‘Cuz It’s My Birthday!



So, normally, in years past, I never had a blog to post on and proclaim to the world that it was my birthday.  Not that I was shy about it or anything.  I mean, I love my birthday.  I love ALL birthdays, really.  I just love an excuse to have a celebration of any sort, truthfully.  But, to celebrate a person’s life?  Heck yeah!  Count me in!  And this year, my age isn’t one of any monumental sort, one that would be noted for the books … normally.

But this year?  It’s different.

i am grateful

I made it.  It was a close one.  But I did it!  As I got dressed to go out to dinner with a few friends to celebrate, it hit me.   Ya know, I might not have made it to this night.  Whoa.  I’ve never felt that way before.  Reality check.  I’m not sure if anyone else getting dressed to go out that night put on their shoes, jeans, or make up with the same care and gratitude (or tears) as I did.  This was actually the greatest, most monumental birthday for me, ever.  Bar none.  Simply due to the fact that I got to wake up for it.

Life is so precious.

I know how grateful I need to be.  I know that everyone doesn’t get to win the fight.  At least, not in the sense that we see “winning”.  They’re win may not be here and of this world.  Yet they’re warriors and victorious in their battles of courage nonetheless.  They are my idols, and I’ve had the pleasure to meet warriors who’ve lost this war here, but I pray have won a prize far greater beyond this world, leaving a legacy for us to cherish  and learn from.  That’s the glory.

Where some see burden, others see glory.  That’s a gift I have found this year. This birthday, I feel God has given me the most spectacular gift of gratitude that I can feel from the top of my (now fuzzy) head, on down to my toes.  I feel a gratitude for life that knows no bounds.

thank you always

We’ve ABSOLUTELY had some sour helpings served to us on a silver platter, yet BITTER or not, we can’t help but notice the sugar in each bitter-SWEET spoonful.  God has definitely pulled a Mary Poppins on us, adding a spoonful of sugar every time to “help the medicine go down!”

After celebrating my b-day, I can’t help but thank the many “Mary Poppins” in our life:

just a spoonful of sugar


My Medical Mary’s

I’m, first of all, thankful for the best doctors nurses and staff at Mary Bird Perkins and St. Charles Surgical Center and Hospital for “every little thing“.  Because of them being so darn on top of “every little thing”, “it’s gonna be alright“.  And I’ve known that it would be since I first felt that lump.  I knew it.  I just knew it.  I closed my eyes and I felt God so present, so clearly, clearly present.  A rush of warmth and calm came over me that never completely left.  Not while I was having my first appointment with my OBGYN to “take a look”, not during my first mammogram, or biopsy, or while I waited for results, or during any drive to the many appointments after that.  When Dr. Stolier’s  eyes turned red and teared up as he literally turned off his computer, and with worry all over his face, closed my file, held my hands, took off his glasses and said I was “a doozy of a case.”  I still felt that sense of calm.  Holy Spirit.  When Dr. Saux knocked on my front door in his hippy baja, cool denim slip-on shoes, pony tail and all, to meet me for the first time and do an in-house consultation, letting me know I had one of the most complicated cases of breast cancer,  and was about to “bring me very close to the point of death in order to save me from it.” …(deep breath) … I somehow still felt calm and totally trusting.  My life was in these total strangers’ hands now.  Eventually, it seemed as though all of their explanations of what my next year and a half would look like began to sound like “Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice” murmuring in the room as I watched their mouths move in front of me.  All I could do was nod my head, shake their hands, sign a bunch of paperwork, smile, breathe deep …  and sing Bob Marley’s “3 Little Birds” in my head (or if I was with Dr. Saux, out loud and in unison!).   So far, from chemo, to mastectomy, to phase 1 of reconstruction, and now half way through radiation,  I’m making it through “alright”… and then some!  Nobody said it was easy, but I didn’t ask for easy, I asked for them to save my life.  This team hasn’t missed a beat.  I’ll take whatever beatings they’re serving up if it gives me another birthday!


My Familial Mary’s

  What some see as a burden on me, fighting this cancer with “all those kids”; rather, is quite the opposite. They are more of a blessing to me than I could have ever asked for.  They are the blessing that prayed for and give thanks for today and always.  They keep me focused on my fight.  They even woke me up bright and early on my b-day with original cards like these:


Love this one, complete with pic of me and “Sidekick” playing card during one of my sick chemo weeks. She truly is my sidekick


“Sunshine” drew this super fancy, pic on her card of the two of us, decked out (that’s just her style, “MORE is MORE”). She said, “See, Mommy, Bald IS beautiful!” 😉


Oh, “The Dude”. He has my heart! Hell “take care of me when I’m old.” That’s good ol’ mama’s boy for ya. Sigh!


This is the real deal handwriting of my 4 year old “Firecracker”)! So proud! Covered her whole card in balloons!

I’m beyond thankful to my husband for his never ending willingness to put up with me and my random sneak attack moments of tears for no apparent reason…. or because I’ve put the style decision pressure of beanie, wig, or “go bald” all on him.  (FYI… there’s no right answer.  It’s like a trap. Poor fella)  He is, hands down, the best.  I don’t deserve the love that he never stops giving.

Between my mom, my dad, my stepmom, my siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews… I kinda have the “Dream Team”.  They’ve bent over backwards, and continue to do so to make this whole wheel keep turning. For real.  Even my many, many, … many cousins, aunts, and uncles are constantly sending their love over Facebook, texts, emails, and cards.  When you have a big extended family, sometimes being one in a million feels a little lost… and then at other moments… it’s kind of AMAZING!

There’s nothing quite like FAMILY.


My Friendly Mary’s

I’m thankful to my friends who stand by me through thick or thin, rain or shine… all the time.  They’ve told me from the very beginning that “we’ve got this” and my truest of true, have never made me feel, for a second, that we didn’t.  They’re golden.



My Parish, Community, Neighborhood, Blog, and Never Ending Team Buna Support of Poppins’ Population!

I also know how grateful I need to be for the amazing support of our community who are constantly calling and asking how they can help, if they can make a meal, say a prayer, have a play date with the kids, etc.  God is so good.

We are thrilled beyond words and so thankful for all the pictures of everyone in their Team Buna T-shirts and sweatshirts that keep coming in either on TEAM BUNA Facebook messages, posts, or emails (teambuna@gmail.com) for us to add to our BIG collage surprise for the kids that we’ve just cleared a whole wall for in the upstairs playroom!

*If you want in on the action, we’d love to have you! (Click the link below to join the team. Time is running out!)*

Team Buna Shirt Booster



But seriously,


As of late, friends of mine have lost family members through sickness and through sudden, tragic death.  Life is not to be taken for granted. I pray today in thanksgiving for my life, for the families who have lost loved ones, and for the repose of the souls lost.  LIFE IS PRECIOUS.

We have 5 children here in our home, yet have lost 3 children through miscarriage.  We know the miracle of life and the fragility of it through each pregnancy and child birth.  I came to know the gratitude of each day that I was pregnant with my babies, never knowing what “tomorrow” would bring; yet, prayed to live “today” as the day our hearts beat together.  How fragile, how beautiful, how simple and complex … all at once.  I pray today in thanksgiving for my children both here and in Heaven, for the joy to pour on the families expecting and with newborns, for the generosity of families who’ve opened their hearts and homes through adoption, for my friends who have recently miscarried, and for those whose children are sick or suffering in any way.  God’s joy, mercy, and peace be with parents, children and families as a whole.  LIFE IS PRECIOUS.


The truth is… there’s never enough room on one sheet of paper, on one blog post, or in one breath to show the gratitude I feel to wake up today.  I realize that the chances were pretty strong that I might not have, and I’m still running the race of my treatment to “kick cancer’s butt” during this radiation (Halfway done tomorrow! -“I think I can! I think I can!”), chemo (will finish infusions in August), as well as my 5 year race for my “cure”.  But all of that is just small peas…little things, “‘cuz every little thing is gonna be alright!”

‘Cuz I’m here!


what do you plan to do

Thank you for being a part of this year with me.



4 thoughts on “‘Cuz It’s My Birthday!

  1. I’d like to add my gratitude to God for all the gifts He has given you Elise. He has blessed and enabled you to articulate beautifully in words, with truth, humor and wisdom, your harrowing climb up the mountain. While you have been “kicking cancers butt and taking names,” I’ve been taking notes from an excellent teacher. Things I’ve noted I’ll need for scaling the mountain: FAITH, TRUST, GRATITUDE, HUMILITY, PERSEVERANCE, HOPE and above all LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!
    Happy Birthday, Elise, may Our dear Lord continue to shower you with every grace and blessing to bear beautiful fruit in this world in in the next. Many, many blessings too, on all your beautiful family!
    Much love in Him, Miss Pat


    • I randomly found your blog while searching for inspiration on how to build a grotto for the BVM in my yard. Somehow, that search led to a website where people write about all of the miracles they have had thru Padre Pio’s intercession. Somehow, that led to this blog. I don’t know if you have a devotion to Padre Pio, but your beautiful family looks Italian. If you don’t have a devotion, maybe you should? I don’t know if I am supposed to be the messenger of Padre Pio to you, but in case that is my job, I wanted you to know.

      I am part of a group of women that prays the rosary every Saturday morning. Please know that we will add the intention of your healing to our prayers. You and your family will be prayed for by a bunch of random women in Columbus, OH every Saturday morning. My sister had breast cancer in her thirties, too. At the time, she had four little boys who were eight years old and under, so I know a little bit about what you have been through. I know many strangers prayed for her, too. I am so happy to return the favor!

      Here’s another random message: there is a healer at the the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH. He received his gift in Medjugorje. He is the real deal. For those who can’t go there, they accept intentions online. May God Bless you and your family!


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