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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where has she been?

Yay, I was able to restore my blog...  I've missed coming here and writing. I've been using a paper journal to share my thoughts, but I think I prefer this method of sharing.

Let's see, where do I begin?  I'm still on a chemo break. #PraiseGod....  I'm going on 9 months of being chemo free. I say "chemo free" because while my Oncologiest has not said "you're in remission", but she has said "there is no cancer in your chest, stomach and pelvis." I'll take it.

My hair has come back curly as ever. #chemocurlsfordays.  It's unmanageable, but I'll take it anytime of the week.


In August, I traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico to visit my husband's family.

My Mother-in-Law is pictured above making Chorizo.  It's such a quite way of life in their little town of Cerro Prieto, Guanajuato  My in-laws run a small grocery store and on Sundays, they sell Carnitas and Chorizo.  Everything is fresh. They have livestock and they do not waste any part of the animal.

My in-laws are also farmers, growing corn.


It is so remote that I kept thinking "perfect place to be during a zombie apocolypse."

After a week in Guanajuato, Mexico, we took a bus to Mexico City.  Lord... I absolutely loved this city.  We visited the pyramids of Tenochtitlan, which is outside of Mexico City.  We had the best driver. He had musical instruments for us to play along with his playlist. He had everything... Eagles, and even the Beatles.  Once there, we climbed the Pyramid of the Moon.  I held on for dear life.  The Pyramid of the Sun which is pictured below, was just too high to even try.


I visited the Basilica where pilgrims go to pray and see the cloack of the Indian Juan Diego. It's a wonderful story and I felt so moved praying in that church.  I could feel the Lord's presence. It was an amazing experience.

And the food in Mexico City?  Wow... I had Chilequilles (fried corn tortillas in a chile verde sauce) just  about every morning.


We visited Frida Kahlo's house in Coyoacan, Mexico.  I feel like I checked so many places off my 'bucket list."  But my favorite was the markets where I ate quesadillas. Amazing!

I feel so fortunate for each and every moment. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't live with fear. It comes and goes, but I just praise the Lord for all his blessings and you know what?  He has comforted me and has given me this amazing peace that is unexplainable.  I thank him for his mercy through out my day.

 Life can get complicated and hard. Lots of everyday life decisions, but when you live with the fear of Cancer, it has a way of letting you realize what is truly important.  It's a valuable lesson for all of us... Staying in the moment, savoring the leaves falling from the trees, the cold air on your face and most of all the comfort of your home... just sitting on the couch, relaxing and the sound of your grandkids running about. I'm grateful... Beyond grateful.

TTFN
Paula

Monday, February 13, 2017


Dear Paula,

After 9 months of chemotherapy every Monday, and two good scans, you finally get a break from chemo! This makes you so happy....I know you're super happy that in the last 3 months, your hair has started to grow while on chemo. I know it's having no  hair, eyebrows and the dreaded "moon face" due to steroids has been rough.... How you get up each morning and go to work and smile through the awkwardness is amazing.  Keep it up Paula.... God has been really good to you and you need to acknowledge that be a testament to his goodness so SMILE...

I know Saturday was rough... You, Daniel and all his brothers and wives got together and went to a valentines dance.... Your brother in law Adan suggested you wear this hat....  You're lucky to have a such nice BILs.... You debated to wear a wig but your husband encouraged you to not wear a wig but to do what you felt comfortable. I know the 25 lb weight gain has been rough.  You tried  and tried to find a nice dress to wear but NOTHING... You even went to Avenue.  You're not quite a 1X but you're not an XL either... I know chemo is manageable and I know how tough these outings are... I'm sorry you cried your eyes out on Saturday... It's okay. There is a time for everything and you were alone and feeling life very unfair and that's okay.... I'm glad you pulled yourself together.  It helps to count your blessings.  All you can do it put a good face on it... Not let it define you.  Whew, good thing you pulled it together because you sister pulls up and says "what's wrong sis.... You look like shit!"   She gets out of the car and asks if you  have allergies...  How do you say NO, I'VE BEEN CRYING.... I know you feel alone and you have no one to talk to about cancer but at the same time, you don't want it to be the only thing you talk about so you play it off and say "yea, my allergies are killer today."  Maybe she secretly knows and doesn't want to make things worse for me.  We chat for a bit and then she leaves....

You're left to figure out what to wear for the evening. You go to your your closet and luckily find something to wear. You call your daughter and ask...  "do people wear jean jacket with a dress?"  She gives  you tips on what to wear and you feel like at least you have a plan....

Your husband is at work and you  have a couple of hours to kill so you lay in your guest room on the bed, with the warm sun beating on your face and you watch the movie SHAG for like the 3rd time.  I feel content....

Paula, you're dong awesome.  Stay strong.  Stay out of fear and like that video you watched on Facebook where that woman says "To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go"

Hold onto that paula and you'll be okay....



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This and That

Hi friends, how was your weekend?  It rained non-stop this weekend in Sacramento and I loved it. I had the grandkids over and we lit a fire and watched Hocus Pocus.  On Sunday, after church and blood work, we went grocery shopping and then watched TV all day.  At one point, I had to stretch and did a few yoga poses and it felt wonderful.  I asked my doctor if I can work out and she said of course, but within reason.  I plan on visiting The Daily Method to check out Barre and to see if it's something I can modify when necessary.  If you've tried it, please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Gracias.

Since I only work part-time, I've been eating out quite a lot.  I weigh 203 lbs as of yesterday and that's a 25 pound weight gain. It's depressing but it's also in part due to steroids but I got to be honest, going out to eat 2-3 times a week is not good.

But the upside of these adventures is I'm dining alone. It feels kind of awkward but I am learning to enjoy it.  Just me, alone with my thoughts and listening to the chatter around me.  
 


 
 
I ordered a meatball sandwhich on fresh baked bread and a small salad.  The sandwhich was everything... I'll admit it was way too much food. I ate the salad and half the sandwhich, but had to eat the meatballs out of the other half.
 
On Friday afternoon, it really started to rain and so my son called to see if I wanted to meet him at Son of a Bean (a coffee shop) as the owner was serving clam chowder bowls.  My son has this great group of supportive friends that he has met while working for Councilmember Allen Warren in  Del Paso Heights.
 
Here we are discussing my son's next move. He recently lost his run for  School Board.  I love coffee shops, don't you?
 
 
I am trying to get back to my healthy ways... but truthfully, the smell of kale, snap peas and brussell sprouts nearly made me puke.  I did my best and stuck with broccoli and then that's when I gave up and asked the Hubs to get a pizza.  I keep reminding myself to limit bread and eat healthier because my body needs it. Forget what it smells like or tastes like. So far, I've been eating Taylor Farms bagged salads for lunch and those seem to be satisfying. The goal is to eat a salad a day.  I wish I didn't love bread so much.... but that too needs to be eliminated. 
 
On a happier note, I thought I'd share another pic with one of my wigs. I should wear it more often.
 
 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Notes to Self




Paula, it’s been over a month that you returned to work.  I know it feels awesome to have a routine and to get out of the house.  Sitting in a meeting discussing digital commons and content feels like Christmas….

Paula, you just met with your oncologist to discuss the results of your pet scan… I know you try to remain optimistically hopeful and well, I just know you wanted to  jump for joy when she told you there is no evidence of the tumors… doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Just means chemo is working. We can accept that…. 

Paula, your family gathered at your house on Saturday. We made tacos, rice and beans and your son made Mojitos…. You always get so nervous when you entertain.  You cleaned the house and did your best to make things organized, but you still freak out when you have guests.  I was proud of you the way you didn’t freak out when you heard your cousin was visiting. Yes, you did good at being in the moment and how wonderful it was to see him and his lovely wife. Yes, it was a good day.

Paula, I know you absolutely love spending time with your little granddaughter Evie. She just brightens your day… And that hair… It takes your breath away when she gives you a hug….


Paula, you know you need to watch your calorie intake.  I know a lot of your weight gain is due to steroids but hey, that doesn’t mean you  need to keep treating yourself to lunches.

Thacos!!!  Is there anything better?

Tortas... My second favorite food

 Paula, I really like your idea of exercising 20 minutes a day. It’s a wonderful start. No need to get all elaborate... Just make it happen.  It can be as simple as walking or a quick bike ride.  You did great today by walking a little on campus. It's good to have a goal...

Hugs Paula. You're doing awesome...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Do it because you can

Happy Monday friends. I hope you had an amazing weekend.  I had a nice weekend but there was an ounce of sadness and envy but only just an ounce, as my happiness far outweighes such emotions.

Fitness Goals
Last November, I went shopping for warm workout gear because I was determined to complete a half-marathon in 2016. I got very close in 2016 by running 12 miles, but I hurt my knee at the pre-Urban Cow run.  Unfortunately, I got pneumonia and then a few months later, the cancer diagnosis.  You may not understand this, but the most challenging part of  battle is not being able to have fitness goals. I know that sounds stupid. But, I love hiking, biking and my workouts.  Nothing makes me happier than hearing the leaves crunch under my feet while walking in the fall.  I've had to adjust my thinking and that's okay because I'm still able to enjoy so much of my wonderful life. No pitty party here.... That's not my intention with this post. I'm extremely grateful for each day. Fitness goals or no fitness goals. 

I was excited to cheer on my daughter Jessica as she completed her Urban Cow Marathon. She got her 13.1 sticker and I'm super proud of her.  I'm very happy that my daughter Sabrina and my son Daniel joined me at the finish line to cheer her on. I'm incredibly blessed.  My knows me well. He whispered. I know mother you would have loved to be out there with Jessica.  I replied that I squandered my youth and that they (my kids) should seize their youth and just go for it.  White water rafting, Spartan race, bike 100 miles whatever it is... JUST DO IT...  Good health is everything and it shouldn't be squandered.  Do it because you can.

I couldn't help but admiring the runners of all ages. From children to seniors. All running their race.... I snapped this picture of this gentlemen. How funny.



My friend Marsa who is 64 years young, ran the marathon as well. I so wanted to be her.  She just biked 100 miles by herself.  Talk about fitness goals.  She wants to train for Ironman.  You can see why I was a tad jealous, but surprisingly, I wasn't sad enough to cry.  Nope. Too much to be happy about.

While my son-in-law and I waited for my daughter at mile 6, I noted the Tower Bridge that separates downtown Sacramento and West Sacramento was closed off for the race.  I just had to take advantage of the fact that the bridge was closed. I've driven across this bridge many times as a kid and an adult.  Nope. I photo had to be taken.



I had to get a selfie.

Man! that shot made my day.

After we cheered my daughter at the finish line, my kids and I went to Dantorell's for crepes.

It began to rain as we were eating and it was just a beautiful way to end the morning.  I'm so glad that I was able to cheer others on in their fitness goals despite not having many myself.  It's true that some people want a new car, a new home and others just want good health.... I'm extremely grateful for each day. It felt amazing to be out of the house at 6 a.m.  Surrounded by people of all ages who love to run. I was happy for them because I know what it means to have goals and to achieve them..... While I may not be able to run, bike and or hike for long distances. I can still find satisfaction in being outdoors with like minded individuals. 

I hope my children continue to have health and fitness goals.  I truly believe that if you want to be like my friend Marsa running a half-marathon at age 64, you must start now...  When I first met her, she had never ran before. She and I did TRI training together and I recall her first run and I was happy to be right there with her.  I love that I was part of an amazing group of woman who inspired one another.

While that chapter is semi-closed, and leaves me with some sadness that I must acknowledge and move on... No sense is wallowing in it.  Having cancer does not feel good, I can choose to feel good about the good things around me.  Sunday, it was sitting in the sun and taking a selfie in the middle of a bridge. It's all about moments and perspective.

Later gators
Paula

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Thoughts


Hey friends, how’s your week treating you?  Can I just say this is my 4th week back at work and I’m absolutely grateful for some normalness.  Keeping busy is the best medicine one can take when dealing with a terminal illness.  I know that sounds odd but it’s true.  I’m grateful for the distraction.   Even the questions from co-workers.  It’s not easy to say “I’m on chemo indefinitely.”  when asked about my treatment.  Every time I say it, I myself ask “what does that mean.”  I’ve decided not to think about that until I have to think about it. Does that make sense? Prolly not.

All I can do is just smile and say “Luckily, it’s all manageable and I have more good days than bad days.”  I was asked if I’m in pain and what am I taking? Again, I say “essential oils and a little cannabis.”  One co-worker said “I wouldn’t share that… but then why ask me?  I’m an open book and if you ask me a question, I tend to answer.  It makes my life easier.

I have an important oncology appointment coming up next week. My doctor will go over my recent scan which caused me to read my initial scans. You know, I just couldn’t read them prior to treatment. It’s like the more you know, the scarier shit becomes.  I’m amazed at how calm I am right now… I know God gives me strength to endure all things and I’m grateful for hope and his grace and mercy. 

While researching the side effects of my medication, I was relieved to hear that the weight gain that I have in my mid-section is due to steroids, as is my veracious appetite. I also learned that one of the side effects of steroids is “moon face”… Yep, I definitely have moon face. 


 
I'm not going to lie... There are moments that I really miss me.... The old me.... The me before cancer?  I recall starting paulawannacracker with the goal of exercising more and losing weight and maybe share the journey to a healthier self.  That was then...



She's still here with me. I just need to pull her out of her ass from time to time and remind her that cancer doesn't have to be the focus of her life but there are moments where it's tough.  I want to fight and be here for my kids, grandkids and husband. I am more than this disease.... I am paulawannacracker and I am tough as nails.... To hell with moon face, steroids, and stupid questions.  It's all about today and I'm just pretty happy to be here.  If you happen to stumble onto this blog and are dealing with illness. I tell you to hold onto hope. Hold onto you and do your best not to let the disease you are fighting take away your essence.  Yes, steroids affect my mood but it's up to me not to lose myself in those side effects.  I'm grateful for my job, for routine, for a place (yes, even this here blog) where I'm reminded of who and what I am.... I am a child of the most high and I can do all things through him. He strengthens me and gives me hope.

Hope... Isn't that the best?
 
Later gators.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Making lemonade out of lemons

Happy Monday friends.  I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was filled with my kids and grandkids.  I love Sundays because that usually means I've cooked a pot of posole, soup or some other meal and the kids come over for a visit. It's great when all my little grands get together. They're TERRIBLE when they're all together. For example, last weekend, they picked all the lemons and oranges that were budding on my trees in the backyard.  SMH... What do you do? I layed down the law for starters.

This weekend, we had water balloon fights and our shenanigans involved buckets of ice water. It is still pretty warm in Sacramento. It was a good time for sure.  Having stage 4 cancer, you worry about stuff like "will they remember me fondly."  I hate taking pictures but I've embraced it since it's a way to say "HEY, I WAS HERE." 

In wanting "normalness" and "routine, I decided to return to work part-time. I knew immediately that I wanted to wear a wig each day instead of wearing a scarf as below. 
Naturally, I was apprehensive about returning since I no longer have hair, eybrows or eyelashes... But thanks to makeup, there's something I can do about that... I hope by saying this it doesn't make me vain but I have always had great hair and perfect eyebrows....  Nothing like losing some of your attributes to humble you.  I've had to dig deep and let go some of that...

He I am a few weeks ago when I still had some eyebrows.... Posting this here is liking standing naked in a crowded room.  Cancer is a bitch and you just have to fight back...

Here I am last week getting my weekly chemo treatment.  Truthfully, it's not been so bad. The worse part of chemo is the nurses trying to get a vein for the IV.




On Selecting a Wig

I was sure that when I went back to work, that I wanted to wear a wig. It think the awkard thing about wearing scarves and hats is that people tend to stare and the last thing I want is a pitty party or having cancer be the only topic we talk about, so I was off to find a wig that didn't make me look more ridiculous.

After several visits, I bought this Remy Lace Wig with real hair. Gosh, when I put it on, I was amazed at how authentic it looked. I have not had long in in maybe 6 years.

 
Here I am my first day back at work.  What do you think? For starters, I'm super happy and second, I like wearing the wig pulled back. It looks more natural.

I am also getting better at dong my eyebrows and hiding the fact that I have no eyelashes.

I tell you I'm making lemonade out of lemons....