No joke, I’m kinda like Buddy the Elf.  “Smiling’s my favorite.”  Sometimes to my dismay.  I’ve fooled a few doctors, nurses, relatives, friends and most acquaintances because of my smiling.  When I see people, I smile.  It’s never phony or put on for show, always 100% genuine.  It’s just my reaction to seeing the people I love … and to just humanity in general.  I call it “Social Morphine.”  And yes,  that does make me an extrovert, no doubt.  But as I get older (over the hill in fact in just a few days. The big 4-0.  To many of you that may make me a spring chicken! To others you may have thought me to be much younger.  But there it is, I’m turning 40.  And I’m quite excited about it.  In fact, granting from ear to ear about it.

Ya see, when I found out I had some pretty serious cancer, I made a few bucket list items in my mind.  A few are private to me.  A few I have expressed in my blog and are more obvious to most mothers:  -seeing my children graduate; -getting to see my children walk down the aisle at each of their weddings; hold a grand baby,etc.

And then there was the more immediate bucket list of time: MAKE IT TO 40!   I just have a few more days … and by the end of this week, I will have checked off my first big bucket list item made that during that very first of many rounds of chemo in August of 2014.  Seems ages ago now since we first started.  But I made it this far,  I’m ready to move on to other bucket list items.

(click on picture or link beneath for “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen)


Freddy Mercury/Queen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=44&v=HgzGwKwLmgM

Back to the Bucket list.  I have quite the list of ideas of thrill seeking (always wanted to sky dive!) But apparently, my doctor and my husband think there’s something irresponsible and unnecessary about a mother of 5 and a woman whom everybody’s trying to put all efforts into remaining on this earth ALIVE jumping off of a perfectly good and safe airplane into the sky.  However,  I was given the green light that if he can keep me going till I’m 80, then he’ll let me do whatever the heck I want after dealing with chemo and all this crapola for that long.  I’ll have earned my thrill seeking.  So I may switch to rock climbing  (done it before but loved it so much, want to do it again now), and/or hang gliding (but that, like the sky diving, has to be over something amazingly beautiful!!) The thought of feeling like I’m flying, I can only imagine, would leave me smiling for days…. weeks… years at the memory forever in my brain, as I lose so much of  my short term memory still each day from all the chemo and radiation and still more chemo each day,  I can’t imagine that’d be one I could ever forget. Or that I’d ever lose interest in Jason telling me about the day I flew and the kids showing me pictures to prove it to me in an album! 

Which leads me to my next portion of my bucket list: TRAVEL!!!  One deal that we’d made “if I reached my 40th” was to take a big celebration trip to somewhere I’d never been but aways wanted to go. Somewhere relaxing and beautiful, that when I woke up and went to bed,  I could look out and see something I never saw anywhere else.  Of course, if you ask me, I always want to dig my heels in the sand and swim in the ocean.  Sure, I’d love to check of some of my thrill seeking adventures, too, but put a Pina colada in my hand and let me kick back on the beach and hear the waves roll in and I’m a happy girl!  But now comes the decision.  So many choices.  So many decisions.  Big decisions.  Grown up decisions.  Some make you smile at the fun pretty pictures.  Some make you frown at the check book and the lacking of what numbers you would need but don’t have.  Some make you think, Aw you only live once! That was the point of this whole trip, right?  But then the others make you remember,  but we have a long we to go, and I have a lot more bucket lists that involve a lot of little people that we have under the roof.  Decisions, choices,  …. the reality of life with or without cancer.  The crosses ALL of us bear,  no matter what our health is.  God knows our crosses.  We give them to him.  That’s the best choice we can make, really.



Do you know what I did last weekend?  I did something that took me away from all of the nonsense and stress of all of our fun and tough decisions that we all face.  I did something that ended up being one of the most fun and uplifting nights I’ve had in a very very long time.  I smiled.  I smiled for 7.5 miles while marching  dancing alongside my daughter as a cheer squad chaperone as my gorgeous co-captain daughter marched and danced her way through the city for a Mardi Gras parade.  I couldn’t help but move to the music, and what my husband, oncologist, and everyone else thought was gonna tear up my feet and wear me down, only energized me and lifted me up! (The Social Morphine I told you about kicked in, BIG TIME!!). I began just clapping and asking the crowd to cheer for our squad, giving them a hand and cheering for our school.  I smiled and caught eyes with a few parents and kids and they smiled right back and cheered.  The cheers grew and grew and with it their smiles grew and the feeling inside me felt warm and energizing!



That feeling I got each time I noticed that simply smiling at someone changed the posture, the attitude, and the smile on the face of someone in the crowd, pumped me up like nothing else!   I was on a high and feeling fantastic, grinning from ear to ear.  Elderly  in wheel chairs reached out when I put my hand our for high fives and shouted, “Happy Mardi Gras, Y’all!”  From special needs children in motorized wheel chairs, to toddlers on parents’ shoulders, to the shy little guy hiding behind mommy’s legs peeking through the barricades, to the family sitting in their chairs in a circle on the median, I greeted them all!  (And yes, I realize it’s the flu season, and I need to be careful.  I kept my hand sanitizer close at hand, to not catch or spread germs.  Along with a holy medal in pocket asking the Big Guy to protect me while we all just spread the love,  with smiles, high fives, and watching people catching beads and throws and passing them around to kids that may not have gotten anything. That’s what Mardi Gras is all about.  It’s about community.  It’s about getting out there and feeding off of the energy of one another!   It’s about laughing and smiling till your cheeks hurt!  It’s about dancing and moving to the music till your legs and your feet feel like jello and you want to collapse in the car at the end with all the beads you could bear the weight of around your neck and wonder what in the world you’re gonna do with all this junk you just begged for at each and every float? (At least that’s what the Mom in me thinks about!). 

This year,  for me,  I’m turning 40 just as Mardi Gras really kicks off.  The best part of that is that I’m here and I’ve made it!  I’m alive and well.

**SIDEBAR:No, I’m not in true remission.  (I tried my best to explain that in a previous blog, and I believe it was misunderstood.  When my last scans showed that their were no active tumors in my body and the one tumor in my brain that remained was zapped by the gamma knife,  my radiologist said that, in a sense,  I was in remission!  However,  my oncologist clarified that I cannot claim true remission which is what I explained in that blog.  True remission would mean no more chemotherapy, weekly bloodworm, or need to see an oncologist every other week, as I still do.  My metastatic breast cancer cells are still very active  with cancer markers that often climb up and down with any changes of my dosing or shift in the schedule of my 2 chemotherapies that I take 6 pills of one every morning, and 2 of the other every morning and 1 at night.  Basically, instead of infusions once every 3 weeks, I take chemo pills twice a day, every day and will for the rest of my life until we WILL find a cure.  

I don’t say this to be a drag, but to be honest.  Also to remind you again, that in the midst of all of this,  I still find it very necessary, and maybe confusing to others, to smile.  I smile because I still have the gift of Joy that God provides me through grace.

However, I still have to remember to ask him for it every day.  Because I am up against loads of distractions, conflicts, terrible “flunks” at parenting,  total confusion at how I’m supposed to figure out how to handle the change of parenting from when they were little to teenage years and coincide decision making with another parent and kindly/lovingly all at the same time!  Quite honestly,  it all comes down to the fact that…

I’m a very real HUMAN BEING.

The very thing that I enjoyed so much at that parade: HUMANITY at it’s best.  Is also part what can be the most complicated, frustrating, and painful part of life.  Why?  Because we’re not perfect!


I’ve NEVER claimed to be, or felt that anywhere near my grasp.  However,  I know that in my imperfections, I can ask God to be the third parent.  The middle member of our marriage.  The source of my JOY.    True JOY doesn’t equate to HAPPINESS and feeling perfect.  But it can still cause you to smile.  It can still cause you to dance when you hear music and you just can’t help but move to the beat!

When people see me, they often say,  “Well you’re looking’ good, you must be feeling great!  So good to see ya doing so well!”  or “You look like you’re feeling well.  Are you?”  My reply is something along the lines of:

“I’m here.  I woke up today, that’s a good thing.  Every day is different.  One day at a time.  If I’m not feeling well, I take care and stay home.   But if I’m up to it,  I try to enjoy as much as I can.  Never want to miss a moment! If I feel good, I go for it!” 


So there ya go.  I haven’t posted in a while.  But that’s how I’ve been,

and that’s where I’ll be.

 Don’t look forward, don’t look back… One day at a time.

God’s got this!

As always, thank you for every prayer and every bit of support! Keep praying for us, as we’re always praying for YOU and ALL of your intentions.  Always.

And always, always, keep smiling!

**Dim the house lights, turn up the volume, SMILE, relax and click below:

“Smile” by Nat King Cole

by the velvety voice of Nat King Cole

(Video Montage by the Great Charlie Chaplin!)

Until next time…





(one last thing, if you please!)


Soon, I’ll be updating you on the happenings of BUNA’s HOPE!  We’ve still been busy with  quite a few donations at Christmas extending our reach to families across the globe through FOOD FOR THE POOR, purchasing  a home, with electricity and running water, a village well, computers, backpacks and school supplies, farm animals, feed for their chickens, farming tools, and 2 sewing machines to not only provide shelter, education, but also means for the to be able to work and provide for themselves for their future.  A future full of HOPE as we continue to pray for them as well.

We ask that you click on the BUNA’s HOPE link above and continue to donate as we raise money to hopefully, by Easter, treat another family within our own country with another BUNA’s HOPE VACAY as we have in the past.



For the sake of any confusion and clearing up questions asked…

 And only because of these questions that we’ve received in emails, instant messages and personal conversations asking,  “How does one support my personal family? Is that through Buna’s Hope?” No.  Buna’s Hope is entirely separate from my personal family, But thank you.  We’ve created that 100% as a non-profit organization to help other families.  If you truly wish to support our family in a monitary form of support at this time, you may do so through our Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/TeamBuna

Again, we appreciate your support of our non-profit, the families blessed all over the world now because of you, separately our own family through Go fund me and all of the prayers and offerings that you’ve given us to get me to my first bucket list… 40!!!!   We don’t take that lightly!!!  God bless you all.  God is Good.  All the time!!!!

Every little thing, is gonna be alright!!!





39 thoughts on “IF YOU JUST SMILE…

  1. You were on my heart his very morning. I was wondering how you were and prayed for you. Will keep praying for you and your journey and your beautiful family and kids.


  2. Smiling and dancing because of you and your beautiful sharing on Your blog today !
    Deacon and I continue to cover you and your beautiful family in prayer .
    You may enjoy dancing to a song By Mercy Me cAlled Grace Got you it always lifts my spirits and gets my feet to move ‘


  3. Elise, I remember you in my prayers every day. This morning I was in the dentist’s chair and thought of you when the Bob Marley song “Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright” song came on. The dental assistant starting singing it and reassuring her colleague to “don’t worry.” Everybody has some cross they’re carrying (I’ve been carrying MS for 15 years) but smiling with the joy of Christ makes the load lighter. Keep lighting up the world one smile at a time!!

    Grateful to know you (through this blog), Janet Roscigno

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. I am smiling and dancing with you as I read your blog today . Many blessings on your coming 40th birthday . Deacon Richard and I continue to keep you and your precious family covered with prayers .
    I recommend you listen to a song by Mercy Me callled Grace got you on their Lifer album it gets moving all the time and keeps me smiling .
    Sending arms to hug you 💒✝️


    • Thank you for smiling and dancing with me! Feels good, doesn’t it!! I look forward to listening to that. I often listen to Mercy Me and won’t be surprised if I haven’t already even heard it but has slipped from my terrible memory?🤷‍♀️
      That happens A LOT these days!!
      Hugs right back at ya!
      God bless,


  5. Elise, It’s Judy Gaiennie. I was the recipient of one of those parade smiles and hugs (and I don’t have the flu:) You continue to inspire me. Girl…my bucket list is nothing like yours. I’d be scared to do some of those thing!!! I just wanted to say that my breast Ca in 1998 and again in 2002 caused me to have a few bucket list items. One of the most important ones was to see my baby Joseph (only 1 yr old in 1998) graduate high school. Well, on May 11th he will graduated from LSU!!! God continues to amaze me and I am always grateful. February 17th this year I turned 60 Yrs old. I just can’t believe it!!! Please know that Dan and I pray for you and your family daily, and want to wish you a very happy 40th!!! You are a beautiful daughter of God. God’s blessings and our love, Judy and Dan

    Sent from my iPad



    • Congrats to Joseph and to you on checking off those bucket list items and the many more that will come in your future full of HOPE! Thank you and Dan for all of your prayers!


  6. So happy to see you posting again. I live in St Angela parish and are good friends with the Kerber’s. Love to read your post. Keep smiling.


    • Awww! You know my sweet Cecile💕💕💕! She’s the best isn’t she!! Aaaand you have my big brother for a pastor?? Double win!! Wow! I’m gettin kinda jealous right now. 😉 You are blessed, as are they to have you, I’m sure!


  7. Never stop writing! I miss your infectious, beautiful words and attitude… Thanks for sharing yourself with the world… You are a gift to all who know you… And you do look 👀 just beautiful even if you don’t feel it 😘😘


  8. My “Mantra” is “Regret about the past and worry about the future are the devil’s best tools to rob us of God’s greatest gift – the only one that really matters: His invitation to love divinely -selflessly – in this moment.” I aspire to someday live my own mantra as well as you do now. Smile. Praise God. Love.


    • That’s beautiful. We’re all just TRYING to live our mottos/mantras out as best we can. As long as we’re giving it to God… ALL of it, then what more can we do?


  9. Elise-
    You continue to be an inspiration not only to those fighting cancer, but to everyone you come in contact with like the hundreds you touched while parading! As far as your smiling… incredible and you bring so much joy to others! Well before your blog I was thinking that you have one of the most beautiful smiles of anyone that I know and it’s because your smile comes from your heart and soul as it radiates to others!! Keep it going girl for another 40 plus years and beyond!!


    • As do you in your genuine smile, especially when you dance! That’s when you know you’re doing what you love! Keep on smiling and dancing! And thank you, Ed. You’re always in my prayers. I pray you’re doing well.


  10. All I can say to your beautiful blog is thank you for sharing and reminding me to smile. God bless, we love u and are praying everyday. And u are a great parent- I have 4 kids and is always a struggle to know if u are doing the right thing . As u said Gods got this…Alleluia!


    • Thank God He is watching over and filling in where we fail, bc parenting is surely not for the weak or the perfectionists! But for those willing to live in the moment and accept failure as a stepping stone and a learning block. Oy!


  11. Sweet! Still praying and so glad you’re still smiling with His spirit in your heart, fighting with His help, and singing along the way—beats crying any day!💖🙏🏻👏

    Love, hugs, happy times,



  12. Hi,
    I I want you to know that I love your posts and your wonderful attitude towards life. I have about six different autoimmune diseases but I suffer from. Due to the pain, and the meds, find it very hard to smile at times. You are a great inspiration! You and your family are in my daily prayers and have been for quite a while now. I am the mother of one of your household sisters from Steubenville, Marchelle. May God continue blessing you with joy, peace, and smiles. I hope you have a very Happy 40th Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy Birthday, Elise. I used to be at Fr. Beau’s parish, and we moved to Houston 4 months ago. You make me smile. Thank you for your posts and your infectious joy. God bless you and all the family. I keep you in prayer always.


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