Friday, December 15, 2006
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
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
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
...your doctors no longer need to explain the procedure to you.
...you can explain the procedure to the med students and Residents.
...you 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.
...you 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!
...you have special hospital pajamas and shoes.
...you can fondly call the phlebotomist "Vampire."
...you ask all of your family and friends to write to their Senators and Representatives about funding for cancer research instead of sending flowers.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.daddydolls.com 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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
- 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
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.