Over the last couple of years we have been so blessed by those who came out of the woodwork and supported us through the worst of storms.

As I head back to work (only part time, but it’s a start) the boys and I are taking steps to pay it forward.

There is no way on earth I can pay back the kindness, the grace, the love, the financial support of those who took us under their wings. For that reason we are paying it forward in ways that may not seem like much, but hopefully make a difference to those we touch.

This week we adopted an American Soldier on deployment through the website. The program asks only that you commit to write a letter each week to the service member you are assigned for the entirety of their deployment. Even I can afford that!

When I told the boys about this opportunity their first question was, “Is it like when Seabee was gone and we wanted to send him things?” I said yes, but different. This will be for a stranger and it is our job to make sure he knows that somebody cares and is praying for them. It is our job to write them a letter to make sure they know they are cared about back home.

This week we sent out our first introduction letter to the service member we are assigned. I sent pictures of the boys along so the service member knows who is praying. The program states you might never hear from your match, and just to send letters of encouragement each week until their deployment ends (the program will let you know when they return home).

I pray that our match is brought a spot of sunshine to hear their name during mail call. If anybody can bring a little light…it’s these two boys.

If this goes well after the first month or so, we may adopt another service member or two…how hard is a letter?


Speaking of Seabee, we’ve been talking regularly up until this week. My phone (for whatever reason) cannot send or receive text messages and has not been getting all the phone calls either…which I didn’t know until two different phone calls from the school today did not go through. There is no worse feeling than thinking you are being ignored…only to find out the problem is on your end…I might need to purchase a new phone; not something I can afford at this time. I’m hoping that resetting it (as I did today will solve at least the phone call issues as I cannot afford to miss any calls for work.

We are all doing well…hockey is in full swing, bowling is going strong, and I’m coaching again. I think I like this year even more than last year…or at least equal.

It becomes EXTREMELY clear every time I lace up just how much cancer has taken from me. I cannot even think of racing with the kids on the ice or even playing keep away. What I can do is coach fundamentals…and to do it right I believe you have to get good before you get fast. I’m often telling the kids to SLOW DOWN on drills as it is not a race and I don’t care how fast they can skate if they can’t do anything else.

As my strength returns I pray that I can work more, play more hockey, and just enjoy these kids like they deserve to be enjoyed.

Love and hugs to all.


Hardest Realization

I came to an extremely painful realization today. I came to an understanding that for some reason I think I deserve to live in abject poverty and financial desperation.

I have been dealing with much anger lately and most of it has been directed towards the boys’ dad. Today, it hit me…I’m pissed off at him for divorcing me and leaving me to deal with cancer on my own. I am extremely disappointed that he could not be the parent the children needed when I as sick. I’m pissed he left me to face cancer on my own.

When I got married, I vowed forever. For better or for worse were the words I said. Although legally married for just shy of 14 years; our marriage was a happy union for less than 4. The minute the going got tough he took off, he bailed out, he threw me under the bus and then got in and drove over me.

When I was diagnosed, he proceeded to be an angry bitter, shallow man. He tried to use the kids to get to me, he attempted to control me through the kids, and he used my illness against me.

Well, today it hit me that if I am that bad of a person then I damn well deserve to suffer through cancer. I deserve everything that has been sent my way. I deserve to be alone, to be financially strangled, to be living in a state of complete desperation.

Financially I am at the point where I may need to give up time with my kids just so I can find work. M Nobody will hire me based on the schedule I need to be able to get my boys to and from school on the week they are with me. The ex refuses to allow them to switch schools (he works in the town where I live, if they boys went to school here it would not be an inconvenience to either of us. He refuses to allow them to switch schools out of sheer defiance and a show of power. He has it, I do not.

It has nothing to do with the fact that both parents working full time would provide more security for the boys in both homes. It has to do with him controlling me through the boys because he hates that I am happy without him.

He would rather his children live in deprivation than change schools. Quite a guy…no wonder so many people think he is so amazing.

Hello World

The hardest days are supposed to be behind me now. I finished five months of chemo, a unilateral skin sparing mastectomy with expander reconstruction, five weeks of daily radiation, and menopause. It’s been a busy year for sure. Not to mention, being a mom, and hockey coach.

Unfortunately, yesterday made all of those things which sound horrible enough in themselves feel like a cakewalk.

I was on the verge of tears for 99% of the day. I was not sad, I was not upset, just had these tears in my eyes that were on the verge of breaking the damn at any moment. I was extremely worried that the dam would burst at the most inopportune time, luckily it did not. I held it together.

I am pretty sure that the lack of hormones in my body took over yesterday. I am going to talk to my doctor at my next visit about whether or not the menopause could be wreaking havoc on my antidepressants. Sure felt like it yesterday. Add on to that the hot flashes and then ice cube flashes…it was not pretty for most of the day.

Last night we had hockey practice…week two…oh my. I am so grateful for hockey practices. I see my boys (they are at dad’s this week), I get some exercise, I feel wanted and needed, and cancer does not exist from the time we pull up to the rink until after, sometimes many hours after, we leave the ice.

A few parents had some questions, and I don’t mind answering them. I love sharing how awesomely we rocked and kicked cancer’s butt. It doesn’t bring me down to share. It reaffirms just how awesome I am.

Two sets of parents were asking questions last night and they were not shy about how thankful they were that I was coaching their kids and how they admire whatever it was that kept me coming back every week and getting out on the ice day after day.

I told them THEY made it possible, their kids made it possible. I didn’t do this alone. Knowing that I could help their kids fall in love with hockey…that’s why I did it. I didn’t do it for me; I did it for the kids. Enjoying every minute of it was just a side effect!

B2 moved up a level this year to Mites. Most of the kids I coached last year are still in Mini-Mites. Last night was the first night of Mini-Mite practice. It was right after our practice so I stayed to help out (boys weren’t home anyway so why not).

I got so many hugs from last year’s kids…it was awesome. I went around with a roll of tape putting names on helmets (very hard for coaches when you have so many kids to learn names and you only see them a couple hours a week). One little boy from last year followed me around most of the practice (it was pretty much just a free skate). I am so blessed.

B1 starts bowling this weekend. He is excited to get back at it. Has also been matched through the Little Brother/Little Sister program; they will start their activities next week. I enrolled him in hopes of helping him gain some independence from being B2’s caretaker (as he is at Dad’s house) and to introduce him to activities that he wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to do. His Big Brother match is going to be an awesome fit…I see shenanigans in my future with this pair! The match that was picked for him is the husband to a friend of mine from church (we initially met at church but now are good friends). Having a positive role model for him that he will see on a regular basis and hopefully form a lasting bond with is going to be huge for him. I’m excited to watch him grow. He will be 11 in December. Boy 2 will be 8 in November.

My little Mama’s Boy (B2) is so funny…he has this awesome jock and tough guy attitude right? Well, then at hockey practice when he gets to my station he has to hug me…lol yep, that’s my tough guy.


I do my absolute best keeping things positive and seeing the lighter side of my current situation. I might ask why me every now and then and usually answer myself that I’d rather it be me than my sisters, my mother, or any of my friends.

Today though, I’m pissed. I’m sick and tired of cancer.

On Monday I will leave my boys AGAIN and head back to the USA. I will fly to Winnipeg then drive home (should arrive about midnight). Tuesday I will procrastinate as long as possible until I finally get off my butt and take off to drive the 384 miles to Rochester, alone; again.

I have done every one of these trips solo. Yes I’ve had offers of people to come with me, I just choose to do it alone. It’s easier in a lot of ways to do it alone. Then I can process my emotions without a filter. I don’t have to worry about how anybody else is doing or that they feel like they have to take care of me.

The other reason is that I would hate for my reality to become real for other people. I am broke; actually beyond broke. People often realize what broke really looks like. Here is what broke really means:

  • Stopping for gas and ONLY gas. No snacks, no coffee, no drinks, no anything.
  • Checking in to my room and staying there (unless I go for a walk).
  • Not running to the corner store for a few comforts or a candy bar or bag of chips.
  • Looking longingly at that Sudoku book in the check out at the grocery store thumbing through it, and putting it back because that $4.95 is so far out of your budget that it makes you cringe.
  • You would rather drive late in the day when you have an early morning appointment so that instead of spending the night in a hotel, you drive until you need sleep and find a public rest area to grab a couple hours of sleep in the back seat.
  • Staying home when my friends invite me out because eating is where we usually gather and ordering water while everybody else orders drinks and apps brings on the pity looks.
  • Except for church, there are no social outings.
  • Not having cable TV (which means no television at all where we live)
  • Cutting the internet while the boys are gone because it’s $40 you just don’t have
  • Leaving the AC off even though it is currently 90*F in your apartment because you electricity bill is already three months behind.

Welcome to the side of cancer that is hell. It sucks. I can’t work, I can’t do anything. It hit me the other day that once the boys start school I can’t even take them for my visitation as it will be impossible for me to drive them back and forth to school and their father will not give a shit, only see it as an advantage to himself. He won’t care that the boys need the emotional connection to me as they get no emotional support from him regarding this journey.

It means that B2 will likely not play hockey this year, and I won’t be coaching, because I can’t afford it and the ex refuses to help pay for it OR provide transportation. Even while undergoing chemo last winter I had to drive 90 miles for him to attend a 45 minute practice because according the his father, hockey practice didn’t fit in to HIS schedule. It didn’t matter that all the kid talked about from October through April was hockey. It didn’t matter that there was a significant drop in behavioral issues throughout the hockey season, that the grades improved…all that mattered was that HE doesn’t want to be involved with hockey therefore, he will make it as difficult as possible for B2 to be involved.

Did I mention that at the beginning of the year, B2 could hardly stand on skates and was placed in Level one (as all first year kids are) and he along with only ONE other kid of the 28 child roster moved all the way to level THREE in one season? Ya, he done good. The kids usually spend one year at each level, B2 spent a total of two practices at level two before they shipped him to level three.

I’m ranting…and sick and tired of the bullshit that is cancer.

If it weren’t for cancer I would be back in court asking for full custody after social services has been to his house FOUR times in t last year to educate him that the boys are too young to be left home alone…FOUR TIMES.

I’ve been out of work since January. Hockey registration is in October. If I am LUCKY I can look for work starting near the end of September. There is no way I will be able to have bills caught up and enough money to pay for registration and the means to provide transportation back and forth for school and hockey…fuck cancer.

Phase Three

Phase three for me is radiation. While I do not yet know all the details, I do know that I will have treatments five days per week for a minimum of six weeks; 384 miles away from home.

I learned many years ago through struggles and heartache to live like I was dying. I don’t know when I began to live that way I just know it’s been many years. I don’t even have a bucket list. When I was flying home earlier this week I was seated next to a gentleman and we talked and he said, I bet you don’t even have a bucket list. I hadn’t really thought about it much. Yes, the thought has crossed my mind, I just never put a whole lot of thought in to it.

I told him, “Nope, I am not going to live with that kind of pressure.” My bucket list would be expensive. First of all it would be things like a trip to Disney World with the kids, a Jamaican vacation with the man of my dreams (or my kids being as there is no such man) skating with my boys and an NHL team.

To fulfill those dreams would cost a crazy amount of money. I am unemployed; I do not have a spouse or significant other who supports me. I can’t even keep my light bill paid without the generosity of the people around me. There is no way I could even begin to plan a week in Florida. So I don’t think that big.

I think about things like how am I going to pay for my next trip to Rochester to begin radiation. I will have gas ($150) plus approximately a week of hotel rooms ($300 – I stay at place that caters to patients and charges less than a normal hotel) then I will be able to move in to Hope Lodge through the American Cancer Society which is free housing during treatments.

My radiation will be Monday through Friday and although I would love to return home on weekends, I just don’t see it being financially possible. The cost of my first week will eat up all available funds I have for the entire month of August (and it won’t even be August yet).

Ya, I won’t be going back on weekends. All of my household bills through August will be paid before I head south. That will be one less thing to worry about. I just know I will have no extra money at all while I am there; it’s a mindset I have to get in to. No eating out, no entertainment, no shopping. It’s not easy, just necessary.

Don’t you hate it when you actually put things down on paper only to realize just how it can’t work out the way you planned? Kind of depressing.

Reality Isn’t Always Nice

A couple weeks ago I over an hour with the oncologist. Lots of information and I almost felt sorry for the resident he had with him today as the kid looked more lost than I did! lol

Today was a big talk about numbers and recurrence and the like. With no further treatment, my five year disease free survival rate is 50%. That means if I stopped everything right now, I have a 50% chance that over the next five years, the cancer would return. To decrease the chances of it coming back we have options. Best case scenario, with every current, relevant, available treatment brings me close to a 20% chance that over the next 5 years the cancer will return. This doesn’t mean that if it doesn’t come back in the next five years that I am considered safe or free; just a little better off.

Thankfully with breast cancer research being so aggressive, who knows what will be available in the next five years to increase my odds even more. When people ask me I honestly tell them that my prayer is to make it through Carson’s graduation. Honestly I am beyond blessed to make it through each day; the boys’ gradutaion would just be icing on the cake.

I spoke with the funeral director back home when I was there last week. He shares my same twisted sense of humor so it was nice to have a sit down chat with him. We discussed a few things (like the fact that if I am laid in a casket my feet MUST be crossed!). We talked about transporting my body across the border and he agreed it would be cheaper to cremate me here and ship me home in the mail.

Anyway, back to reality and what it means for my immediate future.

  1. I am cleared to restart the drug Herceptin which I will take for a total of 52 weeks. I have completed 12 weeks so far. This will be an injection (through my port) every three weeks until the 52 weeks are complete.
  2. I will be meeting with radiation oncology to start radiation. Likely five or six weeks of daily radiation. Right now they are booked out until July 27 for the diagnostic/referal of radiation oncology. My medical oncologist is working to get me slipped in sooner.
  3. I will begin another drug which will help to prevent recurrance. I will take this drug every day for five or ten years.
  4. I will also begin an ovary supressing drug that will be an injection every month. This is decrease the amount of estrogen available for my cancer to feed off of.

I was hoping I would hear the words ‘remission’ but of course those words did not (nor will they ever) come. I will never be in remission from this beast. I am officially in a life long battle for my life. I almost felt sorry for the doctor explaining this reality to me…he looked heartbroken. I told him it was ok, I expected that and that I just needed to hear the words.

I will forever have cancer, I will be considered cancer free when I move from this life to eternity. It’s really tough to be sad when thinking about eternity. I will be healed, I will have no more treatments, I will no longer be at war, I will  see my four babies who have passed before me, I will see my grandfathers again. A lady who recently passed due to cancer put it wonderfully. She wasn’t afraid to die, she just didn’t want to. She felt like a little girl at a party and Dad was there to pick her up and she was crying because she didn’t want to leave.

When the Lord calls me home, that’s how it will be; like my Father is picking me up from the hockey rink and I know he’s taking me to A & W which will be amazing and fun, but I’m no where near ready to get off the ice. My kids are on the ice…

So we will continue to be thankful for everyday. I will continue to shout from the rooftops how amazing God is and how great this life he has given me. I am not afraid to fight. I am not afraid to die. I am confident that His plan is best. That my children will be held through the loving embrace of those who love them.

Psalm 23A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Kinda tough to be upset when that’s my courage, my strength, my peace.

…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me…

I am genuinely am getting though this battle with such a positive outlook because I do feel Him beside me. I am in the valley of the shadow of death and I’m not afraid.

Today it Becomes Real

Today, after work and school, the boys and I are going to the hair salon. B2 is getting a haircut he so desperately needs, B1 needs one but isn’t getting one. I am getting my head shaved.

Today it becomes real and tangible and visible that Mom has cancer…and B1 is afraid. It’s one step closer to the end of the journey for me, to him it is reality slapping him in the face…HARD.

We went for some Mom and Me time last night…we both got pedicures and had an absolute blast just being silly and caring and serious, and just being US.

I am trying to make the best of a shitty situation…for all of us. I am also trying to make it less scary for them. I also have to make sure I respect each of their fears, their thought processes, their ages, their concerns…it’s not easy.

B2 is super excited about helping to shave my head. B1 is hating that it even has to be done…I have to be the mom to both kids…and sometimes in the exact same minute…enjoying it with one, and mourning with the other.

So…today it becomes real.