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November 23, 2012

My dear Shawna...you are missed...


It is the day after Thanksgiving 2012. I learned my friend Shawna passed away today after battling colon cancer over the past year and a half. She was a shining example of how to walk this journey through cancer with grace and selflessness. I knew her time was short when hospice entered her life; yet was caught off guard by how quickly she passed. It was only a few days ago that she was hanging onto life and enjoying each moment with her husband and children. My heart aches. Shawna’s smile was intoxicating; I think she made everyone feel like they were special to her. I am relieved that Shawna is now free of cancer and no longer suffering.

Why then is my sorrow cutting deeply? The answer to my question is quite selfish. Shawna’s passing due to cancer, although cliché’, simply hits to close to home. This disease we call cancer is a cruel beast. I too am reminded of my dear friend Peggy Williams that passed from cancer when I was in my early 20’s; remembering it like it was yesterday. I watched cancer take her away … slowly…she fought and was devoted to endure whatever western medicine had to offer, despite the crushing blows to her physical body. Shawna too battled this beast and has departed this lifetime. I too am reminded of Carrie Deane’s battle with TNBC and her life being cut way to short. Shawna, Peggy, and Carrie’s, passing’s remind me of my diagnosis and the odds I too am facing. It is a reality check. There are many things I could be doing better – nutrition, positivity, and at a soul level. Secondly, my husband has a budding friendship with Shawna’s husband. I now have the opportunity to see how ones passing impacts their spouse and family, the pain, heartache, confusion, sadness, and loneliness. Followed by hope, life, peace, acceptance, and joy. 

As I sit in the corner of the hotel room and gaze at my family and their activities. My husband and two boys joyful play cards while my other son relaxes on the sofa listening to music while surfing the web. I wonder if the scene would look the same if I were no longer here. I catch myself thinking; do not put that into the universe. Yet I wonder. I remind myself of the words I shared with Shawna prior to her passing: your husband and kids will be okay my dear; it is okay to say enough is enough. It is true; my family will be okay in the event of my untimely absence. I turn my thoughts to thankfulness. I am blessed with an amazing husband and children that love me deeply. No one knows when their time on this earth may end. I believe I have been given a gift of a diagnosis that is allowing me to refocus, learn valuable lessons, and grow as a person. By the way, I am going to beat the odds of this diagnosis … you just watch! Yes, I am doing this journey my way, that is understood. 

When I find myself in low spot, I speak my mantra repeatedly. When I am fearful, I repeat my mantra. Countless times, I have fallen asleep as I speak my mantra into the universe.
My mind is strong.
My mind is telling my body to heal itself.
My body is healing itself.
My mind is strong.
My body is healthy.
My soul is at peace.
I am quite sure I will enter slumber repeating these words tonight as I weep. 

Thank you my soul sista’ Shawna, for entering my life and making a difference. I love you my dear. I see your smile when I think of you.

We all have the opportunity to love big, live life, and make a difference. I encourage everyone to reach out to those you love and let them know. Have a generous heart. Be compassionate. Live life without judgment. Live each day as though it were your last.  

Today, I am hopeful~

July 8, 2012

July 7, 2012: One Year Anniversary


Yesterday marks the one-year anniversary of my Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosis. This past year has slipped by quickly, my life changed in unforeseen ways. July 2011: I was finishing my undergraduate schooling, caring for six teenagers- four of them foster youth, living in the Houston, Texas area, had been accepted to the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work, was working on a foster youth pilot program with an offer to take the helm as director… things were final coming together, or so I thought. 

One year ago, my life took an unexpected turn when I received the news that I had breast cancer; this was only the beginning of what was to come. Although devastate, I thought to myself, no problem … I have this cancer, it does not have me. A week later, I received the results of my biopsy and learned the true magnitude of my condition. Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). My first thought was, awesome … negative surely poses a positive meaning. Um, not so much. I immediately went into research mode; I wanted to learn all that I could about TNBC. Reality settled in; western medicine fails to successfully treat TNBC and to that end, most women lose their lives within 5-years of diagnosis. 

Much of this last year is a blur. I underwent surgery, two rounds of chemotherapy, and quickly called it quits. There was simply no way I was going to continue to poison my entire body when the outcome was less than favorable. I turned to alternative treatments, mainly Ayurveda. I have yet to reflect and reread my blog postings over this past year; following this post, I plan to have the entire blog printed into book form. My mind still does not work the way it used to and many memories seem to be a blur. It is strange actually, but in a good way. For example, I have reconnected with several childhood friends. Many of us have picked-up where we left off, or so it feels as such. Several other childhood acquaintances have reentered my life in pleasantly unexpected ways. It has been an amazing experience, on many differing levels. 

In the weeks leading up to the anniversary of my diagnosis, I have felt a bit out of sorts. Today, I look healthy and I am working part-time. The people around me respond markedly different from a year ago or even five months ago. When I looked sick, society in general treated me with gentleness and kindness. I was the recipient of endless encouraging letters, voicemails, emails, texts, and postings. It felt so comforting to be surrounded by many as I felt the love of nearly all those around me, friends, and foes alike. Today, things are much different. The notes, emails, texts, voicemails, and postings trickle in. Society does not go out of their way to say hello, offer to assist, or open a door.  It is different. I miss being the recipient of unfettered kindness. I used to joke with my friends that it is difficult to be mean to a “cancer person”! 

I believe that we are exposed to situations while on this earth because there are lessons that we must learn. The lesson that presents first upon reflection is be careful what you wish for! Often I have remarked that I wish I had curly hair, it would be fantastic. Well, I am here to warn, be careful what you wish for. I do have curly hair now … after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and undergoing two rounds of chemotherapy!  What a way for a wish to come true … ugh. Lessons to be learned, I have learned many lessons since my diagnosis and have grown, as a person far beyond what I thought was possible. Although I may still stumble a bit as I fail to live up to the person I want to be, I am aware of these missteps and am willing to make adjustments. 

Remaining my authentic self despite the environment that surrounds me, this is paramount for my self-development. I am keen on the truth, understanding that the truth of one may not necessarily be the truth for all. We each experience life through amazingly different filters; it therefor makes sense that ones’ sense of reality may differ greatly from one’s counterpart. I am reminded of this often, especially in the arena I work within. I recently shared my ideology with a concerned parent. It is imperative that we listen to the words being spoken by others. It is not necessarily a matter of what is true or not true, what is important is to understand how an individual sees and experiences the world around them, how a particular situation made them feel. It is wise to understand how others experience life. It is at this juncture that we may begin to offer empathy and get at the causation of the thought patterns of others. In other words, meet people where they are at and begin walking alongside them; this is where understanding and compassion begins. 

Truth has always been big on my list. I would rather hear the truth than for someone to tell me what he or she believes I want to hear. This notion took my physicians by surprise following my diagnosis. I really did want to hear the truth, as grim as it was it was important for me to know what I was working with. The same is true in my life. I do not much fancy dishonesty but do understand differing perspectives and filters. I choose to surround myself with people that are honest and trustworthy. At times, truth may be challenging to reveal, nonetheless, it usually will reveal itself whether you want it to come out or not.  Truth; the truth about my diagnosis is that most women die within five years of diagnosis whether they undergo western medical interventions or do nothing. Well, this is not good news at all. I had the opportunity to meet a courageous young woman, Carrie D., who was diagnosed with TNBC one week after I was. Carrie D. followed the treatment recommendations of her physicians and after nine months of battling TNBC, she lost her life. This was a tragic loss. Truth, her death unsettled me as it was another woman who will be added to the statistic of lives lost within five years of diagnosis. I do not want to be a part of this statistic; it is hard to fathom not being here on earth in the next four years. Very humbling for sure. 

Reflections: My memories are not in tact; for example, I do not clearly remember driving from Texas to Oregon in October and I was driving! I sometimes do not remember when I last talked with my friends. When I do have a memory, it seems to be a random one that catches me off guard. I do a great deal of living in the moment, for sometimes that is all I have. I live authentically which allows me to connect with those around me and offer guidance when asked or required. I become frustrated at times, because I do not remember … this is my dirty little secret that now everyone will know. I love when I hear or read about the fond memories people have of me, especially childhood memories. I am often brought to joyful tears. Although I may not recall the particulars, I can say … Yep, that sounds like something I would have done or said. 

Life today is much different and chronically unknown from a year ago.  A year ago, I felt as though I was on the cusp of great things and there has been a loss for sure. What I have today is an even grander understanding of myself, which is allowing me to be a better servant to those around me. I have walked and am walking an unknown journey; I believe I am doing this with authenticity. My accumulative life experiences are allowing me to make a difference in the lives of the populations I serve and those around me. This comes full-circle and reflects back onto me, this is where I feel love and support. Do I fear the future, sometimes. However, more often, I look forward to the beauty that surrounds me; I have more work to do.

My mind is strong.
My mind is telling my body to heal itself.
My body is healing itself.
My mind is strong.
My body is healthy.
My soul is at peace.

Today I am hopeful~

March 18, 2012

Reality Check ...

After a month long break from my Ayurvedic Guggulu’s I am pleased to be back on my regiment.  After returning from Texas with an outstanding health report, I discontinued several of my supplements for a 30-day period to let my body system rest and gain some footing.  I must admit that I felt a bit out of sorts … well, a lot out of sorts!  I have been eating everything that I should not be eating – I know that food is my medicine and that I am either feeding the cancer or fighting it.  Admittedly, I have been feeding it.  Tomorrow is a new day and I am committed to getting my eating where it needs to be.  The good news is that I have enjoyed every bite of food being put into my body: the good and bad alike.  I have now been back on my treatment regiment for two weeks and I am beginning to feel increasingly balanced.  I will most likely get my blood work done this week to check my tumor markers and a whole host of other counts that I monitor.  On another front: Auntie Flow invited herself for an extended stay this month, 14 days to be exact!  Way to long and entirely too intense.  After some much-needed guidance from my Ayurvedic practitioner and treatment from my Acupuncturist, I do believe my houseguest has departed until next month.

Several nights ago, I learned that a friend of a friend carries the same breast cancer diagnosis as I do and was diagnosed around the same time I was – July 2011.  As my friend shared this information with me, she revealed that this woman is now stricken with a secondary cancer, brain cancer.  When I heard these words, my heart sank.  Nodding my head up and down, I said, yep – this is typically cancers next stopping place for those diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, TNBC.  I left my friends home and as I made the short drive to my house, I began to weep.  I exclaimed aloud, God please do not let this happen to me..


Most women lose their lives within five years of being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.  If the cancer migrates and takes up residency somewhere else, as I like to say, it is typically in the brain. The reality of the seriousness of my diagnosis flooded my senses and lingered in my thoughts.  A couple nights later, after awaking around 2:00 am, I lay in bed thinking about the woman that has TNBC and now brain cancer.  I began weeping, not only for her, but for me as well.  I was scared; I do not want this to be my outcome.  I scooted my pillows closer to Curtis in bed and reached for his hand to hold; this always quiets my thoughts and brings me peace.  As I wept, I felt his arm gently wrap around me to comfort my worries.  This all happened the evening prior to my Shoot’n for Christina benefit event.  Needless to say, it was a restless night.  Crying person status … on. 

It is not often that my mind goes to place of fear, but it does happen.  I believe it would be strange if my thoughts did not carry me there at times.  I do however, choose to not park in this zone for an extended amount of time as I choose to remain hopeful and optimistic. 

Today, I am hopeful~

March 13, 2012

Shoot'n for Christina Benefit Event

 Please join my benefit event, Shoot’n for Christina, Saturday, March 17, 2012.  The event is being held at Corvallis High School and begins at 10:00 am.  A sincere thank you to Jenny Smith for her tireless efforts and commitment to insuring this event is a successful one!

We will see you at the event; registration is available at the door


Event Sponsors:

Albany Acupuncture Clinic
Mandi Schwendiman

Healing Scapes 
Yoga, Ayurveda, and Plant Medicine
Kate Hirst

Willamette-Valley Massage Works
Jennifer Christy

Event Donors:
CHS Basketball Program
Human Bean, Paula Reab
LB Designs, Leslie Brittell
Midnight Oil Farm, Colette Kemper
Pampered Chef, Lee Anne Krause
Papa's Pizza Corvallis
Springhill Country Club


Many thanks in advance for supporting our benefit event!  
Today, I am hopeful~
  

February 27, 2012

The Corvallis Advocate

I met a friend for coffee at Market of Choice today; as I waited I noticed a stack of The Corvallis Advocate nestled on the hearth next to the grand fireplace.  I flipped through the publication and there it was ... my article!  Please click on the provided link to read the article and leave public comments as well.  Enjoy~

The Corvallis Advocate
Houston; We Had a Problem

February 23, 2012

The Results are in...

“I’m home,” I exclaimed as I leapt through the door of the Houston Yoga & Ayurvedic Wellness Center in Cypress, Texas. I was then met with a loving embrace from Sharon Kapp, my Ayurvedic practitioner. My check-up went well confirming my alternative treatments continue to be highly effective, my body is coming into balance and healing itself. The daily rituals I undertake are many with an emphasis on nutrition and supplements coupled with proper self-care. Each day my energy increases and mental clarity is returning.  Prior to departing for Texas, I underwent a battery of blood tests to check tumor markers, vitamin levels, white and red cell counts, and more.  I was most interested to learn my vitamin D levels. Ideally, they will measure 70-90; in Texas, they measured 22, and after my return to Oregon, they plummeted further to only 17. However, my latest tests revealed at measurement of 58! This is a HUGE success; 20 more points and I will be sitting pretty. Research indicates that individuals with low Vitamin D levels become highly susceptible to cancers; this is particularly true with triple negative breast cancer, TNBC. The second blood panel results I monitor are multiple tumor makers: CEA, 15.3, CA125, CA27.29. Fantastic news, all tumor markers remain within normal range. In short, the cancer cells are under control and contained. I am beating the odds, despite the less than favorable five-year prognosis this diagnosis carries. I am thrilled! My daily regiment is involved, yet it has become a welcome routine.

Choosing to forgo continued participation in society’s conditioned response to cancer, poison, cut, burn, at times is challenging.  The most marked shift is the response of those around me. When I looked ill, I was met with far-reaching compassion, understanding, caring attitudes, and responses from those around me. Now that I no longer look ill, many assume that everything is status quo. The truth is that yes, I am doing quite well right now however; I must continue to be vigilant with my treatment. If I become complacent, I may decline rapidly; my diagnosis is significant and serious. I appreciate friends and family who understand that in order to continue to beat the odds and remain healthy, I need their support, love, and understanding. I too understand that the casual observer witnesses a healthy, vibrant young woman, when interacting with me.  As a society, if an individual fails to present with an obvious ailment, we tend to make rash judgments; my hope is that our level of understanding will broaden while judgment diminishes.  

While in Texas, I was able to connect with my former chemo-buddy Angela; she has completed chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. She is doing fantastic, building her strength, and looks healthy.  We share a bond and an understanding; it is comforting to engage in conversation about tumor marker counts, physical changes, and our mental clarity progress. Equally, we spoke of our hair growing back, which is good and bad! Hair on your head, good. Hair everywhere else, not so good. Holy hair a sprout’n! Gift ideas for your post chemotherapy friends … gift certificate for hair coloring and in first place, body waxing! Enough said.

My sons are growing up~ I connected with three of my sons and met my new grandbaby Harmony. She is a doll-baby! Although my son is a teenage father, I was impressed by the way; he interacted and attended to his daughter; incredibly proud of him. My older son successfully transferred to Sam Houston University and is doing well. My other son is attending community college and struggling a bit. It was priceless listening to his two brothers directing him on what he needs to do to come correct. It was a beautiful moment! 

I final was able to celebrate graduating from college with my Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Springfield College in Springfield, MA; with a 3.88GPA - noted in frosting on the cake!  I actually graduated from the program in August 2011 and was to begin my graduate studies in Social Work at the University of Houston, when I was diagnosed with TNBC.  The celebration was fantastical and long overdue!

Recently, Jenny Smith and I have been working feverishly to organize and plan the benefit event, Shoot’n for Christina. We are excited to kick-off the event. It is a 3-Point Contest held at Corvallis High School on March 17, 2012 @ 10:00am. Proceeds will benefit the Corvallis High School basketball program and Christina’s Real Talk – breast cancer fund. We are hopeful attendance and participation will be good! Please join us.  Christina’s Real Talk T-Shirts have arrived; they look great! They are available for purchase online by clicking the link on my website.
 
Today, I am hopeful~

January 23, 2012

Check-up time and a new oncologist...

It is time to travel back to Texas to meet with my Ayurvedic practitioner, Sharon Kapp at www.houston-yoga-ayurveda.com.  It has been 90 days since relocating from Texas, back to Oregon; travel arrangements are nearly finalized for a quick trip to Houston.  I am filled with excitement to visit with Sharon, learn how I am progressing, and consider treatment adjustments.  While in Texas, I hope to connect with sons, I miss them terribly! 









Updates:
At the urging of my PA (physician assistant) Jodee Rundall, I agreed to meet with a new oncologist, though I continued to question why in the world I agreed to walk into yet another doctor’s office.  Nevertheless, I thought I would have a couple months to get used to the idea until I received a call from Dr. Kenyon’s (oncologist) office to schedule my appointment less than a week later!  I was so resistant to seeing an oncologist, especially one that resides in the same office as Dr. McGregor, the oncologist that spoke to me in an incredible distasteful and mocking tone during a telephone call in December.  Nonetheless, I reminded myself that nothing happens by accident and there is a reason I am meeting with this doctor, I simply did not have clarity as to why.  Armed with a positive attitude, I met my new oncologist.  The appointment was outstanding!  The doctor and his nurse practitioner were very respectful of my choices, agreed to monitor my blood work, schedule ultrasound mammograms, along with providing guidance as needed.  Additionally, Dr. Kenyon has added an additional tumor marker test that will assist in monitoring the success of my treatment.  I plan to repeat my blood work next week and am hopeful my tumor markers will remain within normal range.

On Thursday I began another six-day liver/gallbladder cleanse.  Staying close to the bathroom was necessary in the beginning however, things seem to have stabilized.  I am bracing myself for day six, and then the real movement fun begins!  In the not too distant future, I plan to outline in detail my treatment strategies, how they work, and why I have chosen each treatment.

The peaks and valleys of this journey remain plentiful.  At moments it is challenging to stay in the positive zone; not allowing my mind to wonder into the “what if” zone.  Living in the present and not overthinking or worrying about the future brings me peace.  Admittedly, the reality of my health status, at times, causes me to stumble; it is unsettling.  For now, I seek to live while I am alive.  
Live big.  
Love freely.  
Laugh often.

Today, I am hopeful~

January 12, 2012

Knock, knock; guess who?

.
On Monday, I was leaving an appointment with Jennifer Christy, my massage angel, driving home when I began experiencing a bathroom emergency.  I thought to myself, why did I fail to ask Jennifer if I could use her bathroom, I mean I had already downed two large cups of tea.  It is not as though I was in a rush as I was busy cleaning the seat of my pants after noticing it was adorned with spots of brown around my body’s evacuation site.  I apparently sat in something of the brown persuasion. Good grief!  Back to the story, as I refocus … I barely made it to a public bathroom before urinating all over myself.  Relief at last, followed by the discovery of a long forgotten visitor … Auntie Flow!  Holy wow, I know.  This is simply too good to be true!  I did it; I reversed menopause and am back on track; my body is finding balance and normalcy. No more menopause, no more night sweats no more hot flashes!  This is welcome news and comes on the heels of retiring my church-lady fan from my purse a couple short weeks ago.  Awe, the little things culminate into something glorious and life altering!  Nice to see you again Auntie Flow~   

Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to connect with a new friend, Shawna Troncale; she too seeks to find balance.  In May of 2011, she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer; she is 35 years of age and has three children under the age of 11.  Shawna keeps a blog as well www.lovingonshawna.com.  Being so young and facing a serious diagnosis, as we both are, leaves you feeling alone sometimes.  How refreshing it is, to connect with another woman who is traveling the same journey as I.  She understands firsthand the range of emotions I feel and is living similar experiences.  I expressed to her that we are in this together!  Shawna is a strong and inspirational individual; please send good thoughts and prayers her direction as she seeks to find peace with her diagnosis and treatment options that will serve her best.  

One of the most beautiful gifts you can give an individual facing a serious health diagnosis is to support them in every decision they make to save their life, without judgment or commentary.  No one wants to live more than the directly impacted person does!  Daily, I make an effort to not take on the identity of my diagnosis.  My diagnosis is not who I am as a person; it does not define me.  I will not make cancer the center of my identity; it is simply a life experience.  Nor do I fancy the term “cancer survivor”; to me it puts cancer at the center of one’s life; it is as though a microphone and spotlight blanket the cancer diagnosis.  It is critical for me to live by my belief especially when there is uncertainty brewing in my mind.  


Last week, I awoke in the early morning hours and was not feeling well, I felt as though I was having a panic attack of sorts and my stomach was not well.  I believe this to be a physical manifestation of what was going on in my head.  What I quickly realized is that I need to remind myself that I am safe, I am loved, and I am at peace. This has become my daily mantra I repeat multiple times throughout the day, especially as I am drifting into sweet slumber.  Living in the present is huge and keeps me grounded.  Trust – I must trust that I am making the right choices and decisions for my body, mind, and soul.  Love – I must love myself just as I am.  This is all a part of embracing and holding close to – Strength, Hope, Courage.

Today, I am hopeful~


January 2, 2012

I figured it out and it begins with…

Tis time "for giving" back the pain to the circumstances where it was created, reframe, let the wounds heal and "for getting" back your power to express your authentic, love-created self. BE YOU...you are the only one who may. What a wonderful you, you are! (Borrowed FB posting)


After reading the above words in a Face Book posting, I put pen to paper and began processing residual childhood hurt weighing heavy on my heart for far too many years.  As I authored a letter to my parents, I quickly realized this was not a letter for them it was for me.  Clarity swiftly and unexpectedly arrived as I wrote the following words.

…I too felt that in these moments you considered what life would be like if Amy was living or if the two of us could change places.  I felt, as though I was less than and there was nothing I could do that would ever be good enough.  For the first time in my life, at this very moment, I realize that I have been living in the shadows of a sister I never knew who lived on this earth for only a short moment in time.  The idea of her life; how it [life] may have manifested itself if she were living.  I felt, as though I was a constant reminder of the baby girl that was lost and for this reason, I was now an outsider.
I felt as though:
1. I was a reminder of a child that was lost
2. I was resented
3. I was an outsider
4. I was not liked or loved
5. I was less than
6. I was never going to be good enough
7. I was not worthy
“Amy was so special that God called her back home to be with him” (parents stated). I thought, if this was the case, where did this leave me, was I not special.  I was surely being punished!  

This was one of the biggest reflective realizations of my life; it may have taken many years but at last, I understood.  I was very young when my sister passed away; I believe I was around six or seven years of age.  The words my parents used to explain her passing were meant to comfort however; my filter received the message much different, especially because I was the only living girl in the family.  For all these years, I never really understood why I never felt good enough and my self-confidence lacked sorely.  How could I possibly believe I was a special girl if special girls go to live with God?  Understanding what cultivated my pain has allowed me to release the hurt and let go of these wounds after many years.  Last evening I felt lighter and free.

Many years ago, I acknowledged that my parenting ideology differs from theirs [parents].  There is always a reason behind ones’ behavior – people do well if they can – it was a challenging time for my parents in the early days.  I have long taken issue with, what I see as my parents overuse and misguided use of corporal punishment; it makes me physically ill, to this day, to hear a child being spanked.  I firmly believe that if they had to do it all over again, they would make different choices however; spanking would remain present yet more appropriate.  Equally, I do not much fancy avoidance; acting as though there is not an issue when clearly there is an issue needing attention.  This works for some individuals, not for me.  It is what it is.  The end.  

Today, after many years of estrangement, I visited my parents.  We had a lovely exchange of pleasantries; I did not feel as though I was less then or not worthy.  I was confident and secure.  I had to chuckle, prior to my departure,  my mother hastened my boys over to her Christmas tree to point out a photo ornament that I do not much fancy of me as a child.   With a giggle, I turned to my father and remarked that it is good to know that some things never change; at least she [mother] is consistent. I then thought to myself that each relationship is unique and different and this is okay.
  
Living in the present, is a beautiful gift I have given to myself.  It allows me to see today, in large part unfettered by the past or the future.  It is time to resolve, dissolve, and let go of childhood hurt.  January 1, 2012 was the day that this happened for me.  Since my cancer diagnosis, July 7, 2011, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and have made peace and found clarity in abundance.  I feel lighter now.  My breath flows easier.  I am at peace.  

                                                    Grandma LeGall
As a child, my closest relationship was with my Grandma and Grandpa LeGall; they understood me and loved me where I was at, no matter what.  I visited my Grandma LeGall today; she resides in an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility.  I am thankful that she remembers me, even with my post chemotherapy hair, or lack thereof.  I am thankful that she is always in a delightful mood when I see her; her smile is magical.  When I am close to her, I feel her love and somehow feel the love of my grandfather, whom has passed, when in her presence.  She was excited to learn that I have relocated back to Oregon and we will be able to spend time together on a regular basis.  She gently asked me why my hair was so short and I told her that I have breast cancer and lost my hair after going through chemotherapy.  She looked into my eyes and smiled deeply at me.  In that moment, her eyes did the talking and I received her message.  We embraced as I departed; I whispered in her ear “I love you”, she whispered back “I love you”.  Her embrace comforted me; there is nothing better than a hug from grandma! 

Today, I am hopeful~