, what he doesn't know is that I've been with this group of ladies for 3 years now. I've laughed with them and cried with them. They've supported me through all this cancer crap. And one thing that they definitely know how to do....is have fun!

Even with the tornado scare...that thankfully ended up being nothing but about 20 minutes of strong winds and dark skies in our area of the state...we still found fun indoors.

Here are some pics, compliments of Kimberly.

We did a little singing.

A little Rockband.

A little eating.

A little snuggling.A little relaxing.A little clowning.

A little hugging.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Treadmill trotting

I was able to run a little bit today.

Slow...and not too far, but at least it was something.

I ran a mile, walked a 1/4th, ran a mile, walked a 1/4th, ran a 1/2.

Maybe watching all the pretty, little, skinny things on America's Next Top Model helped keep me motivated, and my mind off my breathing issues, because I was able to complete it without any problems.

Wonder if I should start looking for a marathon to train for....okay, maybe not yet.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

Yesterday morning Ella was trying to go outside. She was still in her PJs, and it was just too early. She proceeded to unlock both locks on the door and try to scramble out. No matter how many times I shut the door and relocked it, she just screamed and continued to undo the locks and try to get out.

After too many rounds of this, I moved her away from the door and told her very firmly that she was not to go outside. As I was lecturing her, that little girl took a slight glance at me, then stuck her fingers in her ears, making it very clear that I could talk all I want, but she was not listening.

Where in the world she learned to do this, I have no idea. The boys have never done this before, so she wasn't imitating their actions.

Oh, I'm in so much trouble with this one.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Yesterday Cameron had his birthday party.

26 kids! He invited his whole class (all but 5 came), plus some neighborhood kids and a couple other friends.

Several of the parents looked at me like I was crazy, amazed that I had a party with so many kids. But 26 kids wasn't that difficult because:

a. It wasn't at my house. It was at one of those inflatable jumping places.

b. I had some help. The place provided a couple people to help keep an eye on the kids. Plus Sara was there to keep track of Max and Ella, and my husband came toward the end.

c. Since I've worked in Cameron's class a couple times a month throughout the school year, I know all the kids...and all their names.

d. I'm a teacher. I'm used to being around a lot of kids...granted I taught teenagers...but kids don't intimidate me. While some parents smile politely while they see kids under their guise misbehaving (which drives me crazy!), I don't hesitate to use my authority as an adult to let them know if they're doing something wrong. I have that teacher "look" and that teacher "voice" and that teacher discipline to separate kids who are feeding off each other. Don't get me wrong, I think Cameron's teacher is a saint, because I would not want to teach 6 and 7 year olds every day. But for a couple hours, it was fine.

Overall, things went very well. Only a couple small altercations and injuries. I only had to separate 2 boys.

The kids seemed to have a blast, and most importantly, Cameron thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Max's birthday isn't until July, but considering his constant concern about when his own birthday was going to happen this past month, I think I'll be hearing about it quite often.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Better breathing...but more tests.

It seems that my shortness of breath is getting better. Guess the antibiotic my husband prescribed and the steroids my radiation oncologist prescribed actually did something. I'm not having trouble climbing stairs anymore. However, my running is still less than desirable, as I tried to go for a little jog last weekend. I say try, because I found myself stopping every 5 minutes to catch my breath, running only for a total of 20 minutes, and only downhill or on flat land. I'm going to try again to get out there tomorrow. Hopefully I can do better.

My husband ran into my oncologist at the hospital on Monday. He told her about my recent breathing issues, so she immediately ordered a heart scan...called a MUGA. It's what they did before chemo to make sure my heart could handle it. With radiation and chemo, there's always concern about heart damage. I had the scan yesterday, and today my oncologist called. All is good! No broken heart!

She now wants me to have a PET scan. My whole body will be scanned for cancer (I think). I had it done when I was first diagnosed. I wasn't supposed to have another scan until August, but for some reason my onocologist wants to go ahead and do it now.

If all is clear on my PET Scan (let's pray!), I'll have a very minor surgery to have this Port removed. I wasn't going to have it removed until I was put under for my reconstruction, but since that won't occur for quite some time, it's best to have this foreign object removed sooner. I'll be so happy to have this ugly thing protruding from below my neck like an odd bone gone for good. It was great to have for chemo...but now I have no need for it!

With all that said, I humbly as for prayers for a cancer free scan!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's his birthday

Dear Cameron,

Seven years ago today I held this little baby in my arms...not sure what to think or feel. I remember the nurse handing you to me, with your boisterous screaming, and I thought to myself, "Okay. Now what am I supposed to do?" You were a very active baby. We have video of the nurses trying to weigh you, and you actually turned over!

Now that you're seven, you're still as vocal as ever, especially when you have some idea in your mind. You are very persistent. And active? Always. You're becoming quite the sports fanatic, watching every NBA playoff game this year, and catching the final scores on Sports Center in the mornings. Yesterday when watching a kid's fitness video, you shreiked with excitement when you got to do push-ups. And your running endurance is most impressive for a first grader.

You continue to do very well in school, and it's great to see you reading chapter books all the time. And lately you've been really interested in reading Bible stories. You're also quite the writer, continually penning journals and stories in school that are pages long. You also are a wonderful teacher to your brother and sister.

Lately, you've been very helpful around the house...emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up toys that aren't yours, hanging out with Max and Ella.

Other interests...2 main ones...video games and Pokemon! I especially like watching you play Guitar Hero. And your Pokemon card collection is growing out of control!

I must say, I like this age of seven. It suits you well. And I look forward to seeing you grow and mature in the years to come.

I could go on, but since your usual rising hour is 6AM, I better get myself some sleep.

I love you!

Love, Mom

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Monday, May 19, 2008

It's quite the process

My visit with my plastic surgeon on Friday went okay.

Here is a very brief explanation of the process of reconstruction.

First I will have a surgery where on my right side they will do a preventative mastectomy, then use some special skin stuff (technical term of course) to create more space and insert a spacer. On the left side, where I've already had a mastectomy and radiation, they will have to take muscle from my back, flip it around to the front and insert a spacer.

A few weeks after the surgery (which will be very painful by the way), I will return to the doctor's office to start getting "filled up." Every couple weeks or so, I will have saline injections into my spacers, which will stretch the skin. I will keep doing this until I'm the size I want to be...or until my body can't take it anymore. (I don't have to tell them a size from the beginning. I can decide when I get to where I want to be).

When I'm all enhanced, I will have the filled up spacers in for a few months. Then I'll have another surgery where they'll replace the spacers with implants.

Then I have to have nipples made and tattoos put on.

Now doesn't that all sound like so much fun?

So the good news is, I'm not a hopeless cause.

The bad news is, the soonest I can have the surgery is the first week in November! And considering the recovery period, the doctor was encouraging me to wait until after the holidays.

That seems SO LONG away!

Plus, I was uneasy about some other issues they brought up as well. For one, I'm not going to look symmetrical. They said the goal is to look symetrical under my clothing. But because I'll have the muscle flap on my left side, and some skin flap thing on my right side, my actual breasts will not look the same. And on my left side, I'll have some huge football-shaped scar across my breast. I didn't realize this.

If I had known this before, I might have opted to have the complete mastectomy and spacers put in from my initial surgery back in September. At the time, my general surgeon and my plastic surgeon both advised me not to have the spacers put in until after radiation...as there can be risks with the radiation negatively affecting the spacer. I was so spooked and naive about the entire experience that I just did whatever they advised. However, I've heard of several people recently who had all of it done immediately, and then had radiation after. Thus, there was no need for any muscle flaps to be used, and they'd look symetrical, without any football-shaped or lopsided scaring.

So I left the doctor's office a little uneasy.

But hey, at least they can do something.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nothing worth reading

One of my Sunday memories of childhood is my dad sitting in the living room reading the paper.

We were NOT allowed to even touch the paper until he was finished...not even the comics.

So I don't think he'd appreciate that my little Ella brought in the paper today, dropped half of it out of the bag, then decided to fix it by crumpling up all the sections and shoving them back in.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Construction Consultation

I have a consult with my plastic surgeon tomorrow. I already met with her when I was first diagnosed with cancer. But I had NO CLUE about anything at that point. This time I feel a little more educated about the process, and my husband is coming with me. Our plan is still to have a preventative right mastectomy and complete reconstruction.

At this point I want to know two things:

1. When can I get this surgery done? They originally told me 4 to 6 months after radiation was completed...when I was completely healed. Personally, I'd like to have it done tomorrow...but we know that's not happening.

2. What size can I be? I personally think a size C would just be the perfect"gift" for enduring all this other cancer crap. My greatest fear is that she'll look at my mastectomy side and see that there is no way in hell my skin will stretch to accomodate anything larger than a mosquito bite. Or worst yet, there's nothing at all that they can do, and I'll be destined to wear mastectomy swimsuits for the rest of my life.

Oh, there is one more thing I'd like to know:

3. Do you have any package deals? Cause I'm thinking that while I'm under the knife and going to be enduring a whole bunch of pain for a while, I might as well deal with it all at once. I'm sure they have some "specials." Like a nose job, liposuction and boob job bundle for just one low price. And then maybe some free Botox thrown in if you sign up that day. I better go online and see if I can find some coupons!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Excellent Evening

There's been way too much downer news lately. Seriously, I feel like everytime I turn around something depressing is happening. From my own personal health issues to all the deaths from natural disasters on the other side of the globe...and then everything in between. Not much to smile about.

But today, it was the PERFECT spring evening. The sun was out. The ground was dry. There was no wind. There were no mosquitoes.

After dinner, the kids and I just headed out back and had some fun. Lots of smiles. A ton of laughter. Pure enjoyment. It was an evening we all really needed.

(Ella took the above picture)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Look out boys, here she comes.

Don't let this cutie-patutie fool you.

Her biggest weapon lately...her fingers.

If Cameron is bugging her, she's won't hesitate to scratch at his eyes or grab at his neck.

And if Max is doing nothing to her, but she wants to sit where he is, she'll use those fingers to get her way. Yesterday she pinched his earlobe so hard, it bruised. Have you ever even heard of a bruised earlobe?!?!

When I make her apologize, she says in the sweetest voice, "Sorry brother." It's hard not to laugh.

If there was ever a Battle Royal in our house, she'd definitely come out the winner.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

At least one of us can run.

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was training to run the Marine Corps Marathon with my friend Lanette and my sister. This was to be my 5th marathon. For obvious reasons...surgery, chemo...I couldn't run the race which was scheduled in the fall.

I've run on and off during my treatments. Nothing at all consistent. Nothing at all to brag about. Only here and there...everyone once in a long while.

I couldn't wait to be done with radiation so I could get back on the road. With this spring weather, there's nothing I'd rather do than get out there and hit the pavement. After radiation, when it was still too cold to run outside, I took to the treadmill a few times. I'd run a mile, walk a 1/4 mile, run a mile and a half, walk 1/4 mile, etc. I think I made it up to 4 miles, with a little walking in between.

But then this shortness of breath issue suddenly came on. Because even walking up the stairs had me practically gasping for oxygen, I was afraid to even attempt to run. My radiation oncologist's solution so far has been to pump me with more steroids, but it's not doing anything for my breathing.

I met a fellow cancer survivor today to walk around a local lake. During the walk, I felt completely fine. But this didn't surprise me, as to be honest, when you're used to running, walking is a "break." I walked the 2 mile loop, drank some water, and decided that I felt so good, I'd attempt a little running.

Bad idea.

I hadn't run for more than 20 meters when I found myself struggling to breathe. I hit a very short hill, and that was the end of me. I just couldn't run.

I don't want to call my doctor again, because I don't want to just be told to take more steroids. Something is not right. Me being able to run, then suddenly NOT be able to run, means something wrong is going on inside of me. And I'm really frustrated. Because I need to run.

On a different, and much more positive note, Cameron ran the mile in gym last week. Now I don't know how accurate the distance was, but he clocked a 7:59. He was first for the entire 1st grade, and even beat most of the 5th graders in the one class that ran with them.

I do hope we can go running together soon.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all those Moms out there, and all those who function as mom-figures.
A special Thank you to my mom who has gone above and beyond this past year, helping me and my family out as we dealt with this dumb cancer.

Thank you to all of those neighbors, friends and relatives who walked/ran in the Race for the Cure in my honor...both here in Minnesota and across the country in Philadelphia. Just this past week I've learned of 2 friends' moms who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It's scary how rampant it is...and how important a cure is.

My husband was out of town, with his grandfather who had a stroke when we were on vacation, so it was just the kids and I today. They couldn't wait to give me their "presents." Sara helped Max wrap up some presents that he made, included a card where he wrote I Love Mommy, and a shield that he made me (to wear on my arm). Cameron wrote me a list of 5 things he liked about me and made me a very colorful tile to be used as a hotplate. It was really nice.

The funniest part was as I was about to open their gifts. Cameron ran over to the wine rack, pulled out two bottles of wine, and placed them next to their presents. "These are for you, too," he said.

What can I say? The child knows what I like!

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Speed Race right on by

I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to take my 3 kids and a neighbor to the movies today.

Actually I do know what I was thinking. I was thinking that I couldn't take another destructive moment in my house. I couldn't handle picking up any more messes, or dealing with any more tantrums. It was raining, so I couldn't take them outside. Speed Racer got good reviews in the newspaper, so I thought it would be a good alternative to my shortening temper today.

I was wrong.

Despite what the newspaper says, Speeed Racer is not for young kids. Max and Ella lasted as long as their popcorn did, and then they were ready to leave. Although it was PG, I was suprised by the "token" swear words...Ass was used a lot when it really didn't need to be, and there was a lot more violence..some a bit bloody...than I think would be appropriate for a kids' movie. Plus, there were so many flashbacks in the beginning, even I couldn't follow the plot line.

And that was only in the first 30 minutes. Because the rest of the movie I spent out of the theatre trying to keep Max and Ella entertained. And that was long time, because the movie lasted 2 hours!

Cameron and his friend Ethan said they liked it. Although Ethan did comment, "There were lots of swear words and guns and stuff. " I'm sure his mom will be thrilled I took him to such a flick.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Garage Sale

My husband: Cari, we have a garage full of shit.
Me: Yeah, I know. But you'd be surprised how much shit people will buy...for the right price.
Because in case you didn't know (and I'm quoting one of our customers today who bought a Patsy Cline cassette tape), "The ladies like to slow dance to Patsy Cline in the kitchen. "
During the 2nd half of tomorrow, we'll have our "anything you can fit in the grocery bag for $5" sale. Hopefully we'll get rid of all this dung then.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

All About Orlando

As I stated earlier, our trip to Orlando was wonderful. Although, I was worried about us even getting there. To begin with, just two hours before I had planned on leaving, my husband gets called to the hospital (he was oncall until 6AM...our flight was leaving at 6 AM). In addition, I had a 100.7 fever. But I was NOT going to let my illness prevent this trip. We've had a crappy year with this cancer, and this trip was not going to be postponed because of my medical issues. The kids, and I, were too excited about going for anything to stop us. So I took some Motrin, finished packing everything up, got the kids all ready, the suitcases in the van, reluctantly took my steroids my radiation oncologist wanted me to start, and waited for my husband to come home. My husband managed to finish up the repair he had to do for a midwife on time, and we were at the airport about an hour before our flight. All was good.

While in Orlando, the weather was incredible, in the upper 80s. We did Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Magic Kingdom. We also spent a day at the resort swimming.

The one thing that's great about having a husband work all the time, is that when he is around, the kids only want to be with him! My poor husband got quite the workout, as Max and Ella were very demanding of his attention. He often walked around the park like this.

Ella just loved being at all the parks. She was NOT happy when she wasn't tall enough for rides that her brothers could go on. Her new word that she learned there is "Cool!" And she also developed a new kind of temper tantrum. Instead of throwing herself on the ground and screaming when she didn't like something, she would just walk a few feet away, hang her head, and just stand there...not talking, not crying, completely ignoring everyone, but looking incredibly pathetic!

Max got to meet his favorite princess of all time. Actually, when we went to line up to get his picture, he became very shy, and wanted to run away! He was very bashful when talking to Fiona, but was all smiles when he walked away. That was definitely the highlight of his trip. However, he did note that Fiona was supposed to be wearing green shoes, not black ones (who the hell knows what color shoes a character wears????).

In years past when we've visited Orlando, Cameron was fascinated by the roller coasters. He loved to stand and watch them. But he NEVER wanted to ride them. Finally, this year, he was all about the coasters. Actually, he was quite angry that he wasn't tall enough for the upside down ones. 54" he has to be. Maybe next year...or the year after! Because Max and Ella didn't want their daddy to leave their side, I got to experience all the coasters with Cameron...and all the long lines...and all the soaking wet splashes, as we rode all the water coasters as well. Despite getting soaked, it was a lot of fun.

Although our days at the parks were exhausting, they were still a lot of fun. I didn't have any issues with my shortness of breath (I wasn't climbing any stairs though), so that was good. And although I had one night where I woke up with a fever and some serious shaking chills, the next morning I was fine.

Looking forward to many more family vacations to come!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Home BitterSweet Home

You know how people always say that they need a vacation from their vacation.

Well, as I look around this house, with all the bags to unpack, laundry to do, food shopping that needs to be done, mail to be sorted, and just the general pile up of "Things to do" that I've been avoiding forever, I realize that I don't need a vacation from my vacation.

I just need to go back on vacation.

We really did have a blast. Maybe I'll have time to write more about it later this week.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Prayer Power

I know I'm on vacation. But the kids were up early, so I was going through some blogs that I frequent while waiting for my husband to wake up. And I feel the need to write this.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, my brother sent me a link to a blog www.fatcyclist.com. It's really a blog about biking (which I only do occasionally), but the author's wife also has cancer, and occaisionally he writes about what they're going through as a family. (They have 6 year old twins and two tween boys...here's a post with an adorable family picture http://www.fatcyclist.com/2007/12/20/annual-christmas-letter/).

The author's wife (Susan), had breast cancer a few years ago. Then it came back and mestatisized (sp?) to her bones. She had chemo again and last year she had a hip replacement. She was supposed to have more chemo, but the blood tests showed the she could wait a while before she needed to start again.

This week they just found out that Susan has brain tumors now. Inoperable. Radiation will only allow for a couple more months of life. There's nothing else they can do.

But pray.

So I ask that you join this family in praying for a miracle for Susan. Pray for strength and hope and peace for all of them. www.fatcyclist.com

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Friday, May 02, 2008

A whole lotta fun

We've made it to Orlando. It's sunny and in the 80s. Need I say more?

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