I haven’t posted in a while, and that’s because life is just go, go, go right now. Which is totally fine with me. So here are some pics from the last couple weeks.
So that’s it. Happy Friday!
I haven’t posted in a while, and that’s because life is just go, go, go right now. Which is totally fine with me. So here are some pics from the last couple weeks.
So that’s it. Happy Friday!
Saturday was World Cancer Day. I know this because I follow a lot of cancer survivors/fighters on Instagram. I didn’t make a fuss of it on Saturday, but I did just see a really great video on the Today Show that gave me a little hope for the future for others that have to deal with these life-threatening diseases.
Click the image to go to the video…
Gene therapy may still be a ways off for all cancer fighters, but it’s getting closer and closer, and that’s my feel good story of the day.
Happy Monday all!
Well it’s that time of the year. The time where Jake and I plot out what we’re going to remodel in our house. We got the bug way back in the summer of 2015 when we renovated a large majority right when we moved in. But we had a couple big areas we held off on for financial reasons. Then as we renovated each area I took before and after pics and documented those areas on instagram with the hashtag “#leroyremodel” (I kept all those pics and write ups even after I deleted my instagram – see examples at the bottom of this post).
Last year, in the spring of 2016, we renovated our master bathroom.
This year? Going big.
Go big or go home, right? We’re remodeling our kitchen and getting all new floors throughout the first floor…with the exception of the family room that faces the backyard. That will stay as is for the foreseeable future.
We’re gonna tear down walls.
We’re gonna have an island.
We’re gonna have all new cupboards and counter tops and appliances.
We’re gonna spend a BOAT LOAD of money. Oh yeah. Lots of money being dropped on this.
But we won’t get into that now. Let’s just focus on the transformation.
No more three different types of flooring.
No more dining room that gets used only 2 times a year.
No more being separated by silly things like walls.
No more lusting after HGTV’s latest dream kitchen CAUSE IT WILL BE OURS!
So yeah, that’s what is happening. Not yet, but soon. Right now we just finalized the contractor we’ll be going with. Next up – the design phase.
Examples of #leroyremodel…
Well, to be honest I’m back at a lot of things. Back at work. Back to daycare pick ups. Back to bedtime routines. Back to having to shave armpit hair. What? It wouldn’t grow when I was going through chemo. And also back to working out.
But today, most importantly, I’m back at it with Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I ran my first half marathon with them in 2004, and look at me now…training with them once again.
Today was our kick off call and it got me pumped. So I made some updates to my fundraising page from the standard template they give you and I’m ready to do this!
I’ll save you “the story” here and let you go read it on that page, but if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you probably know the story already. So here are details about what’s going on.
What am I doing? Raising funds ($1,600) for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and training for Grandma’s half marathon through Team in Training.
Why am I doing it? Well, for one, because I just survived a lymphoma disease and also because I like to train for events.
Where is the race? Duluth, MN.
Why is it called Grandma’s? I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a good story behind it, though.
What do you have to do (you, the reader, that is)? It’s really up to you. You can just keep reading. You can donate. You can not donate. You can throw some water in my face when I’m running. You can NOT throw scalding hot coffee in my face when I’m running.
Have I started training yet? No, but I’m on week 3 of this couch to 5k program. It’s going as good as can be expected (which is basically awful until you build up some endurance)
When is the race? June 17, 2017.
More details will be forthcoming in the next weeks/months. In other news, though…
…That was the name of the party we threw on Saturday. It was attended by so many loved friends and family and neighbors. It was a blast and I was more than slightly hungover on Sunday. It was one of those parties where I didn’t even have time to think about grabbing my phone to take some fun pics with friends because I was too busy talking to people…which is a great thing, really. But I do wish I had a couple more pics. Oh well, I’ll always have the memories…unless chemo brain takes those. 😉
That’s all I got and it’s a school night (work night), ya’ll so I’m going to bed now. Later!
I was hoping to put together a list of my favorite reads from 2016, but sadly I didn’t do a great job of keeping track of all of these – and I get them in all different formats – through Amazon, Audible, library, Overdrive (electronic library), borrowing from friends and now Kindle, and so with my brain being mush, these are the favorites of the ones I can remember from 2016. So take it with a grain of salt.
Note: Each title is a link to the book’s Amazon listing, but I promise I’m not making money off of this (cause I’m too lazy to figure out how to do that right now).
(by Paul Kalanithi)
I actually wrote about this extensively a couple months ago. I remember reading it in April when I still hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer, and although it was sad, it was incredibly eye opening. To sum it up here, it’s basically a memoir told by a guy who is a doctor that deals with cancer patients every day, and then he himself finds out he has cancer and he talks through his differing perspectives and how actually living through the process has opened his eyes. The spoiler is in the previous blog post if you really want to know, but it’s an amazing book and definitely worth the read. For me, it was really interesting hearing the perspective from the doctor’s point of view.
(by Marissa Meyer)
This was the last book I read in 2016 and definitely one of my favorites. I was first alerted to Marissa’s Meyers works with her Lunar Chronicles. If I had read the Lunar Chronicles in 2016, I would have put them on this list, but those were at the end of 2015. But to give some background, the Lunar Chronicle books detailed the lives of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a futuristic, dystopian retelling of these classic tales. I LOVE classic fairytales (I’m also one of those people that watches “Once Upon a Time” so stop judging) and any retelling of those stories. Heartless continues in this way by taking a classic villain – the Queen of Hearts from the Alice and Wonderland tales – and details how she came to be the way she is. It’s a great origin story and I really hope Marissa does more like this.
(by Jeff Vandermeer)
Hmmm. How to explain this one. You know that feeling you get when you’re about to pass out – you’re seeing stars, you’re getting tunnel vision, your mouth starts over producing saliva and you feel like you might puke? That’s kind of how I would explain this series. You’re in this perpetual state of WHAT IS HAPPENING? If you’re looking for books grounded in reality and tangible concepts…this is not for you. It was this trippiness that appealed to me, though. It was one of those book series where I thought, “I didn’t even know books like this existed.” It gave me this feeling like I could write anything, no matter how weird or crazy and it could become an actual book. That was refreshing. Reading this book? Not so refreshing, but super interesting and it might induce some paranoia. I’m really selling this, right? Well, check it out if you’re into weird things.
(by Anthony Doerr)
This is one of those books that falls out of my typical list of genres, but I’d been seeing it on a lot of book lists and decided to give it a try. It’s historical fiction and takes place in the time of Nazi Germany, but is actually based in varying parts of France. The two main characters have very different stories and very different lives. One is a blind girl that lives with her father and they flee Paris to go live with her father’s reclusive uncle as Nazis invade their city. The other is an orphan boy that has special technical skills and is enlisted by the Hitler Youth to employ his skills to seek out the resistance. Eventually the stories collide in a heart-wrenching fashion, but all along the way the author builds this imagery of life in this time and how it’s experienced completely differently by these two protagonists. I read…or really, had this read to me…through audio books and it was so enjoyable that I completely got lost in time on my way to and from work. It’s a long book, but it’s entrancing. I highly suggest reading…or listening to it when you can.
These were solid books that I read in 2016. Maybe they didn’t make the list as “favorite” but they are definitely still worth checking out.
The Road (by Cormac McCarthy)
Chilling tale of a father and son wondering down a road in post apocalyptic setting where there are cannibals and it’s every man for himself. This is right in my wheelhouse.
Heart and Brain (by Nick Seluk)
Irreverent comic series about Heart and Brain…and later the other organs that I follow on a daily basis and finally got this series of comics in book form for Christmas.
People Who Knew Me (by Kim Hooper)
A tale of a woman that lives one life before 9/11 and a completely different life after 9/11. You’ll hate/love her. Or just hate her. Or just mildly tolerate her. But everything feels too real, like this could happen to any of us. As Kim’s first book, I think it’s a wonderful story.
The City of Mirrors (by Justin Cronin)
This is actually book 3 of The Passage trilogy so I don’t suggest reading this first, but I do suggest reading this trilogy, in general. Usually the third book is okay, but this one is exceptional. It’s not as great as the first book (I heart the first book of this series), but it was good enough to get a special shoutout because it wrapped up the series beautifully.
What are some books you’ve read that you think I should read in 2017? I’m taking recommendations, so let me know!
Oh and happy 2017!
I’ve been meaning to write something for a bit. I’ve got one post in the works, but for now, I’ll just do a quick post with some updates. Super interesting, right? Well I told you it might get boring around here. 😉
Woohoo! I’m way more excited than anyone should be about dealing with content problems and being in meetings all day. But I am. Super pumped! I’ll be for most of tomorrow so I can get some face time with my peers, but then I’ll be mostly working from home for the next couple months while I’m still “Immune suppressed.”
On Wednesday, Max is getting snipped. Good news for puppy overpopulation. Bad news for us for the next week or two as he’ll need to lay low. Have you tried not exercising your puppy? Well, it might drive us all mad, but it’s just a short term thing.
Also, he’s getting his dew claws on his back feet removed. It’s rare for dogs to have dew claws on their back legs. Think arctic breeds like Mastiffs and Saint Bernards and Anatolian Shepherds (that last one is what our vet suspects might be what he’s mixed with). If your dog is primarily an outdoor working dog, those dew claws aren’t a deal breaker. If your dog is a house dog…like most dogs in this country, those little guys have to go. They get caught on everything and it can be super painful if they get ripped off.
And finally he’ll be microchipped. Big, big day.
I guess there were just two things. But I try to adhere to the rule of threes whenever possible. So here’s another Awkward Yeti comic in lieu of a third thing.
Enjoy the last day of your holiday break!
Yesterday I had my final PET scan, and today the doctor read the results. COMPLETE REMISSION! NO SIGNS OF CANCER! NO RADIATION NEEDED! ALL IS GOOD AND RIGHT ONCE AGAIN! Okay, he didn’t say that last one, but he may as well have.
I am ecstatic! This is great news. I had a good feeling it was going to go this way, but finally KNOWING the outcome of this scan is amazeballs. Yes. AMAZEBALLS.
And the scan pictures? Well, to be honest, there was nothing to show you so I didn’t take any pictures. But believe me when I say…it’s all good.
Anything left to do? Well, I still have to get my port removed (the alien thingy in my chest where I had my IV placed for the chemo drugs). That and I’ll have one more pulmonary test to check my lungs.
I was off bleomyacin starting in September (one of the chemo drugs I was given), because it was suspected that I may have been experiencing lung toxicity…or more likely a pneumonia, but it could have been the bleomyacin. So anyway, now that we’re clear of that he wanted to check my lungs again to see if they’re back to normal. I mean, they’ll never be completely back to normal. I’ll have a lot of scar tissue in the upper left lobe of my lung that may never “re-inflate” as he mentioned today, but that is something that I can live with. I mean, many people live with one lung and do just fine. Me missing a little part of one lung should be fine. I likely won’t ever notice a difference. But he wants to see if it’s back to baseline goodness.
So I’ll be doing both of those things next week. Late next week…after we get back from seeing my family. Why next week? 1. Because I can. 2. Because of this little thing called, “I’ve hit my out of pocket and these things are basically free until the end of the year so get em done while you can!” Also, we’re switching insurance companies and I just don’t want to mess with that first thing in January. Blegh. Insurance companies.
Says the girl who works for insurance companies and third party providers.
So yeah. Things are wrapping up. And this blog is about to get PRETTY boring. 😉
So that’s not all that’s happened. I mean, it’s the most important news from the last week, but other things did happen in the last week.
First off is Jackson’s Christmas program at school. I missed a couple over the last couple months, so I was glad I could make it to this one.
Then on Friday, I made a trip to my hair stylist. The first time since she did the initial chop back in June, the day before my first round of chemo. It was so good to see her and be back in the chair! Sure there wasn’t much hair to cut, but the color is pretty rad, if I do say so myself.
Then finally I had my scan yesterday. This was my, “HEY I’M ABOUT TO HAVE MY FINAL SCAN!” face.
And finally, with a little help from snapchat and their Christmas filters (I’m not REALLY wearing that lipstick or green eyeshadow)…
So that’s it! Oh and Max continues to grow and grow and grow! He’s over forty pounds now and he just turned five months old. Such a big puppy!
Okay, calling it a night. And maybe grabbing a glass of wine to celebrate…after the kid goes to bed.
Hope you’re all having a great week before Christmas!
Cheers from a newly appointed CANCER SURVIVOR!
As I’ve mentioned before, after a couple rounds of chemo I started this thing I called, “Chemo Karaoke” where I would sing silly songs on the way home from chemo. You can see the first round of those here.
Now that I’m done with Chemo and that is a thing of the past (woohoo!), I thought I’d show you the last round. Some of them have terrible lighting quality because we were driving home in the dark on some days…but you get the point.
Just as a warning, this next one is 4 minutes and 29 seconds. You’re gonna get sick of looking at my face.
Also, three posts in three days? What is this madness? Well, it’s cold and I’m still bored. But don’t expect this posting schedule to continue. I’ll be back to my one to two posts a week shortly.
As always, stay warm!
Caution: I am not an expert in makeup. Most of you will view this and think, “Sheesh. This girl has a long way to go.” I totally get it. But I’m super bored right now and it’s super cold outside so I’m really just doing this to kill some time.
I mentioned a while back that I’m starting to experiment a little more with makeup. I have a birchbox monthly subscription where they send me all these cool face and hair product samples (saving the hair products for when I actually need them). I’ve been watching makeup videos and reading makeup reviews and have made a couple purchases over the past couple months to see what all the fuss is about. Hair? I knew hair. Mostly. Makeup? Not much. I would slap on the same foundation and eye liner and mascara and call it a day. Most days that was fine. I had a big heap of hair to distract from the fact that I really had no clue how to do makeup.
And now? I’m learning. I’m not great. But I’m learning. So I’ll share with you my current makeup routine. You can critique and make fun of me if you’d like. It’s totally fine.
So here we go.
FYI: the results of each step are shown in the following step. I hope that makes sense.
So here I am in all my…er…glory. Things that make me self conscious? Lack of eyebrows/very light eyebrows, red/yellow tints around my eyes, sunspots on my cheeks, forehead and nose, dark upper lip, colorless lips and light eyelashes. Also remember, we’re talking makeup here. Obviously I’m not a fan of my current hairstyle, but that’s a topic for another day (and spoiler alert, I have a hair appt on Friday so maybe it won’t bother me as much after that).
From here on out I’ll be going through each item I currently use. Some days I do a lot more of the “minimum” look and use fewer products, but that’s less fun so I’m going to bring you through the full “What cancer?” look that I try to achieve.
Lesson 1: You’re not using enough. Well, I wasn’t using enough. I used to just dab some on a sponge and swirl it around my face trying my best to blend. And then I realized (by watching lots of makeup videos) that that only really works for people with perfect skin. Discoloration? Lots of sun spots? You need FULL coverage and you need a lot of it. That doesn’t mean it has to feel cakey, you just have to find a good foundation. I’m actually wearing Almay – a drugstore brand – because I read a lot of great reviews about it. I took a chance on the color because I ordered most of this online while I was neutropenic, and I think it actually works. It looks light, but I was going WAY too dark before.
Lesson 2: Use a brush or your fingers. Don’t use a sponge. Sponges and beauty blenders are for you light coverage gals. I now use a brush or my fingers. The brush is kind of weird because…well this is a liquid. I don’t know if I’m doing it right but I like that the mess isn’t on my hands. When the brush gets gross and needs a good cleaning, though, I just use my fingers.
Lesson 3: Don’t stop at foundation. With all that foundation, you should be good, right? WRONG. Even with full coverage foundation, I found that I still needed some extra help with concealer. The two go gloriously together. But remember to blend!
Lesson 1: Apply and blend. You can apply directly to your skin (like you’re drawing on it with a pencil) or you can put some on your fingertips and apply that way. I do the first one. Get. It. On There. I use it over all of my sunspots and any other red parts of my face. Which brings me to…
Lesson 2: Get that eye area. This thing works miracles on erasing those red/yellowish tinted eyelids and under eyes. Bu-bye side effect of cancer. You have met your match.
Now that my skin has been spackled and corrected so it doesn’t look nuts, it’s time to get some color back in there.
Lesson: Blush: Not everyone does blush, but I’ve always liked it. I just apply a brush stroke or two to the apples of my cheeks.
Lesson: Use bronzer…sparingly. This one is interesting. I’ve seen a lot of tutorials that show you how to use bronzer to contour your face. I have not perfected that. And also, that seems too drastic for my pasty Midwestern face. But I do like this one trick I learned…to go around the outside of your face with bronzer to still give you some color. So that’s what I do. And then I blend like crazy.
It’s not the amazing Kat Von Dee Translucent setting powder that might cost your first born, but it had a lot of great reviews on Amazon, so I went for it. I use this to basically set everything on my face. In the old days, I would have used a matching beige powder to put on top of my foundation. But then, I educated myself. First off – that creates a cakey effect. Second, a good foundation should shine on its own. But with the setting powder, you can keep that look and also make sure you don’t get all oily and your makeup will run off. No oily makeup runoff for this girl…not with this little guy. But blend well because this is the thing celebs always get caught with that make people think there’s remnants of coke on their face if the flash goes off. I mean, it may also be coke on their faces. I don’t know.
This is where my lack of makeup expertise REALLY shows. I am terrible at creating a smokey eye. I am terrible at creating some holiday-party-worthy gold sparkly eye. What I can do is throw some purple on there and call it a day. Why purple? I’ve heard it works well with green eyes. So this old, crusty (but trusty) pallette has been my go to for a while.
Lesson: Apply a darker shadow to your lid. Maybe even just the outside of your lid…I think that’s a thing people do. Also apply right above your eyelid.
Lesson: Apply a light eyeshadow to the inner part of your eyelid. Sometimes if this gets too light, I go back over it with a little more of the darker eyeshadow.
Alright kids. This is one they’re NOT going to show you in the tutorials. I learned this from my girlfriend many moons ago (Shout out to Drea!) and I’ve been doing this ever since. Instead of using actual eye liner, I use a black eye shadow. I take the edge of any applicator that comes with the pallete, rub it in the black, stretch my eyelid out and sweep it on like you would eye liner. Why do I do this? You guys, I’ve tried eye liner. It’s so…precise and fine pointed and I NEVER EVER get it looking right. To this day, I still try it once in a while and I feel like I’m always doing it wrong. But with this? It goes where it should AND it blends with the eyeshadow already on my eyes. If you’re going for a dramatic winged effect, this isn’t the right tool. If you’re looking for something that just helps outline your eyes and doesn’t go all squiggly? Then you should give this a try. I’m telling you, you’ll love it.
I don’t have any particularly useful lessons here. I curl my eyelashes and then I apply mascara. I don’t even know what kind of mascara works best. All I know is that I need something right now because all of my eyelashes are currently blonde. I don’t go overboard, I just do a coat or so on each eye and I’m done. Also, I don’t do my lower lashes. I’ve always just thought they’re too much on me.
This is an area where I WANT to be more adventurous. I just feel like with a short hair cut you can really bring attention to your face with a strong lip color. I’m just sort of…chicken…at this point, though. I found this one online, it got pretty good reviews. It supposed to be a “matte” lipstick. And yeah, maybe I do like that whole Kendall Jenner look even if I probably couldn’t ever pull it off, but a girl can dream, right? Next time I go out I’m going to find a makeup counter and do some experiments. For now, this is pretty good stuff.
Okay. Let’s talk eyebrows. Eyebrows are cool right? We all like them? Maybe we like them a little TOO much in 2016? Maybe everyone is out of their damn minds with uber thick eyebrows or eyebrows that look like they’re cartoonish…clearly drawn on. That is not the look I’m going for. Mostly, I just want my dark unruly eyebrows back. But right now, I have very blonde, sort of there eyebrows. So I use an eyebrow pencil. I’ve tried a couple other products. Gels are weird…let me just say that. Some of them look like big ol’ crayons. Which might be fine if you’re filling in eyebrows that are already there. For me? The pencil with a fine point works the best. I can make teeny tiny strokes that sort of look like hair, and I just use the current shape of my eyebrows and go over that. So, wherever there is blonde eyebrow hair, I just go over that. When I first started doing this, I was going bigger and making outlines that were more in line with how my eyebrows used to be. It wasn’t good. I felt like Uncle Leo from Seinfeld. So now I’m back to just slight strokes and if they look thin, well at least they’ll look more real than super big drawn on eyebrows.
So here it is. This is my “What cancer?” look. And the reason I have my glasses on is, well because I always have my glasses on. But also, sometimes when I’m doing my eye makeup I think “This looks so clownish! I’m just going to Target!” But then I see myself with my glasses on and I think, “Oh, I can’t even really see most of my eye makeup behind the glasses.” So it kind of reassures me that I don’t look that clownish.
Here’s the before and after, in case you’re interested…
I’m not going to be like, “I look amazing!” but I think I look normal. And that’s pretty much what I want to achieve with makeup on a daily basis. To just look and feel normal. The hair? It’s got a long ways to go. But at least I can know my face looks normal when I’m out in public. Or at least what I consider “normal.” 😉
So that’s it. That’s all I got. Stay warm!
As of Saturday or Sunday (I don’t really know which, but one of those), I became NOT NEUTROPENIC. Woohoo! So what did I do? I went with my family to our friend’s house and had my first drink since March of this year. Okay, maybe also my second and third drink too. It was a good thing Jake was driving.
To clarify, being neutropenic didn’t mean I couldn’t drink, it just meant I couldn’t go out in public. The no drinking ban was 1. Because every drink was super painful when the cancer was still in my body and 2. Because drinking wasn’t the best for my liver and kidneys while I was going through treatment. It would have been like a double whammy of toxic drugs and toxic drinks. No bueno, for sure.
So yeah, Saturday was good. What’s not good is that I’ve come down with a cold and it’s been hanging on for the last week and a half (that obviously didn’t stop me from having fun on Saturday). No fevers and no weird cough/phlegm where I need to call my doctor, just a lot of congestion and drainage and snoring at night. Cool, right? Anyway, since my immune system is still making it’s way back to full capacity, it’s not unusual for this cold to be hanging around a little longer than normal. I accept this. I don’t like it. But I’ll accept it.
But the bummer is that I was SOOO ready to start living that good not-neutropenic life this week. I mean, I’m running errands and picking my son up from school, now, but this cold is still keeping me from some of the other things I wanted to do. Mostly getting back to the gym. I REALLY want to start running again. Do I need a gym to do this? Um, do you know what’s happening outside in the midwest right now? Yes, a gym is necessary. I also want to start doing yoga and bodypump…basically I want to get back to an overall good fitness level. So getting back to that is on hold for another week.
One thing I have started doing this week…cause guys, I have a lot of time on my hands…is meal planning and making some seriously delicious dinner meals. Yesterday was a sort of Chicken Cordon Bleu. It was delightful and I’m going to down those leftovers for lunch today. Tonight is just going to be something simpler because Jackson has swim lessons, but tomorrow I’ve got another recipe ready to go – Pot roast with carrots and homemade mashed potatoes. Yummy!
Also, yesterday and Sunday, I rented a carpet cleaner from Home Depot and took care of part of our family room (there were some puppy accidents in there that needed some serious scrubbing power) and then our entire dining room and living room. It was hard work, for sure. You basically rent this huge carpet cleaner that you see professional carpet cleaner people use. No wonder why they’re always sweaty when they’re done. It’s not easy to move those things. But it is SO worth it. And it was less than $30. I am a believer and will be doing that again in the spring. Probably for the entire house, next time.
What else, what else? Max is doing good. He seems to be getting into a good routine. Usually we do a longer morning walk and a lot of smaller trips out to the backyard to throw the ball throughout the day. And sometimes the stars will align and the neighborhood dogs will be out and he’ll get some playtime with them in the cul de sac. For the next couple days, though, we’re going to keep outside time to a minimum. Because it’s way too cold for both of us. There’s also some nice dog parks in the area too. We’ve been to one, but once it gets a bit nicer we’ll try some of the other ones.
That’s the extent of my not-neutropenic life this week. Just a lot of snuggling down, and maybe going through the eight million emails that have amassed on my work email account since I’ve been gone.