Sunday, October 11, 2015

Black and White

"Life is like a piano. The white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life's journey, remember that the black keys also make music." -Unknown

Over the past five months I have accepted that life is not black and white. I have learned that there can be so much beauty in the gray areas. To be honest, I don't like "maybes", "if thens", or "either ors." I get so frustrated when faced with "sometimes this" and "sometimes that." Lately I have shed many tears over the "I don't knows." To many (myself included) black and white means that there is just one rule. There is a schedule with an exact time, and it's always the same. The rules apply to everyone and there are no exceptions. Black and white means things are predictable. Black and white means things seem fair and are clear. 

Nothing has felt fair or clear to me lately. My breast cancer diagnosis, the trials in my life and a fight for love that will end with a win that will reveal itself in a completely different way than I anticipated. But one thing has remained true, God's love. I can't even explain it properly, the outpouring of unconditional love that I am feeling for the first time in my life. From family, friends, complete strangers and from people I never imagined would care about me, or take time to join my fight.

Gray areas mean that the rule is sometimes one thing, and sometimes another thing. I am alright with that now. Again, I can't explain it...but it's true to me now. I know that this is happening to me for a reason. I am learning lessons that will make me a complete bad ass...whoops, sorry mom! But I want you all to know, anyone that is reading this—whatever it is that you are facing, embrace it. Look for the good in each day and you will find it, I promise. Go gray.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Litte Too Much

I had my second biopsy yesterday. The more procedures and tests, the more real this is becoming. It's weird to hope for more cancer, but I need this original tumor to be a certain size to qualify for the targeted drug that I need. God's got this. I know it.

Every time it gets to be too much, something incredible happens. This past weekend my girlfriends took me away for a celebration before the weeks of hell that is chemo begin. I met new friends, some that have brought more smiles to my face than I have smiled in a long time. I felt so very loved. Phillip at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Orlando sent me home with a card signed by the entire hotel staff. It brought me to tears. The staff at the spa hugged me and gave me the most special treatment. My girls decorated our suite and planned everything for me. We spent time with a precious childhood friend of mine who lives in Winter Park. The weekend was perfect.

Every day, there is at least one card in my mailbox and a handful of random texts come through supporting me. You all are keeping me going. The support has been tremendous, during a time when sometimes I get lost in loneliness and fear.

This song A Little Too Much by Shawn Mendez says it all! Thank you to those who have taken my hand in this journey. XO

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Hair Scare

Introducing: My very own cancer fighting logo, by the amazing creative genius: Allen Reed

The hair I have been growing out for the past three years will be soon be gone. I am terrified. I run my hands through it a million times a day, thinking about how it never really mattered to me like it does now. I have had a pixie cut before and it didn't bother me, but loosing my hair when it's not my choice is another story. It's not just about loosing the hair, I am terrified of the entire process. My sweet Kade (6) is worried about it, "Mommy, you'll wear a wig right? I only want you to take it off when you are in the shower." My heart sinks...I don't want to scare him, I'm sure once he realizes I am his same mommy, he will be just fine. 

Loosing my hair should really be the least of my worries, I know. But in the spirit of transparency, it is very scary to me. It is the first step. It will make the fact that I have breast cancer and will be undergoing chemo very real. Every time I see myself in my baldness, I will be reminded that this is all really happening, and I am in the fight of my life. My combat: I am researching wigs, learning how to tie head scarves, and hoping to do chemotherapy in style. This is possible right? Unrealistic expectations are my remind me of this when I decide to say screw the cute wig and scarf, give me a baseball cap. ;) 

This next update is important! Please don't stop reading, I promise this post isn't just me whining about loosing my hair. 

During my MRI, the original lump that I felt lit up. Unfortunately I am one of the 20% who has a breast cancer that is not detectable by mammogram or ultrasound. I originally felt it and had my first mammogram and ultrasound last year in April. They told me they saw no abnormalities and sent me on my way. Well this tumor doesn't feel like or look like the average breast cancer. I thank God every day that it grew the two masses that were detectable this August. I am glad I told my doctor I STILL felt the original mass in August. If not, instead of getting this diagnosis on August 25th, they would have sent me away with a very aggressive cancer, telling me there was nothing abnormal on my scans.

I tell you this because you know your body, if you feel something and don't know what it is...insist that they find out. Don't take "we saw nothing abnormal" as an answer. Don't back down. We have to be our own health care advocates. It's so important, because sometimes "protocol" is just WRONG. It just is. 

So up next for me will look something like this:

Beginning in October, I will have a total of 6 rounds of a chemo cocktail containing two targeted drugs for my type of cancer and two types of chemo. I am very thankful that I have a cancer that has targeted drugs for treatment. Others are not so fortunate. After chemo I will have surgery and then I will finish out the rest of the year with Herceptin IV infusions every three weeks. It's going to be a long and difficult road, but everyone is telling me I can do it...and I am beginning to believe them. I have to. I have so much to fight for. 

Most are asking what they can do for me. I do have a request. Please pray specifically that my side effects from the chemo are minimal. That is my biggest fear. Thank you to everyone who has sent cards, made me dinner, brought flowers, gift cards, notes and messages of encouragement. You are keeping me going! XO

Friday, August 28, 2015

Expectations, Survival and Grace

Expectation- Often, expectations, a prospect of future good profit: to have great expectations. 

False expectations have left me feeling devastated. I have learned over the past 15 years and most recently over the past four months...that just because I am willing to repeatedly sacrifice for someone that I love, I shouldn't expect that person will sacrifice the same for me in return. They just may not be capable of doing so, even if they've tried over and over and wish they could. Learning that it's time to let go doesn't make the heartbreak any easier to bear. Why God? Expectation failed. I ran the New York City Marathon last year in November, and another half marathon just a few months ago. I am a triathlete, I love yoga. I juice, exercise regularly and take my vitamins. I expected to be the picture of health. On Tuesday I was diagnosed with breast cancer, small but aggressive they tell me...and no history of breast cancer in my family. Why God? Expectation failed.

Survival-The act or fact of surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances. A person or thing that survives or endures.

Facing life again as a single mom very recently was a painful and sudden shock. But I realized quickly that I wasn't alone. Angels were all around me in the form of friends and family that love my children and I unconditionally. Friends invited me to their beach homes and on trips. I have never felt so alone yet so loved at the same time. Even in starting a new job, God placed me exactly where I needed to be. I am surrounded by the most incredible, understanding and encouraging work family a girl could ask for. Thank you God! Survival! For those of you who have asked me how I do everything I do, I won't be doing everything anymore. I will have a new normal. I don't know how I will fight this cancer or what it's going to look like in detail yet, but I know I will survive. I know this because the minute I told my friends and family about my diagnosis they showed up at my house when I arrived home from work with food for my children and I. They brought cards, flowers, gifts and of course wine. :) They took care of my children, folded my laundry and took out my garbage when all I could do was cry...and worry about how I was going to tackle another obstacle on top of what I was already going through. They cried with me. I am not alone, I am surrounded by angels yet again. God is loving me through this amazing community of people. Thank you God! Survival! 

Grace-The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.

I believe in the power of God's grace. I believe He will hold me tight through what has been most horrendous year of my life so far. He will do that with his power and through my friends and family. I may ask why a thousand times, but I will not stop praising him and acknowledging that he is still good. God...your grace is enough. I may get mad, yell a few curse words and not want to get out of bed some days, but God...your grace is enough. I may be going through hell on earth right now, but He has given me so much. I have four beautiful children, an amazing family, church, incredible friends and all of my needs are being met beyond my expectations. God...your grace is enough.

I am not sure how much of my journey I will share, or will feel like sharing as I move forward but the point of this post is to tell the truth so that my friends, family and accuaintances can hear this from me and not through the rumor mill. On the days that I want to scream, cry and not go on...I will play this song which has been on repeat. Even when it hurts, I am loved. Thank you for letting me share.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Famous Potato Fries

I love french fries. As a matter of fact, I will go to a restaurant just to eat their fries. I make these at home quite a bit, and my kids love them. Tonight they are going alongside grilled pork chops. Here is my super easy recipe:

Potatoes (Cut in half and sliced thin)
Olive oil or melted coconut oil
Sea salt
Fresh garlic (I grind mine on a microplane)
*Fancy optional ingredient: Black truffle oil

Place sliced potatoes in a bowl. Coat with a good amount of oil, I have no exact measurement. Sprinkle on sea salt, pepper, paprika and fresh garlic to your liking and toss. Spray a pan with cooking spray and arrange potato slices as evenly as possible. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 35-45 minutes depending on how crispy you like them, we love them super crispy. If you really want a special treat, drizzle a little black truffle oil over them and toss before you serve. Enjoy!

Friday, February 06, 2015

The BEST Brownies

Say hello to the best brownies you will ever taste. This mix can also be made and given as a gift in a jar tied with a cute tag. Just add the wet ingredients, bake, and enjoy. Here is the recipe, you can thank me later. :)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar

Wet ingredients:
1 cup melted butter or margarine
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix dry ingredients together and place in a jar or container to give as a gift with a cute tag listing the baking instructions. OR, add wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Grease a 9x13 pan. Spread batter evenly and bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes or until done.

**Gluten Free** Use your favorite gluten free flour mix (I like coconut flour) in place of the all purpose flour and add 1 tsp xanthum gum. **Dairy Free** Use dairy free margarine or coconut oil.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

DAILYLOOK, Little Black Dress

Beautysets - Little Black Dress

Little Black Dress
DAILYLOOK, Miss Stone, Dolce Vita


I was inspired by DAILYLOOK to style a little black dress for the perfect date night look. The little black dress is an important staple in my closet, and one that can be dressed up or dressed down. I chose to go elegant with this look, and in my wouldn't be complete without a matte red lip. Dressed down, I would pair it with booties and a denim jacket. Take a minute and visit the links above to browse through a number of LBDs on DAILYLOOK's site. The hardest part will be choosing one. What's your favorite way to wear a LBD?