Cancer Treatment Update

The two Immunotherapy trials we were excited about were filled and closed this past week. What exactly does that mean for me?

For starters, it means I will have to stay on chemotherapy until another trial is available. The oncologist says that we will continue with this particular chemotherapy until either my body developes a tolerance or the side effects become too much. At that point, we will change to a new type of chemotherapy.  I have my first CT scan, since starting chemotherapy, on the 13th of May but no results until the following Tuesday. This will tell us how well the chemotherapy is doing its job.

It, also, means that I have been assured that there will be no surgeries. Because the cancer is in my lungs, making it unremovable, the doctors do not feel that there is a need to remove the other sites once the chemotherapy  reduces them to “no evidence of disease.”  Bummer, I was hoping for a set of perky, new knockers.

Now, I realize that this news can be a little tough to swallow at first. It may seem discouraging.  But let’s look at it from another point of few.  First, a real Cinderella story only exists if there is something truly amazing to overcome.  So, the bleaker the odds the better the story. Second, I have spent my whole life being prepared for this trial. While tough choices have to be made, they are my choices to make. I choice to live!  Screw cancer!  It could shorten a life but it can’t take it away. Life is defined as “a corresponding state, existence, or principle of existence conceived of as belonging to the soul.”  My soul is infinite so what does cancer have on me? Nothing!  It can take nothing from me that I don’t give it!

This last bout of chemotherapy went well.  The pain from the Neulasta shot was not nearly as intense.  I did have some neuropathy in my hands that was new but it seems to be going away.  I figure if I have to be on chemotherapy for a long period of time then there’s a reason for it.  It gives me time to organize my house.  I get more time to teach and guide my children.  Besides, I am growing more accustomed to how my mind is starting to shift.  I like how it has started to connect patterns that I haven’t seen before and my tolerance of people is increasing.  As a high school kid I had a sign in my room that read “Stupid People Suck.”  I don’t feel that way anymore.  I think I was stupid for not seeing people’s inadequacies as an opportunity for service.

Anyway, plans are a little different.  No Huntsman until a new trial opens up, hopefully this year, but probably not until 2017.  Until then, all you Idaho Falls Natives are graced with my presence.  LOL.

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Living on Hammerstone

My mom reads these books about a street.  Each chapter is about a different person or family that lives on the street and how they all intertwine.  Let me tell you, living on Hammerstone is better than any old book.  Every time I have chemo and am reduced to being my house for a week or taking my daily walks through the neighborhood to help stop the pain from the shot, I become even more aware of the humor (and love) on my street. It has taken me some time to be able to gather all the needed pictures to actually put this post together.  However, it will be one of my favorites.  I must ask forgiveness before I start.  I mean no harm by this post but have to share some of the joys I have found living here.

ELLE’S ANGELS

Elle Angel 2

Rachelle and Danyelle at the “Hammerstoned” Half Marathon 2015.

I’d like to start with my “Elle’s Angels.”  This is Danyelle and Rachelle.  They live only three and two house away, respectively.  Now, that may seem close but there are days when one house between us seems like a football field.  These two are unbelievable.  They are alike in so many ways.  Both suffer from what I call “over active imagination” but most people call it anxiety.  They worry about every car that passes and freak out if there is a police car anywhere in the neighborhood.  Their imagination is so creative that once there was an oil line running the roads of our neighborhood and they became so obsessed with it that Rachelle followed it to 1st Street.  I know Danyelle would have gone with her if she’d had the chance.  Between the two of them, the single-handedly keep Maverik financially stable.  Although, Danyelle has reduced her soda intake drastically, leaving Rachelle with the sole job of keeping Maverik open.  She’s doing on her Diet Coke intake alone.

 

They have their quirks.  But let me tell you, they are a Relief Society President’s dream come true, minus the visiting teaching consistency.  They seek acts of service and go beyond the call of duty.  They recognize when people need help physically, spiritually, financially, and even lack a little humor in their lives.  They are reliable and helpful and practical.  Both are kind and giving to very best of their ability.

Now, they have some differences.  Rachelle is all about sports.  She lives for March Madness.  She coaches everything.  She feeds her kids and everyone else’s in the neighborhood according to the three P’s: pizza, processed good, and Elle Angel 1pop.  She never stops moving.  She can dance a mean dance but only to songs she likes (Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby being a classic) and is more into music than she thinks.  Danyelle is flower of her own color.  She comes from a life story that I can never hear enough of.  She reads so fast it blows me away.  She has spot on her couch that allows her to see everything going on in the neighborhood and still read her books.  She is creative and has the ability to make anything you can find on Pinterest.  However, she knows nothing about sports and picks her March Madness bracket according to color of uniform.  They are the perfect match for friendship.  I love that they both love to run, usually together but they end up scaring each other so bad when they do (dang imagination of theirs) that even a  little dog seems to big to pass.

KIDS

Between our three families their are 10 kids, 5 belonging to Rachelle.  They are ages 11 (Kaysha), 10 (Marina), 8 (Spencer), 8 (Max), 7 (Kenzi), 6 (Hailee), 5 (Maximo), 4 (Jayce), 4 (Bryce), and almost 2 (Calvin).  However, age means nothing on this street.  Some days the older kids play together and some days they all play together.  Then, there are days when the Marina plays Hailee or you find Kenzi with Maximo or Max with all the girls, no boys in sight.  However, somehow, little Calvin makes into every game the girls play.  He is like a living baby doll.  He hates but if it gets him outside, he’s in.

Christmas Presentation

Self-declared Christmas Performance (three little guys missing).

The creativity of these kids is unreal.  I have seen them play dang near everything.  They love to race their scooters and bikes around the block.  However, my favorite of all times was last year’s infamous game of Pioneers and Bandits.  It came complete with long pioneer skirts and bonnets for the girls, while the boys had handkerchief masks and one straw cowboy hat they had to share.  It eventually ended with several pioneers and bandits laying dead on the lawn from a big shoot out with finger guns.

 

Bean Boozled

This is the kids playing Bean Boozled.  Gross!  Nasty tasting Jelly Bellies.  They love it!

The relationship between the kids makes homework nearly impossible.  The very moment they get home, each house is filled with the echoes of “can I go play?”  This will be heard after every single math problem is done, a page is read, or spelling word written.  Dang the smart kids that get their homework done fast and are outside on bikes making noise to indicate they are ready.  They make it so frustrating to the already exhausted mother losing the homework war.  But they don’t steal or lie or mean to hurt feelings (although it happens). These are the kind of kids you hope you kids have for friends until they finish high school.  These are kinds of friends that no matter what happens at school, they all know that when they get home, there is group of friends that can’t wait to include them.

 

HUSBANDS

This is a short topic.  Why? Well, because none of them talk much.  Some of them golf together.  They all grill together but besides just talking business and sports that is really about all there is to say.

PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

Get real! There are 10 kids in three houses and they follow each other around like a herd of cats.  No house is every clean.  If it is, it will only have a few minutes before the tornado of children tear through it and leave a trail of destruction, empty cups and chip crumbs.  The noise alone can make you crazy.  Thank goodness of summer, when you send them all outside to burn in the sun.

The best part Little House 2has to be the bizarre things that have collected in the yards.  I have a playhouse that is often mistaken for a doghouse.  It’s huge.  What kind of a dog do people think I have, a St. Bernard?  It can hold all 10 kids at once but it is usually where we find Calvin, popping out the window during Meat Parties.  There was one incident where hornets had formed a nest above the door and the kids couldn’t get inside for a few days until Josue took care of it but no harm was done, except to the hornets.

On to the cars, and I don’t mean for adults.  We have quite the collection of Cozy Coupes.  It’s pretty impressive.  We will start with MaMax's Coupeximo’s camouflage hunting vehicle. It was gift from Santa Clause. He doesn’t really fit in it any more but it can’t be given away for two reasons.  First, he loves it.  Second, the neighborhood kids love it.  Now, lets move on to Bryce and Jayce’s Coupes.  Twins CoupeI’m not sure what color they were originally but, as a huge Oklahoma Thunders fan, Rachelle painted them both orange and blue.  Now, they are usually in the road with one kid in his and the other kid pushing one, or as seen here with Bryce on top.  Finally, lets move to the newest addition to our coupe family, Cavlin’s truck.  Calvin's CoupeIt would be nice let Calvin play in it but what fun is a coupe if there is only one driver.  It’s very seldom that the actual driver of any coupe has his own coupe.  Apparently, it is way more fun to drive someone else’s.

This is followed the nonstop battle of bikes, scooters, skateboards, and rip-sticks that clutter our front yards.  They are everywhere.  You are seldom allowed to part in the driveway during summer because our cement drives are park lots for all of the modes of transportation used to move kids the twenty yards it takes to get from house to house.

I have to include a quick word about the treasures found in the neiHatch Houseghborhood.  First, Danyelle has the best fence every created.  In her front yard is a fence no more than two feet tall, if that.   I have no idea what it’s purpose is.  I know it was put there by the people living there before her and I am still wondering what it was supposed to hold in.  It’s hilarious!  But not as hilarious as the Easter Egg painted rocks in Rachelle’s front yard.  It is awesome that Rachelle has a collection of such beautifully painted stones just left in her yard to be thrown away.  (I say that sarcastically.)  It’s as if Rachelle was worried that her stones were going to get mixed with other stones in the neighborhood so she strategically sent her kids out to paint all of hers so that she could gather them up if they got lost.  The are a wide array of colors, but mostly blues.

I walk this street three or more times a day after getting a chemo shot.  I see these funny things all the time.  I love them.  Now, there are people and kids from around the corner that occasionally creep onto our street and play.  We love them!  We wish they came more.  There is always room for more kids, clearly 10 isn’t enough.  I just wanted to share a little piece of the adventure I live every day.  I see it from my window, although not as clearly as Danyelle from hers, or when I walk to wear off the pain.  It’s pretty awesome.  This street is unreal.  I’d say it’s “Amazing.”

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The Mission of Marriage

While serving my mission in Argentina (more than 15 years ago, feels like forever), I had two companions that taught me about marriage. Although, at the time, I didn’t realize it. Before I proceed, I must take a minute and explain that Nicole (then Havelange) Sheen, while my favorite companion and still my dear friend, is not one of these. I say that because anyone that knows Nicole and may be reading this could get seriously confused. Ok, back to the other two, Duran and Benitez. Ironically, they are both Argentine natives and freakishly small, neither measuring quite five foot.

Durán was my third companion. She was by far my toughest companion. She never got out of bed in the morning and always complained about something, usually not feeling well. There were a lot of days she never left the apartment at all.  I was stuck there reading and feeling useless. However, on P-day she was up and at it. When she did get out of bed on regular days, she would never do companionship study and took forever to get dressed.  Finally, being the senior companion, and never planning with me, she would insist that we go visit one of the Bolivian families in the vineyards. That would mean that the remainder of our day was to be spent taking a bus out to the middle of nowhere, walking another 2 kilometers, and then having the hospitality of the Bolivians insist that we eat with them. They couldn’t afford to feed us. The Bolivian immigrants in Mendoza had come there to harvest grapes. They worked all day and were paid by the baskets they filled. They made $0.25 for every basket.  These were huge baskets and they barely made ends meet. However, Durán would insist we spend our evening there, instead of in town and less of a burden. To top things off, she was such a shame based person.  She would tell me, every chance she got, what I was doing wrong and how to fix it and how it made me a disgrace to the Lord. Oh, how my resentment toward her festered. Honestly, I still don’t like her much. It was such a waste of six weeks of my mission and the Lord’s time.

Benitez

Sara Benitez and her family now.

Then, there was Benitez.  I was her second companion and on the last leg of my mission. She was so little that no matter how small I made my steps she still had to take two to stay at my side. Benitez did nothing in a hurry but she did it.  When I asked her to complete the 100 hour challenge with me for the last week of my mission, she never hesitated.  We would awake hours earlier to be out of the apartment by the time most missionaries were getting up.  We would come home just in time to make curfew.  I was 18 months in the mission at this point so 16 hours of walking and talking and service wasn’t too hard on my body physically.  But Benitez had less than four months in the mission and had to speed walk to stay with me. There were nights when she would fall asleep at her desk waiting for the shower. She would often doze off during companionship study in the morning and almost always at lunch, whether in the homes of members or not.  She never complained.  The Sunday before I left for home, we had gone home for lunch before our district meeting.  I walked into our living area from the kitchen to hand her something to eat. Her head was on her desk as her feet dangled (they didn’t touch the ground in any chair).  I figured she was asleep from exhaustion.  We had done it! We had worked, in the street for more than 1oo hours.  I nudged her a little to see if she was hungry.  Then it happened.  She lifted up her little, round, tear stained cheeks and thanked me.  She had given it her all to ensure that I finished strong and she was thanking me for helping her feel so good about herself.  At that moment, she became one of the greatest examples of selfless love in my life.

 

Which companion am I to my spouse?  Do I think only of me and then cope with my inadequacies by shaming him into submission? Do I work, with all my might, to make him better and in return I grow?

Sadly, and as Josué can attest, I spent much of our marriage as Durán. In my efforts to avoid my own shortcomings and challenges and mostly my insecurities, I shamed him. Oh, how I shamed him!  Every chance I got I would point out how I thought he failing me. I was mean. I know on more than one occasion I crossed the line to verbal abuse.  I would mentally devalue him on a daily basis. For what?  So I could avoid me?  It didn’t matter how hard I tried to blame him for my unhappiness, it was never enough to give me security and belonging.   I hated me, not him.  In my efforts to make him carry my self-loathing and lack of self value, I was driving him to his vices. This would then reload my weapons of marital destruction with justification. What a mess I made.

Then, it happened.  One circumstance lead to another and the Lord carefully crafted the details of our lives into a masterful change.  I found myself faced with the challenge of forgiveness.   Before I could embark on the journey of forgiving Josué’s offenses (for he did have some, no one is perfect.) I would have to recognize and forgive my own.  The Lord would require me to own my part of our failing marriage and demand that I become genuinely honest with myself about me.

It was the beginning of my transition from Durán into Benitez. It is (I say “is” because I still work at it) the toughest , most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Don’t get me wrong, I know Josué is no saint and he has his own stuff to improve but that’s his stuff and I can finally let him deal with it. It’s taken nearly 15 years Couples Fototo get to the point where I recognize that his trials and shortcomings are my trials and shortcomings.  That my anxiety and fear and self doubt are his anxiety and fear and self doubt.  This journey has made him my favorite companion of all time.  He has been gone this week to tend to the business of his father’s death and I miss him.  I miss him a lot.  He has been by side for every doctor’s appointment, biopsy, chemo session, and pharmacy pick up I have had.  I was so glad Amanda was there yesterday for chemo but I still miss him.

Please don’t miss understand me.  I do not believe that all marriages are healthy.  I don’t believe that everyone should get in a relationship and stay regardless of the circumstance.  In fact, I know a few people that should most definitely get out because they are not okay.  But, for me, it has been worth saving.  You may ask how we have done it.  Well, it started with an article by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, entitled Divorce.  I read this thing a millions a times.  I have it posted in my journal and have marked all over it.  Then, it was a prayer.  I kneeled down and told my Father in Heaven that there was no way I could forgive myself or Josue for the damages in our marriage without help.  I will never forget that weeping prayer as I begged for my own forgiveness for not loving myself the way God does.  Then, I put myself to work.  I focused on the counsel from Elder Oaks:

“Spouses should do all within their power to preserve their marriages. They should follow the marriage enrichment counsel in the First Presidency’s message in the April 2007 Ensign and Liahona. To avoid so-called “incompatibility,” they should be best friends, kind and considerate, sensitive to each other’s needs, always seeking to make each other happy. They should be partners in family finances, working together to regulate their desires for temporal things.

Of course, there can be times when one spouse falls short and the other is wounded and feels pain. When that happens, the one who is wronged should balance current disappointments against the good of the past and the brighter prospects of the future.

Don’t treasure up past wrongs, reprocessing them again and again. In a marriage relationship, festering is destructive; forgiving is divine.  Plead for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord to forgive wrongs (as President Faust has just taught us so beautifully), to overcome faults, and to strengthen relationships.”

I was reminded last night how much my marriage means to me.  I understands the words of President Spencer W. Kimball “Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage … means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all.”  This emotion grows stronger with each effort that I make and Josue reciprocates.  I love how Elder Oaks summed it up, “In all of this, we should realize that a good marriage does not require a perfect man or a perfect woman. It only requires a man and a woman committed to strive together toward perfection.”

Sometimes, I am still a Duran but I hope to be a Benitez.  Until then, I just want people to know, it has been a lot easier to be a good wife as I have grown to understand the value I have to my Father in Heaven.  If we learn to love ourselves they way our Father does, it makes the decision of staying or leaving easier to understand.  I would hope that everyone, before making such a decision, can say to themselves that they have honestly talked to the Lord about their own inadequacies before  making a decision about their marriage.  If not, get it done.  You might be surprised how much He loves you.

P.S. Special thanks to one of my “Elle’s Angels” who reminded me, last night, how important priorities are.  You rock Danyelle!

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Seu Moises

We lost Josue’s father to a heart attack on Saturday night. It is such a tragedy. He wasn’t even 60 years old.  He was still young and full of so much life.  While I know what it is like to lose a father, this is devastating to Josue and his family.  It is breaking my heart to see the emptiness that sets in for the first little while as the change and shifting begin.

Moises always told us he wanted to die young.  He said he wanted everyone to remember him as full of life and good looking.  He would often tease all of us that he was never going to get old.  Sadly, he did look younger than most of us.  He was at such a good point in his life.  His kids are all grown and he has 12 beautiful grandchildren.

There are so many things that he shared in his life.  He taught me about Mate (accent over the E).  It is impossible to imagine him without his cup and thermos.  I have never seen anyone who could drive a stick shift vehicle while pouring boiling hot water into a tiny cup and sipping it from a metal straw that burns your mouth.  It was quite the feat, and he had it mastered.  He taught me that while I don’t agree with it (mostly because it tastes like drinking wet alfalfa) there would be a day when I would “ask for my soup to have the fly” because it is just a part of my life.  It’s true.  It’s not a Barreiro family gathering without someone bringing it out and everyone sipping to the sound of the slurp.

He taught my about “Dele con fe.”  This is the unwritten Barreiro family motto.  It means “go forward with faith.”  He was never afraid to just take the leap at life’s opportunities.  He always trusted things would work out.

He taught our dear Marina to eat pig head.  She loves it.  She would just plop down next him with her fork and wait for him to cut her a little piece of meat.  Then, she would proceed to teach him funny English words that he would purposely mispronounce so that she should stay at his side.  She wouldn’t have left.  She was there for more than just the pig head.

He taught me how a good piece of beef, a fire, and time bring people together.  This is a tradition that I have seen work over and over and over again.  It has brought together the Barreiro family, the Stevenson family, the Hammerstone family, and many others on countless occasions.  It is a tradition that welcomes the weak, lifts the wounded, and increases the joy of everyone.  It’s true, the meat is good, but the atmosphere becomes what people find themselves craving.

He taught me that people change.  Despite their worst moments or actions or intentions or mistakes, people are lovable.  There is no person, no matter how frustrating, that does not have the ability to find God and put Him first.  I can say that I am better for knowing him.  I am better for having been welcomed into his family.

Moises Damaceno Barreiro will never be forgotten.  He will live on his Josue, Gislaine, Moises, and Gisel.  He will continue to bless the lives of his 12 beautiful grandchildren from the other side of the veil.  To our kids, he is known as “Abuelo Pa.” To Josue, he is “Pa.”  To me, he will always be “Seu Moises,” a master of humor and a dear friend.  May he rest in peace as he goes about the Lord’s work in a new way.

 

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On Top Of The World

prince-gold-symbol-signSo the artist, formally known as Prince, died yesterday.  At some point, he had change his Prince title to this ridiculous symbol for Love.  The humor is not in his death, as I don’t find death funny.  However, last night Josue was watching Globo News (that’s the Brazilian news where all the female reporters look like super models) and they were doing a tribute to Prince.  I found myself laughing pretty hard as every song clip they played I could sing.  That was when Maximo says “Mom, you are old.  This singer is dead and you know all his sPrinceongs.”  It dawned on me at that point that when an artist dies, who started decades before, and you can sing all his songs, it could just be an indicator that you have hit the point of no longer young.  I would like to say of Prince , he did contribute songs like Purple Rain and Living In A Red Corvette.  Both of which are actually really stupid songs but everyone can sing them when they hear them.  To all the secret Prince fans (because no one should ever admit they liked him) I am sorry about your loss.

Now, let’s talk really cool music business.  As many of you know, several of my really close friends have been working on putting together a 5k fun run.  It is called MILES FOR MARY.  I am stoked.  I can’t believe that anyone would every do anything like this to help us out.  However, these people have gone above and beyond.  I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!!  I don’t care if you run or walk or sit or cheer or complain or whine or laugh at me or whatever.  I get to see everyone.  And it will be the depute of my bald head.  That’s right!  It’s a super hero themed run so if people want to dress up, they can.  Josue and I are totally going in costume.  He’s going as Superman and I’m Lex Luther.  After all, I am his kryptonite.

You are probably wondering how MILES FOR MARY has anything to so with music.  Oh, let me explain.  Somehow, Jorge’s wife has pulled some stings and been able to get an authentic, autographic jacket from Dan Reynolds.  For those of you who don’t know, that is the lead singer of Imagine Dragons.  If you don’t know you they are, stop right now and go lookimagine dragons up some of their songs.  You will recognize songs like I Bet My Life and On Top Of The World and several others.  To top it off, go read about this guy.  He’s great.  He does a lot of really good things for people and  comes from really good stock.  His jacket is going to be raffled or auctioned or something like that.  I don’t get all the details because all the people in charge keep me out of the stress.  I just get to show and enjoy the freaking awesome event with all of you.

In fact, these great people have put together several really cool packages to raffle off.  I don’t know what to say to them, except that all my family and friends are going to show up to support this event.  So, tell everyone!  Just click on any of the  MILES FOR MARY  titles you see in this blog and it will take you to the link to sign up.  Come on!  You get a killer shirt for just participating.  If this crazy old lady can do it, so can any of you.  I am so often stuck in my house, with nothing to do and now I get to spend a whole day with people I think are awesome and probably haven’t seen in quite some time.  It will be the week before another bout of chemotherapy, May 14 at Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls, and I will be feeling great.  I want so badly to see everyone.  Even if you don’t run or register, come and be part of this.  My bald head is going to need all the support it can get.  Besides, it gives me hope…it helps me feel like I’m ON TOP OF THE WORLD.

Side note: at the beginning of this blog I requested that it stay between the few people that were invited by email.  That was dumb!  It has already grown to more than the originals and I want to reach as many people as possible. If there is a chance to touch their lives, then lets do it.  I would ask that if you know any of my clients, don’t invite them to the site but other than that, please, feel free to share my story.  I am becoming more confident about the changes in my life and if they help others then let us all be part of helping them.

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Pearls

So, I spent most of the week trapped in my house.  After having a white blood cell count that was too low, I was placed on an antibiotic and told not to go anywhere from Thursday until Monday morning.  One can only be trapped in their house for so long before insanity begins to settle in.  However, I have tried to make the best of it.  In my days trapped in my home, I have gained some little pearls of knowledge.

PEARL #1: I really appreciate certain things.  I like a nice towel when I get out of the shower (thank you Stephanie).  When your body has no hair, the softer the towel the better the feel.  I think more things should come with hoods on them.  My head is almost always cold and sometimes I need the hood over my beanies to get enough warmth.  I like good running socks.  They fit your foot right and make being shoeless all day a real enjoyment.  Good skin care products are awesome.  My poor bald head has never seen sun and it is suffering from the fresh air.  The lotions I’m using make a huge difference.  They allow my head to be as soft as a baby’s behind, as well, it is quite frankly as white as a baby’s behind.

PEARL #2: Grocery shopping is a gender specific job.  I can send Josue to the store, with a detailed list, and he will return with things that no one in our home eats.  I asked him to get to get milk for days and he kept coming home with Welch’s Grape Juice (his favorite) but no milk.  I have started making lists with pictures as to avoid confusion.  It will have pictures of the kinds of Pringles the kids eat or the mayo we like.  I don’t understand how after nearly 15 years of marriage he still doesn’t notice what he eats on a regular basis.

PEARL #3: Mail is still really appreciated.  My grandmother sends me letters in the mail (yes, it still exists and carries letters from one person to another) every week.  They aren’t very long and her writing is getting a little shaky. Nevertheless, I love them. She always tells me about the weather in Rupert and which of her kids came to help her out.  Occasionally, I get confused in her thoughts, like when I thought she was calling my Aunt Bonnie by Butter but later discovered my Uncle Mark had come to visit and brought their dog Butter.  We really should write more letters.

PEARL #4: I have an authority problem.  I don’t think this one is much of a surprise to people but it is becoming more and more blatant.  If you told me to work, I’d be mad and want to be home.  Oh no, my doctor says to stay home and suddenly I think of a million reasons I absolutely have to leave.  In my mind, I am the exception to the rule.  I can handle it.  I feel fine.  Just let me do one more thing and then I’ll stay home.

PEARL #5: Somethings never change.  It doesn’t matter if I am at work 4 hours a week or 40 hours a week, Jorge is not going to do anything more than he absolutely has to.  He will sweep in with a ton of ideas flowing through his mind, spew them out all over everyone, and leave everyone to figure out if they are supposed to realize them or not.  Then, two days later, he will return and wonder what the heck everyone is asking him about because he has had so many other things to do  that he can’t remember what he was even thinking the last time he was in the office.  All the while, the people left in the office are about ready to strangle him. If it weren’t for the fact that he genuinely cares about all them enough to go the extra mile whenever they need him I’m sure he would be dead.  That and he is an amazing counselor!

PEARL #6: Somethings do change.  My little neighborhood has seen people move in and out over the years.  The moves never seem to shift the daily routine of those of us who aren’t going anywhere.  But cancer has made a world of difference.  The way we all talk to our extended family, as if they know our neighbors like their own close friends, is different.  We used to worry if Rachelle had enough Diet Coke to get through Sunday, as to keep the Sabbath Day holy (sadly, this is hard one).  Now, my neighbors tell me I can be angry for a bit but I’m not allowed to let it change my outlook and then they proceed to tell me things I have told them to help uplift me.  I used to be stronger.  Now, I gratefully weep at the strength I feel from those around me.  I used to hate seeing people and now I can’t wait to hear from them or have them text.  I’m always stoked when my friends sneak in a little “Mary Time.”  Although, I feel like all those involved in the Miles For Mary Run are getting more “Mary Time” than they every wanted.

While these aren’t enough pearls to make necklace, they are pretty cool.  Sometimes I get so caught up in what I can’t have that I don’t see the treasures that I do have.  Writing this has reminded me that things aren’t that bad…they are temporary.  I have great people in my life and we are making memories.  I hope to one day send letters to my granddaughter full of pearls that she can enjoy or just laugh at, either way it brings joy.

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I Hate Runners…Can I Be One

I hate runners.  They are obnoxious.  They eat good, with the exception of those that overly-consume Diet Coke.  Then, these over-zealous people feel a need to compel others to join their movement.  Runners become obsessed with shoes and gadgets and training schedules, as if they were prophetic.  I even know a few runners that are linked by their gadgets so that they can worry about whether or not they are out doing each other – because we don’t already have enough to put ourselves down about.

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Why do I hate them so badly?  Because I want to be one.  I want to worry about planning my week around my “long run,” instead of worrying about whether I can get out of my chair on chemo week or not.  I want to finish a run knowing I’m going to ache from every muscle instead of walk to wear the ache off.  I am just plain jealous of all those bouncy geeks, incapable of holding still at a stoplight.  I want to be them and until I am, I will secretly want to run them all over as I drive past.

Some of you know, but this past year I ran in the Grand Teton Relay.  It is a 180 mile relay that is dIMG_2723ivided amongst a 12 person team.  I’m still not sure how I got conned into it but I’m  sure that the people at work had something to do with it.  Then, our dear Jorge said he’d sponsor if I ran.  The real killer was when Amanda (seen on the left, Katie is the middle) played my kryptonite card and told me to get my brother to join the team.  It was a sealed deal.

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Jorge, Omar, Emily, Licia (spelling is off), Danyelle, Scott, Mary, Lance,                                Marle, Meigan (spelling is off), Katie, Amanda

It was probably the stupidest thing I have ever been involved in.  But by far, it was one of the most fun things I have ever been part of.  It was such a cool experience that we seized the opportunity and paid the fee to get the early registration price only months after running it.  We all figured either the team would recommit or we would be able to find new suckers, willing to run with us for a couple free T-shirts, 36 hours in smelly car, and the chance to laugh until your stomach aches.

This whole cancer diagnosis really threw me off.  I just plain didn’t have it planned to have cancer and to have chemotherapy every three weeks.  I surrendered my place on the team…until yesterday.  Amanda has convinced me once again, although Josue and my mom joining the bandwagon didn’t make it easy to get out of.  This is my public commitment to the Dragon Ash Team of 2016.  I am going to train to run the relay as Runner One.  I will have three  legs, all under 4 miles each.  The last one is the toughest, but is all down hill.  I hear that the last one comes with a view I will want a picture of and the chance to see wildlife on the road (yes, I am poking fun of Marle for running slow enough to point out a snail on the road.)  The race is taking place on August 19-20 so it will be after a chemo week. I have been told that, unless I am in Utah at Huntsman, I have the full support of Amanda to run her legs and mine with me if needed.  Although, I know others would do it with me because our team is so freaking awesome.

There will be changes to the team this year.  Some of our runners have formed their own team and others have decided they are allergic to running.  By allergic I mean, every time they run they end up breaking out with a bad case of complaints.  They will be easily replaced by good people, willing to join our troop.  Jorge and Amanda, and yes I have this in a text so it is in writing and can’t be taken back, have agreed that if I run despite fatigue that will eventually settle in, they will take legs 8 and 9.  For those who don’t know, legs 8 and 9 are climbing Targhee and then later climbing the Jackson Pass.  So, for any team members that have not recommitted, there is still time.  You don’t have to run your same leg and I have seats in my car.  It feels good to have a goal.  It feels good to be part of a team, new members included.  I needed a little extra motivation and I am glad to have such great people to believe in me, even if my times will be a bit slower.

 

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