Monday, February 28, 2011

My Pursuit.

Psalm 34:14
Seek peace and pursue it.

Well, nothing like a winter snow storm Friday and massive flooding today to take my mind off of my appointment today. I didn’t even have time to think about my scan results today because school was cancelled and I was busy taking care of our flooded basement. There is our Hochstetler motto right on cue…Nothing Ever The Easy Way (my new insert…even after cancer!) See, problems will always happen in Life. Our sump pump broke leaving about 4 inches of water in the basement, but it was nothing compared to the houses and cars in our county that were flooded (counting our blessings there!). We were busy from 8:30 this morning finding the problem, pumping out water, carrying our stuff to the garage, and ripping up carpet. But none of this clean up process would have happened if we didn’t have our neighbors. They were gracious enough to come over and offer their pump to get all the water out so that we could start the clean up process. God bless those who think of others!! Thank you!

So at 3:00, I stopped working and I was able to get out of my swamp clothes and into my cowboy boots to hear my results(Cooper chewed my other ones :( I got a different pair to hold me over til I find the ‘perfect pair’). And as I drove there, I thought about a song that hasn’t surfaced since 2005, In Christ Alone (check it out on youtube!). I first heard this song when I was about to have my brain surgery in Columbus. Sometimes I think that maybe cancer wasn’t so scary to me because that surgery had already shaken me to the core. At that point in my life, I was afraid to die. When I was at The OSU Medical Center in the pre-op room, I had to sign papers so that I could not sue them if I died or was paralyzed from the procedure. Needless to say, my surgery was a bit complicated. :) And at 21, I was young and scared because I did not want to die. And the only thing I could think of to calm me down when I was being wheeled to the operating room that day was to sing the only words I knew of this new song. 'No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, ‘til final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, could ever pluck me from his hand. ‘til he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand'. Driving the familiar drive to Cancer Care this afternoon, I thought about how these words were just words back then used to calm down a very scared 21 year old, but now these words are my guide through's my Pursuit. Because now, I’m not afraid of dying anymore. No matter if it’s tomorrow or 60 years from now. God will never leave my side because He is the only constant thing in the world.

So what have I been pursuing since June? It didn’t become clear to me until a couple months ago actually. Beating cancer was the obvious Pursuit, but I found what I was pursuing even more…I was pursuing my God and everything He had to offer me in Life before I take my last breath. Talk about ask and you shall receive, I have experienced God's presence throughout this Pursuit with cancer more than I ever have before. I allowed myself to meet Him half way in one of my darkest days, and He has changed me by allowing me to open up and use a hidden talent by writing out my thoughts and insights each week on a blog. I've learned through this that you have to have a higher power guiding you and challenging you to be more than you can be in Life, even in the hardest times of life, because that’s when your potential is vividly evident. This blogging Pursuit was more than I thought I could be...but I rose to the occasion, took it on, and shared my story...and beat cancer in the mean time :) Ezra 7:28 Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage...and I wrote my story :) Wow.

But this new courage made me realize something else, as much as I thought this Pursut was about me pursuing God… He was also pursuing me. He was working inside my broken body this whole Pursuit to show my world who He is and just how life changing He can be. You see, the bible is really all about people who suffered and learned through their suffering. The apostle Paul in the bible had a chronic disease, he pleaded to be cured and he wasn’t. In his weakness, He leaned on God’s strength and he was used to show other's God. In my weakness, I leaned on His strength. And God did the same thing by making Himself more evident to others through my illness. There is a pastor who is deaf, and he flat out said it, he does not want to be cured...because if he gets well, 3,000 people would stop listening. Maybe that’s why God allows illness to happen in our lives…so that people will start listening, and discover a true Healer in the meantime. I really feel that God used my cancer to mold me to be more than what I ever thought I could be during cancer, or life,…and ironically, He did it all for His glory, not mine. :)
The Pursuit of this blog became not just to beat cancer but to show you the easiest way to get through a tough time…it’s with God on your team. As you have seen, I screw up, but God get's my rebounds and passes the ball back to me to make a 3 point shot instead of just a 2 point. :) You have to have some sort of foundation/ground/base/core/belief to get you through Life. Obviously, mine was God. I challenge you to find God in your next mountain of Life… to meet him there, right when you are on the edge, and see what happens. In this Life, it's not about what Jesus can give you, it's about what you can give back to Jesus for giving us the ultimate gift. On your next Pursuit...what's your gift? This blog became so much more than updates to my friends and family…this blog became my identity, how people knew me, this blog became my best friend, my cure, my connection to God, my insights for me and you, this blog became more than it was ever intended by me to be. It became a gift.

So it’s time to end this Pursuit after 125 blogs. The good news of today's appointment assured that I am disease free. I still have a 3cm and 2cm tumor in my chest, but they are more like scar tissue now (there is no sign of cancerous activity in them). My blood levels are as normal as normal is for me :) The great news is that I get my port out next week and I don’t see my doctor again until June 1st when I get another scan and hear Remission for the first time. But it's time to bring this time of my life to a close. That way I can move on. I want to keep pursuing more meaning and purpose for my Life. But I don't want to leave you hanging, so I will update you guys the first of every month on here until I hear the 'R' word :) But I won’t ever forget this time in my life, I have my scars to remind me of my Pursuit. And some things will be different now too. My Thanksgiving Day prayer will never be the same...I have a life to be thankful for now. Neither will my birthday...I turn 27 in May, but it'll mean more when I'm considered a cancer survivor. I know I will always have some form of survivor’s guilt, because I have compassion for those who lost the battle. But I want to always feel good about this victory. And when I have those days when it’s too hard, then I will do it for my family who was telling me to NEVER GIVE IN from the beginning. I did this all for you, my friends, my family, all the people that I love. I wrote this blog, I fought through cancer, I found my strength in God, and right now… I feel like we both came out winners. So let’s raise our glasses, because here is not to the end of life….

...but to the beginning. Cheers.

I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
-Red, Shawshank Redemption

I feel the exact same way right now :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dear Readers,

We participants in the front lines of the "Cancer Wars" are just ordinary men and women drafted without our consent into this service. We need not be victims. We can turn this experience to ultimate good in service to others. The choice is ours.
Gerald W. White, P.E.
It seems like I don’t know where to start. It was almost easier for me to write when I had cancer in my body. It just came so naturally, maybe it was the chemo drugs talking. :) I think I will try that approach again…minus the drugs…but just writing from my heart…

Flat out, the past eight months have been the most insightful period of my entire life. Once I read back though my blogs, I saw that I wrote more when I had new insight to share than any other time. I realized that I could have bored you everyday with my daily drama besides cancer…but if you wanted that, you could of just watched a soap opera. And at times I probably did bore you or get on your nerves. But you put up with my mood swings and you never discouraged me. So thank you :) Most of the time, my insight was about God and how He can be apart of your life to make it a better time spent on earth. It’s not easy to talk about God in daily conversations, but when you hear that you have cancer and you aren’t sure how much time you have left, you’d be amazed with the instant perspective you get and how easy it becomes to share God’s grace.

This Pursuit wasn’t a diary, journal, self help book, testimony, novel, or fiction…it was me. I let you in to one of the scariest times in my life, and by doing so…it became the most positive thing I have ever experienced. I never thought this blog would become my guide to living Life. Something to give my children someday. I am so glad I documented my feelings, my joys and fears, my Pursuit. Its been an amazing ride of emotions. But I wouldn’t have expected anything else from cancer. Everyone who has cancer I’m pretty sure experiences the same feelings…but this was my experience with cancer, in my words (of course inspired by people along the way and thoughts from other readings). I didn’t always have the answers to my questions, and I didn’t always have new insights. I’m not even sure if I ever wrote the ‘right’ words in here. But what's most important is that I wrote this for me...and became for you too. Sometimes I was just in the moment and I would learn the lesson later. But this blog, it was something special, it was more in so many ways than I ever thought it would ever be.

So if you can bare with me one last time, I have some last words of advice…
1) Practice forgiving people and yourself more often. Sometimes we are too proud to admit our mistakes, but practice forgiveness and move on with life! Do you know how freeing it is to not hold grudges, and move on with a clean slate again?
2) Start seeing the blessings in your life. Too often we focus on the negatives. I saw that I went to God a lot for help, but rarely thanked Him for my blessings. From now on, I want to focus on things I’m thankful for, like not living in a city so I can experience the sounds of crickets and see the stars, having a job that lets me enjoy my family, and my few true friends that no matter how bad I screw up- they won’t ever leave, and my deep connection to my family-even those who aren’t blood, and carbs…God bless my noodles and mashed potatoes, the experience of the most beautiful place in the world -St. Johns …and the water. Thank you for the peace of water that is my second home… even if it is just in a bathtub awaiting the hot summer days by the water.
3) Be an organ donor, what are you going to do with them after you die anyway? Imagine being able to give the gift of sight to someone, or the gift of breathing in deeply again. You can change a life forever.
4) Give back. This world has given you so much, it’s time to give back. The world of cancer I was introduced to in June of 2010 shook me back to reality. But now, its time for me to give back for the medicine that saved my life. Relay for Life is how I’m doing it. If you do not have an organization you donate to, please-eat in one night and donate that $20.00 bucks to finding a cure that may save you, your child, your best friend, or your love. We’ll be starting in April with the raffle, but if you want to donate now click on this link Thanks.
and 5) Surround yourself with positive people who never let you give in. Cancer could have been very scary, but my peeps wouldn’t let it be. The only way I got through needles shoved in ports, blood draws, painful bone marrow procedures, trips to the hospital, watching bags of drugs drip through my veins, lack of deep breaths, trips to CVS for meds, burned skin, losing my hair, extreme fatigue, and nausea…was by God’s mercy, your prayers, and my NEVER GIVE IN attitude. But the enormous support from you was what cured me, from the inside out.

But one special person out there needs a special thanks. It's the one thing I haven’t talked about much, he was the person behind the scenes…Andrew. Having cancer within the first year of marriage is cruel. But Andrew took it like a champ. I know it wasn’t easy for him. He was put on the back burner more than anyone ever should be and never said a word when I would get cards in the mail and he got bills, or when I got flowers and he got to go get me more meds, or when I got visitors and he had to work, or when I would spend time writing a blog, he waited patiently for his wife. You see, for 8 months, he unselfishly shared me with you. For a newlywed, it was hard for him to look at me when I was sick and pale with no hair and thin, because he would be reminded of the cancer war in my body that he could not control and get mad because there was nothing he could do. But he never let me know this. He loved me enough to put his anger aside for my benefit and never let me know exactly how much cancer bothered him. I know without a doubt that my attitude towards cancer would have been different if I didn’t have him as a supporter in my life. He never let me see his side to the cancer story until after this was over, and by doing so, he gave me every advantage of beating this thing. In eight months, he never gave me a thing to worry about. So thank you Andrew, for once again putting me before yourself…the whole time I had cancer. You are the MVP in this ball game, love. I love you for sticking with me and you better love me back for sticking with you…it hasn’t all been gravy :)

And to you, you all know who you are, no words or actions can thank you enough for supporting me along my battle with cancer. Know that you will be rewarded in heaven for your prayers and acts of kindness. My heart pours out with love for you and I will forever work towards paying it forward in your honor. I thank you for coming with me on this Pursuit and reading about this part of my life. The changes I went through from a sick girl, to a strong a confident woman. This wont be the last time life takes a turn. The last time I learn. This Pursuit has taught me that things aren’t always going to go my way. And I better have something there to keep me stable or I’m going to go off the deep end. I choose God to be my rock when I'm on the edge again. Tomorrow is my last doctor’s appointment for a couple months and my last Pursuit blog…check back tomorrow to see what I’ve been pursuing this whole time. Thank you my friends :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

God’s Plan for Us, is Better than our Own.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

My friend from Wisconsin who just finished up her treatments too has a blog to update us all and she once wrote about a local principal who had been diagnosed with cancer. His name is Henry Blackaby, and he said,
"I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, I know it probably is not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do, because He wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision and His kindness to His people and to a watching world. This is the only way the world will come to know Him."
I’m so glad that she shared what he said with everyone and that I have the opportunity to pass it along and share it with you to see if you have had a God-sized assignment. I don’t know if having cancer was a God-sized assignment to everyone, but I thought at one time it may be a God-sized assignment just for me…or so I thought. I hope that through my battle I have been able to show you the strength of God and how He gives it to us in our weak times and how He has provided in extraordinary ways for me through the knowledge of doctors, drugs, support, and finances. However, the more I reflect, I think the real assignment I have been given from God during this time was not to beat cancer…it was to share my story while having cancer.

When I came home from Iowa, and after my diagnosis was still sinking in, I wrote this in my journal...
June 26, 2010
He (Andrew) hears me cry and he comes to my side. He can hear my mixed and messed up words and make sense of them, and tells me the right thing every time. I’m mad, and I’m afraid I will mess up this situation I’ve been given and somehow not use it to glorify God. Please God, USE ME! Even during my weakest days, use me to show others Your mercy and grace during crappy times. AJ told me there are no rules to this and that we will have many opportunities in the future. All I know to say to my friends right now is what I told them today…'that God isn’t done with me yet and that He knows what He’s doing, even if I don’t know it yet.' I have a lot of people praying for me God, and I don’t want to screw this up. I don’t know how to live with cancer. So please God, PLEASE tell me how to glorify you in this moment, because I just don’t know how to.
And just two days later, a coworker email me about how her cousin was sick and they kept a blog to keep everyone informed. I had heard of a blog before because Andrew’s cousin had one for her adorable triplets. However, that was really all I knew about blogs. So I went to her page, and at the very top, it said Create Blog. And that’s how this Pursuit all started. I now know that there is a HUGE world of blogging out there and that I hopped on this train a little late…but at that point I didn’t feel like I had a story to tell. I did this blog first and foremost so that people could her the medical updates from me, because I knew how word travels in my small town and I could have been on my last leg by the time it got to the third person ;) But somehow, through this Pursuit, I found this to be a place for me to vent, reflect, and just simply share my God and what He’s done in this part of my life.

So was this a God-sized assignment? I’m not sure Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was. I knew I had that in the bag. But this blog, my Pursuit…I think so. Knowing that this time in my life would change me and others and how I live my life from this day forward is pretty God-sized. I believe I am coming out of this experience not a better person, but a more conscious and reflective person. And if I can share that and God with anyone else, I know I’ve got an A on my assignment…ok maybe just a B…I’m still working on me here! Even though there are thousands of blogs and stories out there about different things, I’m glad I was able to share mine about life with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with those who wanted to hear. Who am I kidding...God had this all planned out :)
“I don’t want my thoughts to die with me. I want to have done something. I know there are a lot of things that I don’t understand, but I still want my life to have meaning.’ -Temple Grandin
This woman with autism put into words what I have been thinking about since the day I was diagnosed with cancer. I hope this Pursuit was something, if only a way to not let my thoughts die with me. Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who am I now?

The truth of the matter is I was not going to write this blog tonight. I’d love to let you all think that life after cancer is a piece of cake, that just because I’m done with cancer, I shouldn’t be struggling anymore, right? Well, wrong. The reality is, while we still live and breathe on earth, we will always have problems. Dealing with cancer is one thing, dealing with Life and all of its wonderful problems (do you hear my sarcasm?) is another. Some problems are easy to solve and get over, other ones really have you testing your faith and strength.
Truth is, I have been upset with myself because of my lack of concentration lately. As you have seen, this blog isn't going to be an easy read because I can't concentrate long enough to coherently put my thoughts together...sorry:( I can’t complete projects, and when I do, I forget to do a step somewhere in it, so I have to go back and fix it. Now I was never perfect before, but this lack of concentration is something that I’m struggling with daily now...and some of you have suffered for it (especially you AJ, sorry!) So that, along with other events in my life that have me distracted, are getting in my way of enjoying this time where I should be nothing but joyful for my cancer-free body. Maybe I'm just doing too much celebrating and not enough concentrating. I'm giving myself some slack after I found out that it may be a few more months before my head is screwed on tight again from the treatments. :)

Now, I’m trying to figure out Life again without cancer in it…and trust me, its not as easy as you think. Something else I’m struggling with is this new cancer-free identity. While using what I've learned throughout my Pursuit, I’m finding out who I am without cancer. It’s hard finding your identity again in this skin after going through such a change mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And for some reason, I have a feeling this may be harder to cure than cancer!! I find myself asking 'Am I still the same Laura that Andrew married? Am I still a contributing coworker? Will there still be apart of Laura that people remember before cancer?' Right now, I don’t feel like my old self. There are new things that bother me, my feelings and lifestyle have changed, and my priorities are different. I think this week I’m struggling because I was forced to look at my future, and for the first time ever...I wasn't sure what was there. When before I was always so sure because I had life by the reigns. But I've learned life can be changed in a second...or in my case, a cell :) Things have changed so much in my life...but the world around me hasn't. So you better believe I’m going to do some serious soul searching these next few days as I round up this Pursuit Monday night.

I honestly thought life would be easier after cancer. I thought life would be light hearted and I would have all the answers for the future. However, I didn’t realize Life and its luggage marked as 'problems' would arrive so soon after hearing 'disease free'. But you can’t schedule when Life's problems come, can you? You have to be prepared for when Life's unexpected guests aren’t so peachy. Throughout the rest of my life, I will always have new problems and new situations. The challenge becomes am I going to take what I've learned about life during cancer and put it to use in the future to guide me, or am I going to live the rest of my life in the wilderness...still looking for answers, when I already have them? I'm liking the prepared approach :)

I think for now I'll just do this...
Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. ~Voltaire
I like to sing :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Last Letter from Coach Dad

My dad sent me his last coach letter tonight :)

Hello Me Lorla,

This is Coach Dad here again and since this season has concluded it would be appropriate to give a talk that would wrap up the season’s victories and defeats.
Here are the Top Ten talking points I would use as you and I would talk at the end of the season. And I believe you will get the main idea of each point so I will not go into much detail on them.

#1 In the past, we knew you had played in some tough games (scoliosis / severe car wreck / major spine-neck surgery) and had beat them all physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually with your inner Faith.

#2 Who would have thought for such a young player there would still be another major opponent on your schedule – cancer. But with this awesome adversary, your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual conditioning again made you come out on the win side due to your inner Faith.

#3 It has been you, who has been coaching me in this last game, as your every blog gave me so many insights to your personal life and how we were going to go out a winner again in this game based on your inner Faith.

#4 It certainly was not just me who benefitted from your blogs, because by opening your personal playbook via your blog you have sent a winning game plan to everyone out there. It is a game plan that anybody can use when they face awesome adversaries in the life.

#5 I thought for sure I knew all my players extremely well, but in how you handled this game it taught me that you can never fully trust your instincts about people because they will surprise you every time. I always knew your Faith was deep, but you proved to ole Coach that it was deeper than he ever realized. You have proven to me that the adage of players giving 110% somehow makes sense after all.

#6 I was so proud of you in this game every time adversity seemed to push you to your limits and to liken it to boxing- you may have been beaten up in a few rounds but after 10 rounds you won by a unanimous decision. You answered the bell to start each round when others may have thrown in the towel.

#7 You were a leader on your team by your encouragement to others and by standing with others who also were hurting in their fight. As a team we preached lead by example and your initiatives in the Relay for Life is a way we always talked about “paying it forward” as Coach Woody Hayes always said.

#8 I was amazed at how the crowd (your old friends and new found friends) cheered you on in this game and it was this cheering section I believe that at the right times made you draw deeper on your Faith to keep up the good fight.

#9 Every team sport has chemistry and although you took the fight on, it was Andrew more than anybody else who felt every tear, every emotion, every pain, every injection, every radiation, every headache /body ache, simply everything imaginable and it was his shoulder you rested your weight on as he guided you off the field for a brief rest before you went back into the game. That kind of chemistry wins games on the field and stands the test of time. Those moments also make for highlight films at the end of the season.

#10 All the trophies ever made that represent every kind of achievement men and women have ever achieved in all of sports, they cannot stand up to that single, simple, beautiful Cross you possess and value. Without a doubt it signifies that you are a champion on the only team that matters in life.

So, after a speech like that, coaches usually say the usual of what to do in the off season to prepare for next year. I think you reminded me that to prepare is only half the workout – the other half is being “pre-prayered” to The One and only true Coach who is the reigning All-Time Champion of what really matters on earth and in heaven!

Me Lorla, sometimes players teach coaches things in a season and that has surely been my case with you. I think your skills as an educator, and your innate writing ability to express yourself in such a meaningful way, made your “The Pursuit” blog so unique. I still believe it is something that will always be there for others to seek solace and insight from as you have taught so many about so much.
In one of the latest blogs you quoted the Priest in the movie Rudy as saying to Rudy he really only knew two things for sure: There is a God and he was not Him. I think I can add a third segment to what the Priest realized and some of it is from my spiritual upbringing. But more importantly it is from what I have witnessed firsthand these last eight months with you, and that is that God still uses his Disciples to do His will and carry on His Word. The way I see it is that He will someday say to you- thank you and well done my good and faithful servant for professing your Faith and Love for Me in that very unique special way you call The Pursuit!

Well, in giving that last little talk to one of my special players I would probably be somewhat emotional in saying stay in touch and let me know how things are going in the off season. But hey, wait a minute, I am more than your coach because I am your dad and I get to see and hear from you more often so now I am comforted in that.
So, see you and talk to you a lot Me Lorla, and I am excited with our role reversal as I will be a player on your team as you coach us to a win in the upcoming Relay for Life :)


Monday, February 21, 2011

It’s all about timing…

So life is all about timing. I apologize, this blog was supposed to be put up last night, but Life happened and I didn’t get it out in time :) If you don’t have the right timing, things go wrong. The surprise isn’t a surprise anymore, the fireworks don’t go off at the right time, the jets don’t fly over the game at the right time…and I don’t go to the Kalahari at the right time! Talk about timing, maybe going to the Kalahari on a holiday weekend was great timing for me to see that maybe I CAN wait to have kids! ;) There were TONS of kids, long lines, expensive food, tired parents, and loud kids running in the halls at 7:30 in the morning. However, time spent with family is never something I take for granted anymore...especially since my brother moved for his job until the middle of the summer…miss you already buddy!
Timing was perfect on Friday when my coworkers surprised me with a congratulations party during lunch! You can never go wrong with Fat Jacks pizza and yummy well as new flower bulbs to plant in my garden! And I also got flowers delivered to my work from my church! What a generous church Shawnee Alliance is. The timing of finding that church had to be the workings of God. Who knew five months after we found a great church to settle down in, I would be diagnosed with cancer and need that growing faith more than chemo or radiation. And to be apart of small group during my treatments would be icing on the cake. Just another example of perfect timing.

Now this is an example of bad timing…my radiation oncologist. When I went there on Friday, everything from the Lymphoma stand point is awesome! No new lymph nodes swollen, my swallowing is back to normal (as if I didn’t know that based on the 5 pounds I put on last month!), and everything is looking good. But right before I left, she told me to be a ‘good girl’ and make sure I get my mammogram every year and then let me know my chances of getting breast cancer. Because I had radiation before I was 30 years old, my risk for breast cancer increases 7-9 fold. I didn’t understand what that meant so she said I was 7 to 9 times more likely to get breast cancer than before I had radiation. So if it is in my genes, say like my genetic makeup says I have a 10% chance of getting breast cancer, I have to times that by 7-9 now and those are my new chances (70-90% of getting breast cancer). Well, the good news is that there is no history of breast cancer to my knowledge in our family. Or like my sister said, if we are at 0%...times that by 7-9 and you still get 0%!!! Then to top it all off, right before I left, she said one last thing. She said that she didn’t want to worry me but wanted to be honest with me. That if I do get breast cancer, it will be the negative hormone receptors that they will find…and those are the hardest ones to cure. So as my mouth dropped because of her bad timing (remind you I was still on my high from being 'disease free'), she said not to worry now, just keep up on my mammograms so that we can catch it early. Wow, makes me glad we are apart of Relay for Life to find a cure...I may need it again! To donate online, go to or wait til May for the Hocking Hills raffle! :) But you know what, I could die tomorrow from just about anything, so I’m not going to get too hung up about the 'possible' future.

I see that timing can be everything. But do we really have control over time? I know one thing about time…we are not going back, we are only moving forward. I’m not going to let my life be revolved around a cancer that I may never have, or one that I may never get again. I will do my best to live a life in remission, but I can’t live in fear that the timing won’t be right for the events that will happen in my life. It’s no way of living. But there is only one timing I want to be ready for. It’s for when Jesus calls me home, on His timing, and I just better be ready.
There is one thing I am sure of…I am going to die one day. So what I need to be most concerned about above any physical or emotional health, is my spiritual health. Keeping that fed and healthy so that when I do meet Jesus, I am ready to account for my time spent on earth. You see, I’m not afraid to die anymore, not from cancer or anything, because by believing in God's son Jesus, and how He took our sins with Him to the cross, He bridged the gap for us to be with God in Heaven for eternity. It says in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. I know I am going to Heaven because a long time ago I did what it said in Romans 10:9-13…I called on His name and confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead, and by doing so, I was saved! Cancer was scary at times, but what made it a heck of a lot easier was my faith. You guys, I'm not a pastor or anything, but from what I've learned is that the cool thing about God, is that He knows that we are going to have bad days, mess up, and sin…that’s why He made a way for us to be saved…He’s clever like that :) But we do not need to be held by those sins and let those run or destroy our lives. In Romans 6:14 it says that For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law-but under grace. If you are looking for freedom, for answers, for love, for peace in your life, all you have to do is acknowledge God, confess those sins, and He will always forgive you and cleanse you and let you start again…and give a home for you in Heaven with me :) Wow, how lucky are we that in this world of greed, this gift is free. That life everlasting is a free gift from God, we just need to pray and accept it. My life through this Pursuit as been changed because when I was faced with the possibility of death, I wanted to know Him more, and what I found was the living God who wants a relationship with me by reading His words of advice He gives to us in the Bible. You guys, our time is coming.…I know I am ready. Are you?

Dear God,
I know that there was a time when I did not live my life for You. I made up my own rules and lived to satisfy myself. I am so glad that you are now apart of my life. I thank you that you gave your son to die for me, and that now I receive the forgiveness that came free to me. I invite you to always be in my life, Lord, not just in the bad times when I need you most. May you continue to be my Lord and Savior all the days of my life. Thank you again for taking away our imperfections, and accepting us, because we accepted you.


Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What A Beautiful be DISEASE FREE!!!!

Oh hello my dear friends. What a day…what a wonderful day!! As most of you know by now…I’m a DISEASE FREE WOMAN! Praise the Lord, sing a song, have a toast, do a dance, I AM HAPPY!!! I didn’t hear remission yet because they wait 3 months after your last treatment to get that label. Oh well, I’ll take disease free for now :)
Well, 8 months ago, to the day, I found out I had cancer. And today, I found out that I have no more cancer. Wow. I’m just in a state of awe. And I’m totally fine with that. Everything went just like it should, Nurse Bonnie said Hi and told me my lab results right away…I like that kinda nurse, my levels are back to normal. Andrew was there and took my hand in all the right moments when the water works started. It was great when I walked out of the office to see both of my parent’s cars in the parking lot, too. And when I told them the good news, I saw them take a deep breath for the first time in 8 months. I can’t imagine a parent’s relief to know that their child is not sick anymore. I didn’t do anything really exciting today, which is the odd part. Usually, I would have done something to celebrate...well I did pass out my favorite Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs at work today :) And hey, my husband was putting up brand new doors in the house when I got home from work, and actually, I am going to the Kalahari water park this weekend…so that should be a good, fun, and relaxing time too. I hope! And I have a lot of great friends and family ready to celebrate…so this day will not go uncelebrated. My next step is to meet with my Radiation oncologist tomorrow as a follow up appointment, my CT scan on Monday to double check that there are no more tumors in there, and then meet with my oncologist next Monday, on Feb. 28 to go over my results. And after that, I won’t see him for another 3 months. My friends, this Pursuit is coming to an end so much sooner than I ever imagined. These last 8 months with you all have been life changing for me. It's hard to believe there is only one more week of blog entries left...but check back in for the reveal of what I've been Pursuing...! :)

I thought I would have some deep insight today, but more than anything that is on my mind was my Relay for Life meeting today. It was emotional a little bit for me, because the day I got my good news was the same day many were shedding tears during a funeral for a young teacher who passed away from beast cancer in our town last week. I see how much a cure is needed when we lose people we love to cancer and how important Relay for Life is in the cancer community. So can I ask you guys a favor? Please. I took on this challenge to be a team leader at Relay for Life this year. I stepped out of my box in pure faith, and I’m out of the norm already by not having a sponsor and doing this all on my own. But I’m up for the challenge! As some of you may know, my team will try to raise money this May by doing a raffle for a $150.00 gift card to Hocking Hills for a cabin!! For every $5.00 donated by you, you get a ticket to put into the raffle. For example, $20.00 = 4 tickets (100% of the money donated will go directly to Relay for Life!). On June 11, 2011 at the Relay for Life event at the Allen County Fairgrounds, we will announce the winner of this prize! If you live in our town of Lima, we will be launching this raffle in May so look for the signs around town (I tried to put the sign on here, but I'm having technical difficulties), or contact me at for more info on how to donate and enter for your chance to win!
However, for some of you who live out of town or would just like to donate without being in the raffle, you can go to my team website at and make a donation right to Team Pursuit on the Relay for Life website (Just know that the donations made online will not go towards the raffle, only the donations made in person will). It is so easy because it is just two clicks away from donating and changing lives. So click on the link above right now and please donate today! Because the life you saved was mine :) I may be crazy, but I want to try and raise $3,000 for the cancer world. This is my way of paying it forward to the cancer world and making me a Survivor, and it can be your way to make a difference too. Honestly, it doesn't matter how you donate, whether its online, or for the raffle, or with the old fashion dollar bills anonymously...or even donating to this event. All that matters is that you make a difference in the world by helping other people, it feels good :) I feel that right now raising money to fund research for a cure for cancer is helping, even if it's only $300.00 I raise. Thank you all for your support in every avenue of my life! I beat cancer, now I'm ready to fight for those who are still In The Fight. Man, God bless you are amazing people for what you've done in my life. Seriously, thank you....again :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Peace that passes understanding...

I have this amazing peace right now.

I am content. I feel calm and collected. I thought I might need an extra long prayer session, an extra long bubble bath, extra glass of wine, or an extra bottle of pepto bismal...but no. To my surprise, I am in a complete and utter peace with what my future holds tomorrow. My thoughts tonight are actually few...I must be all 'thought out'. But I've never had this kind of peace before. Someone out there must have put in a good prayer to God.
Again, I don't have much to say, besides I'm ready to hear the word Remission tomorrow. I spell that with a capitol letter because unlike the word cancer, I want that to have as much power as it wants! :) I just want you all to know that I thank you and love you for your ongoing encouragement for me this entire way. You made this Pursuit so much easier with your support than I ever deserved. And I really want to thank Andrew. He stuck by me in every state during this when it was easy to leave. And when I looked at him tonight and told him I hope he understood that I needed to write another blog and that this cancer stuff is almost done, he looked at me and simply said 'I'm proud of you.' What perfect timing. His love is indescribable to me, and that's perfect because God's love for us is indescribable. So we must be on the right track. Tonight, his four words made me feel like I did something right. And that's why I love him.
I'm pretty sure that tomorrows results will show that I have no more cancer inside this body. Amen. But if there is, I am not afraid to move forward and conquer again. There is no force more powerful than the will to live. (127 hours). Stay tuned...

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A feeling that haunts me...

I said I was going to be honest right? Well, I’ve realized that if anything was going to come back negative on my test results, I’m sure they would have called me by now. And if I do go in on Thursday, and I hear that the cancer is still there, and they didn’t call, I’m going to be a little shocked. So right now, I feel like I am healed. I’ve taken my medicine and I am better. But I have something that medication won’t cure. It’s something I call ‘survivors guilt’. It’s going back to the ‘why her and not me?’ question. Why did God chose to spare my life and not someone else’s? Why am I having these feelings of guilt when I should be rejoicing that I’m going to live again? These are the kind of feelings you may have when someone dies in the exact same circumstance that you were in, but for some reason, you lived. I never had guilt about living when I got in my car accident and everyone said 'the angels were with you'. Maybe I was just young and naive. But now, I have this feeling inside that I can’t shake and only hope it goes away with time.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to live...More than anything I want to keep breathing here on earth. I’ll accept that my breaths may be a little bit shorter, but I’ll keep living. Listen, I’ve looked at all the information and tips and realized that there is actually something called survivors guilt. It’s a symptom that is now associated with PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder). And it's ok to have. Now I don’t think I have anything bad enough to need to seek extra help besides writing down my thoughts in this crazy, therapeutic blog…I think I feel this way because I am genuinely a caring person. I don’t want to have what others don’t have because I hate to make people feel bad because of something I did (Um, hello, I didn't play competitive sports in high school because I hated losing, but I also hated how the losing team felt too!) The fact that I got another chance at life after hearing the word cancer in association with my life is a blessing in a world where there aren’t many. I may never get my questioned answered. People will never know why they survived something tragic and someone else didn’t. But here’s one thing I do know…there is a God, and it is not me (from the priest in the movie Rudy). I may not have all the answers, but He does. And He has control over my life…so here I am God, I’m going to try my hardest to let go of the reigns and put my faith in You to have even more control over my life. Especially over my emotions and these feelings of guilt. I will always be an emotional person, I hope that never goes away. But I do hope that you build in me the kind of strength that can keep it together for all of those who can’t. I am a strong woman...of this I'm sure!! But help me, not just for me, but for all of those who will not see another birthday this year because of cancer, and to all of those like me…who will celebrate another birthday, and be more grateful than ever for it. When I hear the word remission this year, I am going to have one hell of a celebration in May on my Birthday…you all are welcome to join :)

So as Thursday approaches, and I hear about my future…please keep me in prayer. I got a lot of emotions running through me…and a lot of meds still too :) But I am strong, and even stronger with prayer. My love to you all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hillsong - From the Inside Out

(the second half the song is the best! Around minute 3:00 :)
I was at church this morning, and of course, all my fears, nerves, anger, and sadness left me as we sang praise and worship. As we sang I remembered why I'm really here. It's to worship God with all my heart and soul...even when I'm broken, because God is everlasting. We sang this song and it touched me. First because it is musically awesome, and second because of the words. It talks about how even though I fail and stumble along the way of Life, God's mercy and grace remains and He doesn't forget me. He won't forget me next week when I find out my results or next year when I contemplate a family. The song is called From the Inside Out by Hillsong, and that's really what I want to do, have a never ending love for God because He's my source of comfort and strength through this thing called Life. There is a line in there that says from the inside out, Oh my souls cry out and I connected with it because even though I was so silent for a couple days, God heard me screaming from the inside out. And I love how it says His light will shine when all else fades. Because in all my circumstances in Life when I have drifted away from God, God's light remained constant and bright, bringing me right back to him.
Thank you God, for being everlasting and meeting me half way, each and every time I run away from You, looking for the answers on my own. How would I have ever gotten through this Pursuit on my own strength? Thank you for helping me along the way and carrying me when I couldn't. Thank you for praise and worship's when I'm singing that I feel the closest to You. And in the comfort of Your arms is the only place I want to be right now as I await my results. I love You.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tell me a Story

I was told once to listen 90% of the time and speak 10%...that there is a time to talk and a time to listen. I feel like I have been doing a lot of talking throughout this Pursuit, but in the past couple days, I stepped aside to do more listening. Yesterday, I shared a part of my story and through that, I was so blessed by people and their words. I was encouraged beyond belief and was reminded that I am stronger than this situation. I wouldn’t have had that if I didn’t open up about my struggles and didn’t have friends who were willing to open up, share their story, and help me out. My dad also helped me out with the verse Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

It feels good to be out of my daydream like state where I just wondered around. The last few days have been harder than normal. Waiting longer to hear my results, finding out I have to wait longer than I wanted to have children, and then to hear about another young person losing the fight to cancer, I was just left speechless, without any thoughts. Throughout this whole Pursuit I have been able to express my feelings into words and in the past couple days, I haven’t been able to. That’s when family and friends stepped in and I started to do more of the 90% listening. Because I let people know that I was confused, mad, sad, and all of the above, they were able to help me sort out my thoughts and bounce back to the old me in no time. I reached out for help and my family and friends made me see that waiting for a baby is really the best thing I can do for me, Andrew, and baby G. In my sister’s words…you don’t want your baby to come out glowing do you? :) But I also understand that it was ok to experience a loss at this time. Even though there was no baby inside me, I felt apart of me was taken away when I was advised from two doctors to not have children for another year. Some of the wonderful people who helped me sort things out have been in my shoes. And because they were willing to share their story with me, I learned how to cope much faster. I hope my story, my Pursuit, has done that for somebody else dealing with a situation as well.

You do not have to live through something tragic to learn from it. Life happens all the time. It’s not just the big life changing events like college, marriage, babies, and retirement. Life is happening in the mean time so I’m going to start enjoying and learning from every moment in the mean time! And I’m seeing that you don’t have to have cancer to have a life story. Everybody has a story. I’ve just learned through this past experience that it’s nice to share stories because we can grow and learn from each other. There are many stories out there, not just people with health problems. Whether you are a house wife, the boss of your own company, a Wal-Mart greeter, anything, you have a story. What’s yours? TELL YOUR STORY! And the best way to do it is to be authentic and true to yourself. Keep that in check and you will be a truly unique person that people remember. I must say, I have gained major insight from this WHOLE experience. It’s nice to know that my brain really does work because I have written these blogs from my heart, and then I see that the things I think about and experience, others have too…only difference is they made money because they put it into a book! :) They shared their story and their insight to how to live this Life too...we are all more alike than we realize.

Although it hurt to have ‘my plan’ gone out the window, I honestly see that getting myself better is best for everyone involved, even though I pushed that thought to the back of my head each time it entered the past couple days. Things in life happen to build character and this character has definitely grown throughout this Pursuit.
My friends reminded me today that I am not alone and that I am a strong woman. And I am, I just forgot for a second :) So while I wait another year to start my extended family, my immediate family and friends can keep me entertained for at least a year…starting with tonight…it’s game night at the Nance’s house!!

Friday, February 11, 2011


I have no insight to give. I have nothing profound to say because for the first time since this Pursuit has happened…I’m speechless.

I have literally been in a fog the last three days. I sit in the bathtub for hours, not thinking about a thing. If it wasn’t for Andrew making me go to our bowling league, I wouldn’t have (although I bowled 3 games over 100!!!) or for the guilt of telling my parents ‘no’ for no good reason when they asked us to go out for dinner, I would have stayed in my bathrobe all night and been fine with it. I have dishes in the sink and clothes laying on top of the dryer and all over my room, and have no ambition to clean them up. I feel like a zombie at work sometimes, how I got through Parent Teacher Conferences today without them thinking I’m crazy will be by the grace of God. After work, all I want to do is come home, and turn everything off. I feel like drinking a bottle of wine is not out of the question…so at this point, I asked Andrew if these were the signs of depression. He looked at me and smiled his ‘you are just crazy, this is nothing new to me’ smile. :) He can set me straight sometimes. But this time it’s different. I need my girls this time around. And it wasn’t until I was sitting in the bathtub last night, and the water was cold and was almost gone because of our leaky drain, that I realized this. So I called up Kayla and told her I need a shopping trip. And through her and my phone conversation with Alaina who knows all too well what this is like, I vented and feel like I'm walking forward again.

This nonproductive, walk around like a zombie mood started when I found out that I have to wait another week until I hear about my lab results about my cancer. They don't understand, waiting another week to find out if you still have cancer is like waiting another year. And it didn’t get any better after I went to my OB/GYN yesterday. Look, if we are being honest, for the first time in my whole life, I am ready to be pregnant. I mean really ready, like I'm sad when 'Aunt Flow' comes to visit. I have never had these strong of maternal feelings before, and now that I'm finally ready... they said No. I was devastated. I’ve got a couple infections yet from my immune system being so out of whack from treatments, so I’m on some meds again to help out there. And if I’m still having some of these side effects in 2 or 3 months, they want to laparoscopically check for Endometriosis. And on top of it all…I’m back on birth control for the next year to help get my body get back to where it needs to be to have kids. So yes, that means no kids for at least another year (just like what the radiation oncologist said)…unless I find some kind of fertility pills on the black market :) JK! For the first time you guys, I want something and I can’t have it. I’ve always gotten everything I want...a husband, a higher education, a job, a house. You may say I’m spoiled, but I call it hard work. So maybe this just means I need to work hard for my children as well. And I'll fight like crazy to get them! No one guaranteed me that the process to children would be easy...and I understand that this week I'm waiting for one huge result and didn't get the news I wanted on this result, is a great explanation to my mood these past few days (and I need to see green grass and sun again!). However, I have a feeling that the NEVER GIVE IN statement is going to have to be around a lot longer than I expected.

And another thing I just don’t understand. Why did another person have to die because of cancer? Why is there not a cure yet? Why was it another wonderful woman who had to die too young? Why her…and not me? These are the questions that have me in the bathtub for hours in a daze...

Monday, February 7, 2011


Don't be looking for an update meeting with Dr.Powell got cancelled. They drew my blood today, but along with my CBC and other blood counts, my copper count results (the one that if you have Lymphoma will be sky high) will not be back for at least 4-6 days. So there is no point in seeing the doctor tomorrow if we have no results to review. And the soonest they can get me in is next Thursday at 8:00 a.m. Talk about being bummed out.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

God's been there through this, He'll be there through that too...and I'll still learn something new.

I found this and laughed!!!

Top 10 Ways to Know You are a Cancer Survivor

10 Your alarm clock goes off at 6 a.m. and you're glad to hear it.
9. Your mother-in-law invites you to lunch and you just say NO. (It's ok Joann, we are still on for dinner :)
8. You're back in the family rotation to take out the garbage.
7. When you no longer have an urge to choke the person who says,
"all you need to beat cancer is the right attitude."
6. When your dental floss runs out and you buy 1000 yards.
5. When you use your toothbrush to brush your teeth and not comb your hair.
4. You have a chance to buy additional life insurance but you buy a new
convertible car instead.
3. Your doctor tells you to lose weight and do something about your
cholesterol and you actually listen.
2. When your biggest annual celebration is again your birthday, and not
the day you were diagnosed.
1. When you use your Visa card more than your hospital parking pass.

Just thought I would share some comic relief as I head into this next week of doctor appointments. I have my blood work done tomorrow, meet with my oncologist Dr. Powell at Cancer Care on Tuesday to talk about my blood counts, schedule when I get my scan to show if there is any cancer left, when my port should come out, and the other 10 questions I have for him. And then on Thursday is my appointment with my OB/GYN to discuss my future family status. Which I feel once my cancer is in remission…this will be my next big mountain to climb.
It’s funny I say mountain because my small group is doing a series on Keep Climbing: Why God doesn’t give you everything you want. And today, we talked about when you are in a tough situation, why doesn’t it feel like God is on your side? Well we know that God IS always on our side, so the question became about the situation and how do we still see God working in bad situations, when it seems like He’s not even there at all.

We came to the conclusion that God always hears your prayers and that there are three ways to look at how God helps us in our circumstances. He either uses Interference, Interaction, or Inner Action. Interference is what we would call the MIRACLES in life, where God intervenes and the circumstances change. We did nothing to get our answers or to make the situation better…it’s the miracle cure, the money that showed up out of no where…that kind of interference. And then there is Interaction, where God interacts and empowers us to act and uses other people or things to help reach the goal. Then there is my favorite…Inner Action, where God is working inside YOU. This is where nothing changes around you, your circumstance doesn't change, but YOU do. He is changing us from within. We start accepting the mountains we are faced with and are like Paul in the bible. You are changed, therefore your situation has changed even though it looks as though nothing has on the outside. I don’t think my Pursuit has been an Interference, and I think it may be a little Interaction because of treatments and you guys for my support. But most of all, I think in this situation, God has used more Inner Action. I have done more changing inside ME than anything throughout this Pursuit.

When you are in a tough situation, it is much easier to experience God. But when you aren’t in a tough situation, and just living the day to day life, it can be hard to ‘feel or experience’ God. It’s kinda like nothing is going terribly wrong, so you don’t need to turn to God as often. However, I have learned that when you get ‘real’ with life is when you really experience God. And you do not have to be at church to experience God (don't get me wrong, church is great for worship, fellowship with others, and support). But when you start to see and experience God in the 'normal, laid back' moments of life is when you really get a relationship with the Living God and your life is changed!
So when my next big mountain comes, how can I prepare my heart for the when God doesn’t give me what I was hoping for? I think I’m on the right track by acknowledging that even though I may not get what I ask for, God is still working in my life, even when I don’t see it right away. Just being aware makes all the difference in the world. And just knowing that God has my back and knows what’s best for me, even though I may not agree, I have comfort...because He is all knowing. :) God will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taking a look back...and LAUGHING!

As crazy up and down as this Pursuit has been, it's about to wrap up soon but one more thing I've learned is to 'Let it go...and laugh at yourself.' :) I think in the last blog you saw my nerves, but in this blog, get ready to laugh! So I took a look back and saw some of the moments that had me down, where I thought it couldn't get any worse. We all have negative/bad times in life and how many of us let those little negative things bring us down, make us cry 'til our eyes are red and puffy, and then eat too many brownies?
The truth is, it may be alright to cry in that moment, but don’t get too overworked about the little things that happen in Life (I'm talking about the silly negatives that don't matter in a few days, months, years; not the negatives that are life go ahead a cry a bit longer on those ones :). From what I've experienced, not just through cancer but in Life, is that the silly little negatives/bad things in life always, and I mean ALWAYS, have a way of working themselves out and usually something positive comes out of them....whether it be changing you for the better or just making you laugh when you realize how stupid you were for worrying or crying over nothing that trivial at all. You will be changed and that is what living this Life is all about. Growing, experiencing, and changing for the better...and laughing in the process! So I thought I would share with you some moments in the past 7 months that either had me sad at the moment, laughing at how 'little' my situation really was in the 'big picture', or was just an insecurity for me at the time…but now looking back, I’m laughing hysterically realizing life goes on...are you gonna move on with it or dwell in the past? :D I encourage you to move on and laugh when the time is right...and my time is now! Some pics below are of me just laughing at my situation. I'm laughing as I look at these now!!

1) I laugh as I remember my comment made as they extracted the marrow from the bone. 'Oh,....!' I apologized after that and the medical team laughed at me...but man, I was NOT prepared for that pain, it was the worst pain I ever felt.

2) My hubby, rubbing my feet after they drilled into my bone, I laughed as I look at this because I must have been drugged...I HATE my feet rubbed!!

3) My makeshift ice packs...washcloth, ice, and chip clips! I was in pain...but made THE BEST INVENTION!!

4) My sis doing my hair after my surgery. Why I called her that night so worried about my hair when it was going to fall out in a month...I HAVE NO IDEA!

5) Not a good time...the start of my hair falling out in August. I hated taking this picture, but I knew I'd laugh one day at it! I looked like Donald Trump my hair was getting so thin!!

6) So this makes me laugh because I was out of chemo, wearing high heals, and trying to carry that chair into the woods. I kept tripping in my heals and I yelled out 'I haven't worn any heal in 5 months!!' And then laughed again when I realized how short I am next to my bestest Ash :)

7) My nose was constantly running...and Jessi caught it on camera! You can't see it very well because the picture is small, but my nose is running in this picture! That shiny thing on the end of my nose is snot about to drip out!

8) Oh boy, the 'stache was no laughing matter when he joked about keeping it! But now that it's gone..HAHA!!

9) Look at the top of my bill...I was with a group of friends eating at Fat Jack's and my identifying feature was my 'white hat'. This is when it sunk in...I look different! Kinda sad then, but I'm laughing now!

10) My tissue became like my white hat, I didn't leave home without it! When you have no nose hair, your nose runs like crazy!!

11) My sis and I wanted to take a picture, but I said 'Wait, let me get my good side! I like the over the shoulder look!' Guess there is really no 'good side' when you have cancer!

12) Don't worry, we found Bin Laden! HAHA Sometimes my hat got itchy, so I'd let my ears 'breathe', not knowing this is what I looked like! Come on people! You gotta let a girl know when she looks like this! :) As you can see this is my 'laughing too hard' face once I saw what I looked like...not so pretty either...but hey, I'm laughing at myself now!

13) And my first time out after treatment without my hat, and I thought my hair was long enough...guess it is compared to being bald! (don't really know why Maci and I are so close in this pic, I think AJ got the pic when I was about to give her kisses! My niece is adorable isn't she?! :)

If I was still sad or insecure about these moments, I wouldn't have been able to show you these pictures. But I'm ready to not take life so seriously and do more laughing after I hear the word R-word! There are some other moments that make me laugh as I think back. Like driving to the wrong house after chemo, not knowing I was calling Cancer Care the Cancer Center until after chemo treatment was over, harassing the intern doc in the ER, thinking about screaming 'it hurts!' during radiation just to see what the nurses would do, my sis's cancer jokes to make me laugh, my dog licking my bald head, and wondering if the doctor was going to have me smoke pot like in the movies when they have cancer (the answer is no by the way... :) And I have to get used to how my hair feels heavy again when I wash it and how water drops stick to my eyelashes again in the shower. It's crazy the new discoveries I make every day that are 'new to me' again and make me smile. The best thing is that I’m able to laugh now at the things I couldn’t back then because this Pursuit has given me more confidence in myself...and less worry over the 'little things' like being identified as he white hat girl or knowing that this is not the stage in life where I'm at my prettiest. But it’s like that with a lot of situations in Life, not just cancer. It seems hard/bad/negative in that moment, but if you allow can be changed for the better and then LAUGH about it later! :) Thanks for laughing WITH me...not at me! You guys are awesome!