Reflection

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” -Confucius

I’ve learned a lot of life lessons as of late. Some of them have been hard lessons, but they’ve all been important. I’ve made some tough calls, and I’ve made some tough decisions. I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made, right or wrong. I’m proud that I’m finally standing up for myself. Self-reflection is important. Often, you need to look from within, to look at your surroundings, and decide what is best for you. I’m doing that, finally, for a change. And I feel strong. 

Life Lessons, Cancer, Inspiration, and a Cure with MasterCard! #DoGood #MC

In an attempt to help MasterCard Dig In & Do Good to benefit Stand Up to Cancer, I have partnered with them through Collective Bias. I’m honored to share this program with you. And although I have been compensated for this post, I would do it anyway and all opinions, ideas, and photos are entirely my own or used with express permission. 

My Pappy, my mom’s dad, was my favorite man who ever lived. When he spoke, I listened. He taught me many life lessons in our 10 years together. He taught me to be kind and caring, to have fun and love everyone, no matter what, and he taught me about favorites. You see, as my Pappy explained, it was OK to have favorites. It doesn’t mean you love anyone else less, it means you realize that you click with some people better than others. You chose one spouse because they’re your favorite, you have best friends because they’re your favorite, you like one food better than others because it’s your favorite. Favorites aren’t always a bad thing. I was his favorite and I adored him. He was to walk me down the aisle. He was to be there for the birth of my first child. He was not. 


The last lesson my Pappy taught me, at the age of 10, was loss and cancer. It wasn’t his fault. The beast did that. He had just retired, bought a boat, and he was diagnosed with cancer. A brain tumor. I was too young to understand, but as I sat in his hospital room after his surgery, he tried to explain. I didn’t really get it, but the beast took my Pappy. I knew I hated the beast. 

My life moved on, because it had to, and I learned more about this beast over the years. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost family members. I’ve seen this beast rear its ugly head WAY too often. It has to be stopped. Luckily there are brilliant people who can help through foundations that we should all support. Luckily there is MasterCard Dig In & Do Good. They’re making it easy for us to help foundations like Stand Up to Cancer which is where the end of cancer begins. SU2C is a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research to get therapies to patients and save lives now. You can help by simply buying your family dinner, spending over $10, and MasterCard does the rest. They make the donation because you ate dinner to help fund cancer CURE research. 

Who do you stand up for? What’s your personal story? Who inspires you to do good?

You see, I have this friend, and she’s my inspiration. We met in middle school and reconnected years back on Facebook. She’s had cancer since 1998, and she laughs at it (literally) and she stands up for others while she battles the beast herself. Her name is Jody. I absolutely love her. She inspires me to help and be a better person.

Jody mentors young cancer patients, even while she’s being treated herself. She’s amazing. She lost her young friend, Heather, who was only 16 (for only 9 days in fact) when the beast took her life. And Jody helped throw a fundraiser for the family to pay the bills while they mourned the loss of their daughter. I hate that beast. 


But Jody, just like MasterCard and the Do Good Foundation, knows that there is a cure on the horizon. She knows that if we all support these missions (and there are many of them), there will be no more Heather stories in this world. Heather should have gone to her prom. Heather should have graduated high school. Heather should still be smiling today. She’s not, because of the beast. 


Here’s Jody’s story: She’s been through hell and back, yet sparkled through the beast’s attacks. In 1998, 3 weeks after her wedding, while running in a Relay for Life, her legs gave out. After several tests, the doctors diagnosed her with a form of Guillian Barre. Over the next few years, she went through different treatments and ended up having a port put in for IV treatments, 3 weeks on, 1 week off, for 2 years. Her legs giving out went from on/off to progressive constant. Her Neurologist OK’ed her to get into a clinical trial of stem cell transplant in 2007. The night before she went in for an all day nerve conduction, they found “the lump”, so they added an extra scan, and she got the cancer diagnosis 10 days after her 40th birthday. Breast cancer, stage II. 

They kicked her out of the clinical trial. When her long-term doctor cried, she responded with “But Doc! This means that I not only DON’T have to go to Chicago and live for 3 months in ‘the bubble’ away from my family, but I get the SAME drug here AND I get a boob upgrade out of the deal! It’s a win win”. That’s Jody! Double mastectomy 9/6/07. She hemorrhaged that night. Four weeks later she had 4 big rounds of Cytoxan and Taxotere. In the meantime, Neuro stuff reversed, she walked and felt better. Her nerves started to regenerate.

If she started wabbling again, they had to look for tumors. Guess what? She started wabbling again 8 months later. Stupid beast! The next scan showed a spot on her liver which resulted in 5 more rounds of heavy Cytoxan. That made her walk better and the spot was gone. Six months later, they found spots on her lungs. This meant 6 more rounds, same thing, all better. On maintenance every 3 months for 3-4 cycles.

Then brain surgery for a pituitary mass in October 2010. More chemo in February 2011. 

She was scheduled for “rounds” in June 2011 but she wanted to do a triathlon! She felt good so they allowed it. And she did it! That postponement, while she helped others and ran that triathlon, lasted 2 years. The “palsy”, as she calls it, came back in April of 2013. More chemo that May. Her counts were low but her scans looked good, and was walking fine. All is on hold. The lifetime dose of Cytoxan is limited so they’re holding off until absolutely necessary again, which is hopefully never. She actually thinks she’s lucky because her body sends off Neuro cascades when the tumors are small and they are detected early. 

Y’all she thinks she’s LUCKY! That’s why she’s helped others over the years. Because they weren’t LUCKY enough to have the signs that would help them suffer through these treatments and surgeries for the past 15 years and still be here to tell about them and help others. 

If Jody can help others, run triathlons, serve at children’s hospitals to mentor and inspire young children, and do Relays for Life to fund Cancer treatment, do you think you could take your family out to dinner and spend $10+ to support the Stand Up to Cancer Foundation? All you have to do is eat dinner and use your MasterCard between now and September 28th. 

And so we did our tiny part. The kids had fun. 

There was good food. 

And I paid with my PayPal MasterCard. So by doing nothing out of the ordinary, I’m helping others find a cure. I hope we’ll see a cure soon. No one else should suffer. There are so many intelligent people working on the cure. A simple family meal, a night of fun, might be the dollar donation that finds the cure. 

And there are more ways you can help through this program. Heck, you don’t even have to leave your house! To find out more, be sure to look through my Google+ Album to find out all of the ways you can help. 

Please don’t just sit there thinking you can’t help. Just don’t sit there and think it’s OK that Heather was stripped of her life. Don’t just sit there and think that the doctors can’t cure Jody. Don’t just sit there and think of all of your friends, or family, that are battling this beast. Don’t think you can’t help! Go create a table, go to dinner and pay with your MasterCard, share it on Facebook and Twitter, or just donate. Join the movement and do your part. Kill the beast. DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND DO NOTHING!

She Graduated from Kindergarten…what…WHAT?

How can this be possible? I gave birth to this baby yesterday. Seriously. It was yesterday. But apparently not. My baby girl, my hot mess, just graduated from Kindergarten. Not a big deal you say? The hell! It’s been a hard road and she’s not an “easy” kid. I’ve gone to Staples and they told me there are no easy buttons for kids like this!
But she did it. She didn’t just do it, she excelled at it. She’s goofy, she acts up, but this baby did it. She stayed on “green” for most of the year. Two reds, one yellow. I’ll take it. That’s a record any mom should be proud of. 
It was a long ceremony. I might have complained a time or two. But truth be told, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 
As she stood in the pool of caps and tassels, I watched her craziness. I don’t think she was flossing her teeth on stage, but I’m not sure. I’m never completely sure with her but there’s never a dull moment and that’s the fun part. 
There are times in a momma’s life when she should tell her child to act like “the others”. Then there are those times when she realizes that her daughter acts just like her and it’s OK to be different. And so I encourage it: Cut up Bug. You’re on stage. It’s your time to shine. Be funny and make them laugh. If they aren’t laughing, you’re doing something wrong. That’s my girl!
And then, when the ceremony’s finally over, and you see your baby girl with her friends, you know it’s the beginning of the end (for you anyway…not for her). Yes, they’re only 5 or 6. Yes, they have years to go before they’re grown. Or do they? In the blink of an eye they went from infants to Kindergarten graduates. Future burn book authors (seriously look at these girls and think about the movie Mean Girls). It’s hard to swallow. I swallowed back many tears as I watched my baby girl relish in “her moment”. I’ve already seen 2 tiny minions grow and leave the nest. I want to hold fast to this one, and to her brother. 
Congratulations Bug! Can you do me a favor though and just slow down a bit? There’s plenty of time to grow up. For now, just be Mommy’s baby girl, keep smiling, and keeping being the “different” you that makes you so special. I’m proud of you.