Saturday, December 26, 2015


The new drug has been approved and is available. My pharmacist at the cancer center is trying to get it nailed down as to who has it and where she can order it. It comes as no relief or anticipation to me, as even though touted as much better than chemo #2, it brings with it many side effects. 

I have been off my chemo for one week today, as I told my doctor I was taking a drug holiday for Christmas. I wanted to feel good while the kids were here. Once again, it feels so amazing to simply feel normal. I am not anxious to start chemo #3. I have decided that if it ruins my quality of life, it is not worth taking it.

Yes, you can pray for no side effects!!

Sam and Gretchen came for 2 full days and we had such a great time with them. They left Christmas morning to drive 8 hours to Hibbing where her parents live. We missed them as soon as they drove out of the driveway! Fun traditions and fun memories.

It was a hard Christmas without the folks. I had at least 5 cooking questions for my mom and she was not there for the first time to answer them!! I so wanted to just hug them both and talk with them. Moments of tears would rush in at random moments. We spent the last few years (except last year) going to Fargo to be with them for Christmas. I know why so many people hate the holidays. It is a very bittersweet time of year when you think of people you have lost. I am so glad the radio stations can go back to real music. I am tired of tearing up with every "Silent Night."

Dick and I have a massive downstairs project and are going to spend the weekend tackling it. Why are house projects never done.......

Happy New Year to you all.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I love my Christmas tree.

We got thru the whole decorating-the-tree process without me shedding a tear, even holding all the ornaments that Mom had made for me over the years.

It is a tree of love.

Christmas is love....
     Our creator-God, sovereign over the earth, sent his son as a baby to be born knowing full well that 33 years later, His son would be murdered for our sins, to redeem US, to give US His righteousness, His salvation, His healing, His peace. All for us, a planet full of sinners. If that is not love, I don't know what the season is about.

I have 3 nativity ornaments on my tree. All I see is Jesus's love when I look at them.

I have lots of friends who prefer a monochromatic Christmas tree, the same ornaments, usually all round balls, all decorations on the tree the same color.....the kind you might see in upscale department stores. My preference is a tree of memories. Every ornament has a history and a story and they all speak LOVE to me.

I loved it when my Mom flew down to Tampa to spend a week with me while in grad school. We went shopping and found an intricate "visions of sugar plums" ornament made with felt. We both bought one. We've always loved hanging them front and center.

I see the pop-can cowboy snowman that Sam picked out In Branson, MO as our souvenir when he was about 6 or 7. He loved it so we loved it too. Mom made me an old man when I became a gerontologist. He still hangs. I love her mindfulness with him.

I see crystal hearts which she loved and gave me before she died. I see Sam's preschool macaroni ornament and his kindergarten pine-tree picture ornament. I so loved that time in his life when he was a little critter, just learning about the world. 

We tried to get souvenir ornaments from all our trips. We shopped together until we could agree on a perfect representation of the locale. Our Chicago trip had us hunting on Navy Pier. They did not sell any ornaments anywhere so we decided to buy a key chain with an engraved pier and it was our 2010 ornament. My best friend sent me an angel seashell when she moved to Florida in 1990. It reminds me of how deeply I missed her in a time of no texting and cell phones.

Oh, so much love....such fun stories.

I have my favorite ornament from growing up years and a couple that were left from my Dad's growing up years that he had saved. I am transported back to Grama and Grandpa's house in Kulm. My sweet cousin Mae sent me a little silver butterfly ornament after Mom died. It says, "Miracles happen to those who believe." She stands with me in faith for healing.

And I can't forget the snowflakes. Every since we were little, my great-aunt Bea (I still hear Andy Taylor calling his auntie "Ain't Bay) tatted snowflakes for all our trees. (These snowflakes sold for $5 apiece at Macy's in NYC!) And we all have boxes of them. They beautify a tree like nothing else can. And make us remember the great love we had for great-auntie, who died at 102.

Yeah, I love the love that covers my tree. It is not "classy" as the fancy trees are, but it is a patchwork of our lives.....who we are and who and what we love.

Yes, I really love my love tree.

Friday, December 4, 2015


I have had the most incredible 7 days. I had to take a drug holiday due to increasing side effects of the chemo. I had forgotten what it was like to feel like me, to feel normal, to feel the joy of being alive. I have had 7 days of NO gastrointestinal issues!!!! Unbelievable. God has just blessed this time. Unless you have "been there" with chemo side effects, you wouldn't understand the gravity of normalcy. 

We went to Minneapolis last weekend and had a wonderful time with the kids. We made Christmas cookies, picked up and decorated their tree, and got totally spoiled with the great meals they made us (my, how things change....the college guy who lived on mac and cheese and hotdogs during college is making maple-glazed salmon for his folks....).

Anyway, I have been in a prolonged praise-fest with the Lord.

The answer is yes, I have to go back on the chemo. It is difficult, not only because of how I feel OFF of it, but because we don't know if this "old" chemo is doing anything. I got off of it because it is ineffective. But we are still waiting on the 3rd generation drug to come out so maybe it is staving off growth of the growing tumors. Either way, I am bummed to go back to the side effects.

For those of you who usually receive my Thanksgiving card, there won't be one. I just wasn't feeling up to the task in early November.

Thank you all for continued prayers.