Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Unexpected surprise...

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.” 
 Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life


I sat filling in my 1,000 gifts journal.  Its been the best therapy for me when I am at Roger Maris for cancer treatment.  I still my mind and reflect over the gifts I can offer up.  I never mind waiting, and am always amused when they apologize for having kept me too long.  Little do they know, it only lengthens my gratitude. 


The kids are getting out of school as I am called back to an exam room.  The center is so busy due to the holiday, that they put me at the end of the long corridor in a room that isn't Dr. P's.  They page him so he can find me.  Everything about this day has been so out of the ordinary that I keep thinking "What next?"  


I giggle as Dr. P walks right past me, and seconds later turns around and comes from the other direction.  He literally bursts into a big smile when he sees me and then enthusiastically says "nice wig, very attractive on you."  I tell him how everything feels different this day.  Rick is working, my appointments have always been early mornings, and its my first time to see Dr. P by myself.   


He asks how I am doing and goes through his list of questions.  He tells me my bloodwork is good and I can do chemo.  I tell him about my hot flashes and assume the chemo is shutting off my estrogen and putting me into a sort of fake menopause.  And this triggers something in him.


He starts to read through my history.  He tells me my tumor markers have been stable a long time now, and stable cancer is always good.  Then he flashes a smile at me and says "How would you feel about taking a break from chemo for awhile?"  


It takes awhile for me to completely grasp what he is saying.  I will always have to do Herceptin, so I will have to go in every three weeks for infusion.  But instead of Halaven I would take a daily pill called Tamoxifen.  Its a step below chemo, and acts against the effects of estrogen in breast tissue. But it won't wreak havoc on my blood counts.  My body can detoxify and rebuild. At some point the cancer will probably progress or show up in a new place.  But since we know I have responded to chemo in the past, I will likely respond again.


He says my hair will start to grow back.  And he says I won't need to seem him for 2 months!  


I sit there beaming...  hardly able to really take in what he is saying.  But what I know is its a gift.  And to affirm that he says, "Go enjoy your summer."  


I'm so literally swept up in the moment I ask if I can hug him.  Now he is always very formal and respectful, rather soft-spoken.  But he lights up instantly and enthusiastically says "Sure you can!"  So I do... and low and behold, he hugs me just as hard right back...


I tell him how much I truly appreciate everything he does for me...  and he says... "well lets just keep working on keeping you here as long as we can."    


I cry the entire drive home.  I cry for the reprieve I feel.  I had no idea how much I've been holding my breath... but once I exhale I cry for the sweet release it brings me.  


When things get out of the ordinary- maybe we're just supposed to go all in.  Instead of trying to fight our way back to ordinary- same- comfortable.  Just keep going... unwrap the unexpected gifts- on the other side just maybe is "God's belly laugh."  





Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The reveal...


Well you all just left the MOST beautiful comments ever on my last post.   Truly I savor how you share your hearts with me.  As vulnerable as I feel sometimes, you certainly make me feel safe in expressing how I feel and absolutely make me feel loved.  

 Ta- da- I've gone public with my wig. 

Colton took my picture! 

The last place left to wear the wig is the clinic today, which is kind of ironic- they're usually the first to know everything. 

 Because of the holiday, my chemo schedule is all goofed up.  

So I will do labs this morning, see Dr. Panwalkar after school and then have chemo on Wednesday, hopefully.  

Rick has to go out of town this afternoon, so I will be navigating on my own till Wednesday night. 

 It should be interesting, and yet, I certainly don't see why I can't handle it.  

Slowly I feel my energy coming back and I know I am in need of a round of chemo.  




I stopped by my parents old house yesterday.  My Dad's old truck sitting in the driveway still causes my heart to lurch just briefly.  Its still hard to realize this isn't like thousands of other times, where the truck signifies he's home and I just have to bound up the steps and call to him inside the house.  

So I sat on the back steps for a few minutes.  But a bird kept grabbing my attention.  The little sparrow sang, it puffed up its chest, it fluffed its feathers and put on quite a show.  The humor wasn't lost on me.  I almost called out- "Hi Dad... "  I felt his presence everywhere.






Later, we all went to visit Dad's gravesite. The dirt is starting to fill in on top of his burial site.  Its blending in more, rather than looking so fresh and new these days.  Its a lot like my grief, forming a scar, with some of the tender lying just beneath.  









And just a few feet from my Dad, is my nephew Hunter.  The boys called him "baby," he was only 4 months old when he suddenly passed.  But he'd be Nolan's age, just shy of 12 years.  The ache this time, has never really dulled at all.  










Friday, May 25, 2012

When Grace is hard...

She sat holding a wee tiny baby.  I was nearby waiting for my turn for labs to be drawn at the Cancer Center.  Her hair caught my eye.  It was dark and swept up in a pony tail.  But when the sun shone down, it showcased the blues, the violets, the reds, all carefully woven into her bejeweled- colored hair.

And then that cry.  That "fresh baked" sound that only a newborn can make.  He turned his head and I saw the cutest face.  The tiny lips pressed into that perfectly made "o" as he stretched and moved about in his mother's arms. He was perfection.

I was mesmerized.  I wanted to catch her eye, to smile and acknowledge how joy filled my heart at seeing this new babe.

And then.

I saw...

the cancer center pager.

In her lap.

My heart dropped.  I wanted even more to go to her.  To somehow offer something...

And then

I saw

her tears slip.  And my heart sank.

Oh no, nooo, no.

Then,

my knee started buzzing as my own pager went off.

And I had to go.

And she wouldn't look.  I couldn't intrude.  My own tears now brimming.

She just hugged that babe close and rocked and rocked.

I walked past, leaving my heart

shattered at her feet.

***********************************************************************
She looked nervous.  She fidgeted with the edge of her coat.  Finally looking right at me she blurted out "its my first day at radiation. I'm so nervous.  I wonder what this will be like?  I have breast cancer and this is the last part of my treatment. Do you know what this is like?"

Wow, I think... this never happens to me.  I never get to meet other breast cancer patients and can talk to them in this way.  I'm excited to relate to her.

"Oh its my first day too I say... "  and then I forget and the next sentence escapes me before I have time to think... "well I did have a one time treatment to my brain last week, so technically its not my very first radiation experience, and I'm here for treatment to my spine."

And the woman shrinks back just like that.  She visibly shifts all her weight away from me and a pained look of horror and shock comes over her.

"Ohhh she said... it spread?  You have the "one" that spreads?"

Oh... yikes.  I know in an instant what it is... I am her worst nightmare.  I am the stage IV nobody wants to become.   I am her worst fear, worst case scenario, and I am sitting way too close to her today.

Fortunately my name gets called.  I leave her sitting with the remnants of shock still clinging to her face.

*************************************************************************

He is a talker.  As soon as Dr. Panwalkar seats me at the infusion center,  the man leans over and tells me  Dr. Panwalkar is his doctor too.  "Doesn't he have a great laugh?"  "Yes, I agree, great laugh."

He proceeds to prattle on about his dogs, his grown kids, his apartment.  He has given away his car as he won't have need for it anymore.  The bus accommodates him well these days.

He quiets a moment and lowers his voice.   I turn to him, lean in, and give him all of me I can.

Keeping a steady eye on me he shares more...

He thinks he doesn't have long now.  His eyes go far away.  But he has made all of his arrangements.   As I nod, and smile and offer a word or two of encouragement, he keeps talking.  I let him go on and on- sensing the relief and peace he seems to feel.

He just needs someone to not shrink back from him.  To hear his story.  To validate his existence.

He is called back to infusion then and he shuffles off.  He is already bending the ear of the nurses aid bringing him back to his infusion room.

I let the peace I feel from his words, descend fully upon me and wait for my name to be called.

*************************************************************************

All is grace...

Even when its hard grace some days.  When I've tossed and turned all night.  Wrapping in blankets to get warm, only to wake to sweat filled sheets and clammy skin as chemo-pause sinks its teeth into me.

When my wig feels confining and itchy.   And I feel every bit as vulnerable wearing it, as I do not wearing it.

When my skin sallows, my eyes hollow.

When all I see is a ghost of a girl I once knew, peering back at me in the mirror.


Grace still calls to me.  In the hard and the every day.

In the cry of a newborn.  In a mother's deep love for her baby that shines as bright as her bejeweled hair.

In the people who don't shrink back. Whose gaze is steady and reassuring.

When the rains prevails after the thunder cracks and booms all night.  Then a break in the cloud emerges.  And the sun streaks gloriously, tinting the dark clouds pink and purple.

Out of the darkness, light prevails.  And grace calls...

























Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What can you do?

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.Edward Everett Hale 

They live in Hershey, PA.  Yes- the land of chocolate is where they call home. These are two of my nieces, Madi on your left who is 12, and Alex on the right who is 10.  My sister-in-law Kelly is their mom, and my brother Lee is their Dad.  Lee and Kelly are house parents at the Milton Hershey School.  They live in a student home with 8-10 boys, who attend the Milton Hershey School during the day, and then live with my brother and his wife and the girls, the rest of the time.

But about once a year Madi and Alex along with their parents, travel back to Minnesota to spend time with my Mom and their rambunctious cousins- those Westra boys.  The 4 cousins get along fabulously and they always pick up right where they left off.  We truly look forward to our time together.

Kelly told me this was THEIR idea. BOTH of them wanted to do this.  The only person who has ever trimmed their hair, has been their Nan, Kitty.


That is twelve and ten years worth of hair on those two precious heads.




And this is their first cut at a salon!  





And this brought instant tears to my eyes when I saw it...  First of all look how beautiful they are!  Their faces tell you how much they like the cute styles they got...


And because... they wanted to DO something.  They wanted to HELP.  They are donating, FOUR ponytails each- to Locks of Love!  

Its no coincidence to me that both of them have HEARTS on their shirts... Really. Big. Hearts.  I couldn't be more proud.

My heart can barely take it.  8 ponytails is almost enough hair to make one wig for a cancer patient!  


Thank you girlies!  Auntie Vicky is so proud of you both!  You will make a difference in someone's life by your generous and brave donation of your beautiful hair.  



On another note:

Want to help me do something really deserving for someone else? This one will make you feel really good.  This was my post on fb yesterday that some of you saw:


 "My cousin Randy Gerdon was entered into this BBQ contest by his wife Sara. If you follow the link you'll see why she nominated him and why he is so deserving- its a brief, but poignant story. Would you consider casting a vote for him- #2? I like when good things happen to good people... and he is good people- the very best! This is a deserving, fun reward, for a very deserving Dad!"

And then an amazing thing happened after I posted... so many of you climbed on board and his numbers started to soar.  Will you help me keep them climbing?  You can vote once a day until the 30th of May. 


In other news...

my counts were too low for chemo today.

I am off for one more week and will try again next week!  



What can I do for you?  Anybody have a prayer request?  I'm still in rest mode for a portion of the day and would be honored to pray for something for you.  Shoot me an email or leave it in the comments.  


"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.Edward Everett Hale 

















Monday, May 21, 2012

Where to look



It happened so quick.  I woke up Thursday with a scratchy, sore throat.  I started to sneeze and blow my nose.  I was coming down with something.  By Friday morning my sinuses were stuffy.  It was near 95 degrees hot outside, and I wrapped in a blanket.  It occurred to me to take my temp.  It hovered around 99.  Then suddenly it was 100.9.  I'd gone over the limit.  

Of course it was now Friday at 6 pm.  I had to call the Oncologist on call.  He said I needed to go to the ER for a blood test to see how low my blood counts were.  Too low, I'd have to stay.  

Thank goodness for good neighbors and friends who tackled our kids for us.  

Friday night at the ER is an extremely interesting place to be.  It might have kept me more entertained had I been feeling a bit better.

Once I finally got back to a room, I got a complete work up.  Not only did they do a blood test, they took a blood culture to make sure my blood did not have bacteria in it.  Then they did a throat culture... of all the advancements in modern medicine, I was quite surprised the swab for the throat culture hasn't changed a bit... yuck.  Of course it didn't hold a candle to the swab way up in my sinus cavity to see if I had the flu.  I think almost kicked Rick my leg shot out so fast as the swab landed somewhere up by my eye socket- ouch.

Then I was off for a chest x-ray and then they started an iv to give me some fluids.  

By the end of the night, two tests looked conclusive for bacteria.  They found blood in my urine and my sinuses were thought to be the other source of the infection.

They gave me a choice.  I could stay the night and be admitted.  Or if we thought we could monitor everything safely from home, I could leave.  When  Dr. D was a little vague about when I might be able to go home if I were to stay, we quickly decided home was the best.

Home is always the best.  

I have a strong antibiotic that has lots of strict rules with it.  But its working.  No more fever and everything is breaking up and clearing up.  

My Aunt Carol and Uncle Bill brought this beautiful cross to me today.  

"... and I will give you rest..."  

And so HE does.  



Thursday, May 17, 2012

try again, fail better




Running has not been Nolan's forte in the past.  His long legs could never get moving very fast.  This year he has had a huge growth spurt.  Has he figured out how to get speed, power and strength out of these long limbs, torso, feet?  We wondered how he would fare at this year's 5th grade city-wide track meet.  

It was unusually hot this year- well into the 80's and very little wind.  It was the perfect day to spend outside. 

Nolan was in 3 events: the shot put, the 4x400 relay and the co-ed relay.  His school had several "teams" of kids running in various heats of the races.  



Nolan scored an extra bonus- his substitute teacher, Carrie, and her sweet niece Mallory came along to cheer.  Carrie has graciously come into our lives through my little 'ole blog and offered to spend time with the boys this summer.  The boys took her up on her offer and already convinced her to take them to a Force hockey game earlier this year.  How cool is that?  We feel incredibly lucky to have such a sweet girl with a huge heart invest so fully in our lives.   

I also continue to be in wonder at all the ways these "Angels"continue to show up for us.  When the lawn company we hired, didn't show up to spray the weeds?  Our neighbor kindly sprayed them for us- it was no small task, but its a good feeling to watch the weeds folding in on themselves.  Our backyard neighbors kindly stained our fence when they did their own.  It looks so clean and fresh and we're so thankful for the help.  



So how did Nolan do in his track meet?  Apparently along with those long and lean legs- came some speed.  So his group of 4, in a hotly contested heat with another school, came in first in the 4x400 relay.  He also earned a second place in the shot put.  And his co-ed relay team placed 1st in their relay as well. More than anything though?  The kids were all cheering for each other.  They cheered just as hard for 8th or 9th place, as they did for 1st or 2nd.  They were good sports and smiles abounded everywhere. 




The morning after the track meet, was the DARE graduation.  Officer Kellen, seen below shaking Nolan's hand, came into the school to teach for 16 weeks to the 5th grade students. The entire school got involved with the program, from the 5th grade teachers to the music and art teachers- the program was completely embraced by everyone.  

The speakers for the event ranged from the Moorhead Police Chief, to the Minnesota 7th District Judge.  The mayor was there, as were several city council members.  

So many of the kids, including Nolan, literally beamed.  I watched- proud of our kids who shook hands, and made eye contact with the adults and beamed with their accomplishment of graduation from the program.



With hockey never far from Nolan's heart, it should be no surprise he made the poster, "I go Wild for healthy choices."  




Its been a full week and I've savored having the energy to truly keep pace with it.  



(You asked- I'm answering!  I'm working on a post about green smoothies, recipes, and some of the dietary changes I've embraced that have helped keep me feeling as good as I can.)  




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

peace out of chaos

I have a bit of blogger overload.  So much happening- all blog worthy- and little time before I dash off to the next event.  If you're going to be busy, you may as well be happy-busy, its the best kind of busy to be.  

Not only did my friend Melissa, have a Stella and Dot party with the proceeds going to our family, but she gave me this beautiful necklace with "Mom" engraved on it.  Thanks to everyone who generously bought jewelry!  I have worn it a lot and gotten so many compliments on it.  Plus she brought her friend Leslie.  I so regret not taking any pics!  But Leslie just took a class from the American Cancer Society on how to teach women going through chemo, how to apply their make-up.  Leslie brought me all kinds of make-up applicators, a cleansing system, and lots of good advice!  Thank you girls!  It was fun hanging out with you for the morning!  I've also enrolled in the class at Roger Maris- I've heard the make-up we get is pretty amazing.



Nolan chose an ice cream cake for his family birthday celebration.  The boys were literally overwhelmed with all the fb messages and texts and calls.  And then...




...we told them to go outside and watch for "someone" bringing "something."  


Could it be any more perfect than two boys wanting a basketball hoop and a neighbor wanting to get rid of their hoop?  Kevin and Kari wheeled this over from their house and as they came around the corner our boys lit up!  Thank you Kevin and Kari and Camden who graciously let us have his hoop. 


All of us have spent hours out in the driveway shooting hoops this past weekend. This little stinker actually makes a lot of baskets.  So he was a little surprised when mom came out and schooled him in a game of horse.  His response?  "Pretty good- for a mom!"  Ha...  


This one just walks away when mom beats him.  He does NOT want to talk about it... he just switches to shooting pucks and we all scatter in the hopes a stray puck doesn't get us in the shins.  




 I had two sweet surprises for Mother's Day.  Colton's class made a string of hearts for me.  Each classmate designed the front of the heart, and then Mrs. Langlie had them attach scripture, or inspirational quotes to the back of them.  I find a new favorite quote each time I read through them.  Thank you Mrs. Langlie all the third graders in her class- I was truly touched by such a heartfelt gift.





I awoke to find these waiting on the table for me.  It seems that along with one of the gifts the boys received was something extra to ensure I got some pretty for Mother's Day.  Yep, I'd say the boys knew pretty.  



I'm well into my "week off" from chemo and trying to play catch-up.  There are mounds of clothes downstairs.  I can't see the kitchen table because the details, the mess, the stuff of our life is always on display at the kitchen table.  But the sun has been shining.  I have been making green smoothies every day- and it shows in new skin being generated in my wound again.  My energy has rebounded.  And I have no idea what my cancer has been up to.  Strangely?  I am perfectly fine with not knowing for awhile.  














Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy 10th Birthday Colton!













Dear Colton,

From the moment I first discovered I was surprisingly expecting with you, you have continued to delight us in such an unexpected way.  You were such a "big" baby we called you "Bubba" for the longest time, but to see your long and lean limbs and torso these days, Bubba just doesn't cut it anymore.

You are your mother's son.  You are the peace keeper, the calm maker and the care taker.  You have bonded to me fiercely and are the first to throw your arms around me unabashedly.  I love how open and generous your spirit is.  You're the first to curl up with me when I rest and then you look at me with your big doe eyes and long lashes and say so sweetly "Can we please watch a cooking show?"  It doesn't matter what I am in the middle of watching, how can I resist those eyes?

Those same eyes that laser right through when you are mad.  Your nose crinkles at the top, your eyes light on fire and then your nostrils flare- we call those "Power Ranger" eyes and whoever is you target is in trouble when you reach your boiling point.  But so often those big doe eyes fill with crocodile tears first, and when they start to spill, mommy is the first thing you seek.  My heart always beats an extra beat when I see those tears that melt me on the spot.

You're funny as heck and crack us up with the things you say.  You've been cheering for the New Jersey Devils in the NHL playoffs.  You told us today Zach Parise had been asked to play for Team USA in the World Championships.  Not only do you assume you'll play in the NHL you are fairly certain you'd be picked for the Worlds too.  We laugh, not so much because we know what a long shot that would be, but really because with the amount of determination you have, YOU really could do it if you wanted.

There have been times you don't want to leave home or me.  But I've told you where you can always find me- in your heart.  What you don't know, is the necklace I bought with the two intertwined hearts? Is so that I also remember I will always have you fully in my heart as well.

Bubba Jack- I love you to the moon and back.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy 12th Birthday Nolan!











Nolan,

I can't look at your face and honestly call you "Peanut" anymore.  To say you've grown just doesn't even come close this year.  We now look eye to eye- and I'm not that short.  You jumped two skate sizes since the last pair we got you in December.  Thank goodness we can "lease" your skates.  Your shoe size is a 10 and you can no longer put Mom's shoes on- now you have to reach for Dad's.

Its a mighty pull on my heart that you don't want me to bring you lunch at school tomorrow and sit and eat with you.  You won't even meet my eye when I offer, you just squirm and say no thanks.  Sigh.  Everything changes so quick. Although, you still sneak upstairs to our room, in the middle of the night.

You are king of asking 1,000 questions.  They come so fast sometimes we have hardly answered one before you ask the next one.  I love it when you ask me things like, "I wonder what Matt Cullen eats for breakfast?"  Or, "Do you think Sidney Crosby drives a "Lambordini?"  We gently try to tell you "Lamborghini," but that one hasn't quite made its way all the way into your brain yet.  You just think we have answers for everything, and that makes me want to keep you 11 forever.


You continue to wear your heart on your sleeve.  You are the emotional barometer for our family.  When we get tense, or stressed or our burdens weigh us down, you reflect that tension in your demeanor.  It all becomes a little too much for you, and your intensity oozes out of you like a slowly released pop-top.  We all jump in to rescue you before you fizz your sticky-sweet all over.  

But then you surprise me with what I suspect has been eating away at you.  "Mom, is stage IV cancer bad? Like how many stages are there anyway?" You glance out the car window as I search for words.  I tell you, "there are stages 1-4 and mommy has stage 4. Its called stage 4 when it shows up in more than one place in your body.  Its not bad, its not good- it just is. Does that answer your question?  "yeah, can we have chinese food for supper?" That's my boy.  Every hard topic should be followed up with food.  


Happy Birthday Nolie!  Your baby nursery had yellow moons and blue stars for its theme.  Of course you reached up from your crib and picked off the wallpaper border when you were supposed to be sleeping and Grandma had to glue it back twice.  But I'd whisper to you every night- I love you to the moon and back."  And thats the part that won't ever change, no matter how old you are, or how big you get.


Love you buddy,
Mom



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes...


“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.”
― Markus ZusakI am the Messenger


Samantha Meyer is beautiful.  She is everything you see in the stunning photos of her- and so much more.  Some of you may recognize her from the State Bank Pay it Forward video finalists.  

A few days before the voting ended, I sat down and watched some of the other videos.  It turns out Samantha and I have a lot in common.  First of all she is a photographer and this is her photography site.  Second, Samantha's story is staggering. Its compelling, and important and grabs you by the heartstrings.  

I have selected this passage from her Shoot for Sam introduction:

"Samantha is a sweet, active 25 year old that has conquered a lot in the last year, but her battle isn't quite over.

In 2010 she became pregnant with her first child, and lost her unborn baby at 5 months due to complications. After that tragic loss, Samantha decided to try again and became pregnant in 2011. This pregnancy was found out to be a cervical pregnancy, and Sam was life-flighted to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She was hospitalized for a month. While there she endured emergency surgery, and lost the fetus and her uterus in order to save her life. 

In addition to going through losing two babies, she also has a rare genetic disorder called BRCA1 where she is an extremely high risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  On March 13th of this year, she underwent a double mastectomy and  will be having her ovaries removed later this year." 



You should read her own version of the events here for yourself.  She chronicles her journey through a journal that is real, honest, warm and heartbreaking all at the same time.  And- she is only 25 years old.  

I don't know how you process all that she has been through.  But she is a grace girl whose compassion knows no bounds.  

Samantha's mom contacted me right before the State Bank event.  She wasn't able to come.  She wanted me to know she voted for me and prays for me. Gulp.  

Then I got to meet Samantha the next Monday at the State Bank ceremony. She is absolutely radiant, and I think the light emanates from within.

She gave me heartfelt congratulations after I won.  Since then we have emailed a few times.  







Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.  ~John Wayne

Sam has a big week this week!  It was hard to hear her story for me, and know she hadn't won the contest.  But I am beginning to see that maybe she didn't win- because a bigger day was in store for her.  

Samantha's benefit is this Thursday, May 10th.  You can read all the details about it here.

I don't know if Rick and I can attend (chemo week), but I thought it was worth sharing her story which she graciously allowed me to do.  We also have a few ideas on how we will "Pay it Forward," as so many of you have done for us. 

Would you keep this sweet girl and her loved ones in your prayers?  She still has a daunting road ahead of her.  

I keep stepping forward in faith and praying the cancer can be knocked down or at least corralled.  

She steps forward in faith hoping cancer never stands a chance with her.  

Both of us have had to sacrifice a lot, either way.  

Have you had your mammogram yet this year?  








Sunday, May 6, 2012

bloom

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.- Anais Nin












We spent a sunny afternoon at my Aunt Marlene's house celebrating graduation.  The "Cobber" tradition of attending college at Concordia, in our family started with my cousin Tim and his wife Jean in the early 1980's.  Then came David and Rob, Tim's younger brothers.  Then came myself in 1989, (Rick, 1990) and my brother, Lee, in 1992. 

And now the next generation has begun.  Tim's youngest, Tom graduates today from Concordia College.  Rob's two sons will both attend Concordia next year.  We'll see if another Westra or Held (my brother's daughters) end up following to keep that family tradition going.  

But it was the flowering tree in the back yard that kept grabbing my attention.  

So I finally let myself out the back door and snuck around to the tree.  

Its fragrance beckoned from around the corner.  

The stunning pink against the blue of the sky and the lush green of the grass was irresistible. 

Marlene says she debated cutting it down.  The beauty of the tree is so fleeting.  

Wonder how much it costs to have a tree moved?  Ha... maybe I'll just send her a few photos and she'll 

decide fleeting is worth it.  

In my book, fleeting is always worth it.  






When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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