Monday, December 31, 2012

Pursue: (Password Protected)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sad Year

As wonderful as this year has been for me in almost every way, it has also been a very sad year for many close to me. There have been too many losses, and too many were tragic and seemed senseless.

The one thing they don't tell you when you are declared "N.E.D" (No Evidence of Disease - aka Remission) is what it will be like to watch others lose their battles. I haven't known many people with cancer, and those that I had were very old when diagnosed. Not that it makes their deaths less sad, but it seems less tragic when someone dies in their 80s versus their 50s, or 30s, or younger...

But once you are diagnosed with cancer, you become part of a club where no one asks for membership. And you make connections through this membership. In my case, they were actually re-connections. Around the time I was diagnosed, I was told of two other people I knew who had gotten similar news. One a beloved professor with breast cancer, the other a classmate from college with leukemia. Both cancers considered relatively "curable" in these days. However, both have died within the last three months after relatively short but extremely brave and faithful fights. And I am awash with mixed emotions that I don't really know how to handle.

I know how I should feel...Grateful.
And I am, believe me.

I have almost grown sick of how many times I've used the words "thankful" and "grateful" in this blog over the last year. But it truly is the emotion that I feel most often. I have soaked in the last 12 months with the kind of awareness and joy that I think is unique to one who was told it would be a much different year. I was overwhelmed many time this year with the recognition of just how blessed I was to experience things others take for granted. A birthday surrounded by friends, multiple vacations to see loved ones, a body healthy enough to run for miles, snuggling new babies...I could go on and on. I am so very grateful.

But when I heard about these deaths, I also was awash with guilt. A fellow survivor put a name to it for me - Survivor's Guilt. I thought that was something reserved for war veterans or plane crash survivors. But it is completely appropriate for what I am feeling. Why have I survived and not them? That is the overriding emotion I feel.

My friends and family have tried to console me in the only way they know how.

"God has big plans for you"
"There are still things He wants you to do here"

And I know that they mean well. I know that they are so grateful that I am still here. But I can't help but feel uncomfortable. Didn't Jenny deserve to get married and have kids? Didn't Deb have plans to watch her daughter graduate from High School? Jenny wanted to run a marathon, why didn't she get a chance to run her race and I did? Heck, I didn't even have to go through chemo. I complained last week about how I broke my brush, pulling it through hair that reaches well down my back.

The guilt would be crushing, absolutely unbearable, if not for one thing.

My faith that God does have a plan, and His plan always works for the good of those who love him. I know that these loved ones who have gone on before me, were believers in God. I know this because they made it clear, every single day of their struggle here on earth. And because of our faith, I know that they are fully healed right now. They have been welcomed home by Jesus and will never suffer again. And for whatever reason we are left here to continue our lives on earth, God has a plan for that as well.

I have an appointment tomorrow morning with Dr. R. I had my follow up ultrasound and blood test last week and will learn the results tomorrow. I, of course, would welcome any and all prayers that they continue to come back clear. But tonight, I am resting in the assurance that it all rests in God's merciful hands. And that one day, whether here or in heaven, I too will be completely healed.

Here's to a Happy New Year, this one has been too sad. I pray that each of you recognize the blessings in your own lives this year. Hold your loved ones a little tighter and soak up the joy.

Bring on 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mom and Me

In October I took a week long vacation, something I rarely ever do! I went to hang out with my mom and we had basically nothing scheduled for the entire seven days.


The only thing we did have planned was going to see Les Miserables. Les Mis is my favorite musical to see live and this cast did not disapoint. Great singing, great acting ... I sure hope the upcoming movie is as good!

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Other than this show, we spent most of our days eating delicious seafood and our evening lounging around or occasionally catching a movie. It was great to really relax and enjoy some downtime. I even went for a few runs and relished the warm weather since it was already pretty cold in Chicago by then. All in all, it was a great vacation and I actually returned home feeling rested and refreshed!

I gotta remember to take trips like this more often. :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oh July, where did you go?

Here in the frozen days of December, I am really wishing I was back in July... Guess I'll have to do with blogging about summer even though I can't be in it...

So, back in July my friend Laura and her sweet kiddos (and sister in law) came down for a visit! Laura and I went to college together and I despite the distance between us, I still count her as one of my dearest friends. I love whenever we are able to get together.

One of the days she was in town, our friend Jill, her kiddos, and I met up with Laura's troop at the Shedd Aquarium. I LOVE the Aquarium! It is totally my favorite destination in Chicago...

We had a great time checking out all the different exhibits and enjoyed the Dolphin Show. The jellyfish exhibit was one I had been wanting to see - so cool.

The whole day was so nice and a lot of fun was had by all! Is it summer again yet?

 (PS: Laura - Its totally my turn to come visit you!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Luca and Mickey

Other than my J.A.M kiddos, my other most often photographed kiddo is Luca. Melanie says that we've had a bond since he was in the womb - I feel the same way!
Luca's favorite person these days is Mickey Mouse. So, that is what his birthday was all about! I can't believe he is already 2 years old! Where does the time go??
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The rest of the day was all about fun, friends and family. Hanging out by the water tables, playing in the sun and pulling his new wagon around were all he cared about. What a great day!
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Taking 2yr pictures took way longer than expected, what with getting a new sister over the summer! But we finally managed to do it - better late than never right?
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And can you see why I love taking this boy's picture? He's quite the little model!
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Man, I love that kid!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Friend's Baby!

(Getting updated is going to take longer than I thought - I'm still back in July/August!)

I am so excited whenever one of my friends is pregnant! I love everything about watching their belly grow, feeling little kicks and ultimately snuggling their newest little one! My best friend Melanie let me try out some new photographer skills to take some maternity pictures of her just a few weeks before her 2nd baby!

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We kept joking during that photoshoot that if she went into labor, I should just "keep on shooting"! And just about 3 weeks later - it was time! Because baby got tricky and moved into a breach position just before her due date, Mel was scheduled for an attempt to turn the baby and/or a C-section. I stayed over the night before to be there for her oldest. After waving goodbye to Mommy and Daddy, Luca and I had a fun morning eating pancakes and making pictures for his new baby.

We headed on out to the hospital and expected to get there just as the baby was born - it took longer than expected but we were so excited to meet Luca's new baby sister!

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And a couple weeks later, we did another photoshoot for baby Isabella. She was quite a trooper and slept through most of it. Can you tell that Melanie is excited to have a girl? That child has never been seen without a flower or bow in her hair!

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Dear sweet Bella - I love you!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lucky Life List - First 5K!

I gotta get this blog up to date - that is my goal by New Years! (Gonna be a little difficult since I have no internet at home these days!)

Speaking of goals...

I ran my first 5K!!!

  My dear friend Lisa who ran it with me - thank you friend!
 Starting line - there were 5 stations you could stop at and eat a mini or full size cupcake. You got time deducted - 2 min for a mini, 5 for a regular one! We managed to eat 3 minis!
Coming up on the finishing line!
To be honest, I didn't run the entire thing - but I did learn a valuable running lesson. Do not train in the flatlands and run your first race in hill county! Lesson learned - race where you train! (Or at least know where you are racing and adjust your training!) But I am still VERY proud of myself - a year ago I would have laughed at you if you'd suggested that I'd attempt run/walking three miles.

Also, I highly recommend running a race that incorporates cupcakes - cause its pretty hard to take yourself too seriously when there are cupcakes involved!

Final time: 1:00:16  (Adjusted cupcake time: 54:16)