Card Making Goodies and Size 9s.

Oh yes. I fit into one pair of size 8 and one pair of size 10 jeans today. That is an average size of 9. OH YES.

I know it's vain, but what the heck. I've been Happy dancing since we left Target four hours ago!

I also got a set of these cute little pink plastic containers to decant my bath goodies into for our trip. I feel bad about buying plastic things, but I don't think they'd let me bring little glass bottles onto the plane. :/

I went to Michaels and picked up the goodies to make our Christmas cards. I can't wait to share! They're going to have little felt gingerbread houses with sparkly glitter snow, and I'm going to carve a brick pathway stamp. I LOVE stamp carving!

More to follow...


Gravy is No-Go

Happy (late) Thanksgiving to all! Dustin and I spent ours at his Mom's house and we had a blast! His aunt and uncle, from San Diego, drove up and stayed Wednesday night (after sitting through 12 hours of traffic!) and all of Thanksgiving. I love seeing D's Mom interact with her sisters -- it's like they're little kids again, but with more wine. Awesome!

So, I found out yesterday that gravy is not my friend. Gravy tastes good and looks good but my stomach can't handle the fat (?) and refuses to process it. Do not pass Go or collect $200. I guess it's better that I found this out at home rather than at a restaurant or while on vacation. Wow, that's kind of twisted -- I was thankful for barfing on Thanksgiving. Teehee. Only me, right?

I'm super excited. Next weekend, Dustin and I are going to Disneyland! I have a rule that when ever I get a body part taken out, I get a Disneyland trip. I just flash my puppy-dog eyes and he can't bring himself to say no.
If there's one thing that you need to know about me, it's that I'm a Disneyland nerd. It's my happy home away from home. I guess there's something about the innocence and wonder that fills the place that makes me feel whole. It makes me feel like a kid again -- that feeling of "everything is all right" and fairies are real and magic DOES exist. Plus, it's the only place that I know of where you can an wear an idiotic hat and no one notices. AND they have churros... wait. Can I still eat churros? I guess we'll see (note to self, pack a Ziploc just in case).

Some snaps from our past trips:

Me and my adorable sister in the Court of Angels, 2006.

My Dad, sister, Mom and Me, 2006.

And yes, my dad is drinking a soda ... on a roller coaster.
It's a Small World, all Christmas-ed up, 2006
Dustin is such a beefy hunk, 2007.

A scene from the super-awesome Aladin show, 2008

Me and Bubby (Dustin), 2008.

Ohh! It's time to start decorating for Christmas! I've changed #6 in the car to the station that plays non-stop Christmas music. I bought a new tea mug, which I just adore, yesterday. It's a good sized mug, with a cute Santa face on it, plus it has this really cool ceramic Santa hat top to keep my tea warm. Hot tea all season long! Best part? It was a dollar. Oh yeah.

I'm on the lookout for a 3 foot-ish, white, pre-lit tree for our room. I'm a really bad tree water-er so I figured that this year, being that we're living with D's parents, a smaller fake tree sounds like the best plan. There is no chance that I can kill a plastic tree! Plus, I've been wanting to try out the whole "white tree with periwinkle and red decorations," thing for a few years. No year like this year, right?

Speaking of Christmas, I've seen an awful lot of those "Buy Handmade" links on many a blog. Are any of you planning on doing that? I'd love to do something like that, but I'm one of those girls who sees something neat on a blog or in an etsy.com store and thinks, "I can make that!" and then never does. :/ It's a sad cycle. I'd love to make things for everyone and you'd think that since I, (a) don't have a job, (b) am home all day long and (c) have a husband who doesn't mind if I buy art supplies, I'd actually CREATE things.

Something is holding me back and I don't know what it is. I've been like this since I had my lung out in '05 and I just can't seem to shake it. I used to tell myself that it was because my heart was broken and my soul was bruised from the sadness that the cancer brought, but I don't know. It makes sense, right? You think that I'd get with it and spend the time that I do have (right now!) doing the things that I want. I spend my days looking at inspiring blogs and researching the type of cancer that seems to like me and at the end of the day, I've made nothing. Could it be that I'm just a broken girl? Can time mend my broken-ness? Do I have the time? Will I be here one year from today? Will you?

What do I really want to do? I want to create organic, green, healthy bath and body products. I want to whip soap and melt hunks of beeswax for lip balms. I want to take classes at the Nova Studio. I want to sew and make things that are beautiful and share them with others and let beauty rule the earth. I want people to be happy with what they have. I want people, especially those around me, to take care of their bodies and not do things that they know are dangerous. I want to learn to not resent the people around me who have healthy bodies and continue to do destructive things to them. I want to make a big poster reminding people to love at their loved ones and I want to post it on every street corner. I want a baby. I actually want five, but I'd be complete with one healthy baby and the time to enjoy him or her. I want to have a conversation with God and ask him to please let me live for a good long time. I want to not worry about having another baddie every time I have an ache or a pain. I want my body to be strong and my soul even stronger. I want to see Dustin grow old. I want my damn wrinkles and stringy grey hair!
I guess all I can do is have hope. Faith, courage and hope... And a piece of pumpkin pie. ;)


November Dinners, Blogging and Bald Chicks.

Saturday was my family's (on my Mom's side) Annual November Birthday Dinner at Cattlemens in Dixon. Being that I only eat birds (that sounds sick!) and Dustin is a Pescaratian, the pickings were slim (teriyaki chicken and Dijon salmon, respectively). It was great to see my Aunts and Uncles and especially my Grandpa. <3>

Having a "new" stomach makes dining out interesting because I can't really eat anything fried. I'm mostly a fruit, veggie, meat, and dairy kind of girl now. And the amount of food that I eat is way less than it used to be. It's kind of sick that this is how I ended up losing that bit of weight that I always wanted to. It's funny because before this summer happened, I used to have talks with God about how I wanted "fix" my eating habits and slim down a bit and I guess he was listening. Some times I think that God is the biggest smart-ass. Is that Kosher? I just said 'God' and 'ass' in the same sentence. Crap, I did it twice! I've come to realize that every shitty situation has a bright side -- even if it's only as bright as one of those dollar store pen lights.
So, yes. The dinner was fun and I ate what I could (Mmmm... salad and chicken and fresh sourdough), plus a scoop of ice cream for dessert. Well, I had half of the scoop and then dumped the rest on Dustin's massive Brownie and Ice cream tower. He loves me, I swear!

I've been a Blog reader for about two years, following mostly Elsie Flannigan, her friend Rachel Denbow, the SUPER awesome Emily Falconbridge and recently some of my dear High School friends (Rachel Dunston!).

I've wanted to start my own blog for just about as long, but I'm a chicken. I'm one of those "go-big or go-home" kind of girls and I wanted my blog to be awesome. The best. I wanted to whole world to read it and fall instantly in love with me. I'm not stupid though and I know that I'm never going to be the best or have the most and things will never be perfect.

Having cancer makes you realize a lot about "life" and having cancer four times makes you realize even more. Sometimes I actually feel lucky for having had it, because I've felt things and I've come to conclusions that I probably wouldn't have if I'd have had a "normal" life. I've become so thankful (how... on time!) for everything. Each time I eat something and feel my body digest it, I'm amazed! Every time I take a shower, a real shower, I'm filled with joy and appreciation (after two months of not being able to take anything more than a sponge bath)! Just living is an amazing thing. The Human body, with all of its gadgets and systems, is unreal. All of the parts and nodes and veins and bones that work together every second of everyday just so that we can function. It really just blows my mind. Whew!

I like to take this moment and let the world know that I'm thankful for having hair. I've lost it twice in my life and I remember how badly I just wanted my eyelashes to grow back. Nothing gives a chemo patient away like missing eyelashes and brows. Nothing worse than having someone stare at you because you've just smeared your right brown across your forehead. Anywho, for all of you hot-ass chemo patients, here is my Public Service announcement for today:




So, after my Doctor telling me that we’d, “Just watch the spot and see if grows,” and me saying “Hell no, I’m not going to wait. I need a PLAN,” it was decided that I would have CyberKnife “surgery”. What is a CyberKnife? It’s freaking awesome, that’s what it is! It’s a type of precise radiation that gives one specified point (the bad stuff), a large amount of radiation, but breaks up the entry points – meaning that the cancer gets nuked, but the tissue around it only gets a small dose.

My procedure was scheduled for the week of July 14th at UCSF. It consisted of five treatments, each lasting for about an hour. I was told that it would be painless, easy and supposedly with out side effects. Dustin took that week off of work and we decided to make the most of it.

The machine the radiation source is mounted on is actually a, “precisely controlled industrial robot.” Think any kind of Sci-fi movie with robot arms on an assembly line… and then think about lying down and letting it move all around you. It was AMAZING and frightening at the same time.

On my third day of treatment, I noticed that I had a sharp pain right under my ribs, kind of like what it feels like when you drink a huge glass of water and then run -- that dull, achy kind of pull that increases with deep breaths. (Any self respecting person who was once a kool-aid drinking, Nick-in-the-Afternoon watching, summer vacation loving, tag-a-thon starting kid, knows that feeling.) I shrugged it off, as the Doctor who was over seeing the procedures said that it was normal to be a bit sore and tired. I finished my treatment and began what I thought was the beginning of the rest of my life.

I had started, in June actually, eating very much like Kris Carr – mostly vegan, with an emphasis on raw, whole, organic foods. I followed a diet called the Budwig Diet, which used a mixture of flaxseed oil and cottage cheese (it was edible – I made fruity smoothies!). There is a whole big science to the mixture that’s actually quite interesting.

At Cha-Ya, a vegetarian sushi house in Berkeley
Vegan chocolate cake!
I was feeling good, until about three days before Dustin’s Birthday (the 24th of July). I was tired. I would wake up tired. I would walk around and almost feel like I was going to pass out.

Now, let me tell you… I hate hospitals. I HATE “going in.” Dustin had to bribe me to go see my doctor that day. My super awesome general practitioner, Dr. Sym., was worried about my fatigue, but he thought that my ongoing stomach pain was the result of an ulcer. He sent me to get my blood drawn and then we went home. Two hours later, Dr. Sym. called and urged me to go to the E.R… my blood counts were dangerously low -- I was bleeding from the inside.

Now, like I just told you, I hate the hospital. I HATE-HATE going to the E.R. *frustrated sigh here* I went in (reluctantly) and I’ll tell you this, that night was one I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It was honestly the worst night of my life. There was no peace -- That’s that best way to describe it. The E.R. was crowded, dark and buzzing with fear... fear so thick you could smell it. To keep it short, my night was filled with nausea, a moaning, senile woman next to me, bad soup, the phrase, “It’s just dry heave,” from said woman (over and over again), bad drugs, good drugs, a stiff nurse, I.V.s, a tired, worried husband, not getting into a hospital room until 7a.m. and all of this while I was bleeding internally and feeling like death. Ugh. The next week included an Endoscope test, nothing by mouth, spending time with my poor, frazzled Mom and the news that I had a huge tumor right outside of my stomach, which not only preventing food from passing, but it was also bleeding… and it was cancer.

How many times can a girl get cancer? Seriously? Wait, I take that back. I don’t want to know!

To make yet another long story more petite, I went home to Dustin’s parent’s house where I tried to eat and keep it down, deal with the pain that now needed narcotic pain killers and prepare for what might be my end. How do you do that? How do you, at 24, prepare yourself for leaving this world and all that you love? Sleep. Tears. Hand holding and preparing a will on Microsoft Word. I still have that file, tucked away in a folder on my desktop. My in-Laws were wonderful and helped in any and every way possible to keep me happy, comfortable and functioning. My Mom took time off of work to come loaf on the couch with me. My sister let me kick her ass at Battle Ship over and over again.

I was admitted into the Hospital, after two weeks of being stubborn and fighting as hard as I could to live with the lump growing in my belly. I remember my sense of smell was insane and I couldn't handle the smell of anything not from nature. All visitors were told that they stunk. What a pill I was! I also recall seeing my sister cry in my hospital room, a memory that makes me cry, to this day.

We were told that on top of the lump growing in my belly, I may have multiple spots growing on my liver. What does that mean? That means, that if there really were tumors growing on my liver, they’d try to “make me comfortable.” We all know what that means.

As luck would have it, after a five hour surgery, I DIDN’T have anything on my liver or in any of the lymph nodes in the surrounding area! I had a Whipple procedure, which basically means that they took 1/3 of my stomach, 1/3 of my pancreas and my entire duodenum out and then pieced it all back together again. Mind blowing!

That was August 18th. I spend a week and a half in the hospital and then came I went home to my Mother’s house, where she cared for me for the next two weeks. It’s sad and lovely at the same time that such a crappy situation can bring two people closer together. My Mom took on walks around the neighborhood, attempted to cook me what sounded good (I love you for trying, Mom!) and held my barf buckets. Having a stomach that was starved for two weeks and then cut apart and pasted back together made eating or drinking anything a real job.
When I first got home, I could only consume ½ a Dixie cup full of anything. Then a full Dixie, followed by a tiny bowl. Now, as of November 16th, I eat almost like a normal person. I can’t eat anything fried and I don’t eat mammals, but other than that, I pretty much eat what I want and know that I can tolerate.

Oh! Did I tell you that I had my leg amputated? *checks previous post* Yep. Well, normally I wear a prosthetic leg, but since the tummy incident, I’ve lost a little weight and now it doesn’t fit. It's really sad, actually. My sad little fake leg is sitting in the closet with the shoe and pants that I wore the day I took it off. Poor dear in the corner.

That’s me. I’m just a girl in a wheelchair with one leg, one lung and half a tummy… but I'm also a girl with a lot of heart! That's got to count for something, right?