May, 2009 browsing by month


Sunday, May 24th, 2009

More good blood numbers!  My white count was a whopping 4.0!!  The neutrophils are still staying around 1.5, but I’m really happy.  I was joking with Dr. Orloff when he came by to see me because I told him I didn’t have too many questions to ask (as you know, I usually have quite the list!) and I thought he might be disappointed.  :)  He kind of smiled and said, “You know, I don’t know if you realize just how well you’re doing.  You are doing exceptionally well!”.  Music to my ears.  What more could a patient want to hear from an expert in the transplant field?

He also smiled a bit when I said the dermatologist told me I had Rosacea, commenting that it normally happens with older people, but perhaps I was just aging.  I responded, “I think I must be because I have more gray hairs than ever!” (which unfortunately is true).  Anyway, all in all it was a great check-up on Tuesday (when I actually started this blog).  I did the stair thing again–climbing up the four flights.  It feels good, and I feel a lot safer than when I’m on the rickety old elevator.  Oh!!  I know…one more thing I was superexcited about was my blood pressure.  Remember how the Prednisone resulted in an increase in blood pressure?  Well, this week it was my typical 94/74…I’m half wondering whether the assistant on the other side of the office knows how to take blood pressure well because when she does it, t’s always 120 over something. Who knows?  Maybe I just felt more relaxed this week.  :)

I’m keeping up the walking with the dogs after dinner, and I’ve been biking about three times a week.  I haven’t done any speedwalking, but I would love to fit it in there.  My problem is that I feel guilty going out without the dogs because I know they love walks so much, and they can always use the exercise.  Still, I know it would be good for me to go out there alone sometimes and walk faster.  I know I’ll feel better about myself, and if I feel better than I’m more pleasant to be around, which I’m sure my family appreciates.

He doesn’t know it, but Obama bought me some great new hiking boots and a walking pole.  Yup, that’s right, I stimulated REI with my economic recovery check.  I absolutely love the hiking boots, and I think the pole will make a huge difference with rocky paths, both while ascending and descending.  So, bring on the rocks!!!  OK, not White Oak Canyon quite yet, but maybe the Bull Run hike you did with Dad, Laura?  What do you think?  I’ll work my way up to the more difficult ones….each hike brings me closer to my date with Old Rag this fall.  I will be ready!!!  Thanks, Barack, for helping to make this possible.

I had a really good week.  I visited with my friend Ed…he brought me some yummy Arby’s, and it was a lot of fun just eating and playing some cards (I’m beginning to wonder if he let me win each time to be nice! :) )  Oh well…the important thing is that I won.  :)  hahaha  I’ve had a lot of fun walking the dogs after dinner, because it seems like half the neighborhood is out at the same time!  Ok, maybe not half, but there are a lot of walkers and dogs out!  It’s a very social time of day.

Speaking of social, I’m going with Laura to to her friends’ house tomorrow for a BBQ, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I hope the weather is nice.  And now…moving on to the weather…you have to check this out.  The Space Needle was struck by lightning several times this week (of course, it’s happened many times before too!), but this article has some beautiful images:  And now, we’ll segway into talking about Seattle…isn’t this blog flowing nicely?  :)  Katie had us watch “Battle in Seattle” today about the WTO protests that took place in Seattle in 1999.  I definitely recommend it.  I have a lot of learning to do though, because I don’t quite grasp the background to each side:  protesters versus WTO.  What exactly is fair trade?  Why is the WTO so poorly received?  How do active protesters make a living?  OK, so that last one isn’t such a big deal, but I’m curious.

We also watched “Milk” last night, and it was wonderful.  I had never heard of Harvey Milk, and I never knew about the riots or what the gay community went through in the 70s.  That Anita Bryant sure was a delight.  hahaha yah, right.  Sean Penn did an exceptional job, and he definitely earned his Academy Award.  I think the hardest roles to play are those modeled after real people who influenced true experiences.  Well done, Sean Penn (if you’re reading this! hahahahaha)!!  Whether or not you feel comfortable with the topic of gay rights, this is a movie that you should see.

Let’s see…what else is going on?!  I found another tick on myself yesterday after biking with Katie…that’s number 5 this year, and it’s not even June!!!  They’re so disgusting.  I mean, they’re not quite as intimidating as copperheads (in terms of appearnace), but the fact that they can carry diseases is very intimidating…plus, they’re just creepy.  Another neighbor found a copperhead in his yard last week.  I’d like to think there’s only one, and he’s making his way through the neighborhood, but I’m intelligent enough to know that where there’s one, there are more, so I will remain alert!

But let’s talk about cute animals.  Did you hear about the ducklings in Spokane, WA?  For the second year in a row, a mother duck made her nest in the ledge of a downtown building, and a banker kept watch over her eggs until they hatched…then he helped them to the water.  You gotta watch this:  I love it!!!

OK, well, I’ve said all I have to say for now (by the way, it’s Sunday now!).  I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day…did you see all the motorcycles out for Rolling Thunder?  I love this time of year…not that it’s the only time there are motorcycles around, but there are so many of them this weekend.  I was sitting in traffic yesterday when the floorboard of my car started vibrating, and I knew before looking over that a Harley pulled up beside me.  Part of me would live to ride one someday, but the other part can’t forget Mom’s stories when she worked as a nurse in the orthopedic department…maybe on a totally deserted country road if we go 15 miles an hour.  :)  I think I’ll wait ’til all my blood counts are normal, what do you think?

Hope you are all doing well.



The Meaning of Life and Reflections on Unwanted Animal Intruders

Monday, May 18th, 2009

First of all, I slept like a baby last night (well, until 6:45 this morning…then I tossed and turned until almost noon).  Most importantly though, I didn’t have any nightmares about spiders or snakes (although Katie did…sorry ’bout that, Katie!!).  I stayed up late enough that my Ativan kicked in and I became so exhausted that it was all I could do to get up from the couch and walk to bed.  I don’t remember any dreams until this morning, when I dreamt that no one liked me.  I would meet new people, and they all made fun of me (but I can’t remember why)…I didn’t have any friends.  No wonder I was tossing and turning!!!

I did do some more snake/spider research tonight (you know, the whole thought that knowledge conquers fear?).  Interestingly, I read that some people think copperheads smell like cucumbers…have you ever heard of that?  Many people believe it’s a myth (mainly, those who have spent a lot of time studying the snake), that copperheads can put off a musk-type smell when frightened, but it doesn’t smell like “anything you’d want to put on your salad”, as one person wrote.  I was also happy to read that copperheads are not aggressive snakes (in contrast to water moccasins, a much more poisonous snake we have in these parts), and they bite only as a last resort (e.g. you step on them or handle them in some way).  I found this article that gives advice on how to keep snakes away from your property:  Interesting, right?  Careful if you try out those moth balls–you don’t want your pets or children getting hold of them!  I will have a talk with Bella to tell her she needs to get going on those mice, and I won’t save them anymore when I catch her playing with them.  :) Enough snake talk though.  I will be more vigilant, and I will do all I can to prevent the dogs, cat and the rest of us from getting bitten.  I feel much better now that I’m armed with more information.

I tried finding out more about spiders and whether all mothers die after their babies are born.  I couldn’t find too much, but I didn’t look very long.  I do keep thinking of Charlotte though.  You know, despite the fact that I always loved that story, I had a habit of killing any and all spiders I came in contact with until I visited Kristen, a friend from the flower shop where I worked.  This was many years ago!!  Her apartment was beautiful, full of live plants and flowers.  When we sat outside on her porch, there was a large spider web, and when I pointed it out to her, she said “Oh yah, he used to be inside until he got really big, and I kicked him out here”.  She explained all the good things spiders do for us, and the experience made me totally rethink my home spider strategy.  From that point on, I would scoop up the little guy/gal into a paper cup and deposit him outside.  Sometimes I would even let them stay in the house (but no obvious webs allowed).  I felt proud of myself for being so brave, and I hoped the spiders would notice my efforts and give back the love by never biting or overstepping their boundaries.  :)  I still plan on following said procedure when confronting a spider, but I simply couldn’t allow the babies to wander free.  If only they had been born in another location, and I had no idea!!

Now that I have a greater appreciation for them, I find myself admiring their webs when I see them.  The design is always amazing, but what really calls for admiration is the fact that even when we or something else knocks down their webs, they always build new ones.  Have you ever sat there and watched a spider construct a web?  It’s almost hypnotizing, a slow and precise process.  We think nothing of it to knock it down with a broom because no one wants webs on their porches (or wherever they may be!), but the spider doesn’t give up and sulk off (if spiders sulk :) ); it simply starts again.  I think this would make a wonderful children’s story, and someday I plan on writing it!  The lesson can be about the value of determination, and also the importance of appreciating nature.  Not that it could come close to “Charlotte’s Web”, but I think it could be good!  Next time you’re thinking of stomping on an intrusive insect (or destroying a web that just isn’t bothering anyone!), remember Charlotte and all the good things spiders do.  Thinking back on the book and movie, E.B. White did such a marvelous job of teaching while also telling a beautiful story.  If you pay attention, you can learn a lot about the lives and behavior of spiders, and it’s actually pretty fascinating.  Speaking of not squishing insects though, there is one insect I have no problem squishing…the mosquito.  Sorry, buddy, but you’re a blood-sucking, disease-carrying, revolting little guy, and there is no place for you here.  And as for those baby spiders, well you know I didn’t want to do it, but I explained myself.  May they rest in peace up in spider heaven.  :)

Wow…another whole blog of insect talk!!  Who knows though?  Maybe you’ll think twice about squashing your bugs now–I could have just saved thousands of spider lives by blogging about this!!  Moving on to bigger and better things though, we went out to Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bill’s house to have dinner this afternoon, and it was deeeelicious!!!!!!  Thanks so much for having us!  We played dominoes (see photos below), and although it took a while to explain it to my padres, we got a good game going.  I think I have to practice though…time to break out those wooden dominoes I got in Cuba….anyone up for a game?  Aunt Bitsy, I know you love Mexican train!!!  Next time you’re down, we’ll have to play.

So does anyone out there read the “Washington Post Magazine”?  Kristin, I know you do!!  You actually got me started on the magazine (different Kristin from before…this is our family friend, Kristin (she grew up in my neighborhood!)).  This week in the XX Files (various essays by female writers), a young student (a freshman in college) ponders the meaning of life.  What is the point of all the constant errands, stress, homework, activities?  I was struck by the article because I have been wondering the very same thing lately…not in a negative way, like “why do I have to put up with this”, but more simply, “what is the meaning of life?”.  Wow….deep.  Even though I’m not living a typical life right now, activities still come to feel mundane and repetitive, full of “to-do” lists.  Is there a reason we’re here or are we existing just for the sake of it?  I still have lots more reflecting to do, but the best I can come up with is that we’re here to learn so that our journey is much more interesting…we’re here to find a skill and utilize it to help others…we’re here to enjoy ourselves, and to share that enjoyment with a variety of people we meet along the way.  There is no one answer to the question, and life can only be what you make of it.  I used to make fun when people asked such a deep, seemingly silly question, but now I have an abundance of time to think and reflect on my life as it used to be, as it is now and how I envision it to be in the future, thus I’ve come to wonder “what is the purpose?”.  I’m glad I asked myself the question, because now I appreciate life’s details all the more.  There is no grand purpose for every little activity, but I figure we keep on plowing ahead and wisdom will come with age, as they say.  I just want to make sure I don’t get caught up stressing about daily details so much so that I can no longer see the big picture.  As I’ve written before, I know my experience with leukemia gave me the gift of perspective, and I feel lucky to be able to turn around, retrace my steps and remember to value the inherent gift that life is.  Does the meaning of it all really matter?  As long as we give of ourselves and learn to find joy in each day, life is what it is:  a series of experiences…joyful, sad, hysterical, fun, thoughtful, inspiring, challenging experiences.

Because we have such a limited time to pile on the experiences, I often wonder why people are so careful with things:  clothes, couches, tables, chairs, china, jewelry.  I mean, I get it, you don’t want anything to happen to nice items, but I agree with Jan Karon:  “Bottom line, wasn’t life itself a special occasion?”  So throw on your favorite necklace (even if you’re just going to the store!), take the covering off your fancy couch, buy that gorgeous dry-clean only item and why not dine on the china whenever the mood strikes you!  Dine on china on a Wednesday just ’cause you had a rough day and the pretty pattern might give you that little lift you need!  Most importantly though, invite your friends and family over to fill up the couch and wear your favorite outfit and necklace when they come so your confidence shines through.  Then you can all talk about the meaning of life and add a wonderful night’s memory of conversation to your pile of experiences.

OK, I’m done with my sermon.  :)  You still awake?  Deep thoughts by Julie.  Hey, I’m entitled to them–as you know, I have lots of time to think, so I figured I’d throw all my thoughts out there!  Do with them as you please.  =)

I’m pretty tired now–too much thinking!!!  My brain hurts.  hahahaha

Hope you all had an enjoyable weekend!!!

Lots of love,


Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Before you begin, anyone who is terrified of snakes and spiders should not read this post..I repeat, DO NOT READ THIS POST!!!!  Well, the day started out wonderfully!!!  Lori picked me up early this morning so we could go shopping for the brunch we were making for our moms today.  We’ve established a Mother’s Day tradition where we take our moms out together each year.  We haven’t been able to do it in a while, so today was really special.  Lori crafted a delicious menu and together we were like master cooks (see photos below)!  :)  Lori, I forgot to write the recipes down before I left, so I’ll have to get those from you.  Thanks for having us all over to your place.  It really was a wonderful day, and I had a great time preparing everything too!!

After filling up on the food (scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, home fries with green pepper and onions (served with an herb mayo),  tomatoes with some seasoning and basil from Lori’s herb garden, coffee cake, coffee and a homemade mixed non-alcoholic drink (sparkling white grape juice with lemon juice and a sugar syrup)), we plopped on the couch and watched several HGTV shows.  It’s always fun to comment on all the hard work they do on the designer shows…our fave today was “Divine Design”.  I think we all agreed that we liked her work!  Oh, I forgot, we also had biscotti that I made which was less than satisfying.  The recipe called for wheat flour and flaxseed (I don’t even really know what that is!!), and I just think it was too healthy to be good.  I mean, a biscotto (yup!  That’s the word for one biscotti) is a cookie…it should be decadent and delicious, right?!!  It would have been much better dipped in chocolate.  :)  Once you really soak it up in coffee though, I guess it doesn’t taste too bad.

When we got home, I took a little nap (after all, 7:30 is quite early for me to wake up, you know!!) and cuddled up with the dogs.  The rest of the evening passed pretty much uneventfully, until I walked into the laundry room.  I had just passed through there after letting the dogs out, and there was nothing on the floor.  When I re-entered the room, first I thought there were a bunch of ants on the floor…when I looked closer, I realized they were spiders!!  There, in the middle of the floor, was a momma spider lying on her back.  She had just had her babies (or they hatched or whatever they do)!!  She was dying though.  I told my dad, thinking he would do something about it, but he told me to leave them right there.  He reminded me of Charlotte in “Charlotte’s Web” and how it broke my heart when she died.  I was only two when I watched the movie and I hit my dad when she died.  They were so surprised because they didn’t think I was paying attention to the plot!!!  I guess I didn’t know how to express my anger.  ;)  So here I was faced with these baby spiders…there weren’t that many of them when I walked in, but there were enough.  I scooped the mom up in a cup and took her out to the porch, but she’s definitely dead.  I couldn’t scoop up the babies ’cause they were too little.  So……I stepped on them.  I know, I feel pretty bad about it, but this is how my thought process went:  If all these spiders grow to be the size of their momma and then have babies, well, that’s just more than we need in the house, and I certainly can’t have them running around the laundry room–it’s not like it’s a room we never go into, you know?  Besides, they would probably eventually get smooshed anyway.  It was a tough decision, but I did what I felt I had to do.  Now, I know there are plenty of spiders out here—you can’t avoid them anywhere and we’re too close to the woods to kid ourselves that they’re not all around these parts.  By the way, I know this may be exaggerating a little bit, but I had visions of “Arachnaphobia” when those little babies were crawling around everywhere!!  I know, dramatic, but that was the scariest movie I’ve ever seen!!!!  I tried not to think of all the babies that got away and hid under the washer/dryer before my shoe could find them.

The craziness of the evening does not end there though.  About an hour ago, I walked through the laundry room and called the dogs to go outside again.  I started to open the door when I noticed a snake lying in the middle of the walkway.  I went outside and looked at it (from a safe distance) and decided it looked suspiciously like a copperhead.  I called my dad and he agreed, but told me not to kill it…WHAT?!!!!  He mentioned the fact that they’re all over the place here, and there’s no need to kill it.  Well, I ran inside and called Ronnie to get his opinion.  I sent him some pictures and, over the phone, we both agreed it was a copperhead and not a corn snake (after studying on-line photos).  Ronnie asked for more photos, but the best you get is that second pic—I wasn’t going to get any closer!!!!!  My mom wasn’t too worried either, by the way.  She had gone to bed, but she came down, looked at it, and went back up.  Why am I the only one still awake at 12:52 AM because of all the creepy things that happened tonight?

I just looked outside a couple minutes ago and he’s gone now.  I don’t know if I feel good about that or not!  I’d like to know just where he went.  Don’t worry though…he can’t get in here.  I locked the door.  hahahahahahahaha  Seriously, I’m pretty afraid to go to sleep.  We’ve had snakes in the house before (another peril of living near the woods!).  I think I’m stealing the nightlight from the bathroom tonight, so I can light my path when I wake up to use the bathroom!

Do you think God sent the copperhead to punish me for killing the baby spiders?  I mean, not that he wants me to be bitten, but maybe he wants to scare the crap out of me!!  If so, it worked.  I am indeed freaked out, and I’m pretty awake for this time of the morning.  My parents…they’re snoring upstairs!!!!

Anyway, after this sighting, I’ll be extra careful playing with the dogs in the grass!!  It’s so easy to forget all these things live outdoors when you don’t see them all the time.  The last time I saw a copperhead, I was a little girl.  I think it was when my dad killed it with the ice pic used to get ice off the sidewalks.  The snake had made his way into our garage.

I’m off to look for a happy show on TV to help give me sweet dreams.  Please have some “Frasier” or “Golden Girls” on!!!!!!!!

I hope everyone’s enjoying a relaxing, insect/reptile-free weekend!!!!



PS I wore makeup for the first time today, and it felt pretty darn good!!!!

PSS I forgot to tell you the really strange thing about seeing the snake tonight…two nights ago, I dreamt I got bitten by a rattlesnake, and everyone kept telling me, “Hurry up and squish the rattle!!  Squish it!!!”  When I did, it dispensed an anti-venom cream that healed my wound.  What the heck does that dream mean?  And why is God sending me a real snake to think about?  My mind can conjure up perfectly good images without nature’s direct assistance.  :)  Maybe he’s pissed that I thought of a better engineered snake-I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if each of them came prepared with their own anti-venom lotion?  OK, enough snake talk for one night!!!!  I hope everyone else is having sweet dreams!!!!

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Hi there!

I was going to save my post for tomorrow, but I need to get some writing done. I was just organizing some photos, and I found some great blackmail ones of Laura, Katie and Ronnie! I’ll have to store those away. :) I also came across lots of photos of myself from ‘07. At first, I just thought–”Oh, I really like my hair there!”, but when I looked closer at all the photos, I noticed my clear skin, my nice eyebrows :), and my thinner face. Well, here I am now, crying because I want so much to look like that again!!!! I feel pretty silly shedding tears over this, but I’m so disappointed for myself.

Sometimes I feel like my steroid round face is gone, but then I see recent pictures of myself, and I realize it’s not. I know I weigh about ten pounds more than I did in ‘07, so I’m sure that’s part of it, but I’m just feeling sad. The girl in the photos had just walked a half marathon, she was healthy, and she was putting her life back together. She was able to have her eyebrows waxed, she had nice cheekbones, and she felt confident and pretty. I mean, she was hot! :) hahaha She was the maid of honor in Lori’s wedding, she was excited to become “tía” to Paulina and Eric’s baby, she was even hanging out with a guy that she liked. I feel so far removed from her.

I did buy some makeup today which I’m excited about, but I still have hairs on my face from the Cyclosporin. My dermatologist also told me I have Rosacea (that explains the little red marks on my face). I want to look the way I did in the beautiful bridesmaid dress for Lori’s wedding. Maybe someday I will again. I’m trying to be more conscious of what and how much I eat (and how fast I eat it), I’m walking the dogs after dinner, I made a work-out contract for my parents to sign (basically, it just asks them to make sure I’m keeping up wth my plan!!), I take good care of my skin. I’m really trying to get back to that girl in the photos. Maybe it’s all part of aging, but I, of course, blame leukemia. What if I had been allowed to keep up with my speedwalking and do my half and full marathon last year? What if I didn’t have to have all the chemicals and radiation I had last year? I know my skin, my body and my face would be much happier if things hadn’t changed.

Only thing is, I can’t do a damn thing about it, except to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t know that I’ll ever get back to being the girl in the photos. I am constantly reminding myself that this body I keep lamenting beat cancer twice. I am and always will be proud of that. I also know that I am much better off than many cancer patients, but I’m certainly not going to lie about my feelings (as you know). I’m disappointed, I’m sad, I feel a little defeated.

I am, by no means, giving up! These tears have helped. Sharing my feelings has helped. I think I’ll still fall asleep with photos of my ‘07 self floating around in my head, but it gave me a good kick in the butt to work out harder now that I’m able. I’d like to look even better than the girl in the photos! I’m not going to go crazy with working out, but I’ll try harder. I want to head back to Seattle at the end of September and wow everyone with my appearance!

While I’m at it, why don’t I get some other “wants” off my chest?! I want to go out in public to places other than “Safeway”, “Petsmart”, “Target” and various doctor offices. I want to meet more people my age. I want to date (hahaha as if you didn’t know that!). I want to know where I will work when I’m allowed out there in the workforce. I want to go on more hikes. I want to learn to dance with a partner–I worry my solo moves are so perfected now, I’ll overwhelm any possible dance partner (preferrably a Daniel Sunjata lookalike ( . Hey–let’s just go all out!!!: I want to sip wine at sunset on the beach in Corolla, I want to drink ciders and meet locals in Ireland, I want to take a surfing lesson in Hawaii, I want my entire extended family to squish into our house and enjoy a week of laughter, memories, talks, singing, dancing and eating. I want permission to be myself again, so I can figure out where to go from here.

I feel like I have so many thoughts racing through my head right now, but I don’t know how to express them. I think you get the basic idea: I miss my old self, and I really want to get her back. I’m going to take these pics in to my hairdresser next week, so maybe I’ll get the hairdo back first. With some more speedwalking, I hope to get the slimmer face (and also to fit into my jeans!). The eyebrows…well, still a lost cause right now, as is the rest of my facial hair, but I think makeup will give my spirits a bit of a lift. I’ll keep you posted!

OK, I’ve sufficiently tired myself out, and it feels good. Thank you for reading. As always, I feel much better once I’ve passed my worries on to you. :) Because this post was such a downer, I’m including some supercute pics of Husky that I took today…something to make you smile!! :)

Oh! One more thing!! A big thank you to the anonymous donor who donated to my Relay for Life website. That was really thoughtful of you (whoever you may be!!). :) Thank you verrrrrrry much!!!

Ok, last thing…seriously…my new favorite song: Go to the top part of the page on the right and click on the litte black radio-looking-thingie. The video on youtube was awful…I couldn’t make you watch that!!! This way you can just listen. :)

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Well, helllllooo there!!!

So, try this out for size:  hemoglobin of 12.7, hematocrit…..36.5!!!!!!!!  Pretty darn amazing, don’t you think?  Those are my red cell numbers from my doctor’s visit today.  My ferritin level (which deals with how much iron is stored in my blood) is still quite high, but apparently it’s gone down on its own a little bit.  If it continues to decrease, I may not need to take Exjade again come my one-year follow-up, and if there are any problems with the level, they may be able to actually take blood from me!!  IMAGINE THAT!!!  I’ve been pretty stingy with my blood these past four and a half years, so it’s quite good news to hear that I may be allowed to give some up if necessary to control my iron level.  By the way, my white count was 3.3, neutrophils 1.5 and platelets 147,000.  All in all, verrrrry good numbers and the best red cell count I’ve ever had (since the big L, at least).  :)

I do have to make a correction to a previous blog.  I assumed that Acyclovir would help me guard against the swine flu since it’s an anti-viral, but I asked Dr. Kales today, and he said it actually doesn’t work against it.  The only thing that does is Tamiflu.  There were signs all over the office reminding people to notify someone immediately if they felt any flu symptoms, and to wash their hands frequently.

Oh, I forgot something very important!  I was running late, and the elevators in the building move at a turtle’s pace, so I ran up four flights of stairs!!  I was quite impressed with myself, though a bit out of breath.  I’ll start making that part of my training so I can hike White Oak Canyon without cussing.  :)

I had another wonderful weekend.  My friend, Jenn, came out to visit, and I haven’t seen her since high school!  We talked for hours, catching up on families, jobs and just life in general.  I had been looking forward to it all week, and it was indeed a great time.  The dogs were also happy ’cause they got spoiled with belly rubs and lots of attention.  :)  Jenn, I’m looking forward to meeting Floyd!  I’m also sending lots of love out to the whole Gaffney clan, my second family when I was younger.

Saturday night, my mom, dad, Laura and I went to Henry’s 40th birthday/citizenship party…and what a party it was!!  There was delicious food, sangría! :), pisco sour, a DJ and, of course, very good company.  It was so wonderful to see Henry, Nicole and little Connor.  Also, as you’ll see from the photos (Laura and I had a little photo shoot), I got to see little Jack (or as I refer to him, “Jackecito”).  Unfortunately, I still am not able to give him hugs and kisses, but I look forward to that day.  He is such a happy and outgoing little boy, and I think someday he’ll be quite the dancer (and a little heartbreaker–he’s such a cutie!!).

Congratulations, Henry, on getting your citizenship!!!  And also, Happy fortieth!!!–two very exciting reasons to celebrate.  We were all so happy to be there with you.  Thanks for the dance!  I definitely need to brush up on my moves–when I’m allowed, we should all go out to Cafe Citron or Habana Village!

Sunday it was KATIE’S BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Happy 26th, Katie!  Sorry I didn’t get your birthday blog wish out in time (but it’s much better to keep on celebratin’).  :)  By the way, just so you know, it’s now Saturday, three days after I first started this blog.  So I’m a little slow this week, what of it?!  Katie was supposed to go skydiving for her birthday, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate.  Many of you are probably breathing a sigh of relief that it was cancelled, but before you relax, just know that Katie still plans on taking the jump!  If any of you are interested in jumping from an airplane like Katie, check it out:  I’ve always heard of “Skydive Orange” because it seems like it’s closer to us, so if you’re interested, go to  What do you think?  You up for it?!

Although I don’t have any plans to jump from an airplane any time soon (I will save that for after my first-year check-up!), I am going to participate again in the Vienna Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society (ACS).  Anyone want to join me?  If so, go here and sign up to walk with “The Young and the Restless”.  I do Relay with my Young Adult Support Group (offered through “Life with Cancer”), thus the name.  It’s Saturday, June 6th at Oakton High School in Vienna, VA.  You don’t have to join the team to walk, but you’ll miss out on a t-shirt.  :)  It’s $10 if you want to join the team (which goes to ACS), and the walk goes from afternoon all through the night, symbolizing that “cancer never sleeps”.  It’s a very touching event, and it’s actually quite laid-back.  They ask that someone from your team walk on the track at all times, but you certainly don’t get in trouble if you don’t do that….I mean, they want us to nourish ourselves and socialize, don’t they?  :)  You can bring strollers and children (obviously…I mean, why would you bring a stroller without a child?–although they can be quite handy for transporting storage), however no dogs.

If you’re a cancer survivor, you can walk in the Survivors’ lap which takes place in the early evening.  With everyone cheering you on from the sidelines, it can be very emotional, but it’s also empowering.  It makes me feel so proud, and this year I know that feeling will be even stronger considering what’s happened in my life since last year’s Relay (about a month before I relapsed).  I actually started worrying about relapse during the last Relay.  I was one of the team captains, and I slept there in my tent overnight.  I couldn’t sleep because of the people talking around me and the lights coming into the tent.  I was unable to take my focus away from the fact that I felt a rapid pulse in my head as it lay on my pillow. I kept feeling my wrist, and I knew my pulse was faster than it should be.  I lay there by myself worrying about relapse and what would happen if the leukemia came back.  Less than a month later, I would discover just exactly what would happen.  And HERE I AM a year later, back, ready to walk and greatly improved with Laura’s “gift of life”.

At another point in the evening, volunteers light luminarias that line the inside of the track, each one with the name of an individual who faced/is facing cancer.  It’s beautiful, touching, emotional and hopeful to walk and read the names lighting up the path.  If you have anyone you would like to honor, or remember, you can buy a luminaria from my page (they’re $10 for a white bag and $25 for a gold one):  “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back” remains the motto for the Relay, and I’ll keep that in mind as I make my laps.  One of my mom’s coworkers died yesterday of complications from breast cancer, and she barely had any time to fight.  Less than a year ago, she gave my mom a present her daughter gave her (a manicure and pedicure), so my mom could pamper herself a bit.  Only about two months after receiving her own cancer diagnosis, she passed away.  I need to fight not only for myself, but for Diana and Dave, who most recently lost their fights.  I’ll be keeping them and their families in my thoughts as I pound the pavement (or tires?–not sure what the track is made of there :) ).

Hey, the sun is back out!!!  I plan on taking advantage of that and going cycling with Katie a little bit later.  Ronnie and Kathy are also coming up today, so it should be a wonderful evening.  I hope you all enjoy your weekend as well!!

I leave you with a video my mom’s cousin forwarded along.  I thought it was really nice, because I have often wondered whether I should approach soldiers to thank them for their service: Maybe I’ll try this gesture next time (although, it does remind me of that little girl at the Ritz when we had tea a couple years ago….Laura, Katie, Lauren and Teresa, I’m sure you remember that!!)  I thought it was a really touching video.  Oh, and I have one more thing to add.  I found this beautiful poem in a journal Sue gave me, and I wanted to share it with you.

‘Tis easy enough to be pleasant,

When life flows along like a song;

But the man worthwhile is the one who will smile

When everything goes dead wrong;

For the test of a heart is trouble,

And it always comes with the years,

But the smile that is worth the praise of earth

Is the smile that comes through tears.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Lots of love,