Monday, December 29, 2008

Hall Family Christmas


We had a quick celebration with the Hall side of the family on Friday afternoon when we arrived home. Dan, Deanna, Logan and Lauren were on their way to Henderson to his parent's house and stopped by so we could all exchange gifts and see each other.

Logan and Anna Belle had a great time playing with his new motorcycle toy. Morgan loves her baby dolls and Emri continued to try and eat all the wrapping paper. Logan also had a new Indiana Jones hat, and he even let me try it on, but just for a minute. Lauren is really growing up and enjoying things like ipods and clothes - she is such a pretty young lady. It seems like she should be Anna Belle's size.
Bryan's mother made me a scrapbook of this blog. What a great gift! I was very overwhelmed. She included the pictures and all. I'm sure I will enjoy looking at it even more in years to come, when all this is not so fresh in my mind.

I am very blessed to have such a great family!

Thomas Christmas in Henderson

We celebrated and opened presents with our immediate family on Tuesday night. Then Wednesday night (Christmas eve) we all headed to Henderson when Bryan got off work. It was great to have the whole family under one roof at Dad's house.

Christmas morning was pretty magical with 4 little children. There were lots of squeals, flying wrapping paper and Emri had a great time trying to eat the paper. Jenni made home-made french toast for everyone that morning, and it was delicious! That about summed up the whole trip. The Wii was the big hit with the bigger kids and husbands.

Christmas evening we went to the Henderson theater to see some movies. The little children went with Dad, Linda and Chassi to see The Polar Express and Lisa, Jenni and I went to see White Christmas. It's always great to see classic movies on the big screen.

On Friday morning we got to see the Woods family (across the street neighbors). It was great to see those familiar faces and catch up a bit. We moved to the house on Gibson Drive when I was 6 months old, the Woods built their house when I was pre-school. There are very few memories of childhood that don't include their family. We were blessed with a neighborhood full of kids.

At one point in the visit we were all sitting around Dad's dining room table and Anna Belle looked around and sighed and said "It's nice to be here" - that about summed up the whole trip.

Sherry's family was coming in on Friday afternoon for the McCaskill family Christmas. Camille and her husband and kids arrived just as we were leaving. I'm sure Dad and Sherry will need a vacation once this holiday is over, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas shopping with Anna Belle and Morgan






Last night Bryan and I took Anna Belle and Morgan shopping to let them get Josh and Chassi some presents. Whew- that was an adventure!



We then came home and they helped wrap the presents. Morgan used a whole roll of tape on one gift. They had a great time sticking ribbon and gift tags on all the presents. This is what makes Christmas magical - children.

Dr. Whitworth visit

I went in for my 6 month post-surgery check up with the Oncology surgeon yesterday. No sign of recurrence! I will see them again in another 3 months.

I also had my genetic testing done and will get the results in 2 weeks. This should tell if my breast cancer came from a genetic mutation, if so this will be important to all the women in our family. Let's all pray for negative results.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dr. Wagstrom follow up

I went to Dr. Wagstrom's office (plastic surgeon) today and got the rest of my stitches out. I'm pretty tender in some areas, but overall I'm healing very well. The doctor cleared me to begin exercising again. I just have to start slowly and work my way up.
I will see Dr. Whitworth (Oncology surgeon) on Friday morning for my 6 month post op check up. I'll be seeing him every 3 months for 2 years, so he can keep a close eye on my health.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support and prayers!

Christmas party

We went to my office Christmas party at the "Factory at Franklin" on Saturday night. It was great to get to visit with people out of the office environment. Everyone had a great time and we were home safely by midnight. I'm blessed with some great co-workers.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Saturday was the annual "It's a Wonderful Life" showing at the Belcourt Theater. We have friends that host this annual event to kick off the holiday season, and also gather donations to provide Christmas to a child at Vanderbilt hospital. The movie always serves to remind us all that we have so much to be thankful for.

I'm thankful to have all of you in my lives!

Triple Birthday party



We had a great "Triple" birthday party on Saturday morning. All three of Josh's girls have birthdays so close together that it's easier just to have one big celebration. The party was held at our house, but Chassi and her mom Sherron handled the set up and cooking for the party, and my friend Lori helped them with clean up. No one would let me lift a finger, even though I could have helped a little. : )

Emri was 1 year old Dec. 2nd





Anna Belle will be 5 years old on Dec. 15th





Morgan will be 4 years old on Jan. 23rd





Happy Birthday girls!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thankful

I'm not sure how I'll ever sufficiently thank the amazing women I work with at Gordian. They once again surprised me today. This time with a very nice gift card to Victoria's Secret and some sparkly body shimmer to celebrate the completion of my reconstructive surgery. Once I'm fully healed and all the stitches are out I will have to go on a shopping spree to shower "the new girls" with some fun bras and tops! 

It is so nice to go to work in such a caring and supportive environment. I am thankful everyday for all my fabulous friends!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Josh




Today is Josh's 25th birthday. He is staying busy with his own custom furniture/woodworking business as well as being a dad and husband. You can see some of Josh's creations at Shimai and Maggie May's in Nashville. He also does trim, custom mantels, beadboard, etc...






http://wildwoodcf.com/index.html




Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving




I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had dinner at Bryan's parents house. Dan, Deanna, Logan and Lauren were in from Knoxville and it was good to see everyone. The food was plentiful and delicious as always. I made it through dinner and then needed a nap. I can't seem to get enough sleep these days. I guess it's just the anesthesia still in my system, plus the turkey too, of course.

I was hoping to go shopping for black Friday this morning, but I'm just still not up to doing too much yet. Josh, Chassi and the kids put up our tree today and ornaments are everywhere. They had a great time sorting through the presents to see which had their names on them. Here's a picture of Josh and his family on Thanksgiving.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving - I'm thankful for all of you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2nd day post op

I'm still having some discomfort, but nothing like the first surgery. I am still pretty bandaged up so I can't see the final result yet. Dr. Wagstrom says it may take a month or so for them to settle into the pockets she created for the implants, so once again I have to try and be patient.  

A special thank you to Anna and Sarah who brought me home cooked meals the last couple of days. They were/are delicious!!!

Thank you again to everyone for your love, support and prayers. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Surgery

I had my reconstructive surgery this morning at 7am. It all went well. I'm having discomfort, but nothing compared the the first surgery. I've got plenty of pain pills to get me through the next week. I was instructed not to lift anything heavy for 30 days and I can't drive for at least a week. 

I will have to see my plastic surgeon weekly for about a month to check the progress of the implants. I'm just so glad to have those expanders out! My implants are much softer, and don't have hard edges. It will take a month or two for the implants to settle into the internal pockets the doctor created, but I already feel like I have a more normal chest. :)

I better go now, I've had a pain pill and it's kicking in. I don't want to fall asleep mid-sentence.

Keep those prayers coming for a full speedy recovery! I love and appreciate each and every one of you.

Love,
Laura 

Christmas shopping

Saturday, Jenni, Bryan and I went to Opry Mills to get a little shopping done. The parking lot was packed and the restaurants had an hour wait to be seated. Shoppers were everywhere. No one there seem to know that the economy was bad, because everyone had at least two bulging shopping bags.


Twilight



Jenni, Erin, Connie and I went out for dessert, and then to see "Twilight" on Friday night. I can see why all the girls swoon over Edward, he is a cutie. I think most of the people there had read the book, from their gasps and squeals. It was a good movie, even though it did have a few Lifetime TV sounding quotes, such as "you are my own person brand of heroine." : )




Back in the 80s we had a heart-throb vampire in the movies - his name was Michael. Some of you probably remember him in "The Lost Boys".

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2 days until surgery

My reconstruction surgery is scheduled for 7 am on Monday at Centennial's Atrium Surgical Unit. I'll be so glad to get rid of these expanders, and get my implants.

I'm hoping to get some of my Christmas decorating done tomorrow. Next week I plan to rest, heal and catch up on some reading.

Thank you for all your continued prayers and support!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gearing up for another busy week

I had a good weekend, shopped a little, went to a friends for dinner and caught up on some sleep. This will be another busy week of training and next week (24th) is my surgery. I need to get a little more Christmas shopping out of the way before that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Doctor's visit today

I saw my plastic surgeon today, Dr. Wagstrom. I had my last "fill" in my tissue expanders, in preparation for my surgery on the 24th. I came home and took a muscle relaxer and slept the rest of the day. I'll be sore for a few days while the muscles expand a bit more. I am SO ready to get rid of these tissue expanders. The only thing I can compare it to is having a tag in your shirt that is terribly irritating, except the tags are under my skin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go out and Vote!

If you haven't already - go out and cast your vote today! We should all be thankful we have the opportunity to vote for the candidate of our choice, many people in the world do not have this luxury.

Today the majority of American voices will be heard and McCain or Obama will be elected as our next president. Once that happens I hope everyone in the nation will support and pray for this person and the advisors he surrounds himself with. I am so tired of all the mud-slinging. I wish we could have a campaign that focused solely on the issues.

I believe both of these candidates love God and our nation and truly want to do their best. I was raised to show respect to authority figures and I have tried to teach my children the same. The President of the United States will be the highest authority figure in the land. We don't have to always agree with everything that is done or said, but we should show respect.

If anyone disagrees and feels they could do a better job, then they are welcome to run themselves - this election has shown age, gender and ethnicity are no longer barriers!


I'll end with my friend Mickey's favorite quote, because it truly all begins with us in the home:

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" Gandhi

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making cookies



Josh's girls Anna Belle and Morgan helped "Bop" (Bryan) make cookies the other night. Anna says "if you have griedents' you can make anything".


Emri (the baby) ate cheerios while she watched - then she took a bath in the kitchen sink.

Manic Monday

I got up Monday morning and washed my face and most of my eyebrows and eyelashes fell out. I thought I was finished with all this! Oh well, I can see some small hair growth coming in, so maybe I won't be without too long.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thankful

Even though work is crazy busy, I am very thankful to be there. I'm surrounded by great people. There are so many things to be thankful for every day. Today I cleaned my own house and made dinner and it felt good. I hope I don't begin to take the little things for granted again.
Remember to stop and smell the roses today!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oncologist visit

I had my post chemo visit with Dr. Peacock, my oncologist on Friday morning. My counts are slowly coming back up to where they need to be, and everything else looks good. I don't have to see her again until January 2009, unless something comes up. She reminded me to walk 30 minutes 5 days a week, eat healthy, keep my stress low and report any weird pains or coughs. If recurrence happens it is usually within the first 2 years. I plan on NO recurrence and she feels I have very good odds of that as well.  I will be seeing Dr. Whitworth and Dr. Peacock every 3 months for 2 years, just to make sure I stay good and healthy.

Once again, thank you for all your support and prayers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Komen Race for the Cure - A GREAT DAY!

What a great day Saturday was! I would estimate there were 20,000 people that all showed up to support the fight against breast cancer. I was completely overwhelmed by all the love and support I received on my team "Fight like a girl", and we were just one of hundreds of teams. Our team alone raised over 4,000 dollars - as I've said before... that just gets us one step closer to a cure.





I personally was concerned about walking the 3.1 miles just 4 months after my surgery, and one week after my last chemo, but I made it without any problem. I was so energized by all the support around me. Of course I rested all evening Saturday and all day on Sunday, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I wish I could have walked and talked with each and every one of you on the team, but there were so many of us. It was too hard to keep everyone together.

Thank you all for everything you have done to make my journey easier. I love you all!

Sweatshop on Barnes Cove


Thursday night before the Komen Race on Saturday, Lisa and Samara made lots of "Fight like a girl" shirts. I told them our house looked like a sweat shop! : )

The Daughter


She has several names Jennifer, Jenni, Jen and whatever you call her - she will always be my baby girl. She saved me from being outnumbered by guys at home and has brought a lot of joy to all our lives. As I said in her birthday message, she has always been our little princess.
Jenni is a quiet observer, she loves to learn, but isn't crazy about being taught.
She plays guitar, journals, draws, paints and photographs and is fabulous at each of those things. When Jenni was little she was very content to play quietly in her room, all the while singing to herself and making up stories. Of course she was also side-kick to whatever Josh was playing as well - so if he was Leonardo, she was Donatello, if he was Batman she was Robin. Her favorite was when he played Peter Pan, so she could be Wendy.

Jenni loves to travel with her friends and her trusty camera by her side. One of her favorite trips was when Lisa took her to Italy for her 16th birthday. She took some amazing photographs there. I have some of them hanging in my living room. She hopes to return to Europe next year and stay several weeks. I am so proud of her determination and sense of adventure.

Josh and Bryan got their turn at being Jenni's roadies and sound guys when she played in bands from ages 14-18. She fronted the bands "Clabbergirl", "Vista" and "In Medias Res" and played several Nashville venues, and lots of parties. As of right now she is retired from playing, but maybe someday she will pick up that guitar again and play a show...I'll keep you posted on that one. For now, she just enjoys going to concerts, discovering new music and listening to the old classics. She's a big George Harrison fan.

Jenni turned 20 this year and she is datig a really nice guy named Jeff Marc. He spoils her and takes her shopping -which she loves. She's like a caterpillar when it comes to shoes, and her clothes addiction is just as strong.

Jenni has been one of my rocks during my journey with cancer. She was with me when I had the ultrasound and was referred to the surgeon and has been there every step of the way since. I couldn't have made it without her. She even moved back home to help out during my treatments.

I can't hear the song "Tiny Dancer" without thinking of Jenni. On her 16th birthday, the band "OX" played the song for her and that is what she is - all 4 feet 11 3/4 inches of her - our little Tiny Dancer.

I love being your mom Jenni!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Komen Race for the Cure - Saturday Oct 4th

If you are joining our team "Fight like a girl" for the Komen Race for the cure, meet us in front of Big River Grill (2nd and Broadway) at 8:15 am this Saturday. The race line up begins at 8:45.

Thank you to everyone who is walking/running with us, and to those who couldn't but made a donation. We've raise over 3,800 dollars!! That puts us one step closer to a cure!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Son

What can I say about Josh? It is hard to know where to begin. Josh was raised by college age kids...which I think is probably the equivalent of being raised by wolves.

He started talking before he started walking, and really hasn't stopped to take much of a breath since. The first two words he really put together were "Cawolee's awful" - and if any of you know Carolee - she is ANYTHING, but awful! Sorry Carolee...he was prompted I'm very sure!

I'm not sure how much of a childhood he had. He grew up with us, and we just took him along wherever we went. As a result, he has friends of all ages and rarely meets a stranger. When he was 4 1/2, along came baby sister Jenni and he became a big brother and hero, and she became his side-kick.

Josh is very much my "extreme" child. He has always been very active, and loves to try new things. Whether it's martial arts, hockey, cycling, scuba diving, rappelling or jumping out of a plane - he has tried it. Josh has always had a large circle of friends. If he said, "hey Mom a few friends are coming over for a movie night" - we quickly learned to expect 15 to 20 cars when we arrived at home. When we moved him to the larger basement room, he immediately started building his own furniture. Little did we know...this would become his life's work when he was making such a noisy mess downstairs.
 
 
When Josh was 17 he met Chassi and fell in love. They got married when they turned 19 and since then have taken on "extreme parenting". They quickly found out how fertile they were... and they have 3 beautiful girls to show for it. Anna Belle 4, Morgan 3 and Emri 9 months. They are all very precious and energetic and Emri is already beginning to talk at 9 months. It makes me smile to hear him saying the same things to them that I said so many times to him.

Chassi has been one of my biggest supporters these past few months. She has kept my house clean, grocery shopped and kept me positive every day. We are blessed to have her in our family.
 
 



Josh worked for a couple of cabinet makers for several years, and now he is running his own business "Wildwood Custom Furniture". He makes beautiful tables, desks, chests, cutting boards, etc... He is currently making a broadcast desk for WSM and the Grand Ole Opry. I'll add his website to this blog, as soon as it is up and running fully. His email is wildwoodcustomfurniture@gmail.com , if you have any custom furniture needs.

Of the billions of questions Josh asked me when he was a child there are a couple I never could answer:
  • "What does the giraffe say?"
  • "If Wonder Woman put her golden "lasso of truth" around you, would you tell the truth as you knew it, or the absolute truth?"
 Feel free to help me with these.

I have said it many times, it has been physically and mentally exhausting to raise Josh, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

So many things to do...

I promised in an earlier blog, that I would write about "The son" and "The daughter" so I'm finally going to try to get to those, as well as return about 20 phone calls and about 40 emails.
I had a good nap after church today, so I am trying to tackle some of those overdue tasks now. Please be patient if you are waiting on me to return your call or email. I get overwhelmed easily, but I have every intention of getting back with everyone. Going back to work has been very good for me, but has also been exhausting. I'm hoping all my strength and energy returns very soon.

Happy Birthday Karen

My friend Karen and her husband Mark had a birthday party this weekend. It was on Friday the day of my last chemo, so we stopped by to celebrate with them. They had our friends the "Mulch Brothers" play for entertainment, and instead of presents she asked everyone to give a donation to the American Cancer Society or Gilda's Club. Karen's father and father in law have both been affected by cancer. They received over 1300 dollars in donations at the party.
Great party idea Karen and Mark!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chemo over, finished, DONE!

12 weeks of chemo is finished! Yipee! I am so relieved to be finished. Tammy got my IV on one try, and after a bit of a wait for the drug to arrive from the pharmacy, I finally got my last dose of chemo. I've been tired this weekend as usual, but so thankful to have this over with. Hopefully my strength will return quickly and I'll be stronger every day!
Once again I was spoiled with great meals this past week. Carmen sent roast, carrots and potatoes. Mike and Lori brought Pei Wei and then had us over for steaks on Saturday. I appreciate all the great meals we have been blessed with these past few months. It certainly has made this all go easier.
I really want to thank everyone who has held me up in your thoughts and prayers over the last 12 weeks. I couldn't have made it without all the love and support I've been surrounded by.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

3 month follow up appointment

I had my 3 month follow up appointment at Dr. Whitworth's office today. I got great results, no signs of recurrence to be found! For the next 2 years, both my Surgeon and my Oncologist will check me every 3 months.

Friday...this Friday the 26th is my LAST chemo treatment! #12 here I come! I am SO ready to have this over with.

Thank you again for all your love, support and prayers!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hope on Wheels HOW 100 Ride 2008



The HOW 100 Ride is a 30 mile ride down the Natchez Trace Parkway that around 450 women rode for women who have had breast cancer in their lives. Lisa Wynn rode this ride in honor of Pam Walch and myself. I've never personally met Lisa, she is a friend of one of my friends (Kathy Bright). I know from talking to her on email, she is a great person and I hope to meet her soon. Pam and I signed bandanas that she carried with her on the ride and she also signed our names on the "Wall of Hope" at the end of the ride. I have some pictures that Lisa sent me, but my internet is up and down these days so I'll add these as soon as I can.


Lisa and my friend Kathy will be riding the "Jack and back" ride for MS on October 4th, while we are at the Komen walk. We will all be with each other in spirit that day.



Thanks again Lisa!

Chemo # 11 done!

Only one more chemo treatment to go! I am trying very hard not to whine, I have SO much to be thankful for, but I'm tired of being tired.
My sister Lisa took me to this last treatment and I sat by a lady who was just starting her 12 wks of the same treatment that I am finishing. I tried to encourage her and give her hope that she will get through it. She was scared and weepy, just like I was 11 weeks ago. I hope she has a fabulous set of friends, family and coworkers like all of you!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Two more chemo treatments

The last chemo was a two drug dose and it took it's toll on me for several days. I am just feeling back to slightly normal and it's time for another treatment. I keep reminding myself though, I only have 2 more to go!!

I had fabulous Chicken tetrazini from Lindy last week and tonight we had a wonderful Italian dinner from Katherine. The gourmet blessings...they just keep coming. Thank you girls!!

Team Fight Like a Girl

Tomorrow, Sept. 19th is the deadline to officially join the "Fight like a girl" Komen Race for the Cure team for the Oct. 4th walk. Actually I think you can join late, but you have to pay a late entry fee of 10.00. 
So...if you want to walk with us, sign up NOW!! We have over 20 members already. I just heard that some of our Verizon friends will be joining us in the walk. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful supportive people! I also greatly appreciate all those that couldn't be with us to walk, but sent in a donation anyway. 

All of this just gets us one step closer to a cure! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dad's coming to visit

My Dad and Sherry (stepmom) are coming to visit this weekend. I can't wait to see them both. They have been so supportive through all this, and there is nothing like a hug from your Dad when you don't feel well. 




Chemo #10

Chemo #10 is over! Only two more to go! This was my last dose where I get both drugs (cytoxan and abraxene) and it's already taking it's toll. I had to have treatment on Thursday this week, because my doctor was out of town on Friday. Catherine took me and it took longer than normal, the chemo room was full of people. It took 3 tries to get my IV started this week, but all went well when they finally got it going. We had plenty of time to talk and catch up. It's been such a busy summer at home and work we haven't had much time to do that lately. Catherine has been my organizer for everything, and I don't know what I would have done without her. She reminds me of appointments, has food set up and helped organize my ride list for chemo treatments. Everyone should have a friend like her.

Today I worked from home between naps. We have training next week, so there is lots to do to get ready for that. I just can't seem to get enough rest today, hopefully I'll be up and going by Sunday.

Reconstruction

I saw my plastic surgeon this week again to get my expanders filled. That is never fun, but it's necessary to get to the next step. We set a date for my reconstructive surgery - November 24th. I will have surgery on that Monday, be able to shower by Wednesday and have a very thankful Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Not so great day

I didn't go to work today, although I did work from home some. I woke up shaky and with a slight fever. Since my counts are down I have to report in if my temp is over 100.5, and it never went over 100. It just hung around all day to make me feel miserable. Jenni got me a mango smoothie that certainly made me feel better. I'm hoping a good nights sleep will revive me, and tomorrow I'll be up and around again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Done with Chemo #9

Chemo #9 is over and done!! Only 3 more to go. My WBC was 1900, and my Hgb 12, so I'm not anemic anymore but my low white count probably accounts for all my fatigue. I just have to stay away from sick people and monitor my temperature for any signs of sickness and get plenty of rest.

Elizabeth took me today, I always enjoy being with her and once again the time passed quickly. Joyce and Elizabeth (Landon) are like my satellite sisters. My dad and her dad were roommates and my mom and her mom were roommates when they all first went to teach at Freed over 40 years ago. They double dated and then married and were always best friends. I can't remember a time in my life when we weren't all together. We lost my mom (Reba) and their mom (Ouida) to cancer several years ago. I miss them both every day. I am sure they are up in heaven sitting on a cloud watching over all of us and giggling. Because that is what they did when they were together- giggle like schoolgirls. My dad (David) and Bob are still best friends. Bob has been having some health problems, but he and dad still go out to movies and to eat whenever he is up to it.

They renamed the Home Ec. house on campus the "Thomas-Landon" house. It is where my mom held all her Nutrition/Foods/Fashion classes when she taught there, it's also where I had my wedding. We just like to call it the "Reba-Ouida" house. : )

Once again, keep those prayers going. So far my veins are holding out and I am still doing very well overall and I know it's because of all the love, support and prayers that I am receiving from all of you! God is so good!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Doing ok

I know I haven't been as faithful at keeping up with my blog recently. It's taking all my brain power and energy to go to work every day. I do think having a daily routine is good for me, but I am exhausted by the afternoon and tend to go to bed early. I'm still feeling fairly well, although my appetite is not as good. I'm trying hard to keep up with my water intake to keep hydrated. Thank you for all your prayers, only 4 more weeks of chemo left!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gilda's Club


I don't know of anyone who knew Gilda Radner that didn't love watching her comic genius. I grew up watching the first season with the dream cast of Saturday Night live - Radner, Belushi, Akroyd, Morris, Chase, Curtain, Newman and others. They haven't had a cast like that since. I read Gilda's book "It's always something" several years ago, and had followed her life and death in the news. She was an amazing woman, who fought a hard battle with ovarian cancer. Before she died she talked about the need to have a place people could go and hang out and laugh and get the support they and their family and friends need when you're life is turned upside down by cancer. Gilda's club was started by her husband Gene Wilder and Joanna Bull (Gilda's friend and therapist) in her memory. Gilda's Club offers art classes, exercise classes, support groups, places for kids and teens to play, etc...

Josh, Chassi, Lisa and I took a Thai cooking class there recently. It was fabulous! Two Vandy students taught it and we learned to make some amazing dishes. Anna Belle attended Camp Sparkle, an arts camp there last month in "Noogieland". She had a wonderful time as well.
One of the great things about Gilda's is that everything you do there is free of charge. They have several corporate sponsors and volunteers that stock the clubhouse with delicious snacks and teach the classes. This is where Mickey and I are taking yoga classes.

Gilda's club is not only for cancer patients, it's for anyone who's life is touched by the disease. So if you are reading this blog, you certainly can come and check it out and join us in a class or just to hang out and laugh. I've met some really wonderful and brave men and women there. Some of them are currently battling cancer, and some who have been in remission for years. They all inspire me, come by and they will inspire you too.

Chemo #8 done!

Chemo #8 is over, only 4 to go - Yipee! I'll be so glad to get this behind me and move on. Kathy took me to this weeks treatment, and the time once again flew by. We had a nice lunch and then shopped at some of our favorite places and then I had a nice long nap. Bryan and I had dinner with the Spears family, Sandy and Ivey and then it was back to bed for me. I think with each week my body and mind get a bit slower. 


Long week

Work is good, but exhausting. I guess being up and around at home is different than being up and around at work. It's so good to see everyone, they are so supportive and kind. I was having a rough day on Thursday and came back to my desk to find a take out pack with a "Mexican feast" waiting for me to take it home with me. Thanks Sam and Eric - you are the best! 

That was the last meal I fully tasted, my taste buds have been coming and going for the past week, and since Friday they seem to be on hiatus. Oh well not too much longer of this to go.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blah weekend

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were very low energy days for me. I didn't really feel like eating or doing much but lying around. I did get up and go to work today, but I stayed at my desk working on a project all day. So far I've had cheerios, yogurt and popcorn. Hopefully the energy and appetite will return tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The husband


Lots of you have asked how Bryan is doing during all this. He is still pretty quiet, so it is hard to tell, but he says he is doing ok. I can tell you he has been pretty amazing with me, especially right after surgery when I was completely helpless. He quickly learned to change dressings, empty drains, brush my hair and gently shove me out of bed or off the couch when I couldn't use either of my arms. He hasn't run screaming from the room yet, and I have been very proud of him.
Bryan and I got married when we were teens, so through the years we've been compared to all the couples in the songs...Tommy and Gina, Jack and Diane, Brenda and Eddie...and on and on... Take a young couple, throw in two unique kids and quite frankly I'm sure most of our life together could be summed up by the title "Livin' on a prayer". We both grew up with great supportive families, his is smaller and quieter and mine is loud and large.
Bryan has a had a mistress since before we married, she has six strings, is made of wood and varies in color. Her name is usually Fender...Gibson...Ibanez...or Les Paul. He also has his best friend Mike and they enjoy writing songs and playing music every Thursday night. I learned pretty quickly when music is in your blood, you have to be playing or you are NOT happy. So he has his music room to retreat to for his "daily fix" and that gives me my own time to watch the chick channel, read or do some art project. We have found this works well for both of us. We both love to travel, go to concerts and try new restaurants - we occasionally agree on which movie to see. Although I will NEVER agree that "Pulp Fiction" is appropriate for an anniversary date.
*
Coming soon: blogs on "The son" and "The daughter"




More and More fabulous food!

I was spoiled once again with great dinners these past few weeks. Adelia (Bryan's mom) brought me a mexican chicken casserole, to satisfy my mexican food craving. Megan brought me an assortment of awesome salads. Angela brought delicious spinach lasagna and yummy cupcakes. Abbey made us some fabulous homemade gnocchi and salad. Once again, we are thankful and completely spoiled!  
When all this is over I will have to have a huge dinner party and cook for all of you!!

Chemo #7 is a wrap!

Chemo #7 is over and done. It was a cytoxan and abraxene day so it took a little longer in the chemo room, and I saw the doctor as well. Dr. Peacock said everything is looking ok and I am still feeling pretty decent. I haven't had any nausea to speak of, thank goodness! I still get tired easily and the fuzzy thinking is driving me nuts, but I have so much to be grateful for. I have the most amazing family and friends and having that support is what gets me through each and every day. 

Today Rebecca took me for my treatment and then we went to lunch. The two and a half hours went by very quickly.  If anyone can make chemo "fun" it's you girls. When I stop and think about it, when else do we take 2 hours to just sit and talk uninterrupted? Not frequently enough is what I've decided. 

So my advice for today...slow down, sit and talk with your family and friends and let them know you appreciate them.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yoga and walking


I'm still trying to walk 5x week for 20-30 minutes. Also, my friend Mickey and I are taking yoga on Tuesdays. I'm not sure how flexible we are becoming, but we do have fun.

I'm back at work 4 days a week. I usually do pretty well until about 2:30 or so and then I start getting tired. Once I've rested an hour or so, I can usually be up and about at home to walk or at least stretch and use my hand weights. I'm trying to be a good patient, but I sure am ready for the next 6 weeks to be over with.
This picture is of a rose in my backyard. I'm trying to remember to go outside every day and look and appreciate the flowers.
My advice for today...appreciate the little things and tell your family and friends you love them!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blog stuff

Sorry, some how the blog settings got changed. You should be able to leave comments again. Thanks for those of you who let me know this wasn't working. I'm new at this blog stuff. : )

Laura

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Fight like a girl" team mascot - Sophie Spears


This is Sophie Spears. Sophie is the toughest little girl I know. In addition to being a strong and talented gymnast and athlete, she hardly even cried last year when she got 4 teeth knocked out! Sophie and her brother Elijha have been right with me through all this. They make me cute cards and keep me laughing.


This is why they hold the "Komen Race for the cure". We are not only walking in memory of those brave women who didn't survive this, or those of us who are battling it now. We are walking for our sisters, daughters, and grandaughters. So none of them have to deal with this disease.
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Having worked in Oncology from 86' to 98'. I can attest to the fact that early detection, improved chemo protocols, new anti-nausea medications, tests and scans have come a very long way. Survival rates are much much better than they were 10 years ago. I'm all for funding research to stop this disease in it's tracks!


Come join our team "Fight like a girl" and walk with us on October 4th!


***If you need a t-shirt there is a link in an earlier blog to order them. Of course you can always make your own - Samara has created a great iron on template as well. Thanks Samara!***

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chemo #6 DONE! I'm halfway there

Only 6 more (weeks) treatments to go! Everything went well with the treatment, veins are holding out good. I have been having hot flashes and insomnia which they tell me is my body having early chemo induced menopause. Really?? Do I need this right now on top of chemo?? They offered more drugs for those symptoms, but I'm going to try and do it without if I can. I feel like I have enough for my liver to process right now.
Oh well, I'm still very thankful that I'm not nauseated or too fatigued. I told Dr. Peacock I went back to work this week and she reminded me again to pace myself. I'm really trying to do this. It's just hard, because I don't want to miss anything. 

Keep those prayers going- Thank you all!



Fun Birthday Package

The outer box was labeled:

"Close and lock door.

Hide behind large piece of furniture.

Quietly open box.

Savor and Enjoy!"



Inside were the most delicious variety of giant chocolate covered strawberries you have ever seen! So of course I followed the directions and enjoyed them immediately.


Thank you Amber!


www.berries.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Birthday

Most years I just try to ignore getting another year older. I guess this year, I am just thankful I get that chance. Nothing like a health crisis to make you appreciate each and every day. I arrived at work to flowers and chocolate, had lunch and dinner surrounded by great friends and family. Thank you for all the sweet cards, funny cards and just for being the great people you are. Tonight I'm having a slumber party with my sisters and Jenni, the perfect end to a day.
I love you all!
Laura

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Team name chosen: "Fight like a girl"

After much discussion our team name for the Komen Race for the Cure has been chosen. It will be "Fight like a girl".

Now I don't know about the girls you grew up with, but I grew up with some tough cookies. Powder Puff football was banned in Chester County, because of unnecessary roughness and multiple injuries. So fighting like a girl was no laughing matter.

I hope you will join our team and walk with us. If you can't be in Nashville and walk with us physically, please be with us in spirit.
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The walk is October 4th in downtown Nashville.
Team info:
Feel free to be creative and make your own t-shirt, but if you want to purchase one, here's a great site with several options:
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I'm pretty confident I can get Josh, David, Wes and even Logan in a Fight like a girl shirt...not so sure about Bryan, Mike and Jamie. Come on guys...do it for me?
:)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to work

I started back to work this morning. I felt like a kid on my first day back to school. I'll be off on Friday mornings for chemo, and there are several things I can do from home when I need to. Everyone at Gordian has been so supportive during the past few months, it was great to get hugs and see those faces again. I think it will be helpful emotionally and physically to get back to a daily routine at work. I just have to remember to pace myself, which I'm not very good at yet. I tend to go and go and then I just drop.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Komen Race for the Cure on October 4th, 2008

Lisa is setting me up a Nashville team to walk in the "Komen Race for the Cure" walk on October 4th. http://www.komen-nashville.org/race.htm


Anyone who wants to walk with us email: Lisa lisannt1@comcast.net
or me lahall@comcast.net . I also need suggestions for our Team name.

Who's "IN" for walking with me?


Chemo #5

Chemo #5 is over and it all went well. My counts are down as expected, but I'm feeling pretty well. I'll have to take it easy the next few days but usually by Mondays I'm feeling stronger again. Lori took me to chemo, then we went to Bongo Java for lunch. I then came home and took a 2 hr nap.
I got to have dinner with my friends Anna and Sarah tonight, it sure was good to get to see them again. We all worked together at Healthways years ago.

I start back to work on Monday. I'm looking forward to being back with my friends. I hope they have patience with my "chemo brain" tendencies. I actually looked it up, because it has been frustrating for me. Mayo clinic had an article on it, so I guess I'm not imagining it. Of course I didn't have the best memory before all this began.

Next week I'll be at #6 and half way through with treatments! Keep those prayers going, they are keeping me strong and getting me through any rough moments.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Walking

Have you ever gotten off a treadmill and then just layed down in the floor beside it to catch your breath? Whew!
I have finally made it up to 30 minutes a day with my walking. It does make a difference in my energy level...just not immediately. Other than fatigue I'm feeling pretty well. Chemo #5 is tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Bucket List

A couple of days ago I watched "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. If you have not seen this movie I recommend it. It's not a morbid movie, it just makes a point to stop, and do the things you have always wanted to do now - don't put it off until you are faced with "kicking the bucket".
It is very easy to lose focus in this high paced life and spend way too much time on things that really won't matter at all 30 years from now.

My parents were firm believers in family road trips, exploring new places, trying new things and not getting in a hurry and letting life pass you by. I appreciate that so much more as an adult, than I did as a whiny teenager who just wanted to go sit on the beach. I've tried to instill a sense of adventure in my kids, but many times I'll admit we get lost in "life" and forget to appreciate the little things each day.

So, the big question for today is:

"What is on your bucket list?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Prayer request for 4 yr old Will

Some of you have gone with us to the annual "It's a Wonderful Life" showing at the Belcourt during the Christmas season. You may remember the two host couples for this event - Robbie & Angie Cook and Dale & Elisabeth Laurence. Robbie and Angie have a sweet 4 year old son Will who needs all our prayers right now, as he deals with the return of a brain tumor.

" We received great news regarding the spinal tap and the MRI .... both tests came back negative. There is no evidence of tumors forming in the spine and the spinal fluid was clear. We are very encouraged by this news. Will begins chemo tomorrow in a pill form that will be given to him 5 days in a row every 28 days .... at home. We will closely monitor the tumor every 2 months to make sure the chemo is effective. We have so much hope and know that God has a wonderful plan for Will's life. Please keep us in your prayers as we begin treatment.
Many Blessings to You All,
Robbie, Angie, Cole, Will & Calvin"

I once read that raising a child can be compared to "watching your heart walking around outside of your body" and if you have children, then you know this is pretty accurate. Please pray for Angie and Robbie as well as precious little Will.

Thank you,
Laura

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lazy weekend

Saturday and Sunday were a bit rough for me. I was just very tired and slept a lot. I got out of the house twice and both times it wore me out. Thank goodness Bryan was there to take me home and tuck me in.
I'm feeling better today. I got back on the treadmill this morning, and even felt up to making dinner tonight.

We had great dinners on Friday and Saturday nights thanks to Patsy and Amy - BBQ chicken pizza and salad, and homemade chicken pot pie and applesauce. Comfort food is just what I needed this weekend. They were delicious - thank you both so much!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chemo #4

Chemo #4 is over, only 8 more to go! Denise took me today and the time passed quickly. There were two other ladies sitting beside us that also have breast cancer. We struck up a conversation and compared notes on surgery, expanders and hair - or the lack of it. One lady had just gotten her new perky breasts and was very excited, she showed them to whoever walked by. It was funny, wonder if that is how I'll be? If so, watch out!

My blood counts were better this week, which is good, of course they will drop again after this treatment. Counts dropping and hair loss is expected, it means the drugs are working, so I can deal with that. Today I got both drugs, so it's a double whammy on the system. 
Denise and I had a nice lunch and now I'm home for a quick nap. I miss seeing her everyday at work, we have such fun together.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When it rains it pours...

When it rains it pours...quite literally. It rained buckets today and Jenni and I got caught out in it. We had gone to pick up my disability check from work. When we finally made it home in the rain we got a call that her VW bug needs major expensive repairs, that none of us were prepared for. But tomorrow...the sun will shine and the grass will be better for the rain, and cars can be fixed or replaced. My baby girl (ok she's 20 but she is still my baby) is trying to decide if she should just move home temporarily to save money and fix her car. Pray for her tonight!

I however, have felt pretty good considering my counts are low. I wish I could solve all the problems, but I just have to trust all the right decisions will be made and try not to worry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hair

Yesterday was tough, but with the support of my wonderful family and friends I got through it.

My hair is officially gone. It had started really coming out so Jenni cut it as short as she could, and then Josh came over later in the day and buzzed it for me. I knew it would happen and I thought I was prepared, but when it actually started falling out, I kind of melted down. As I've been reminded, thank goodness for "portable hair" and hats.
I want to thank all of you who let me cry on your shoulder yesterday, and also for the late night chocolate fix from Lori and Angie. I've discovered that chocolate makes everything more bearable.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pool day at Linda's


We had an exciting "pool day" today at Linda's house. Anna, Morgan and Michael are all getting pretty brave about swimming without floaties and they all love the slide.



Emri is 8 months old and loves the water too.






This was my first time to get in the pool since surgery. I stayed on a float most of the time, but it sure felt good to get in the warm water and relax. I however, am NOT going to attempt that slide.

Congratulations Franklin!


My 12 year old nephew Franklin was baptized today in Murfreesboro. We are very proud of you!
This photo is Franklin and his little brother Michael.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Be alert to all those signs around you...

I've told a few of you this, and someone suggested I blog it, so here is how it began.

My journey...I went to the dentist right after Christmas and she gave me a pink ribbon toothbrush. I thought "how nice". I got address labels from "Susan G. Komen" and put them in a drawer, with the rest of the address labels that arrive. I went to get contact solution a few months after that, and it had a pink ribbon on it and came with a pink case. I thought "I'll never be able to tell left from right" with that case. I went shopping and they didn't have the sweater I wanted in red, but they had it in hot pink, so I reluctantly tried it on and liked it. I even got compliments when I wore it. (my wardrobe consists of red/black and blue jean variances, so pink was new for me) I then went to Victoria's Secret's big spring sale. The bag I wanted in black wasn't on sale, but the hot pink one was, so I bought it instead. Chassi brought me a refill on my "Vanilla Latte" foam body wash from BeautiControl (thanks Tiffany) and it comes in a pink topped bottle. I was taking an extra long shower and enjoying the lather and awesome smell. That is when I found THE LUMP. I wasn't looking for it, but there it was and my gut told me something wasn't right about it.

So girls (and guys), pay attention to those things that God, Mother Nature and the Universe send you - whatever you want to call them - gut feelings, intuition or signs. I've always said I need my "signs" to be big neon flashing ones, but usually they are more subtle and you just have to be alert.

The day after I got my official diagnosis/biopsy results, I asked Jenni to get me out of the house. I wanted to go somewhere I wouldn't see anyone I knew, and become a basket case. She took me to this huge used book and CD store in West Nashville. I wandered the aisles looking for just that right book that would speak to me. I walked over to the CD section and there was Olivia Newton-John's CD, "Stronger than Before". It's the one she wrote just after her journey with breast cancer 15 years ago. That was my sign that I could do this treatment, and come out stronger than I was before. It's on my iPod and I listen to it when I walk and it inspires me. I'm a child of the 70's and 80's - and we all love Olivia anyway, and this is a fabulous CD. I'll be happy to share it with any of you who want to hear it. I made me a copy for the car and the house, so if I need a pick me up it is close by. I'm sure Bryan is sick of it.

I've lost some great women in my life to Breast Cancer - Ouida, Sonya and Pam are three of those. There are so many women out there that I didn't personally know, but their lives were cut too short due to this horrible disease. I've bought breast cancer stamps, I've walked in the "Komen for the Cure" walk. I have taken care of young mothers fighting this disease, and admired each and every one of them for their bravery. Being diagnosed has given me even more respect for all of you who have been affected by this.

I'm personally going to do all I can to help support the research and other women affected . I can't believe how far science has come since I left the field 10 years ago. The medications are much improved, and my treatments have not been that rough on me. I hope you will all join me to support the research to end cancer, so all of the women and men in our lives NEVER have to go through any of this.

I'm planning on walking October 4th in the "Komen for the Cure" walk here in Nashville, anyone want to join me?


Thank you all for letting me ramble,

Laura

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chemo #3 is behind me

Chemo #3 is over and 9 left to go. Still feeling well, my WBC is 1400 so I'll need to be cautious of infection for the next bit. My friend Angela took me today. We worked at Baptist Oncology together for 10 years. We sat and laughed and caught up on each other's families and talked about old times. How did we ever survive those 7p to 7a shifts and still be sports moms, room mothers and stay relatively sane??
Time really does goes by fast when you are with people you enjoy! Thanks for the yummy banana bread. (she brought me some, and some for the staff at the office- they loved it too!)

Last night Rebecca brought her delicious poppy-seed chicken and salad. She, Denise and Abbey stopped by for a visit. I think I'm about ready to join the working class again. August 11th is when I'm scheduled to go back. Wonder if they will care if I nap on my desk occasionally? When "chemo tired" hits you just have to sit or lie down for 30 minutes or so and then I'm up and about again. It's frustrating. Oh well, very little side effects, so I shouldn't complain.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Exploring South Nashville stores

Since my surgery, my friend Mickey has been coming over every week or so and taking me out to explore shops close to the house. It keeps me from being stir crazy and let's me indulge in one of my favorite past times...shopping.
We found a new store yesterday - Maggie May's in Lenox Village. It's a fabulous art, gourmet and gift shop. The owner Dave was telling us they hold "Second Saturday" wine and cheese receptions and highlight a new artist each month. The next one is August 9th. I think we should all plan to go and support the community.

www.insouthnashville.com - to sign up for the news and events e-newsletter

Dinner with friends

Catherine and Mickey popped in for our bi-weekly dinner and a movie. Catherine cooks and we eat and watch a movie. Well we intend to watch a movie, but we always end up laughing and talking and ignore the movie.

This past 6 wks we have been staying very well fed. The group at work sends delicious dinners on Thursdays. The Spears are always calling and saying "hey come on over, we have dinner ready". Carmen and Arnold brought us "Moe's". (it's nice to be able to say I'm craving Moe's and have it delivered to your door) 

We are completely spoiled- Thank you all!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Physical Therapy Visit

I met with Joan, my physical therapist, yesterday and I have full range of motion back in my arms! I guess all those not so fun stretches have paid off. Thank you to all of you who encouraged me to stretch on...
Now I am moving on to strength training. It's amazing how much strength you can lose in 6 wks. She started me with 1, 2 and 3 lb dumbells doing:
Pull over: straight arm, Extension: lying -single arm, Bench press, Curls, Lateral Deltoid Raise and Row. I'm sure this means something to my exercise science friends, to me it's just a drawing on a paper. : )


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Still searching for that cute helmet...





Jenni
and I
went shopping today.





Here are some of our finds...feel free to vote for your favorite.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Attitude is everything

This is a very cute poem that my friend Patrick shared with me to remind me to stay positive.

There once was a woman who woke up one morning,
looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
"Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today."
So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror
and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
"H-M-M," she said,"I think I'll part my hair down the middle today."
So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror
and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.
"Well," she said, "today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.
"So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror
and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.
"YAY!" she exclaimed."I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

JAM film friends

This morning we went by to see our JAM films family, at Woodmont. It was great to see everyone and get caught up, and of course get hugs. Ricky, Mark and Gavin are finally getting to make a super-hero movie. If anyone knows super heroes, it's these three guys. I can't wait to see the final product. 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good Weekend

It's been a good weekend, Dad, Sherry, Michael and Franklin came by on Friday. Lisa had taken them, Anna and Morgan to "Go Dog Go"- it is always good to get a hug and see their sweet faces. Belle brought us a delicious dinner on Friday night and I got to catch up with Beth on the phone today. It's always nice to catch up with my cousins.

Today, I ran a few errands and saw some old friends and shopped a bit. I do get tired easily, but no nausea or pain to speak of. I have learned to rest between bouts of activity and that seems to help a lot. I'm up to 20 minutes at a time on the treadmill, it's just been too hot to walk outdoors for me.
Tonight, we went by to wish Dale a happy 40th and have a yummy taco. Dale- you don't look a day over 35, and you looked fabulous in your toga!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chemo #2 is over

Chemo #2 is over - only 10 more to go! All went well, it probably took and hour or so. 
My friend Kim came up to go with me and brought our high school year books and our last school newspaper. We graduated from CCHS 25 yrs ago this past May, so it was fun to reminisce and laugh at all those 80s styles. It really made the time fly by. 
Last night we had a pork roast, potatoes, green beans courtesy of Jeri. It was delicious. Thank you!
Going to take a power nap now, and then try to hit the treadmill this afternoon.