This is Me!

This is Me! The good, the bad, and the bald. You get it all! But I have hair now. This spring I'll be rockin the pixie.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mixed Bag of Feelings

I have many mixed emotions heading into the final infusion.  It's kinda surreal to think about.  I don't think I'll fully get it for a while.  

Disbelief comes to mind when I think back on how long this season has felt at times.  The fact that it has stretched beyond a year is almost unbelievable.  In some ways, last year was like a blurr. Some things I don't totally remember and that's ok.  

Relief to be completing the recommended course of more invasive treatments ( minus the pills of course but I'm not counting them).   I never thought this was something I would add to my list of life experiences.  

Sadness and I realize this may make no sense at all, but there is a sense of purpose in actively treating the thing that was trying to kill you.  I think there is an emotional let down after being so up for the fight for so long.  

Happy to see my children rise to the occasion of supporting someone and picking up the slack when I needed extra help. Or just being around with me when I didn't feel well. 

Fearless like I have overcome something huge, And am ready to live! And live big. 

Thankfull to have walked this road because it allowed me to realize a purpose for which I feel so called to now. I want to help others who are in a similar place.  I can offer a bit of an understanding ear in a way I couldn't before.  Also, so thankful for all the amazing caregivers at the cancer center and all the new friends I have made both cancer related and not. 

Grateful that my cancer was treatable and hadn't spread. 

Blessed to have an amazing supportive group of friends and family. 

Amazed at the goodness of God in supplying everything I needed along the way including friends who had been through this before me.  And peace to weather the storm. 

Anxious to get it done and go celebrate. I think that's what inspired today's art   We were given a prompt of some photos of sailboats out in Bellingham Bay.  I was very intimidated by this idea until I added my perspective. I imagined where I would love to go to celebrate and decided to paint it.  Hmmm I'd love to be on those green waters.

So with my mixed bag of emotions...  I take another step forward. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Almost There...

I have been feeling so well lately that I haven't hardly sat still long enough to tell you about it.  I had treatment on Monday and then went back to volunteer on Tuesday.  As of now, I have two infusions left.  TWO!  That's it!  It is almost inconceivable to believe I have been doing this for over a year now.  What I once new nothing about, has now become common place for me.  Who would have ever guessed it.  We just don't know where these roads will take us. 

My hair is growing back.  Verrrryyyy slowly.  But it is growing and it is kinda crazy curly with a mind of its' own.  Oh well.  It is kinda fun and funky.  I just go with it. 

The volunteering has been truly amazing.  It makes me think of another passion I often write about. Gardening.  Every year around February and March, I gather my seeds from various resources.  Then I organize my plug trays for planting and make sure I have enough dirt  for everything I want to plant.  Now I am ready to get at it.

A gardener has to have hope.  We purchase packages of seeds, which are dry, dead, pieces of formerly living plants. They bare little resemblence to the plant they came from, and unless you are really familiar or are planting beans, peas, or corn... you wouldn't know what to expect.  Each seed is placed in it's own little hole, gently covered with germinating mix, and then lightly watered.  At this point, I simply have to sit back and wait.  Sure I can adjust the temperature and amount of water they receive.  I can even place them under grow lights, but I can't really force the process beyond that.  They will sprout when they are ready.  

This last year, I feel as if in some ways I underwent a similar change.  A part of me has dried up and died in this process called cancer.  Now, don't start thinking I am looking for pity cause that couldn't be farther from the case. The part of me that died was the fear.  In the past I attempted to deal with this issue that would plague me from time to time, but I was unsuccessful.  It wasn't until I was finally diagnosed with an actual life threatening illness that I released my grip and let it go.  The ultimate realization that I have only so much control over things hit me square in the chest.  

That seed of fear that was dead and lifeless, fell into fertile soil.  I think I surrendered my goals and ambitions and allowed God to water that little seed with hope, compassion, and an abundant peace.  From it has sprung a new passion and love of people I might never have experienced with out the Lord's leading.  I have heard it said many times, that you know your doing the right kind of ministry when you leave after serving and feel energized and refreshed, ready to do it again. 

My tasks are simple and easy: Keeping the hospitality areas tidy and full of fresh hot coffee and water, and keeping the goodie tray full.  I replenish the blankets in the warmer.  I make copies when I am asked.  I go hunting for a travel magazine because that's what helps him pass the time.  I bring tea in an extra cup because it is hot and I don't want the sister to burn her hands.  I check the kitchen for sugar free options because the patient is diabetic and needs to watch his sugar intake.  I bring granola bars for the patient and her two friends, then return to grab peanuts because she is alergic to wheat.  And sometimes I sit and visit a while.  I answer questions about the types of chemo I had and how it affected me.  We talk about hair loss and how it makes us feel.  We compare side effects and symptoms and share all attempted cures.  I listen to concerns about the prognosis.  We embrace because we can relate to one another and a connection has been made.  A connection that would never have happened with out my pink journey this last 15 months. 

My seed died.  It was planted in God's goodness and by his grace it is growing and flourishing.

Philippians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Today I was an Ear

I have begun my time as a volunteer at the cancer center.  I know there was some concern that this would be too close to home for me being as I am still receiving treatments myself.  I imagine there might be days where this could be difficult.  I realize too, that it will mean beginning more relationships with people who may not have long to live, and I am okay with that now.  These courageous fighters need to be able to smile and laugh just as much if not more than most.  And I am ready for that. 

I have already met some amazing folks on this same journey and have come to understand that there is a bond that cuts through the usual "getting to know you" phase of a relationship and gets right down to whats important and what is real.  For them right now, treatment is real.  Very real!  It's scary, it can be lonely, and it's long and tiring.  Sometimes, it is nauseating, literally, and it can even have life threatening side effects of it's own.  At best, the side effects are minimal, but make no mistake, there are side effects.  Some are temporary, and can be fairly easily dealt with, and some are permanent.  These patients have opted for this form of treatment in hope that it is their best option to kick cancer in the _ss!  Dealing with side effects is just part of the packaged deal. I know.  My joints remind me frequently. 

Having the opportunity to listen and maybe answer a question or too is so humbling and gratifying.  It reassures me that there is purpose in my journey.  Not that I haven't already found plenty along the way this last year, but this is an opportunity to give back in a specific way. 

As a believer, we talk about being a body.  Each of us representing a different part, and yet working together to make a whole.  We as the church have the privilege to be different parts depending upon what God is calling you to do.  If you step up to the challenge no matter what part you are being asked to play, God will meet you there. 

Today, I was an ear.  This is not a part of the body that I am as well practiced in as I should be or would like to be.  And yet today, I listened...  To a sweet fighter who is beginning a long and frightening road.  What started as a simple trip to the doctor to fix a "muscle pain", ended up giving a diagnosis of caner.  And not just cancer in an isolated place, but all throughout the body.  Not what they were expecting to hear at all.  I listened as they told me about their family and each of the precious members in it.  I listened as I heard about a life long hobby they hoped to be able to continue in the future.  I smiled as I was privy to a tender look as a beloved spouse was described beautifully and with such gratitude and loving detail.  I quietly listened with attentive eyes as they relayed their prognosis and fear of the future.  I heard the details about chemo reactions that almost ended the fight.  And we shared a smile as they described their faith in a living God, and a strong desire for this to be used for a greater purpose. 

Today, I was an ear.  I was not noticed for adornments or piercings.  I was quietly serving by listening.


Saturday, March 8, 2014


Team Tami is joining with Philips 66 to RELAY FOR LIFE on July 11th and 12th.  Both myself and the other team captains have been directly affected by cancer and know the pain and devastation it causes.  For families, care givers and friends this can be a difficult season of wanting to help, while not knowing exactly how to offer support.  Meals, cards, rides, hats, laughs and quiet companionship were some of my most appreciated gifts. 

We also discovered last year, first hand, how the American Caner Society helps people who are in the fight. There were several times when information or products I received came from ACS.  And this year we will walk again to raise funds to support this group. 

We are ordering shirts as a fundraiser for our team. You can call me or message me with your order, you can stop by 2nd AVE SPORTS in Ferndale and place your order, or you can print the form and give it to me in person. 

The shirts are charcoal and there are 4 different styles with a ladies cut available in the wicking T-shirt (which is my favorite).   This image is the rough design.  The final proof is still being worked up, but it will be very close to this with minor changes.  

Thank you in advance for your continued support.  And please check out our Relay team page if you would like to join us.   We will be having sign ups for the different hour blocks through out the night.  We would love to have people join us for each of these hours.  Each one has a different theme and boy do they get cRaZY in the middle of the night.  Come check it out!



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Celebrating My First Cancer Free Birthday

A few weeks ago I started writing this blog... I changed it, then changed it again.   February 14th held a lot of different emotions for so many people I know.  For some it was the anniversary of the loss of a loved one, for others it was the anniversary of 27 years of shared love and marriage, and for yet another it was a day to welcome a first born baby boy into the family.   I opted to wait to post it for several reasons, but now I am ready.

For me, February 14th now holds great significance. One year ago, I decorated the most unique valentine I have ever made and gave it to someone I barely knew, but had chosen to trust with my body and my life.  It was just over 365 days ago that I had the heinous C word cut from my body, precisely and adequately making me officially CANCER FREE.  This was cause for celebration!  And celebrate we did!  I bought small lobster tails for the few in our family that would really savor the treat and two big steaks to share for the others.  I got strawberries and dipped them in dark chocolate and made really yummy stir fried beans and veggies.  We even had sparkling cider and my favorite white wine.  It was a great meal to celebrate February 14th, my first cancer free birthday

I have been told that with the passing of each birthday it gets a little easier.  The nagging reminders become a little less ominous as you purpose to enjoy each day and mark those miles stones with celebration.  I will look forward to that for sure. 

I had the occasion this last weekend to join with hundreds of others to celebrate.  We weren't gathered to recognize another birthday, rather we were gathered to honor and remember a life well spent.  I attended the memorial for Julia Pohlman, a friend and fallen fighter.  I was so moved by the attitude of her memorial.  Her husband participated as well as a few of her children.  Family member after family member shared of the rock solid faith of this courageous woman.  And it was evidenced again in talking with her oldest son and her husband.  While they were certainly experiencing a loss of indescribable proportion, they were taking the opportunity to shout out the name that is above all names and the reason for their hope... Jesus!  I sat through the service there unsure what emotions I would be feeling and realized that I was deeply inspired by the life she lived and encouraged to be so bold.  It wasn't a "sad" time.  It was a time to remember and reflect, but it was also a time to be challenged to make my life intentional and purposeful. 

None of us knows the number of days or years we are to be given.  We could get in a random car accident tomorrow or we might live to see 95.  I realize as I face this life threatening illness called breast cancer, I have felt much more outward focused than I have in the past.  I feel challenged to live a life that is less about me and more about serving others.  In the end that is the legacy that I want to leave behind.

Philippians 2:3-8

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Julia, A Friend, A Fellow Fighter, and a Fallen Warrior

I wanted to write something to honor a person I admired, but I think this blog says it pretty well.  I will simply say, I was blessed to have met Julia.  She truly lived her life with cancer rather than letting it get the best of her.  Her faith in her savior was a tangible blanket she wore which clothed her in radiance and peace.  Join me in praying for the family who mourns a loss. 
This is the link to a blog that was written about her today. May we all look at life a little differently, knowing that the one who put the stars in the sky ordained each moment for us.  Let us live out each one for his glory.

If you want to make a contribution to Team Julia, there is a link in this other blog post.  Help them continue to make Juila's cancer count by donating.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Yup! I am still here.

I realize I am way overdue for an update.  I will try to catch you up on my last several weeks. 

As of last writing, I had the follow up mammogram which would show that at the end of this first year, I am clear.  Yay!  With many cancers you have to wait 5 years before you are considered truly clear. The type of cancer I have is aggressive, and if it is going to come back, it will do so in the next 3 years.  This is part of the good news.   After I make it 2 more years, I will have a less likely chance of it coming back.  I am not in the high risk category for re occurrence, but then again I wasn't in the high risk category to have it in the first place so go figure.

I started the hormone blocker, Tamoxifen, two months ago.  In the beginning it was a struggle.  I felt like I was having physical symptoms, but I am not sure if they were real or manufactured.  I was nervous about starting this new medication, so I know that probably had some effect on my mental state.  Right now, I am doing okay on it and don't have any major side effects to report. 

I had my follow up echo a few weeks ago.  The appointment didn't start out well.  I arrived 15 minutes early for my appointment and stood in line with all the more "mature" people.  When I approached the counter and gave them my name, there was a lengthy delay in her response.  My appointment had been scheduled for me to be seen at the hospital and here I was at the Cardiac center where all my other appointments had been.  I was feeling a bit bummed about this, because I even have my favorite tech that I had requested.  Rather than get upset, I asked if she would like me to drive over to the hospital?  I also mentioned my desire to have my favorite technician.  The sweet gal at the scheduling counter asked me to hold on a second while she went to see if my tech was even in and if it was at all possible to squeeze me into today's schedule.  God was smiling on me today.  Not only was she in, but it was her free hour right then and she was happy to do my echo. 

A week later I had my check-in appointment with my oncologist.  She said all my labs looked great and that my echo showed that the ejection fraction had remained the same.  This is good news.  There was a little funky activity on the right side, but nothing she was going to get too alarmed over at this time.  So just a little something we can be praying about for the future.

For the most part, I feel pretty good.  I have had to fight a constant dizziness that arrived a few weeks into radiation.  The Dr. thinks it is a nerve damage issue from the Taxol (the last of the chemo drugs I had).  They are hopeful it will go away over the next year.  It might improve when I am done with my infusions in June.  In the meantime, I have discovered that if I over do it, it is worse.  The trick then is trying to slow this girl down.  I have decided to walk instead of run for a while or at least go slower and just take it day by day.  I have added in other physical activities that are less jolting to my hurting joints.  In fact, my new favorite is indoor rock climbing.  I can't wait to try it when I am actually in shape.  I have also discovered that what I would consider a terrible meal, actually physically makes me feel better.  At first I thought I was kinda crazy and lookin for an excuse on this one until I received a message from a fellow PINK fighter who claims the same.  Who knew a big old juicy burger had healing powers.   Just sayin.....

 I am going to live as if the cancer doesn't have an option to return.  I am not going to waste my days on what ifs.  When those doubts blow in, I will call on friends and family for support and find encouragement in the scriptures.  I want to live my life worthy of the calling... Ephesians 4:1

My friend Michelle and I shared our stories last week at the Relay for Life kick-off event.  We were both quite nervous, but in the end, felt very supported by the people who were there. I am grateful whenever I get a chance to talk with someone about their stories and hear how it is affecting them, for this reason, I am eager to start my volunteering. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fun Little Patient Profile

I wanted to share this with you because I didn't get any extra copies to mail out, but it is something kind of fun.  I was asked if I was interested in doing this quick little patient profile article for the Peace Health magazine, Health Today.  I said sure!  It seemed like it would be a good way to share my smile.  And when I say "share my smile", I hope you realize I am not talking about the photo.  I want people to hear my smile in the words I say and they way I walk through this experience.
We made an appointment with the writer and had the interview.  Then, they did a photo shoot of the kids and I and it was all very fun, especially since the photographer brought amazing cookies both times. 

That was several months ago.  This month the article finally came out.  I hope your able to open the document.  The article is on page 3.