Saturday, August 31, 2013

A beautiful mess

A beautiful mess is this year's theme for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I thought Zachary's handprint on the window with the morning sunlight shining through it was beautiful. Perspective!

Happy Saturday y'all!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Meme's Peruvian empanadas

So mum finally told me her Peruvian empanada recipe. She supervised carefully this afternoon as I made a batch of 10 of her famous empanadas! Zev loves Meme's empanadas an they freeze well. He loves frozen ones in his lunchbox which he then microwaves at work. They were super easy to make and I think I will make some and freeze them when Zachary takes a nap.

Thanks Meme! I love you and love learning Peruvian recipes.

Like father like son!

Feeling so blessed today! Started the day off with a free massage from the clinic which was followed by a fun afternoon shopping with Meme (we got some great Labor Day deals!). We then cane home for a nap (for me!) and in the afternoon I took Zachary out for an hour long bike ride around our neighborhood. He even wore his helmet the entire time! Such a big boy! Life is good. God is good, no make that God is GREAT!!

What a fun day!

Zev has tomorrow off, so this is a four day long weekend for him!! Yay for Labor Day and long weekends!

Today was a beautiful day, a blessing from The Lord. At O Dark Thirty (ie: really early!) I went to Walmart to buy some .22 ammo for my man (I know this may sound redneck/ bogan to some folks but there is a nationwide shortage of .22 ammo and there was actually a limit on how much ammo one could buy (3 boxes) and Zev uses the ammo to go sports shooting at the range. Anyhoo...I had to be there early to ensure that I was able to get some ammo (now I'm really sounding like a redneck!) before they ran out (they did). I did text Zev that I was the girl there (and one of the few not dressed in camo).

Mum and I then had Miss Shirley over for lunch and we all enjoyed the empanadas that I made yesterday. After lunch I went to the dentist and hen I got home, Zachary and I went for a bike ride. He loves his basketball and knows exactly where it is. So we brought the big old basketball with us in the bike buggy an enjoyed a BEAUTIFUL afternoon bike ride in gorgeous late summer/ pre fall weather. Love this time of year!

Then at night, Zev and I went for a lovely double date with our sweet friends Neal and Rhonda. We had such a fun time and we (the ladies) chatted all night!

Mama is tired though so I'm heading to bed once I post this. 

I stopped to look up to the sky and give THANKS to The Lord for the beauty of each day. Being alive and going for a bike ride with my son or going for a dinner date worn my husband is more precious than the most priceless jewel in the world.

Life is good.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A4 Family picnic

Today Zachary and I joined daddy at the A4 Family picnic. My little country boy was dressed in his best "country" clothes (including suspenders courtesy of Meme)!! It was pretty hot and sticky. We enjoyed some yummy BBQ. Little man got tired towards the end of lunch so we had to head home and unfortunately missed dadda get dunked in the dunk tank! 

Life is good, so good. I shared my "miracle" story regarding last week's wonderful MRI with the cashier at Walmart this morning; she hugged me and had tears in her eyes and said she would pray for me. God is SO GOOD!!

Have a great week friends xo

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oh happy day!

What a FUN day today! God is SO GOOD! I can tell that a lot of folks have been praying for me: I posted on Facebook today that I'm actually GLAD to start chemo cycle 12 tonight because of the ENCOURAGING news that the rain tumor is shrinking! Thank you, Lord. 

So today. Zachary and I joined Megan and Brady to visit the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach. The boys loved it and were so cute to watch, sharing their little snacks (and sippy cups!) with each other and just getting along really well! Zachary loved watching (and waving to!) the Navy fighter jets flying by! Wouldn't it be fun if he followed daddy (and mama once upon a time!) into the Air Force? I just love Megan and we had a great time chatting and chasing the boys! Mama needed to take a nap when she got home! So thankful for GREAT days like today :-)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Life as a busy toddler!

Little man is certainly fulfilling the definition of being an active, 16 month old toddler!! Climbing up onto EVERYTHING, opening doors, trying to get things out of the child-proofed cabinets, wanting "bubbles" or "ball" or putting my shoes by the front door to indicate that he wants to go play outside! So cute but also a little dangerous as he can now open doors by himself and carries his little step stool from room to room to climb up onto things and peek out through the windows!! He's ALL boy, that's for sure! Loves daddy's bikes in the garage too "vroom vroom?"

So because he kept running to the big play set out the back and climbing up the ladder (where did he learn to do this?!) and wanting to slide down the rather steep slide (this child has no concept of fear or danger. Next he'll be throwing himself out of perfectly good airplanes like his daddy!) we decided to look into some safer indoor options, where he could play and climb and throw balls and not hurt himself. We found an awesome deal online through Walmart for this indoor play set that Zev assembled in 10 mins. Zachary loved it and immediately climbed on and started exploring. This morning before church, he took his first slide down, all by himself! So fun...and so exhausting too! Love having a toddler in the house though. He keeps us young and silly :-)

Have a great week. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hope Heals

So...I've been struggling this past week with how to announce my (good!) news about my recent MRI and visit with my neuro-oncologist this past Monday, August 19th. 

The news: my brain tumor continues to shrink. Yes, SHRINK! This deserves an exclamation mark because it is truly UNEXPECTED, MIRACULOUS news. Even though it's been more than a year since my diagnosis, it is still hard for me to talk about brain cancer, especially when I think about the (bad) statistics! Side note: I have learned recently not to allow myself to be bound by statistics because 1: they are depressing and 2: We all have to have HOPE and I do believe that I will be an exception to the statistics and will be around until that miraculous cure for brain cancer is found :))

On a serious note, I think that the culmination of a lot of people asking me about the "status" of my brain cancer treatment (although well meaning and very sincere and sweet) overwhelmed me last weekend leading up to Monday's MRI. I had gotten to the point where I was resenting the fact that I had brain cancer and that (in my mind), I was now being defined as the girl with brain cancer. 

Please allow me to say this though: I am so immensely grateful and want to THANK everyone who has PRAYED for me and encouraged me and sent me beautiful cards (I keep them all!). PLEASE keep the PRAYERS and the cards and the encouraging emails coming! I love all these notes and emails and they really do encourage me on my hard days. 

I just need to find the balance between keeping everyone updated on my progress, with being discreet about the latest developments in my treatment. Talking about brain cancer every day is honestly depressing and exhausting for me. I'm trying to shift the focus from that to just life as a wife, mum, daughter, sister etc etc.

Does this all make sense? I certainly don't wish to offend anybody. I love you all and love that you love me so much to ask and pray for me. I certainly still need your prayers: prayer that The Lord will grant me many more years on this earth to live life and enjoy time with you all! I guess what I'm saying is that I would greatly appreciate it if you asked me about something other than brain cancer the next time you see me. Something interesting like...the weather :-)))

So back to why I believe that God is working a modern day miracle in my life. Trust me: I never volunteered for this and would gladly give back the cancer if I could! I think that in writing all this down, the common theme is HOPE. Hope is SO POWERFUL and I do believe that HOPE can heal. 

Proof of hope #1:

Dr. Q performed an awake craniotomy on me where the local neuro-surgeon said that I had an inoperable tumor (and I was given that "12 months to live" prognosis.) The amazing Dr. Q at Johns Hopkins debulked my tumor on August 16th of last year and although he took out as much as he could of my large tumor, there was still a mass that remained and thus had to be treated. 

Proof of hope #2:

After praying for discernment, I began my first cycle of Temodar in October of 2012. I recently completed my 11th cycle. Funny side note: although chemo makes me very tired and I do suffer from chemo brain from time to time, encouraging news such as the most recent scan showing that the tumor was continuing to SHRINK sheds a whole new light on taking chemo! I said to my doctor that I would continue taking chemo as long as it continued to shrink my tumor! Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, Zev, for being the most awesome, patient, encouraging and loving husband for sticking with me through all this; for picking up the slack when I feel completely wiped and for making me laugh when the world seems so dark and hopeless.

Proof of hope #3:

The tumor continued to shrink when my hope was at its lowest and I thought God had forsaken me. Yes, I had gotten to that point.

Zev and I thought that it was too good to be true when in March of this year, my tumor showed a shrinkage: a significant shrinkage perceptible to the untrained eye. My June scan however showed that the tumor was stable (ie: not growing but not getting any smaller). The longer I continued on chemo, the more discouraged I felt. I wish I could say that I went into my August MRI feeling secure and hopeful of further shrinkage, but I wasn't. I felt terribly anxious, FEARFUL and afraid of bad news. That the tumor had remained stable or worse, grown. 

But I hadn't given God and the POWER of prayer enough credit. Where my faith was honestly as small as a mustard seed at times (and there were MANY of those times!) fellow believers in our church, amongst our friends and family BELIEVED and prayed that I would be healed. You know who you are and to you I want to say THANK YOU!!

It is ironic that where I had good, no make that GREAT news to share this week, I was stumped as to how to go about it.

Faith is defined in the Bible as "Being sure of what we HOPE for, certain of what we don't see." Hebrews 11:1. So why does my limited human nature still need to SEE (ie: proof by way of an MRI) in order to believe? 

Reflecting on this past week, I believe that someTHING or perhaps someONE was holding me back from sharing my awesome and I now fully BELIEVE, miraculous news. I say "someone" because I believe that I was stuck in a spiritual warfare these past few days, to the point where the JOY that I would normally feel as a result of the obvious HEALING that is happening in my life was the enemy. Side note: I know that some of you may think I've totally lost it; that I'm sounding like a quack or that I've got a bad case of chemo brain but just hear me out here :-))

Even after Zev and I sat there in the neuro-oncologists office on Monday and SAW the computer screen comparing the March MRI with the current August MRI, I still didn't BELIEVE that I was being healed. I felt emptiness where I should have felt fullness; I felt hopeless where I should have felt renewed hope and a springing of joy in my heart; I felt skeptical "what will the next MRI look like" where I should have felt comfort that I could ALWAYS trust in The Lord.

Essentially, I was bound by my limited, earthly knowledge and understanding ("no cure today for brain cancer; bad prognosis; high rate of recurrence; can't ever get rid of the whole brain tumor because of its infiltrating nature"). The days after my good news, I even tried to find another reason to "explain away" the reason for my sudden shrinkage. In my mind, I still wasn't allowing myself to BELIEVE or HOPE that I could be HEALED. Although I am a Believer in Christ, I was still trying to look for any earthly, "rational" excuse for what the doctors were clearly surprised by. 

"But those who hope in The Lord will renew their strength." Isaiah 40:31

"The JOY of The Lord is your STRENGTH." Nehemiah 8:10

I don't know if God will heal me completely. I believe that He will heal me in His perfect timing and in His perfect way. That gives me hope :-)) Today I am REJOICING in the fact that my tumor is shrinking! And thanking God for His mercy and grace. Thanks for reading all this! Love y'all!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dear Zachary

Son, thank you for being such a ray of light in our lives. I've commented to daddy so many times, but I've got to write it down on this blog because I know you'll read this some day. Zachary; you bring so much JOY into our lives; into my life specifically, so much that you and daddy propel me to keep going every day and to keep fighting this cancer with everything that I've got. You are such a cutie pie Zachary. From sunrise to sundown. Although you are getting so active now, you have such a good heart. You are so sweet and intuitively know when to give someone a hug or a kiss goodbye, or to run up and cuddle someone. Meme and I dropped you off at the Y Child Watch today. You've started to develop some separation anxiety and cried before I even got to the child watch center to drop you off. I told the girls that if one of them held you and reassured you for a few minutes, that you would settle down. Well, half an hour into my class, the manager had to come and get me because you couldn't settle down. But that's ok, my sweet boy. I loved that you settled down once mama came and loved seeing you giggle and squirm and be all boy in the locker room as we waited for Meme to shower after her sauna. I can't keep up with you some days because I'm so tired from the chemo, but soon there will be a day when I can. And I can't wait to keep doing silly stuff with you like blow bubbles or chase your cars around or explore the leaves and insects outside. I hate having cancer son, but I am glad that you are too young to remember the time when mummy was sick. It is still emotionally hard for me to recall that you were only 3 months old when I was diagnosed with brain cancer last year and that our lives were rocked, but I believe that we have now found our groove, our new normal as a family and your daddy and I love you and love each other so much. More than I could possibly imagine. We are the three musketeers. So for that I am grateful. For each precious day that we get to spend with you, I am so grateful. Thank you for being you, baby boy. We love you xo

Monday, August 05, 2013

Thank you, Lord, for counsel and guidance.

I thought the Stormie Omartian devotional for today was appropriate!

"Lord, I look to You for counsel and guidance. Show me whenever I need to seek the help of godly counselors who also look to You for counsel. When I need specific knowledge about what to do that I can only get from You and the people You bring into my life for that reason, show me exactly whom to go to for counsel. Guide me every step of the way, and please be there to guide me especially on the day I step into eternity with You. " 

And the scripture verse is Psalm 74:24: You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

To think that this time last year. Zev and I were praying for counsel about my brain surgery! We felt such fear about the brain cancer diagnosis (and that awful prognosis!) and about the uncertainties of brain surgery. The Lord was so good to guide us to Dr. Q who did an amazing job and give me hope.

Happy Monday y'all :-))

Sunday, August 04, 2013


So I put a prayer request on Facebook this week and have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement from family and friends and even friends that I haven't even met (yet!) I have even recently started receiving encouraging cards from people in North Carolina!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I have never met you but I do appreciate your prayers I much! I believe that God hears everyone's prayers and I feel so BLESSED BEYOND BELIEF to have such awesome support, both at home (Zev, Zachary and Meme) and around the world. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for me or sent me an encouraging note. You have no idea how much you have blessed not only me but Zev and Zachary. This week has been great. I feel good; still have good days and bad days and attribute the positive outlook I have (for the most part!) to The Lord.

So here are some pictures from our week. Enjoy :-)