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December 2010

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Sa·yo·na·ra 2010!

This tumor thing can get pretty crazy. Eat this, don’t eat that. Do this, don’t do that. It’s hard to navigate this kind of life, trying to outsmart the tumor, there’s no formula. Usually, I take it all in stride, and keep my knees bent for changes. Sometimes, however, it can be overwhelming, and I just want to give up. Luckily, those moments are few and far between, and I tend to feel better after a nap. Lately, everything that my team (Danny, my mom & dad) reads show a calorie restricted diet to be the most effective natural treatment. That’s not fun. Tonight, since it’s NYE, I’m sure I’ll indulge in one way or another. The tumor is always on my mind though. Even if I eat more than I should, I’ll still be more careful than I would have been sans tumor. I’ll never be able to go back to the days of ignorance and bliss. Happy new year to everyone! Here’s a mix of never been posted photos and some that you’ve probably seen before. What a wild year it was. Sorry for the lack of organization. The photos not in chronological order.         Adios 2010, you’ve been a crazy 365 days! Thanks for the memories. You challenged my strength, and my character, and I thank you for it. I’ve grown immeasurably.

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Broccoli Sprouts

  Yesterday, the sunset was absolutely gorgeous and the quote at the gym was pretty inspirational too. Also cool yesterday, I received an email from a couple. The wife has a stage 2 astrocytoma and they’ve been researching all kinds of alternative treatments. They’re sharing all of their information with me which is incerdibly exciting! I love it that people contact me with all kinds of wonderful information, and stories. This blog has been such a wonderful gift in my life! It’s been long known that broccoli is a very healthy vegetable. It’s pretty much a super star cancer fighter. According to John Hopkin’s, the #1 brain tumor facility in the country, broccoli sprouts “pack 20 to 50 times the cancer-fighting punch of the mature broccoli plant.” Researchers are starting to use the compounds in broccoli to try and slow or even reverse the growth of brain tumors. It’s still pretty early in the process to have any real definitive answers, but it’s hopeful! There’s so much that we don’t know about brain tumors and most medicine is based on treatment, not prevention. The truth is that we are what we eat. And no one is immune to disease. I sometimes wish that brain tumors were similar to HIV, in that you know how to prevent it. But if we can figure out how to slow or stop the growth of a brain tumor, that’s as close as prevention as I think we’re going to get for a while. It’s a hard thing to study. I’m kind of a human rat, trying to learn what works for this tumor and what doesn’t. I’m not sure if any that even makes sense. What does make sense, eating broccoli sprouts. Think about it…

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Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Sorry, I’ve been MIA. I fell off the grid for several days due to the holiday. Danny and I headed up to the island to celebrate Christmas with his and my family. It was so much fun having children of all ages around. We ate obnoxious amounts of delicious food, played games, and mostly visited with each other. It sounds odd but it was therapeutically exhausting. Does that make sense? It’s nice to get back to the house though. We made the mistake of leaving our Christmas tree in the living room while we were away. Live trees are wonderful…when they’re watered. Now it’s back to the daily grind. I had my last speech therapy session for a couple of weeks. I’m now practicing what I’ve learned at home. Julie (the speech therapist) said that at this point in my recovery I need to continue to challenge myself. If I just sit on the couch watching daytime TV, my mind will grow stagnant. I’m on a schedule to write a paper each week. They’re short and sweet, but it’s great practice to do an outline and organize my thoughts. Also, I read aloud for about 20 minutes a day, working on my fluency. I’ve been doing the papers for about 6 weeks and the fluency reading for about two weeks, now my new task is a word a week. I’ve decided to pick a word out of the dictionary and use it multiple times a day each week. This week’s word is, austere. Julie said that I should only incorporate one new task every three or so weeks. With these tasks, I’m starting to fill up. This is like mental juggling for me. Just the act of organizing all of this stuff should…

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A Surprise Package

The other day a surprise package arrived. It contained a gorgeous, soft, hand knitted scarf. There was sweet card, and no signature. No return address. It was from a reader of my blog, whose name I don’t know, whom I’ve never met. Constantly, especially in my car as I listen to music, I think about how lucky I am. This tumor has been a lucky charm. I feel like my life is absolutely amazing. A hero by my side who constantly loves me through amazing changes, an unbelievable family who supports me in every single way, friends who always keep me laughing and hugging me when I need to cry, and the support from people whom I’ve never met, but love me as if we’d been friends for an eternity. I’ve been introduced to a whole new world because of this little nugget. I have the opportunity to share my life, and for the first true time, I feel like I actually have something important to talk about. This story, of my journey, is raw and honest. I’m sure I sometimes sound foolish, or ridiculous, but that’s a part of who I am. I’m so insanely grateful for all of the support. I have the best group of people cheering me on, keeping space for me in their heart. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I don’t really have a solid opinion about lives being predestined. I don’t exactly believe that everything happens for a reason. I do, however, believe that this tumor has brought the best out of me. This is a challenge, and I’m grateful to have the chance to share it with all of you. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and a very, very special thank you to the unbelievably talented maker…

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Eagle Eyes

I have a confession to make…I cheated on my ketocal. Some friends threw Danny and I a small engagement party and there was so much delicious food and wine. I looked at Danny with big doe eyes and asked him if one night would kill me. Quite the manipulator don’t you think!? The girls hosting the party had all kinds of foods that I could eat, so I didn’t cheat THAT much, but I did down a couple of cupcakes and helped myself to a few glasses of wine. I felt guilty at first, with the initial bite, but in the morning I felt relieved. Who was I kidding that sugar would never again cross through my lips. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been great at doing things 100%. The stress of the diet and amount of restriction was overwhelming. I’ve since decided to keep with the diet normally, but if there’s a special occasion I can indulge. I know it’s my health we’re talking about, but I’m also wanting to live my life. On a side note, I just returned from the eye doctor. During my last speech therapy session, Julie noticed that I get closer and closer to the paper as I read, and she was concerned about my eye sight. When we were younger, Kaal and I would hunt for frogs, calling me, “Eagle Eyes.” He thought that I had some sort of super human eye sight, but later we found out that Kaal badly needed glasses. I have always wanted glasses – weird, I know. They’re just so sophisticated.  I’m convinced that it’s impossible to look unintelligent if you wear glasses. All of my wishing has fallen on deaf ears though. My eye sight is still perfectly fine. The eye doctor said that when kids…

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Welfare Cards vs Welfare Vouchers

I finished my argument paper today. Although there’s no doubt in my mind this homework is extremely beneficial to me, I can’t help but feel stupid sometimes while working on it. To have mental abilities and then lose them is heartbreaking and discouraging. I managed to avoid crying this time. I feel like that was a success. This tumor is bittersweet. I’m learning invaluable lessons; so much about life, who I am, what I can handle, and what’s important. At the same time, I feel like a simpleton. I honestly feel bad that I agreed with her critics and thought Jessica Simpson’s nickname ” Jessica Simpleton” was hilarious. Now the jokes on me. I never thought I’d feel that way. A lot can change very quickly can’t it. I’m not going to share my 1/2 page paper because I’m embarrassed but, for the record, my paper was written after reading the following NWPR article: Wash. Welfare Cards Used At Out-Of-State Liquor Stores, Strip Clubs  Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010 OLYMPIA, Wash. – Some Washington welfare recipients are withdrawing cash at out-of-state liquor stores, smoke shops and even strip clubs. That’s the finding of a public radio investigation into welfare debit card use outside Washington’s borders. The finding comes at a time when the state’s welfare program is 82-million dollars in the red. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports. The Safari Showclub bills itself as Portland’s finest Rock N Roll strip club. Manager Paul Le says there are plenty of ways to spend your hard earned cash. Paul Le: “Tip the dancers, get lap dances, gamble, video poker.” Need some cash? The Safari conveniently has an ATM machine on-site. And that’s where this September a Washington welfare debit card was used to withdraw money. Now there’s no proof that cash was actually…

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Diamond Blackfan Anemia

I would like to apologize for being a huge baby. Just after the last post I thought about a friend from high school whose daughter has Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Mia, a seven year old, lives off of blood transfusions. She regularly has to get poked and prodded every 3-4 weeks. The most amazing thing about Mia is that she does it all with a smile, she’s the cutest little curly head ever. Here I am, a complete whiner, about such a trivial thing. An IV. Mia’s big fear probably isn’t the IV, it’s having the blood to survive. During my last MRI, Danny went and donated blood just to feel close to me, even though technically he was across the entire hospital. Maybe THAT’S what I need to do, voluntarily get poked and donate my blood. I’m not sure if they’ll take it. They might toss out brain tumor blood, but it’s worth a shot to check it out. I don’t know why I was boo hooing. I’m embarrassed. If you want to read Mia’s story, and maybe donate to her website, please check it out: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/miamcpoland/mystory

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Speech Therapy Success

I’m happy to report that Monday’s speech therapy was an unbelievable success. For the first time I was able to answer all four of the reading comprehension questions correctly! Here’s the trick, I need to slowly read the passage aloud twice. And when I mean slowly, I mean s-l-o-w-l-y. Who cares though, it’s a start! Woo hoo! For next week, I have ANOTHER position/argument paper. This will be #4. Luckily, they’re never long, just about 2-3 of a page. Each time I have a paper, Julie (my speech therapist) helps me hone in on organizing my thoughts. She’s teaching me to use organization techniques, which I know I learned in high school (like idea bubbles), it’s not enough to remember how to do a technique, it’s all figuring out how to implement them. That’s the hard part. I have such a hard time reaching into my brain and finding thoughts. It’s weird. I think this part of my recovery is going to take quite a while. Last night, just as I was falling asleep I had a mini panic attack. I realized the MRI is on January 14th and I remembered how horrible the IV is. I usually end up quietly sobbing. I’m a pretty big ninny. They can never find my vein so they end up digging around in my arm forever, changing puncture locations and veins, then they change arms, and then change back to the original arm. It sucks. I wish I could say that I can shove the thoughts out of my mind, but I can’t. I’m trying my best, but until I replace the thoughts with something positive (and I can’t seem to find anything that feels quite right) I’m going to be mulling over this for a little bit. Anyway, all in all, things…

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From the first neurosurgeon’s appointment at the UW I saw this painting. It always makes me smile. I remember thinking of it when I went in for the first surgery, I had walked past it after the surgery prep meeting. I focused on it when I was in recovery. When I was released, I admired it as Danny wheeled me to the car, and Jess Abu Dhabi carried all of the goodies that my friends and family brought me (thank you, thank you, thank you!). Now, every time I head to my speech therapist’s office I spend a few minutes along the way looking it. I like to think that someday that’ll be Danny and me. According to the artist, the characters in the painting are not real people, they’re bits and pieces of bodies and faces from his mind. It’s a fictional event in the painting. I just read the side note yesterday, and I was surprised. I thought it was a real photo, or at least a painting of a photo or moment in time. Anyway, I just wanted to share this painting with everyone because it gives me so much joy. Every time I see this painting I get the warm fuzzies, and I can’t help but smile.

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Squeezing Mr Yuck

The first few days of this new keto cal diet, I thought I’d starve to death. Now, things are evening out. I’ve managed to keep up my 6 day a week workouts. I run for 30 minutes, and do as many man push ups as possible (averaging 20, depending on my level of exhaustion). When I run, and I don’t feel like pushing through, I imagine a Mr Yuck sticker between my index finger and thumb, and I squish it. I think about that little mean nugget in my brain that wasn’t invited. Then, I imagine an evil, ridiculous laugh cross my lips. I know that I’m his food source, and that I’m in the power seat; he’s hungry and I’m starving him. Sucker!    Stats: Before the diet I was 5’7 and 155 lbs Currently, I’m 5’7 and 145 lbs I’m starving that dirty little nuisance, and I’m healthier than ever. Shedding weight has never felt better. I have an enemy to fight, and although I respect the power that he has, I still want to win.

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