Low Key

I have celebrated big all along this journey. Hokey day just because I felt good. Trip to the beach when I finished the first round of chemo. A long trip to the beach when I completed Chemo all together. I was thrown a party just before I had a double mastectomy. 

Now here I am at the end of radiation. Done this intital leg of cancer. And I cannot think of any better way to celebrate than with my favorite two humans at our favorite restaurant. So low key it is. 

 Cancer will not defined me, but it won’t ever leave me alone. I will have more frequent doctors appointments then I did before. I will begin medication in two weeks that I will likely take the rest of my life. Some of my chemo side effects will be with me always. Those are just the realities. Cancer is a journey you don’t come back from the same. You don’t get to the end and move forward as if nothing happens. You and those closest to you, those that haven’t left your side, will be forever changed.

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

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River Memories

I remember this time I was probably 8 going to the river and just going for a swim. The hole was pretty deep and we were near a small dam. Always having an old funky pair of sneakers to wear when you got in.

        The water is always freezing when you first touch it. But it’s one of those colds like water out the hose after mowing the yard… freezing, yet the most refreshing, alive feeling you felt in a quite some time.

         I remember being 14 and staying with nanny and Papa’s that summer while we were getting work done on the kitchen. I walked down to the bottom, through the fence and right past those cows to their drinking hole. Next thing I did was jump on in. Swam around and found a rock to hold onto to I could “float” and not get taken off. There is something adventurous and freeing about swimming in a crick or the river. Feeling the water flow over your feet as you walk. 

        I hadn’t felt that feeling in quite a while, so recently when my mini human asked me to join her in the river. Join her I did. It seemed like such a good idea walking down that hill, climbing down those rocks and walking into that freezing cold river water for just a few moments I forgot any part of me hurt. I wasn’t thinking about how different I appeared. I was laughing and enjoying the water with my girl and my nephew. Then I came home and I’m laying there trying to sleep reminded that I’m not 14 anymore. Happy moments and memories don’t come so easily any longer. I am still fighting for my health. I am still fighting for my new normal. But for a few moments that day I was simply enjoying the freezing flow of the river.

     Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

Tools from the Childhood Toolbox

Cancer has been a journey unlike any I have ever experienced. At least not where I was really paying attention. Cancer was not new to me. Not really. But I find myself wondering how could I have gotten some tools from my experiences as a child.

It was so cool rolling matchbox cars over Papa’s “roadmap” on his chest. I get the act of love that was for my brother and I. We were 10 and 7. He had lung cancer. He had to be exhausted. His chest had to hurt. And yet there he was loving us. There are so many questions I use I had known at 10 to ask. What I would give for one more circle bologna sandwich.

I can close my eyes and still see her laying there. She was tired. She had nothing to give and yet she watched that movie with me. Let me pray over her. Told me thank you for spending time with her. Watching her get smaller and weaker. Seeing her one last time and she didn’t know who I was. And still there are questions I wished I had known to ask at 16. Aunt Bobbie had always been there and then she wasn’t.

Nanny just always only had one breast. She always put her “pillow” in the other side. We didn’t talk about it. We didn’t have to. Cancer didn’t take her away. But there are questions I wished I had known to ask. I would have asked how she did it. How she continued on with her life like nothing had happened? How it wasn’t something she needed to talk about? How did cancer change you? Not just take your breast, but how did it change your very core?

My mini human has been given every opportunity we could throughout this journey to have fun. To do the things she has wanted within reason. I have intentionally chosen activities, small trips, “rewards” and celebrations to insure that she didn’t lose her childhood completely to cancer.

I think those are the tools I brought from my early exposure to cancer. Spend time with those you love and have fun doing it. Everyday isn’t fun. Chemotherapy was not fun. Having to change habits to not get sick was not fun. The ways to finding out the habits needed to change were not fun. A bi-lateral mastectomy and lymph node removal was not fun. Radiation is not fun. It is a scheduling nightmare. A stress that has led to shingles. An increase in the daily pain.

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

Exhausted 

I am exhausted. I mean tired in a way I am unsure there are words to describe. Going to activities that use to be a breeze takes all my abilities to accomplish. I am exhausted by the level of tired I stay at every day. I can be found in my chair at the end of the work. That is all that is left in me to do. 

The list of things that needs to be done that I just can’t do makes me sad. The list of things running through my mind that I just didn’t get to, due to lack of energy also makes me sad. There is even a list of things I want to do, that I cannot seem to will myself to accomplish. 

I know I am suppose to be kind and gracious with myself with all I’ve been going through. And it’s not that I’m not trying it’s just a reality of things I would like to be doing that I don’t have the energy or focus for. But I have determined that I will do the things I am able. So I made a new list. And I set some new goals. That my friends, that was what I needed. A perspective switch changed everything! 

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi 

Honeymoon

When I married my husband 7 years ago there was no honeymoon. We, well I, was eight months pregnant and we didn’t have the financial means to go on any fancy trip. We have since spent the last seven years moving, learning, struggling, finding balance, getting settled and getting blindsided.

 2016 found us getting settled and finding balance. We had moved into a house that gave us room to relax. Room to explore. I found myself relaxing around mid-spring. As a family we started to adventure, spending weekends exploring and surrounding ourselves with people we love. In the fall the hubs and I decided our little family would be spending Christmas at the beach. Hotel was booked and the relaxing continued until December 19, 2016. 

All of that back story leads to last week. My mini human got to experience camp. She spend the week surrounded by other mini humans who are walking their own versions of the cancer journey. The lightness and clearing of her eyes was noticable and reassuring upon picking her up. 
The hubs and I were able to enjoy a staycation version of a late moon. The week was full of doctors appointments, good news, next phase planning and spontaneity. We enjoyed visiting a new restaurant, going to a PG-13 movie without having to find a babysitter and we to see Whisky & Chamomile and Blue’s Traveler in concert.  Spending the week just the two  of us, laughing and being together reminded us what we’ve been fighting for. 

During hard seasons when you are doing hard things you need these moments in order to get a chance to breath. 

Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Bedtime

Bedtime has become the stuff of hot flashes and insomnia. It is hard to sleep when your mind is swirling and your neck is sweating. Bedtime has become a time of longing, wishing and hoping. A time of trying to take my current mile marker, one moment at a time. And yet longing to be able to use the time “more wisely”. There are business things I would much rather be doing. There are household things I would rather be helping be. But here I sit as my mind whirls and twirls longing to sleep. 

        My body is confused. And we need a break. I mean an actual “we don’t have to talk about cancer, no more medicine to take, no up coming appointments” break. Between the chemo(poison) and the forcing my then 33 year old body into menapause, with monthly shots, has been a long 8 months. 

     Starting with the discussion of a unusual spot on my right breast to a diganosis no one wants to hear. Followed by three weeks of marathon diganositic appointments to the start of chemo. More news you don’t ever want to hear, with the results coming back positive on the genetic testing. The discussions and decisions you have to make. Telling your 6 year old she can’t have a sister. Taking things off the table that were once sitting there happily as possibilities. (Don’t get me wrong, I am completely open to fostering and adoption… it’s just different when other options are taken from you.) Moments of loneliness in a crowded room. Being misunderstood because no one will ask me questions. Panic attacks at the grocery store…that store is off limits. 

        God promises, “I know the plans I have for, they are plans to prosper you, give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11  I believe that is just has true in very long and hard season as it is when things are going well. I envisioned 2017 looking very different than it does. But I will not lose my grip on the one who hold my future.  

     Just remember big things, my friends! Big things are coming! So until next we meet at the workbench…keep creating, enjoy your moments and love hard.  As always thank you for stopping by and for being on this journey with me.

Big Love,

Randi

Farewell Ta Tas 

Farewell ta tas! Thank You for the Mammories! Seemed a strange concept to some. Some seemed to fear it so much so they just stayed away. I simply wanted to honor a hard step in the journey surrounded by the pack of humans whom I love and that love me. I wanted one last hurrah as a whole being the way God created me before time to chip pieces away to prolong my life. 

        Therefore, surrounded by some of the most amazing, genuine, generous and loving humans I was. Humans that get that laughter is good for the soul. That even serious stuff can be eased into with humor. Our bellies were full. Our cups were full. But mine runth over. 

          So boobs you have been celebrated. We have been through it. You have snuggled some of the most precious babies. You have helped me pull off some killer outfits. You have drawn in some interesting characters. You sweat in all the uncomfortable places. You have worn some of the most uncomfortable, ill-fitting bras (I’m sorry I thought I knew what I was doing). You feed my mini human for six months (for the experience I am so thankful). 

         Ladies, girls, ta tas you will be missed. But I most honor our 16 self and have this mastectomy to prevent more breast cancer and prolong my life. I have an amazing pack of humans to cheer me on that I wish to continue to do life with. With that and all my love I bid you farewell.

   Now to spend a couple more days preparing for the next direction on this journey. 

Big Love,

Randi