Scars in the Sunlight

With Shelly Vaughn

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I had a funny conversation with the girls yesterday. Someone mentioned that they make American Girl dolls with no hair. Olivia said with excitement, “Mommy, you could get a look-a-like doll!” Then they proceeded to discuss the things that would make it a perfect match- including erasing half the eyebrows, pulling out most of the eyelashes, and having short brown fingernails. 😆  I added my own suggestion of dark circles under the eyes and tissues in the pocket.

At the beginning of this experience, the idea of those physical changes would’ve bothered me. But at this point, I can find the humor in it. I’m much more concerned with the non-cosmetic issues lately… enough to laugh at my kids discussing the cosmetic ones. Kids always do seem to humble us, right? No different when cancer is added to the equation in life.

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Something very exciting happened this evening- I ATE A HAMBURGER! An entire burger from Steak N Shake with cheese and mayo (neither of which I liked prior to today). I also had a milkshake with it. It felt so much like a normal meal. I had to take my mouthwash before it; take bites of applesauce in between; and direct food away from the biggest, lingering mouth sore. But it worked… and I enjoyed it. I’m so hopeful that the lower dose of chemo might mean these mouth sores might improve and stay away. This meal gave me a little hope that enjoying food might be in my near future again. So for tonight, I’ll consider this a victory.

“There is no force equal to that of a determined woman.”

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Getting Old…


Another Thursday… another chemo treatment. These are really getting old. And as much as I try to remind myself how far I’m getting, it still just feels never-ending to me. Thankfully I got to hang out with my friend, Hannah today. And Rob made it out for the end of the treatment. The best news- I gained a half of a pound!! This is the first time my weight has gone up since I started! I still have mouth sores, but they’re not as painful in the last couple of days so I can tolerate a little bit of “real” food. I’ve also loved drinking milk this past week- at least a thermos filled with it every day. The milk is so soothing to me. Never would’ve predicted that one. And I’ve been making fried bananas! I loved them years ago when I was introduced to them in Costa Rica. Wouldn’t have guessed I’d be making them again 20 years later to get through chemo!
My oncologist also lowered the dose of chemo this week. As she said, I’m “20% off now.” . She made this adjustment since my numbness in my fingers did not subside between treatments and it’s ok to do since my weight is lower than when I started the Taxol. I’m hoping this lower dosage might mean less mouth sores as well. I can hope… and I’ll keep you posted.

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Another One Down & Thank You

Amber Pierce Norman hung out with me for today’s treatment. I wish it was at a different place and for a different reason, but at least we had some quiet time to chat. Still pushing through these treatments. (I’m so tired of them!!)
Thanks to everyone who has helped us recently with dinners, cleaning, carpooling, having the girls over, etc. This is a busy time of year, and I can’t just pause everyone’s life until I feel better. Boy, wouldn’t that be nice? So I appreciate the amazing support from local people. And of course, the cards and messages from everyone. 5 more left!!


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Thank You


Today, I feel so loved and supported that it’s almost surreal. A group of amazing friends made these for me, and there are several more that didn’t fit in the picture. (Many of these girls were the same ones who planted the flowers at our house yesterday.) These words of encouragement and love will fill my soul every time I read them. I’m reminded that another blessing that comes through trials, is the realization that you’re surrounded by amazing friends every step of a difficult path. Thanks to everyone walking with me through this!!

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Lucky Girl


Today I feel like a lucky girl… and that’s not easily said in the middle of a cancer fight. I spent the morning at Olivia’s dance competition (she did great, by the way.) I came home to beautiful flowers planted by even more beautiful friends. Had a visit from my Aunt Pat and cousins. Then had a quiet evening with just Liana at home as Olivia stayed at her friend’s house. And you know what happened in the middle of it all- I ate a sandwich! A gourmet grilled cheese with artichokes from Lockview. For out-of-towners, Lockview is known for their amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. This is the best Saturday I’ve had in a while. I’ve had good moments on Saturdays, but this whole day felt good. I’m exhausted. But tonight, when I lay down for bed, I will close my eyes with a smile on my face.
“Inhale courage, exhale fear.” (Julie Nawrocky Reis)

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Another Week Down

Six more left. This chemo thing is really getting old, so 6 seems so far away. So we’re just truckin along. My mouth sores are still my biggest complaint, so prayers for those to go away are appreciated. I haven’t gained weight like I was hoping, but my oncologist said my bloodwork shows my nutrition is good (I’ve lost weight but I’m not malnourished). Guess all that Ensure is doing its job. She also said she’s impressed with my progress; including my attitude. (She doesn’t see me at home or read all these posts ). The treatment itself was pretty typical again today… but with my friend, Michael Clay Donnell stayed to keep me company this time. Thanks for the messages and cards and help this week. I’ve really felt loved. Have a nice Friday, everyone. Eat some pizza or popcorn or a giant chef salad for me!!


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Be Patient…


This is what a chemo treatment looks like after the scales have tipped with more treatments behind me than in front of me. And sweet to share it with one of my closest friends, Cinnamon Leonard. Not much different to report today. The oncologist confirmed that I’m doing everything right for my mouth sores, but this stubborn one under my tongue is just a bad one that’s taking a while to heal. She advised me to be patient and “give it time”. Time is funny- it just keeps going. Sometimes it flies by (like how are my girls almost done with the school year already)? And sometimes it’s a snail’s pace (like the last 15 min of a long boring class that seem to take an eternity). Well, chemo is definitely in the “boring class” category. To me, it feels like this is taking forever and it’s depressing to think I’m barely past the halfway point. Julie Nawrocky Reis‘s wise words to “be patient with my body” have become another mantra of mine. I just want to feel better and move this along. But it’s out of my control and I have to be patient with my treatment plan. In my narrow-focused view, I get caught up in the thoughts that I haven’t well in 4 months and this mouth sore has been here for so long. But in the view of the big picture, I need to remember that my body is doing crazy stuff now- like cells being killed off then regenerating healthy ones; and hemoglobin counts recuperating within 6 days; and that thank goodness I’ve still fought off any kind of infection that could put me in the hospital. God really did make miraculous creations with our bodies. Though mine is still in the fight, it’s not losing, it’s just getting bruised up while I’m here and those will heal when I’m done. And it’s not just physically but spiritually as well. I’m paraphrasing here, but Rick Atchley said something like “doubts mean you’re wrestling and wrestling makes you stronger.” Isn’t that so true?! I guess I’m going to be stronger than ever after this!  So I appreciate all the words of encouragement, positivity, and God’s goodness because I need those externally when they’re not coming easily from me internally. Thanks to Kara Ulmer and my mom for reminding me of that today. Love you all. Enjoy eating this week- it’s such an under appreciated gift!