June 24, 2014

It's About Time!

I've been "meaning" to blog for a while, but it just hasn't happened. Until now. Why? Because I'm lost with life. (Not to be confused with lost IN life. I have purpose and am not treading water.) I get lost with life in so many brilliantly good ways: enjoying most bits that every day brings forth. I'm in full appreciation of spring coming 'round (and technically summer now, too) and the joy that accompanies this time of year.

I feel a deep sense of appreciation for being able to participate in most every activity that's available. The hard thing, sometimes, is placing limits on what I say "yes" to. A common dilemma for many people, I suppose. My post-cancer self has a great need to have more time alone, more peace'n'quiet time, and to let my creative juices flow. It's easier now for me to be overwhelmed with stimulus - especially noise and people. I find solace in working on projects, making weird stuff that I think is artistic, listening to music, walking with Daisy, enjoying coffee on the patio in the morning, drinking margs with Joshua in the evenings, etc. Life feels good. Life is good. 

And what a joy it is to be here. To be alive. 

This spring, more than any other, I felt as though I was emerging from the darkness just as the perennials did in our yard. The entire cancer "experience," plus losing Stephanie last fall, weighed on me. I slowed down activity and have put on unnecessary pounds. That, too, made/makes a difference in how I feel. 

Post-cancer selves are tricky. I find this to be true with many other survivors I know. You have the traumatic memory emblazoned in your mind of being told "You have cancer." and can recall so acutely what that felt like. What a sh*t-tastic feeling. There are little muscle pangs, smells, and tastes that can evoke -in a heartbeat- some of the most nasty times of treatment. Sometimes I can shake them off immediately; other times, they stick. And it's like snot: hard to shake off! :)

Me and my trusty sidekick (in tow).
There's a lot to be learned from dogs!
My last follow-up with the oncologist went well. Nothing in my bloodwork came up looking suspicious. And although I'd feel a heck of a lot better in my own head having a scan to look at a "prove" my body is going along with being well, I'm *mostly* satisfied with the fact that along with good bloodwork, I am not experiencing any signs of progression. In my mind, a big part of my overall wellness is linked to my own brain and how it thinks, processes, etc. So until I have a reason not to be: I am a believer in my own wellness! Get this: I even went to see a "regular" doctor this spring - my first time in >3 years!! That's making a paradigm shift right there!

I've had many adventures in the last 4 months and will spare you, dear readers, from listing them ('cause I looove lists!!). It's been a pleasure to emerge, grow, and energize this season - to participate more fully in life, to see those I love, and to take moments to enjoy being here - now. 

I invite you ALL to do the same! 

What have you enjoyed doing this spring/summer?

February 4, 2014

World Cancer Day

Did you know today is "World Cancer Day?" Yeah, me neither, until I saw some BC survivors post that factoid on their Facebook pages. So as a nod to this day, which aims to reduce stigma and reduce myths about cancer, I'd like to share an alarming article with you.

Truly, if you have not been personally 'touched' by cancer nor know someone that has, you are a lucky individual. And unfortunately, that luck may run out. Cancer is abound! Since I was diagnosed in 2011, there have been multiple friends, acquaintances, and a family member diagnosed; I have also lost a good friend to cancer. It seems to ravage so many individuals and families, with no thought to their good deeds, great personalities, whom they may leave behind, nor their social status. There are no limitations for cancer. 

In many ways, cancer the "perfect disease." It is smart and can change itself and its deadly pathways based on an individual's treatments. The only downfall it has (so far as I can tell) is that it eventually kills its host. There must be something done - or I'm afraid the article below will become true - or worse.

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The World Health Organization predicts an "alarming rise" in cancer rates worldwide in coming years.

Cancer cases are expected to surge 57% worldwide in the next 20 years, an imminent "human disaster" that will require a renewed focus on prevention to combat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The World Cancer Report, produced by the WHO's specialized cancer agency, predicts new cancer cases will rise from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million annually within two decades. Over the same period, cancer deaths are tipped to rise from 8.2 million a year to 13 million annually.

The rising incidence of cancer, brought about by growing, aging populations worldwide, will require a heavier focus on preventive public health policies, said Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

"We cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem," he said. "More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally."

The report notes that the rocketing cost of responding to the "cancer burden" -- in 2010, the economic cost of the disease worldwide was estimated at $1.16 trillion -- is hurting the economies of rich countries and beyond the means of poor ones.

The report said about half of all cancers were preventable, and could be avoided if current medical knowledge was acted upon. The disease could be tackled by addressing lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise; adopting screening programs; or, in the case of infection-triggered cancers such as cervical and liver cancers, through vaccines.

Cutting smoking rates would have a significant impact, as lung cancer remained the most commonly diagnosed cancer (1.8 million cases a year, or 13% of total cancer diagnoses) and the deadliest, accounting for about a fifth (1.6 million) of all cancer deaths worldwide.

The report's authors suggested governments take similar legislative approaches to those they had taken against tobacco in attempting to reduce consumption of alcohol and sugary drinks, and in limiting exposure to occupational and environmental carcinogens, including air pollution.

According to the report, the next two most common diagnoses were for breast (1.7 million, 11.9%) and large bowel cancer (1.4 million, 9.7%). Liver (800,000 or 9.1%) and stomach cancer (700,000 or 8.8%) were responsible for the most deaths after lung cancer.

"The rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to human development and well-being," said Wild. "These new figures and projections send a strong signal that immediate action is needed to confront this human disaster, which touches every community worldwide."

The report said the growing cancer burden would disproportionately hit developing countries -- which had the least resources to deal with the problem -- due to their populations growing, living longer and becoming increasingly susceptible to cancers associated with industrialized lifestyles.

More than 60% of the world's cases and about 70% of the world's cancer deaths occurred in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

Governments needed to appreciate that screening and early detection programs were "an investment rather than a cost," said Bernard Stewart, co-editor of the report -- and low-tech approaches had proven successful in some developing countries.

The World Cancer Report, which is published about once every five years, involved a collaboration of around 250 scientists from more than 40 countries. 
(Original article can be found here.)

February 3, 2014

This Side of Cancer

A Vanderbilt-produced video of three cancer survivors and what their lives are like "on this side of cancer." This pulled at my heartstrings:

(Don't know what's up with the weird wording that shows up - it wasn't in the video originally - just ignore it.)

Your focus is different.
You take nothing for granted.
You cherish every moment. 
You adapt to a "new normal." 

We all have different ways of getting through it. 

A new beginning. A second chance...to live. 

January 31, 2014

Prescriptions for Fruits & Veggies?

A yummy fruit, veg, and herb medley we made.

Images from nwedible.com.

New York City has instituted a program - a fruit and vegetable prescription program. The basic premise? "It allows doctors to 'prescribe' fresh fruit and vegetables to overweight or obese patients by giving them 'Health Bucks' that are redeemable at local farmer's markets."

One part of me thinks: great idea.

The other part says: is this what our nation's eating problems have come to?

What do you think? I'm curious to hear what you have to say.

Here is the Hungry for Change article I read about this program.

Wholesome Wave is the group that has the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program™ in addition to their Double Value Coupon Program and Healthy Food Commerce Investments.

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Since the subject of today's post is fruit and veggies, I thought this would be a great place to insert this helpful graphic on how to find a "just right" avocado. I always thought it was a guessing game based on feel and color, but this makes it simple and has helped me find perfectly ripe avocados. Yummy!

January 24, 2014

A Glimpse of Understanding

A Can-Can sister shared this article on our Facebook Chemoraderie page. I like both the descriptive writing and the way the author caught what it's like:

Living With Cancer: Life of the Party
by Susan Gubar

The prospect of a party frightened me — probably because the enforced isolation of cancer treatments has rendered me hypersensitive. It was raining outside and festivities would not begin until after 8 p.m. But my husband and I had promised to attend the celebration of a book publication. So we dragged ourselves to Judith and Aidan’s house where I hoped to find a comfortable chair in which I would not look like the battle-ax at Mrs. Dalloway’s party whom everyone had thought long dead.

The house, crowded with people clutching drinks, pulsed with their robust vitality. Before the cancer diagnosis, I would have moved around the room schmoozing with a series of acquaintances while getting a tad tipsy. Now I was determined to have a drink, but I would need to sit down, and I could not control who might sit with me or indeed whether anyone would. Still, sit I had to do while dealing with a hideous mix of nostalgia, jealousy and self-pity. Exhausted by five years of surgeries and drugs, I have spent too much time alone and have nothing to exchange in return for tidbits of gossip.

My colleagues, kind people, took turns as sitters. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of jollity only underscored my worries: fears that thinning hair would not hide my scalp, qualms about not recalling the names of graduate students I recognized but could not place. The cumulative effect of treatment also left me bereft of the prevarications and censors that ease everyday interactions. The membrane between internal feelings and external expressions (on which I used to rely) has worn thin.

I have neither the time nor the energy to maintain buffers between me and the limited world I inhabit. Cancer has made me porous and susceptible to others — those I know personally, and those I do not. A friend in mourning, or runners and spectators maimed in Boston, reduce me to tears. Have other patients experienced this permeable sense of self when the barrier between the person we present in public and our private sentiments erodes? With few filters, I really do not belong in polite society.

Just when I decided to give my husband a signal for us to up and leave, two guests started to sing in a corner of the room. I settled down, pleased at not having to make chitchat with my current sitter, a very young woman with a crew cut. A succession of musicians followed, producing that vivid vibrancy only live music in an intimate space can create. By the time Jason Fickel stood up to sing, accompanying himself on his acoustic guitar, my exhilaration knew no bounds.

Live music should not be reserved for memorials. Musicians ought to be allowed to play in infusion centers, hospital rooms and hospices. Or so I think as my body feels sprayed and bathed, plumped and pumped by the rhythms of a melody that comes from Jason’s mouth and hands but courses through me like currents of energy.

The wine helps, undoubtedly, but it is the thrumming strings and the wry yet sonorous voice that delight me, galvanizing my attention and quickening my spirits. I sense the vibrations on my skin, in my bones, massaging the synapses of my brain: “music, sweet music, music everywhere.” Let there be trombones and guitars, flutes and pianos, singing and, especially, cellos for the sick and the dying. During my mother’s last months in assisted care, she would have loved to have heard a string quartet: harmonies returning her to pleasures displaced by old age and disease.

Awash and exultant as the music ends, I recall a line of poetry — “we feel that we are greater than we know”— and turn to the girl on my right. I did not remember her because, apparently, I had never met her before. But, she explained carefully, she works out with a member of my cancer support group … in a special class. A beat, a pause, and I understand.

The crew cut has to do with cancer. I shake her hand to wish her well. Her fingers are icy. A surge urges me on: the need, the palpable urgency, to pay tribute to her resolute stamina. I clasp both her frozen hands and kiss them, overwhelmed that someone so young has had to go through what she has gone through, though I scold myself too, for these eruptions of extravagant emotion are sure to make me look like a fool.

By the time Don and I got home, I realized that there are liabilities but also benefits of being thin-skinned. At the party I had felt the beauty, felt the fun. Lucky, lucky, lucky, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

(Original link to article can be found here.)

January 21, 2014

Movie: Pink Ribbons, Inc.

I highly recommend watching the movie Pink Ribbons, Inc. It's available via Netflix streaming. It's also available online here and here and here.

Last year, I saw down with two of my "breastie" sisters (BC survivors) to watch this documentary. Our viewing resulted in a lively conversation afterwards between the three of us. I took a bunch of notes, intending on writing them all up in to a blog post. But frankly, that was nearly a year ago and I don't want to take time to type things out that you can watch for yourself.

Please consider watching this documentary. It addresses the "pinkwashing" of breast cancer, the "pretty, feminine, and normal" portrayal of breast cancer (none of which BC actually is), and many of the ridiculous ways of turning this disease into a bottom-line fundraising event for way too many companies. Some of which are in direct conflict with ever finding a cure! Cancer-causing cosmetics? Slap a pink ribbon on it, donate a teensy amount to BC awareness or research, and sell a lot more product. It sickens me.

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Here are my notes, in case you want to get a high-level peek into what this documentary includes:

  • BC has become a "culture" of pink ribbons.
  • 1981 - President Reagan changed things so BC funding/research needed to seek private solutions ...which lead to BC marketing. To get marketing to work, they need attention of companies. If companies associate with a cause, more people will buy their products - it worked! BC marketing promotions range from household goods to handguns to gasoline to porn sites!
  • In 1940, chances of getting cancer were 1 in 22.
    In 2011, it was 1 in 8.
    Today, changes of getting breast cancer are 1 in 4
  • Lighting monuments pink for "awareness" - accomplishes what, exactly?
  • During breast cancer awareness month, the message being sent out is "be vigilant - mammograms can save lives" - But what does this really do to effect change?
  • Early detection (is your best "protection") works for some...and some get sick from treatment...and for others with aggressive current treatments that can't it can't help at all. Everyone thinks they're in the first group (that early detection will save you), but that only works for some!
  • Learning to live versus learning to die.
  • We are not just a little pink ribbon! We have faces, pain, and stories.
  • Some survivors have anger with pride and optimism expressed by marketing tactics and companies have to "sell the disease" in a certain way or lose customers.
  • Yoplait "Save Lids to Save Lives" example: For every lid you save from a Yoplait yogurt (and mail in, using a stamp that costs you money), they will donate 10 cents to breast cancer research. If you ate 3 yogurts/day for 4 months, you will have raised a grand total of $36 for breast cancer research, but spent more on stamps and in environmental shipping waste. Really? - Just write a check!
  • NFL: players were in trouble with the law, needed help with boosting positive image of individuals and teams, and they realized there's a large women viewership. So they started in on PINKing everything! Shoes, sweat bands, ...
  • To those that call surviving "fighting a battle." We're not fighting a battle. We force ourselves to comply with the treatments recommended. 
  • We shouldn't deny what is possible - good AND bad. To do so offends our sense of DIGNITY.
  • Pressure on BC patients to be happy, overly optomistic, etc. : "the tyrrany of cheerfulness" - coined by Barbara Ehrenreich.
  • Make it pretty, feminine, and normal = it sells. BUT BREAST CANCER IS NOT pretty, feminine, and normal!! It's time to re-politicize it: find out where your money goes! Most monies go to researching a marketable product (that extends life). Not to finding out what causes it.
  • We hear how much companies raise, but not how it was spent or the results from it. How can you cure something when you don't know the cause?
  • What "eggs on cancer"? It is not a foreign entity (e.g., from space, alien, "Osama") - it's at home (e.g., your body, familiar, "McVeigh").
  • Every 23 seconds an individual is diagnosed with breast cancer.
    Every 69 seconds an individual dies because of breast cancer.
  • Casting a pink veil of positivity over a dark and dreadful disease, we are told, encourages the myth of progress and distracts from treatment options that remain limited to what Dr. Susan Love calls “slash, burn, and poison” and mortality rates that have barely altered in six decades.
  • Federal standards do not protect public health.
  • Charlotte Haley is the original ribbon maker. Hers was salmon colored. Estee Lauder wanted to use it to market. Haley wanted nothing to do with Estee Lauder; they were too commercial. On goes the story with lawyers, changing the color, etc. Estee Lauder conducted focus groups on what color was "comforting, reassuring, and non-threatening" (everything BC is not) - which led to the ribbon color being pink.
  • "We used to march in the streets. Now we run for a cure."
  • Get the stuff out of the products we use everyday.
  • Another Yoplait example: send in lids from dairy stimulated with RGBH - linked with breast cancer! Activists called them on it and they changed their formula - no longer use RGBH.
  • AstraZeneca: the maker of Tamoxifen and Arimidex (biopharmaceudicals used in BC treatment) - also makes chemicals that are estrogen-boosters! Check it out here or read a quote from the article below:
"Some of the very companies that sponsor fundraising events and make money off of pink revenue either make deleterious products linked to cancer or stand to profit from treatment of it. Revlon, sponsors of the Run/Walk for Women, are manufacturers of many cosmetics (searchable on the database Skin Deep) that are linked to cancer. The average woman puts on 12 cosmetics products per day, yet only 20% of all cosmetics have undergone FDA examination and safety testing. The pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca can’t seem to decide if it’s for or against cancer. They produce the anti-estrogen breast cancer drug Tamoxifen, yet also manufacture the pesticide atrazine (under the Swiss-based company Syngenta), which has been linked to cancer as an estrogen-boosting compound. Breast cancer history month (October) is nothing more than a PR stunt that was invented by a marketing expert at… drumroll please… Astra Zeneca! Their goal was to promote mammography as a powerful weapon in the war against breast cancer. But as the American arm of the largest chemical company in the world, the reality is that Astra Zeneca was and is benefiting from the very illness it was urging women to get screened for. Perhaps the most audacious example of them all is pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Sponsors of cancer research and treatment, both in medicine and the community, Lilly produced the cancer and infertility causing DES (diethylstilbestrol), and currently manufactures rBGH, an artificial hormone given to cows to make them produce more milk. rBGH has been linked to breast cancer and a host of other health problems. These strong corporate links in many ways explain the uplifting, happy, sterile messaging behind the pink ribbon. Corporations are, quite bluntly, making money off of marketing cancer, so if they don’t put a smiley face on the disease, they will alienate their customers and the conglomerate businesses pouring money into these campaigns."
  • October: BCA month (breast cancer awareness): a comforting lie.
    mammography-->radiation exposure-->BC risk increase
  • Research = incremental increase in life expectancy. That is not enough.
  • Walk and run-a-thons are like a revival.
  • Do something besides worry. Act!

December 5, 2013

A (The?) December Post

With the typical seasonal things to do on top of everything else, my blogging has been less than prolific. Oh well - it's hard to write cancer-related posts right now, because that's not what I'm currently wanting to focus on. Since Stephanie's death, I've been in a different head space and am putting one foot in front of the other to be in the present moment, and enjoy the holidays and our new puppy. Feelings ebb and flow and maybe it'll be like this for some time.

As is with life, with somber and saddening times, there are also exciting and joyous occasions. Here's a smattering of what's been going on lately:

Joe, my dad, surprised us with a quick (<24hrs!) visit before Thanksgiving. Ostensibly to see me, but I think the real reason is clear in the accompanying picture. He and Daisy had fun playing fetch up and down our stairs. The little squirt loves dad. And I'll never forget what dad said upon meeting her face-to-face for the first time: "Hi, Daisy. I'm Joe and I've loved you before I even met you." Awww. Warm fuzzies abound!

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving here at our home with Linda, my mom. We divided and conquered the dinner dishes and we had lots of leftovers. So nice to make the most of the time spent in the kitchen!

A day or so after Thanksgiving, mom took this picture of a sunset while on a walk. Isn't it gorgeous? It's special when the camera's eye can catch close to what you actually see with your own. Thankful for the beauty we see each day.

Joshua and Daisy have had some needed 1-on-1 time while I've been out with friends and running errands. He was gone for 5 days right after we adopted her, so they've been bonding and working on reinforcing commands. It's so fun to see them interact and to see her look at him for guidance, too!

Daisy and Lexi are growing more fond of each other with each passing day. They keep taking naps closer and closer together. I predict that they'll nap side-by-side someday. Watching their antics helps speed up and add joy to chilly, indoor-only days.

This time of year is just right for baking. Here's a two-loaf batch of honey/whole wheat banana bread I made the other day. The bonus of baking is that it also heats the house! Not to mention the aroma it adds...

We went with Linda to see holiday lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Luckily we went a day before the Arctic cold set in (today's high will be 9F). For me, seeing the light displays made it feel a little more like December and the holiday season. Now the snow and temps are reinforcing that feeling!

My crafting has been on the backburner this year (unlike last year's craft fair extravaganza). However, I did manage to set aside time to bake some scented baking soda ornaments! They were fun to make and I hope recipients enjoy them and how they smell. Not realizing how much stirring was needed, I did it all myself and my affected arm is 'pissed off' about it. (That's a technical term my friend Jo and I use to describe the pain associated with our affected arms. It comes and goes depending on several factors - mainly weather and activity for us.) Next time I make some, I'll call in Joshua for stirring reinforcement. My plan is to jazz-up the white ornaments with twine and/or ribbon. Heck maybe even add glitter to some just because. :)

So there you have it: a slice of my life.

I'm not sure if I'll get around to posting again this month. And I don't want to feel like I "have to." So just In case I don't, I want to sincerely wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and coming year. I see 2014 as being a year of new beginnings. 2013 sure seemed to be full of change from my POV.

And if I may interject some of my own thoughts and focus into your reading today, please try to:

  • Remember to be kind to others. 
  • Be patient. 
  • Be understanding. 
  • Help those who need it. 
  • Practice random acts of kindness. You never know the influence you may have upon someone's life.

Many blessings to you and thank you for continuing to read my posts!

November 11, 2013

'Cause Dr. K said so!

I hold my oncologist, Dr. K, in high regard. She's wise, she's personable enough, and she doesn't mince any words in the exam room. Love that!

In my latest follow-up with her a few weeks ago, she at some point said "Start with a dog." Who cares what the context was - really, does it matter?! - I just wrote that down verbatim on my list-o-questions sheet I always bring in with me. What she said stuck in my brain all day until Joshua got home that evening. 

We've been hemming and hawing over adopting a dog for what seems like a long time - at least the better part of a year. Something finally clicked for us, because four short days later, we adopted Daisy:
Miss Daisy.

She's 100% puppy and is a delightful (mostly!) handful. Already I can't imagine our home life without her presence. And Joshua is just as smitten as I am. She's brought joy in a challenging time stemming from various upsets in the cancer world for others. 

She loves sitting in laps after she's gotten exercise.

A puppy that plays hard, sleeps hard.

Everyone's pooped after playtime. 

She's made friends with Tater...

...and took a nap in his bed.
Which looks enormous with her in it!

Lexi is getting used to Daisy in her own time.

When they're both fuzzy-headed,
interesting photo opportunities arise! 
Last week I received a call from my oncologist's office. All looks good with my tumor markers and other blood levels that she regularly checks. The news makes flying solo for the next 6 month window (not the typical 3 months) a wee bit easier.

This picture is from the evening I received my results. What great comfort to catch this moment in time with a bunch of colored pixels. I feel content.

So all this boils down to is: 
"Feeling well, got a dog, and did it 'cause the Dr. said so!"

November 4, 2013

Update and Reflections

Since the end of treatment, I've been addressing some big issues that were easier to put off during treatment; mainly: FEAR. It's a nasty four-letter word just like the others! It's got power, but you can work on diffusing that power by acknowledging it and realizing that in the now, you're okay. 

One thing that bubbles up fear [for me] are my follow-up appointments with my oncologist, Dr. K. I had one a few weeks ago. I'm feeling well and neither of us is noticing any "signs" of recurrence, which is a relief. I had five vials of blood taken last Friday and expect to get results this week. (That said, TNBC is tricky and typically doesn't show elevated CEA and CA 27.29 tumor markers like other types of breast cancer. For example, when I was diagnosed and all through treatment, my tumor marker numbers were never out of normal range. Arrgh!) As Dr. K left the exam room she said "You graduated! See you in 6 months." This means my follow-ups with Dr. K will now be at 6 month (no longer 3 month) intervals. Wahoo! The check-up leash is extended and it's nice to be at that point.

We've come a long way since my diagnosis in June 2011. Life tossed an unkind card my way, and we dealt with it in a straightforward way. I sincerely hope that sharing my emotions, losses, wins, and life events has been entertaining - if not useful - to readers. 

I'd like to keep this blog going - although I'm beginning to realize that I may not quite have the prolific amount of posting that I did during treatment. Why? 'Cause I'm LIVING - living out loud! I'm focusing my energies on helping others and nurturing myself, and it feels good. 

I still have plenty to say by way of sharing emotions associated with this journey, revisiting experiences I had during treatment that I'm still processing or mulling over, sharing positive ways we've tweaked our household post-diagnosis that everyone can do easily, posting news about breast cancer news/events/charities, and conveying what this survivor does after being spit out of the BC machine. I invite you to continue following my life journey.

Got questions? Please ask.

October 31, 2013

Missing You

My friend Stephanie passed away last weekend.

Steph in Texas, June 2013.
Toasting to the last night a group of us spent there.
Steph came into my life because of breast cancer. If it weren't for us both being diagnosed and having met another BC "sister," I'm not sure our paths would have ever crossed. What a tremendous gain it's been to have her in my life.

Although in many ways the cards were stacked against her, she "just kept living" - and I mean really living! She did everything she could to be an active mom in her children's life, to be a loving wife, and to be a true friend.

I'm missing her so much. Her wit, her smile, her amazing eyes, her depth of personality, her wisdom, her zest for living life, and so much more.

The seeds of love and friendship she planted while alive will continue to grow and cultivate in years to come.

Oh, Steph. I will miss you so. You are loved!

The Can-Cans. June 2013.
An unforgettable trip together.