Friday, December 15, 2006

Officially Official!

On December 14th we visited the Department of Defense. Maybe it wasn't really the DoD, it was US Citizenship and Immigration Services, but DoD is more fun to say! Jack received his Certificate of Citizenship during this visit. I was hoping for some sort of ceremony or something, but we got none. This is also the very last document related to his adoption to be completed. It took us 2 years and 9 months start to finish for all the paperwork (we filed the very first form, the I-600A, in March 2004).

It's nice to be all done with the paperwork, there is an incredible amount for adoption! (I think you have to fill out equal number of pounds of paperwork to your child's weight.) And we are done with all the fees to the USCIS (for Jack's adoption anyway), and done waiting to find out if something was written incorrectly and for confirmation of receipt.

So Jack is an offical US citizen in his American name. He will be able to vote and we can get him a US passport. And he now has proof of his citizenship status in the Sweet Land of Liberty. Congratulations, Jack!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Yesterday we went on base to get our flu shots. When we got to the Exchange, there was a big truck on the sidewalk. Jack was very excited about it, especially when I told him we got to go inside. Little did my sweet boy know, it was the portable flu-shot station. When I sat Jack on the table for his shot, I told him we would get ice cream as soon as we were done. He cried for just a second after his shot, and the sucker the nurse gave him helped more than Mommy kisses.

Jack watched wide-eyed as I got my shot and Band Aid, and reminded me about the ice cream as soon as we left the truck. We went down to the Ben & Jerry's (which is owned by a friend of mine) and shared a small bowl of frozen yogurt (after throwing out his sucker)...I love that Jack is still young enough that he doesn't know the difference! As we were eating he kept clasping his chubby hands together and would say, "Brrrr!" Then he would crack up laughing and giggling so hard. He did this many times, and I laughed right along. The Marine at the table next to us was trying to enjoy a cup of coffee with his newspaper, but he too started chuckling along with Jack.

Nothing like seeing a big, tough Marine in uniform giggling along with a toddler!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Zip, Zero, Zilch!

Nada, none, matter how you say it, I still don't have it! Cancer that is, there was absolutely none to be found in all the stuff they took out on Monday! I can't explain why the biopsy came back positive and then there was no cancer at explanation is Divine Intervention. I started praying that there was not cancer as soon as I found out there was, and my prayer was answered. Woo hoo! And the best part is that I don't have to do that crazy low-iodine diet and go off my Synthroid. What a relief that is too!

The lymph nodes they removed (that's what they were), all were round which is not a normal node shape. The surgery was not useless, the abnormal nodes are out and my scar will look even better than it did before. I continue to be grateful to my doctors for giving me the best care, and always choosing the right path for my treatment. And of course to Ian for being the best husband on the planet!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

You know you are a Cancer Survivor when... get excited about only half of your neck being cut open.
...your doctors no longer need to explain the procedure to you. can explain the procedure to the med students and Residents. hold your arm up while sleeping when your spouse comes in to check on you because you think you are getting your blood pressure taken. refer to your surgeries as #1, #2, #3, and #4.
...your doctors tell you that you are a special patient, and don't explain if that is good or bad! have special hospital pajamas and shoes. can fondly call the phlebotomist "Vampire." ask all of your family and friends to write to their Senators and Representatives about funding for cancer research instead of sending flowers. LIVESTRONG.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

3 Words

Cancer sucks. That's all there is to it. No matter what side you are on, it's painful. Everything about cancer is painful, emotional, and horrible. Does a Survivor come out stronger on the otherside? Most times, yes, but it is a pretty awful way to gain strength.

I just spent a weekend with about 700 Survivors and Advocates of cancer at the LIVESTRONG Summit. It was an emotional and incredible weekend...awesome keynote speakers, fantastic roundtable discussions, and wonderful friends. I was able to meet many other yound adult Surviviors, and 3 other Thycans! All 4 of us were diagnosed around the same age and were not a normal case. It was so comforting to meet these lovely women, we all feel as though we are friends for life. I am pretty sure every delegate left the Summit feeling super-empowered and ready to take on this war against cancer, the biggest terrorist of all.

My empowerment practically came to a screaching halt when I returned a phone call from my doctor on the way home from the airport. I heard those 3 heart stopping words once again, "You have cancer." After a little "woe is me" time, I am on the warpath and ready to go. I've got a CT scan to see if it is just this one lymph node involved or more. Surgery is mid-November, and yes, my husband is coming home.

There's no way after the being at the Summit I can sit back and let this happen to me (not that I did that before). I am involved, I will not let this disease rule my life. As I heard so many times at the Summit:

Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Few...the Proud...the Marines

Flags of Our Fathers starts today in theaters. It's being called Saving Private Ryan for the Marine Corps. I think it would have been neat if it would have been released on 10 November, the Marine Corps' 231st birthday. Then again most Marines will be out celebrating with other Marines that day.

All around the world, Marines celebrate their birthday on 10 November. The Marines Ian is with in Afghanistan will be getting together for a little party. A friend of ours, Scott, is at another base in Afghanistan, and he is going to come down to where Ian's base to celebrate. When the
cake is cut, the first piece is given to the guest of honor and the second is given to the oldest Marine present and his/her birthday and enlisted date at stated. That Marine then passes the third piece of cake to the youngest Marine present and his/her birthday and enlisted date is stated. This ceremony is performed no matter where the Marines are. At the ball 2 years ago, I spoke with one of Ian's now retired Master Gunnery Sergeants who shared a story about celebrating in a tent with the pound cake from an MRE used for the cake ceremony.

The Birthday Ball always has lots of pageantry which is a spine-tingling sight in addition to a room full of Marines in the dress blues complete with ribbons and medals. This is the first year since we've lived here that we won't be going to the ball, but Ian will be celebrating over there. What will I be doing? Most likely playing with Jack and sprucing up the house for Ian's arrival shortly thereafter! Not a bad compromise I'd say!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's to the Hill I go!

I'm off to Celebration on the Hill! I am looking forward to this experience and opportunity to meet with the legislative aides, Senators Dole and Burr, and Congressman Jones. We are hoping to make a huge impact and have Congress put cancer research and cancer related issues back at the top of their list.

There are many Americans in an uproar about all the deaths caused by the current conflict. Here's a fact: As many Americans die in 2 days from cancer as the number of people who died on 9/11. I'm not justifying the deaths caused by this war or supporting it, that is a separate topic and post.

Cancer is killing Americans on our own soil, and it isn't picky. Cancer attacks children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, Supreme Court Justices, athletes, doctors, writers, CEOs. It doesn't care how much money you have, what religion you practice, what race you are. Cancer creeps into your life when you least expect and takes over your body, life, and mind. One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime (I'm pretty sure the war casualties do not amount to this). Cancer is a killer that we can stop.

So what is Congress doing about this? Cutting funds for research and trying to eliminate guaranteed insurance coverage for cancer screenings (such as mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears). I don't need to tell you how I feel, you already know. So let's stop this killer for once and all.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Tribute to Maynard Spence

Today I am taking time to write about one of the victims of 9/11. On the fifth anniversary of the attacks, each of the 2,996 victims is being honored by bloggers across the web. Please visit to learn more and find the blogs honoring all 2,996 victims.

Maynard Spence (42) was born and raised in North Carolina, attended Atlantic Christian College and was living in Douglasville, Georgia. He was employed by Marsh & McLennan and on the 99th floor of the South tower for a meeting on September 11, 2001. Maynard's life was taken by an act of terrorism.

I found many tribute sites with messages from friends and co-workers. Mr. Spence was a great man, very caring with a hearty laugh. I know that he is missed by his family, friends, and co-workers. As I was researching about "Jiff” (his childhood nickname), I couldn't help but wonder what his life was like. I was unable to find anything about his personal life, but I imagine that he was the kind of man that always would throw a few coins into the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas, and tell you a joke when you are having a bad day. The guy in the office that everyone wanted to have lunch with.

I found one tribute that was in The New York Times on December 13, 2001:
Barbara Spence was thumbing through a cookbook several weeks ago, when she noticed a note stuck between the pages among the cookie recipes. It read, "I love you, M."

The M was Maynard S. Spence Jr., 42, her husband, a man with a deep devotion and a flair for the romantic. A few years earlier, Mr. Spence had exhausted an entire pad of sticky notes to his wife and hidden them around the house; even today, Mrs. Spence is finding them.

His love notes may have been stealth, but his presence was not. His laugh was big and deep, and colleagues at the Marsh & McLennan office in Atlanta — a construction safety consultant, he was at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 for a meeting — always knew when the gregarious, seemingly perpetually happy Mr. Spence was in the vicinity.

"It was the most honest laugh you could imagine," his manager, Gary L. Pohlmann, said of Mr. Spence, whom family and friends also remember for his love of barbecue and pickup basketball. The laugh, Mr. Pohlmann said, was one that "everybody in our office continues to wait to hear."

Maynard, you will never be forgotten.

Please visit
The Maynard Spence Foundation for information about scholarships of construction safety education.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Where are you?

St. Therese's Prayer:

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

As my 10 year high school reunion approaches, I have been looking through our reunion site and reading about what my classmates have been up to for the last 10 years. Some of them are doing exactly what they planned, and others are far from what any of us expected. Did I ever think I'd be married to a Marine or myself be a Cancer Survivor? I had no idea 10 years ago that Ian was going to be my husband, but he's more perfect than I ever could have imagined! There have been many times in the last 10 years when I wondered if I was where I was supposed to be.

Now I can see that I am, and I was where I needed to be. Exactly where I needed to be. I just couldn't see that at the time. I hope I can remember that I'll be placed where I am supposed to be as the military moves us and life happens. "May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be." You are where you need to be, it may not be your plan, but it is some one's plan.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night....

Tropical Storm Ernesto came through last Thursday night. Jack and I were up for about 2 hours during the night because the wind and rain woke up both up. After I had been awake for about 20 minutes I went to check on Jack, he was trying to hide his head under his stuffed animals. So we watched the Weather Channel for a while and he cuddled on my lap, perfect for a stormy night.

The next day we had lots of clean up to do. It was still windy on Friday, but we got most of the way picked up. Lots of branches, sticks, pinecones, and pine needles everywhere. A few sections of our trellis got damaged (you can see it in the first picture), and I started repairing that on Saturday. Sandie had a great time running all around in the wind and fetching sticks. Jack was helping by picking up single pine needles; I was glad he was occupied so I could get the big stuff.

We had 2 pretty good sized piles of branches and such (second picture is of the larger pile). Our neighbors pile of sticks was about a third the size of ours, but we do have more trees than our neighbors though. Hopefully the city will do pickup early this week so I don't have to look at the piles much longer.

Now you are probably thinking, where is Ian during all this? The last picture says it all.

Okay, well maybe he's still in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kids and Deployments

This deployment has been so different than the others. The biggest difference is now we have a child involved. Jack has kept me so busy, in so many good ways. We are part of a MOPS group two Tuesdays a month and have a "Mommy and Me" gymnastics class on Wednesday mornings. He is climbing on the sofa to read and has so many words I can't even count! (He can put 3 words together...a big deal for a 20 month old! He says "I git youuuu" and "Mo mo cook-ee puh-leeez!" When he asked for more cookies, I just about gave him the whole box I was so excited!) I also get a baby-sitter at least 1 night a week so I can have some adult time (Tuesday is my tap dance class).

For the most part, Jack is handling this deployment extremely well. The week before Ian left, we began working on the concept of "right back." Jack started understanding pretty quickly that if we leave his Lambie in the car it will be there when we get back. This has translated into when Mommy leaves the room, leaves the house for a few hours (and a baby-sitter with him!), and ultimately to Daddy will come home. There have been several days that Jack has missed Ian so much it takes a while for me to calm him, but I know how good that is. He remembers Daddy and misses him, that equals attachment to Daddy...a very good thing. I feel the Daddy Doll has helped tremendously (go to to get your own!) with the separation.

We have good days and bad days, but mostly great ones. Jack and I leave the house everyday, even if it's to go for a walk. We get together with friends often so we don't have too much time to miss our Hero (or watch the news). Each day the deployment gets a little easier, but we also miss Ian a little more. With just under 3 months left, we can now start planning The Day. The Day our Hero returns to our arms. The Day Daddy can drive cars with Jack. The Day Ian can take out the trash and change a diaper.

P.S. Today, August 29 marks 100 days of deployment...the longest we have ever made it without news of cancer or more surgery!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cancer Facts

I have received lots of facts and information since I started actively advocating for Survivors. I received the following through my LIVESTRONG advocacy email group:

In the time it takes you to read this short page of information, another five people were diagnosed with cancer and two more people will have died from cancer. Cancer kills about one American every minute of every day, or about 1,500 people every 24 hours.

About 1.4 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2006. More than 20 million new cancer cases have been diagnosed since 1990.

One of every two men and one out of three women will get cancer in their lifetimes.

Three out of every four American families will have at least one family member diagnosed with cancer.

About 565,000 Americans are expected to die of cancer in 2006. In the U.S., cancer is the second leading cause of death, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths.

According to the National Institutes of Health, overall costs for cancer in 2005 were nearly $210 billion, including medical costs, the cost of lost productivity due to illness and the cost of lost productivity due to premature death.

Approximately 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in people aged 55 and older.

An estimated 9,500 new cases of cancer are anticipated among children aged 14 and younger in 2006. Other than accidents, cancer is the leading cause of death among children.

The Good News:
Cancer researchers have a clear understanding of how cancer evolves, from the initial disruption of genetic material, and the signals that drive and nourish this growth and cause it to spread. We are at a crossroads in the history of cancer research and we are poised to make exponential gains, to even reduce it to a chronic disease, like diabetes. Early indicators include:

For the first time in more than 70 years, annual cancer deaths in the United States have fallen. The number of cancer deaths in the U.S. fell between 2002 and 2003, the first annual decrease in total cancer deaths since the 1930s, when nationwide data began to be compiled.

As of January 2002, it is estimated that there are 10.1 million cancer Survivors in the U.S. Approximately 14% of the 10.1 million estimated Survivors were diagnosed more than 20 years ago.

People can reduce their risk of getting cancer through diet, exercise, weight loss and the practice of other healthy lifestyle factors.

Today, 64% of adults diagnosed with cancer will be alive in five years. Among children, nearly 75% of childhood cancer Survivors will be alive after 10 years.

Does this make you want to prevent cancer from killing even more Americans in 2 days than September 11? If so, here are a few ways you can help:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

2 Months Down

In about 4 months Ian will be home. That still seems so far away. It's a thousand degrees outside and he won't be home until it's cooler. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the end of this deployment. It's been really hard, I hate crawling into bed at night (see what time I posted this). But having Jack to care for has kept me busy and from thinking about Ian being gone too much. There are times when Jack will ask for Dadda, so we look at pictures, get his Daddy Doll, and talk about how we miss him lots and he'll be right back. And we pray every night for God to keep Daddy safe in Afghanistan, or as Jack says, "Gan-stan."

Another thing that has made the deployment easier is Ian. He's been super sweet with phone calls and sending me sweet notes in the mail. Our 6th anniversary was last Saturday and he sent me a huge bouquet of red roses, a gorgeous potted orchid, and M&Ms. Not just any M&Ms, ones with a personalized message! It felt like Christmas as UPS and Fed Ex delivered the packages. I felt so special, which I am pretty sure was Ian's goal.

So some good things do come out of a deployment...but I'd still rather have my husband home than a million M&Ms.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Being an Advocate

Last year when I decided that I need to do more as a Cancer Survivor, I had no idea what God had in store for me. Within a few months of that decision I was selected to go to DC with the American Cancer Society for Celebration on the Hill. Then a short time later I was selected as an advocate for LIVESTRONG Day with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Opportunities keep popping up and I am loving it!

A month ago I applied for the LIVESTRONG Summit, another opportunity for Cancer Advocacy. Thursday morning I found out that I was selected! I'll be going to Austin with 1,000 other Delegates to discuss the practical needs of people living with cancer. Check out the Summit website for more info.

North Carolina's Senators and Congresspeople better watch out, Cynthia is coming and won't take no for an answer!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cut in Cancer Funding!

I loved my trip to DC, had a great time learning how to be an advocate then putting my skills to work. I got within a few feet of Lance Armstrong, but didn't shake his hand. I did get a good picture though! Apparently, I didn't do a good enough job of advocating, I got this message in my LAF Advocacy Newsletter today:
House Committee Votes to Cut Cancer Funding

On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee passed the spending bill that will fund federal cancer programs next year. Unfortunately, the bill carries forward the cuts from the Administration's budget with a $39 million cut at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and additional cuts for cancer programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This year, the NCI is working under its first funding cut in more than a decade. If the cuts proposed in the House spending bill are approved, it will be the first time in more than 20 years the budget has been cut two consecutive years. Additionally, already under-funded programs that have been proven to be effective in detecting and treating cancer at the CDC are slated to receive cuts. Progress has been made in the fight against cancer, in large part due to our nation's cancer research, prevention and treatment programs. Continuing progress requires a sustained commitment of federal resources.

To be successful, we cannot afford to scale back our efforts in this fight. Please contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to oppose any legislation that fails to provide meaningful increases for cancer research and programs.

I urge you to write to your Senators and Representative and help fix this! Click on the link above and just type in your address. The computer will send emails to the correct people. Cancer is a disease that we can cure...the vaccine for Cervical Cancer is wonderful! It is the first step of many to a cure for ALL cancers. Let's do this, I will be in my Representative's and Senators' faces until this is cured. Let's fight this together!

Friday, June 30, 2006

230 Years of Independence

I love the Fourth of July. I love the fireworks, the grilling, all the flags and patriotic decorations. But my favorite thing about this holiday is that it doesn't matter what religion you are, where you stand politically, or how you think about the current conflict...if you are an American citizen you celebrate!

There is something special about being in a military town for July 4th. It's already a bit more patriotic than your average town, but everyone's yard seems a little tidier, flags are flown so proudly (often with a yellow ribbon), almost the entire base has a long weekend (called a 96), and the fireworks are incredible. I mean, who can do better fireworks than the military? They blow stuff up for a living, but for this day, they do it for entertainment only!

There will be a very important person absent from our celebrations this year, which gives this holiday even more meaning for me. For 230 years, our military has protected our country and it's citizens, giving us a wonderful place to live, be free, and express our thoughts. America is not without it's faults, but that's what so great...we can freely say that! I will be missing Ian a lot when Jack and I are watching the fireworks (with Ian's older sister)...but am grateful for his service, and the service of all the past and present Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers. Their service has preserved our freedoms. Thank you, Ian, and all you brave men and women.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Boxes of Love

I love sending care packages to Ian, it's fun to load up a box with goodies, messages, and pictures then send it across the world to my Sweetie. When Ian was in Iraq, I sent a package that included a bunch of pudding in a tube, kind of like a Freezee-Pop. When the box got to Ian, the pudding was cold from being frozen on the plane. He said the cold pudding lasted about 20 minutes. Not because it melted in the oven-temperature heat, but because it was COLD pudding! Ian and any Marine within smelling distance gobbled it right up!

I remember when I was shopping for that care package, I saw the pudding and thought, "Pudding in a tube...hmmm...I think Ian might like that." Who knew it would arrive cold and be such a hit? After that, I've tried to get a little creative with the packages...once I sent him decorations from a birthday party of a friend's daughter. Ian hung the decorations (pink streamers and all) on his tent and took a picture. I'm pretty sure that he took them down right away, but he got to be there for the party! Now with the Daddy Doll, he won't miss a single second!

Need ideas for a care package?
  • Beef Jerky (or Turkey Jerky...any flavor is fine)
  • Peanuts/Mixed Nuts
  • Trail Mix
  • Chips in a tall can (like Pringles)
  • Twizzlers
  • Other snack food that can tolerate a bit of heat in shipping
  • Paper back books (sci-fi, military, Tom Clancy type (he's read all of Tom's books), Terry Brooks)...Note: these don't need to be new, old ones lying around the house are fine
  • Puzzle books with crosswords, Sudoku, etc.
  • Any other goodies that you think are fun!

Sometimes I'll send small toys or games, silly stuff! Something that can entertain him for a bit! Don't worry about sending too much or too little. The guys share their care packages, especially with guys who don't get many. If you send it, it will be used...or eaten!

Friday, June 16, 2006

My Sleeping Child

When we got Jack's referral pictures, he was asleep in them. That is how I saw him for the 3 months from the time we got the referral until we met him. For those 3 months I wondered what his eyes looked like...can you see a smile in them before it starts? Do they hide a secret?

The first few days we had Jack in Korea, he slept a lot. Which was probably good since Ian and I were brand new parents. We would sit by his crib and watch him sleep, and Jack would sleep in the same position as his referral picture, with his tiny hand half curled up.

Jack has been home for just over a year, and I know that Jack's eyes do smile, all the time! And there is a bit of mischief in them too. But whenever he is sleeping, it reminds me of those 2 pictures. That's when I know it's real...he is really my son, my sleeping child.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Daddy Doll

Even though he isn't home, Ian is with us wherever we go!
In this picture he was with us on the Huckleberry Railroad at Crossroads Village in Michigan. As you can tell, Ian was wearing the correct cammies for the terrain. We all had a great ride! The Train Conductor even took a picture with Ian too, and wanted me to pass on a message to Ian, "Thanks for serving, and come home safely!"
We will be taking "mini-Ian" on all of our adventures...he'll always be with us!
To get your own Daddy Doll, visit

Monday, June 05, 2006

Traveling with a Toddler

Whoever invented the DVD player is a genius. Whoever invented DVD players for the car is a genius with kids. There is no way that this trip to Michigan would have been possible with out it. I know my parents would drive me and my brother on long car trips and we did fine without the DVD player, but I am sure by the time we arrived, my parents wanted to pull out all their hair. Technology is so great.