Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Counting my blessings!

What a beautiful morning to be counting my blessings! An email update is overdue so I thought I would share.

Last week was my birthday & it was AMAZING!!! I have to admit when my sister told Mike before we got married that I was spoiled it really has paid off. I continue to be spoiled by my husband & my children.

I guess it depends on what think of as spoiled. No not with jewels or lots of material things but things that I love. Naps, long hot baths, massage, hugs, kisses & lots of love! We get busy & forget the important things in life. So many times we are crossing paths, blowing kissing, giving quick pecks, saying I love you but not stopping to really enjoy those special moments. WELL this past week was nothing like that as far as rushing. We all took a step back & kinda regrouped. Always a good thing to do.

My birthday was filled with all the things I love. Well except a cake from Baby Cakes because they were closed. This was actually a good thing because thanks to Mike's wonderful discovery of Nuriche I have lost 13 lbs of the 20 I gained when Abe was in the cast. WOOHOO!!! Better than that I feel GREAT!!! No sugar or starch cravings even though there are petit fors from Baby Cakes sitting in our kitchen from the shower last night.

OK so Mike did cook me a delicious meal that I thoroughly enjoyed! I got a nap thanks to Marlee Anne & her excellent care of her sisters & brother. Snuggles from Mary Elizabeth & Abe with some special smiles thrown in there. Michala played ball with me, danced for me as they sang happy birthday & enjoyed the cake they got me.

The next night my BFF from high school took me to RLs to celebrate. OH WOW!!! I have never been there before. Cannot believe I waited this long to go. It was delicious! Love having a wonderful place locally to go to. I am still craving the grit cakes. Anyone know how to make them? I guess I should google it. Then we walked across the street to Square Perk. It's a new coffee shop in town that's really neat. We sat & dreamed of being an extra in Footloose. They were filming across the street. I just knew if Dennis Quaid walked in I would make a scene. Thankfully he didn't walk in. We had such a wonderful night. It hit me that night that we have been friends for 30 years. Can't beat a true friendship like that!

Thursday we left for Hilton Head thanks to some special friends of ours. We got there & Sandy's parents met us in the parking lot. They helped us get upstairs & get settled.  Michala loves going there because she has her own bed. It's really perfect for her. She snuggles in & actually sleeps well when there is not a full moon, which Thursday was. It was beautiful seeing it while driving there though.

The next morning I was on the beach by 7:30. Talk about paradise! This is not the ideal trip for our family because we are not able to get everyone out on the beach & really no one in my family enjoys the beach except Mary Elizabeth. I sat on the beach taking in all the sun I could. My vitamin D level should be up a little now I hope. Closing my eyes & listening to the waves come in & cleanse my soul was so therapeutic for me. It's so peaceful & always so amazing to me that God created this for me. The hugeness of the ocean. It's so mighty & God has control over that. What an awesome reminder that He no doubt has control over me & mine. WOW!!!

We had wonderful seafood Friday & Saturday night. I read a whole book while on the beach! That's huge for me because I don't know the last time I completed a book. Mike & Marlee Anne played putt-putt both nights with stops by Starbucks to pick up a coffee treat for me.

Marlee Anne enjoyed the one on one time with us since everyone couldn't go out to the beach. There were a few times when she mentioned she wished it was different. Saturday when we had been there less than 48 hours she told me she had had enough of the beach. She asked if she had to go out with me the next morning. That girl!!! She is definitely her daddy's girl.

Mike even got some studying in while we were gone. He is so dedicated!I have to take a minute to brag on him. He is so very selfless. He had no problem at all staying in so I could enjoy time on the beach. Most of the time he remembered to feed everyone too. LOL!!! He even gave up playing golf to spend time with Marlee Anne. He took her to a shell beach our friend Jennifer told us about. 

Sunday when I got back in from the beach I packed while Mike & Marlee Anne enjoyed some ocean time with the boogie boards. When we left we drove over to Disney's Hilton Head Resort. WOW!!! WOW!!! When anyone has points to get rid of PLEASE contact us!!! It was so nice!!!

When we got off the elevator on the first floor Shadow, a beautiful red headed retriever was lying in front of his Mickey dog house. His owner Blu was playing the fiddle. Does anyone know the difference in a fiddle & a violin? Blu was very nice. Shadow was pouting because Blu had not taken him for a walk.

We enjoyed exploring the resort. Mike & Marlee Anne enjoyed one of the hammocks spread out around the property under the huge shade trees.

When we finished we headed over to Sea Pines, our future home!!! WOW!!! It is incredible. We ate at Land's End Tavern that Sandy had told us about. If you are ever there make sure to stop by to enjoy their all you can eat crab legs & shrimp for $19.95. Let's just say we got our money's worth.

We got in all the rain on the way home but made it safe & sound ready to face the world once again.

Yesterday Marlee Anne & I hosted a shower for Sandy's son Nathan's bride-to-be. It was fun planning it & we really enjoyed having everyone here. Thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law everything was clean because she cleaned while we were gone to the beach.

So you see my week was overflowing with blessings. I received so many birthday wishes & was blessed beyond measure. Thanks to everyone for being part of my blessings!

Now go count your blessings!!!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Childhood Cancer Awareness

OK this is straight from my heart. Very honest! Through the tears & all, with typos I am sure!

WOW! I cannot believe it has taken me 17 days to get this email written & sent out. Have you ever thought that you have dealt with demons or struggles, whatever you choose to call them, in your life only to realize you really haven't. So many times I go through the motions of the day, of our life filled with blessings & some how block out those past struggles or as I call the "C" one a demon.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness. Honestly how many gold ribbons have you seen this month? Next month when it's breast cancer awareness you will see thousands of pink ribbons. Chances are you will see one everyday during that month. Why do you not see as many gold? Well probably because I have taken this long to come to grips & write this email. I should have sent ya'll an email each day reminding ya'll about it. How many of you did not even know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness? How many of you didn't even know there was such a thing? How many of you have someone in your family that has been diagnosed with childhood cancer? If you haven't it's my prayer you never do.

You see once a child has cancer it doesn't go away. It's not a cold that you can get over. It's a demon. It's something that lies inside that child FOREVER. Even after becoming adults childhood cancer survivors are affected by the side effects from the chemotherapy, the radiation, the amputation. They live with it FOREVER. It doesn't go away.

We are one of the lucky ones. I can tell you where I was standing in Boston Children's Hospital almost 12 years ago when I heard Mike ask the doctor after Michala's 4 hour surgery to remove that nasty tumor if it was cancer. CANCER? Where did that word come from? It had never crossed my mind. The doctor said it was nasty & he was sending it to 4 pathologist around the world. Well the denial began for me right then. I would not even think cancer.

I remember the spot I sat in the middle of the floor in our old house, holding the phone, listening to those words, as Mike & my mom walked in. I could barely speak the word cancer.

I remember where I was in the Aflac Cancer Center at Egleston Children's Hospital when Dr. Olson said it was stage 4 angiosarcoma. I remember that feeling. I can still feel that feeling. I saw his mouth move but never heard a word of it.

I remember sitting in the waiting room at Crawford Long, numb, scared & longing for this nightmare to be over. I remember hearing Dr. Munson say it's her life or her leg.

I remember carrying our little Michala to the operating room door. Giving her to the nurse. Turning her life over to Dr. Munson to amputate her leg. I remember standing in the hallway as they wheeled her past us to her room. I remember pulling back the covers to see my baby's leg gone. I remember that first night & every night for the months that followed closing my eyes & seeing Jesus with an ax chopping her leg off. How could my God, that God that I grew up knowing & loving, the one who said He loves me, do something like that to my precious baby girl. That's when I forgot how to pray! That's when I very dear precious lady in my life told me it was ok to be angry at God & even tell Him so. She said He already knows your thoughts & feelings so talk to Him about them. Boy did I.

I remember when Gene & Sandy came in Michala's room that night. I couldn't move from where I was sitting. My legs wouldn't hold the weight of my heart up. I remember making sure her leg was covered. I didn't want anyone to see my baby without her leg. I remember our first outing together after "it" happened. We went to Brooke & Stewart's Christmas party with our very close friends. I remember dressing her up so pretty and crying as I tucked in the extra part of her tights. I remember gasping when her blanket slid off & you could see her leg was gone. I remember Don so sweetly sitting beside her & putting her blanket back on her as if he knew my heart.

I remember it getting very close to Christmas & walking into our home you would never have known. Mike really wanted to put up a tree. Maybe to help my spirits. I remember having so much anger that I wanted nothing to do with Christ birth in our home. I didn't want a living tree in my home representing a living Christ. Mike put up the tree. I remember sitting on the couch holding Michala as Mike & Kim decorated the tree. I wanted no part of it. To say I was bitter was a complete understatement.

I remember taking Michala to Aflac after the new year for her first chemo treatment. I remember getting settled in our room & putting her beautiful gown on her that Aunt Paige had given her. The nurse said that's going to get really messed up. I wanted her to look pretty though. It lasted maybe 30 minutes into the treatment before it was indeed ruined. We had been told this was the sickest sick we would ever see. I thought oh but we have been through so much with Mary Elizabeth. NOPE nothing could compare to this sick! I remember watching as the nurse hung the first bag of chemo. I watched as that poison that was supposed to help heal my child went into her body. I looked at the nurse and through my tears asked when her hair would start falling out.

I remember putting gloves on to change my baby's diaper because those meds were so toxic. What were we allowing to go in our baby's body? What was happening here? I remember looking over at Mike as he sat reading his bible. How could he do that? Remember I had already forgotten how to pray must less read the bible. So now I am mad at him too because his faith was strong enough to see him through this.

When Mary Elizabeth was born the social worker told us the divorce rate among parents of special needs children. Again we heard our chances of our marriage surviving two special needs children when Michala was born had just doubled. When Michala was diagnosed with cancer our chances more than tripled. All I can say is that through this struggle my wonderful husband stood strong in his faith. God blessed me with an awesome Christian mother years ago because He knew my future (Jeremiah 29:11). He truly knew the plans for my life. He blessed us with some of the most amazing friends & family that never left our side through all that. I can now proudly say we have a strong marriage anchored by an awesome God.

I can continue with my rememberances but I have rambled on quite enough. I said all this to say if I had a wish it would be that another parent, grandparent, sibling or friend would never ever have to hear those dreaded words that a child has cancer. The only way this is going to happen is to have support in finding a cure. Here is my lowly plea for help with that. I cannot sit back & just say my child is a cancer survivor when my dear friend just lost her little boy because a cure wasn't found soon enough. Each time Michala coughs or we see an unusual spot on her I think is this it? Is it back? I want a cure for Michala and for all the other children. If you are able to give please do. Give in honor of Michala, in honor of your child that has been blessed not to be stricken with this horrible demon, give in memory of that child that is no longer with us.

http://www.curechildhoodcancer.org/ CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to discovering cures for childhood cancer through cutting edge research and providing education and support to patients and their families.

http://www.mycampsunshine.com/ Camp Sunshine has blessed our family more than words can say! They taught me how to smile again and reminded me that we could make it through this.

Thank you for anything you can possibly give! Please remember to pray for the families that will receive the news today that their child has cancer. It will be like two classrooms full that will hear that today. Please pray for the families that are in the middle of their battle. Some have been battling for years. Please remember the survivors & their families. Please pray for those who have lost their children to this awful disease.

With a thankful heart that is still in the healing process for so much!