“What are you going to do with yourself now?” (umm… errr.. uuhhhh)

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On a regular basis, now that my youngest is in school three days a week,  and it seems to many that my cancer journey is behind me, what seems to come to most people’s mind to ask is,

“What are you going to do with yourself now?” (Normally asked with witty banter, winks and pats on my back before, during, and after, while I take a deep breath and reply….)

“EVERYTHING! All the things I haven’t done in the past 13 years of parenting.  I have a lot of laundry. ” (Insert more witty banter and laughter before I saunter off thinking of all the other things that are included on that list of my still HAVE TOs like monthly infusions, monthly injections, weekly blood draws and the never ending doc appointments (sometimes same docs, sometimes new specialists…),  normal mom-stuff like grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry… laundry… LAUNDRY, and seeking and carrying out new adventures in health and work opportunities to quench my thirst for taking care of my family.  My mind REELS with all of the things I want to do right now and all of the things that I haven’t done in so long as this is my first time in a long time that I haven’t been pregnant, nursing, have a toddler at home every day, or at WEEKLY chemo appointments vs. my current monthly maintenance infusion plan.    So many thoughts that sometimes,  I get nowhere.  And honestly,  I don’t know where to start first.  So, much like the image up top…. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING… just yet, but

I’VE NEVER FELT SO INSPIRED IN MY LIFE TO LIVE MY LIFE TO ITS FULLEST, TAKE MY LIFE EACH DAY BY STORM, AND LIVE, LOVE, AND LAUGH AS MUCH AS I CAN EACH DAY.

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It occurred to me these past few months that I’ve been in some major grieving and mourning over my old life.  My old body.  My old hair.  My old schedule.  My old routines.  My old NON-MEDICATED, NON-DOC APPOINTMENT NEEDING (although, if I have to go to doc appointments, I happen to have the BEST EVER!!) , NON-SCAN NEEDING, NON-SCAN NEEDING, NON-DAILY HANDING ANY FEARS OF FUTURE RECURRENCES OF CANCER COMING BACK TO ME OR POPPING UP TO MY FAMILY OVER TO GOD EVERY. SINGLE.  MORNING.   ….,   MY OLD ACTIVE SELF THAT COULD DO SO MUCH SO EASILY AND NOT NEED TO FIGHT FOR EVERYTHING.

Honestly,  I’ve been having a pity party and didn’t even realize it.  It’s ok.  I think I’ve needed it.  I’ve been quite the gung-ho positive cheerleader for me, my family, and every one else in the world throughout most of my life, especially the past three years.  I’ve still been waking up each day and actively choosing to fight for every moment and opportunity to seize every day with my family, dance and laugh … and travel with friends and loved ones.  I make the most of everything, no matter how I feel.  Why?  Because… well… to answer the next question on most people’s minds (after the previously mentioned one above):

“You look like you’re sure feeling good.  Do you feel as great as you seem?!”  (asked with big smile and hopeful nodding for a thoroughly positive answer)

Sigh.  Another loaded question that I’ve tossed and turned many of my insomnia-filled nights to answer.  Seems simple.  And yes,  I’m boppin’ around with my kids at the pool, the beach, road tripping’ across the country,  at every school function,  dancing like a fool  and makin’ goofy videos just to lighten everybody’s mood on Facebook and with my husband on Staycations in NOLA.  But after a few very needed conversations this summer with new and old friends who are also “lifers” (a new term I heard for those of us with the indefinite schedule of maintenance infusions or what have you for a life-long disease),  it finally really sunk in.  I ‘ve said it before, but it really hit me.   I don’t have to FEEL GOOD to look and act joyful and seize my day.  Just because you see me on a dance floor or on a beach with a big fat smile on my face, it’s not necessarily because I FEEL oh so good.  Rather, it’s because that activity MAKES me happy.  Being there, doing whatever the crazy thing is that I’m doing, or being with the people I’m with MAKES me FEEL GOOD.

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I could sit on my couch all day and assess all the parts of my body that don’t feel the same anymore, and may never feel quite the same again.  I will surely do EVERYTHING IN MY POWER to find my healthiest self again and to stay active.  However,  no matter how I feel,  I have to look at each day like I did with each part of my treatment and ask myself a few questions:

  • What’s my treatment plan for ME today?
  • What do I want more than anything today?
  • What do I want to fight for today?
  • Is that going to be worth it at the end of the day to have gotten out there and seized it?

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The truth is, I have NO DESIRE to every have to go through all the aggressive chemo treatments, radiation, and surgeries again,  but when I was… I had a plan.  It was like I had been drafted for a war to be soldier when I’d never asked to be in it.   But, it turned out that I was a damn good fighter.  I happen to be the soldier you’d want on the front lines.   It’s odd for me to say something so confidently about myself.  But,  when I’m fighting like that,  I found a strength inside me that I had never known before.  I found a confidence, a freedom, and a trust in GOD that I had never been able to surrender to before.  I felt unstoppable.  When I was sent home from my war to my current battlefield with my “maintenance plan” that now currently keeps a busy schedule but doesn’t have nearly the same daunting fighting needs as before… I have felt a little lost.  I’m like a soldier, but not really.  I’m doing boot camp over and over again on an army base but not at war, even though I’ve been to war twice, and although I hate being there…. it’s all I really know how to do now.  It’s what I feel best at.  So weird.

When they slapped that big “FOREVER” stamp on my file and said I’d never get remission,  but told me that it’s ok.  I gotta be so grateful because this allows me to live my normal life, just with “invisible cancer” (such a weird phrase) that we keep at bay with my monthly infusions and injections to help prevent my high possibility of another recurrence after having stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.  Ummmmm… that doesn’t sound normal?

Thus began my pity party.   But as I’ve been so surrounded and immersed in this cancer world,  I see how grateful I am to have this life long plan.  I am a LIFER.  Key word being LIFE.  They’ve given me an option to stay in my fight.  And now an opportunity to take back my life as I’ve come to know it now and seek new adventures in health, work, my new schedule with no kids at home a few days a week, and all the things I  haven’t done in so long.

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So, I may not know exactly what my TREATMENT plan is for my whole life.  They  say forever, but that’s really all relative.  Because they don’t know about the dude that I’m praying for.  I keep my HOPE high in imagining a dorky little guy that is crazy smart, lives in his mom’s basement, and has his very own laboratory down there.  While he eats his mom’s meatloaf,  He works hard on my FOREVER cure that WILL GIVE ME TOTAL REMISSION.  They have told me it own’t happen.  But I say,  that NO ONE KNOWS THE FUTURE.  We can only live in the present.  We can only know about today.  And today,  no matter how I’m feeling… I’m fighting to LIVE MY LIFE AS BEST AS I CAN.

Ya know what, just as we came into this world,  we all must leave this world one day, too.  It’s no big secret.  And when I do.  I hope I leave this world LAUGHING.  (And if I could add surrounded by my fave people and family on a dance floor, that’d be reeeeeally awesome, too! )

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When we cast our cares upon the LORD, as I often bring up in PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7,  I feel the Marley song come on, “Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”  Why?  Not because I think everything is owed to me that I planned.   My life is not going as I planned.  I had to get over that, in fact, I ask you all to pray for me as I daily hand it over to God and work on getting OVER IT.   Whether we live out lives exactly as we thought,  or if our lives are taken away from us in one way or another.  If we hand it all to the BIG GUY,  it really will BE ALRIGHT.  He sees and knows waaaaayyy more than we do.  Thank God!  (pun intended!)

Although I may not know what in the world I’m doing,  HE DOES.  I’m so glad the buck doesn’t stop with me.  Or else me, and my 5 kiddos sure wouldn’t be here.  Heck,  I have a hard time making a decision at a restaurant with a big menu.  I need help.  And He’s never let me down, even when I don’t stop to notice he’s there.

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I’ll leave ya with this one… it  was in a reading at church recently.  I’ll summarize in my best BUNA style.

Elijah went out to the mount tops and stepped out to ask for God to show him a sign that He was there.  To speak to him.  He listened for a crash of thunder, a flash of lighting,  some major sign… but after a while,  all he heard was a soft whisper of wind from inside his cave.  That’s when he realized that God was in the whisper.  

It was explained to me that we can only hear a whisper from someone who is very near.  If we quiet all of our pity parties, stop searching for the HUGE signs/wonders/miracles,  we can see/hear/feel God in the every day whispers right near us.    I may have had to go through cancer twice.  I may not get a full remission.  I may have to do this for a long time.  But,  God has taken care of me and my family all along the way.  EVERY LITTLE THING HAS BEEN ALRIGHT.  It hasn’t been the miracle that we looked for.  But the love that we’ve felt, the doctors that we’ve found,  the community that has supported us has been out of this world.  It’s as if someone bigger (out of this world) has been whispering in our ears all along.  He’s with us.  And although my current treatment can feel monotonous and confusing… He hasn’t stopped working and doing big things in us.  I can see now that He’s giving me opportunities now to seize the day even more than I could before and is BLESSING me with a maintenance plan that allows me to fight for the life that I so desperately want to live.  I pray to dance on the dance floors of my children’s wedding receptions (it’s a long way off, but I WANT that… I BEG Him for that every day), But in the meantime, I enjoy the little things and soak up all that I can TODAY.

God is whispering in my ear to live for TODAY.  Take today by storm.  Hug my loved ones and thank HIM that I woke up to another gorgeous day.  I am allowed to grieve, I am allowed to fuss,  but even when I’m upset,  I can even thank HIM that I’m here to make the fuss!  Ha!  That’s a tough one.

Y’all I took all my own notes from earlier this summer and took the trips, ATE THE ICE CREAM, and kicked off my shoes.  So much so that my pants don’t fit!  Yikes!  (Add that to my list of things I gotta do!  Fit in the pants.  Working on it)

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It was all so worth it.  I made memories this summer.  I didn’t have to travel to do it, but I did.  I can make memories right here, and that what I’m doing now.  This is my FIGHT BLOG… and (cheesy, I know) but I’m taking back my life.

Enjoy yours.  Live TODAY.

And thank you for keeping me and my family always in your prayers.  It’s a two-way street,  you pray for me… I pray for you.  Deal?

God bless you all!

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What a Mighty Good Man

“What a Man. What a Man. What a Man. What a Mighty Good Man…”Salt ‘N’ Peppa

jason and me new years

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REPOSTING THIS FROM ONE YEAR AGO AS TODAY IS MY HUBBIE’S BDAY! HAPPY HAPPY BDAY, TO “A MIGHTY GOOD MAN!” I don’t think I can say my appreciation for him much better than this post from 1 year ago. Sums it up.
ENJOY! -Elise/Buna (Jan 24, 2016)

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(Begin Post from January 2015)…

This weekend, we celebrated a pretty cool guy. (Clearly, I’m putting it mildly.) It was my Hubbie’s B-day.

Saturday celebrated the annual day that I get down on my knees, look up to Heaven and thank a most amazing woman (whom I pray to one day meet), my man’s mama, Wendy (who passed when he was just 6 years old).  I thank her for saying”Yes” to life and giving us this amazing guy that I now get to have as my husband and the father to our big ol’ house-o-kids.  Because of her beautiful self and the handsome Italian genes of my father-in-law, Claude, I must say… we’ve got a pretty cute house full over here!  It’s not without mention to my hubbie’s late stepmother/my mother-in-law, Martha, who also said yes, to jumping right in to their fam and raising this “treehouse-roof-jumpin'”, “puppy-dog-eyes-to-try-to-get-away-with-it”, “Wonder Years-Fred Savage-look-alike-little boy” and his 2 siblings, and never look back.  I thank you, too, and we’ll never forget you, Nana.

All that being said, look at the man who I got!  He’s everything I could have prayed and wished for, and more.

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He’s A BIG KID AT HEART

Very important to this girl, who… rather than leaving Pre-school summer day camp (Shout out to, Mrs. Gay Bennett’s Day Camp by the Bogue Falaya River. Anyone??). I simply evolved to: “Biggest kid in camp, to “Jr.-Jr.counselor”, to “Jr. Counselor”,  then Counselor, then Early Childhood Ed. major in college, to kindergarten teacher, to mother with Peter Pan complex married to man with Peter Pan complex.  Perfect! 🙂

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Notice daughter (Sunshine) jealous of his tiny cookie decorating skills matched with his pride over a job well done

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Never underestimate the fun of a “good ol’ boy” and his “slip n slide” (pictured here: Daddy and Sidekick …circa 2010?)

  *Like a big kid, it never takes long for Daddy to clear a path and let the kids count how many back handsprings he can do on each beach trip. “Go, Daddy, go!” (pics below)

BACK HANDSPRING  BACK HAN

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HE’S AN AMA-ZA-ZA-ZING DAD

I mean really. This guy is a total puddle with all these girls, and a definite hero to The Dude.  If there’s an opportunity to teach them about how to shoot a bow and arrow in the backyard, go fishing at the crack of dawn, enjoy a gorgeous day at the zoo (even if it means taking him by myself when I have work), bestow his knowledge of 80’s movies and music through movie marathons and dance parties, or whatever other adventure the kids come up with…this man is all over it.  And some how, some way, if you have EVER met him, you know he’s figured out a way to weave in some analogies of FAITH into each activity.  He’s never taken the term “father” loosely and will spend every last breath, giving it his allAll for the Glory of God and his Family.  That’s a good dad, I tell ya.

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Those girls have him wrapped around their fingers from the start! (pictured here: Daddy and Snuggles, Dec 2013)

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Painting Sunshine’s Nails while the Dude learns how “to serve”

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He’s always up for a PARTY…and a COSTUME!

We’re a rare combo in a couple. Two extroverted-extroverts.  We loooove people and loooove a party! That being said, since I basically grew up in a theater with my mom as an actress and a director…. I loooooove costumes.  As I told my pal, Regina (matchmaker to me and the Hubs. Woop! Woop!) the other day, “I love playing dress up. Kids are just a good excuse!”  And my man agrees, for the most part.  It always starts off with him looking at me and my costume proposal as though I’ve asked him to fly to the moon and back with his own set of wings.  Then, at the last minute, not only is he putting on the costume, but he’s adding details, a character back story, and an accent.  Yup, it was must meant to be.

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Ready for a Thanksgiving get together with some ol’ highschool buds 🙂

Danny (Daddy), Sandy (Mommy), Frenchie (Sidekick), PattySimcox (Sunshine), Kanicky &Greased Lightnin (The Dude)

“Grease is the Word” (Halloween 2009)

Clark Kent (Daddy), 6 mos prego Wonderwoman (Mommy), Spidergirl (Sidekcik), Supergirl (Sunshine), Batman (the Dude)

The SuperFam (Halloween 2010)

Qui Gon Gin (Daddy), Chewbakka (Mommy), Princess Leia (Sidekick), Padme (Sunshine), Obi Wan (The Dude), Ewok (Firecracker)

May the Force be With Us (Halloween 2011)

Park Rangers (Mom & Dad), Peacock (Bella), Cheetah (Sunshine), Falcon (The Dude), Tiger (Firecracker)

Wild Thingz (Halloween 2012)

My opinion.... best lookin' pirate around.  Look out, Johnny Depp!

Capn’ Jack with His Pirate Wench and Babe (2014)

ARRRRRRRR!!!!!

Our Pirate Crew (Halloween 2014)

 

I went disco, He went 80s... but we sported the Fros together in style!

Gettin Wiggy With it! (October 2014)

 

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Treats me like a Queen

Growing up as such a tomboy myself, I never thought I’d know what to do if someone really “rolled out the red carpet” for me.  In fact, when he proposed (once I realized what was happening), I paused for a sec to try to see if I had any tears like “other girls” (since that seemed like the stereotypical thing to do), but I didn’t.  So, I did what came natural to my “tomboy roots” and tackled and hit him a bunch shouting “Are you joking? Are you serious? You gotta be kidding?!“… Only, I forgot to say, “Yes“, leaving him in a panic, wondering what the heck my reaction meant.  Oops.

That’s kinda how things have always been.  Not normal.  Yet, he puts up with me.  He loves me.  And no matter how “not cookie-cutter-like” his woman is, he treats me like a queen.  He’s chivalrous to no end.  No matter how rushed we are to get out of the house with our big ol’ family, he still opens the car door for me.  No matter how hungry he is and juicy his steak, he always offers me “the best bite”… of every dish (Without my asking. Be it a meal, dessert, or snack, he always offers.).  His daddy raised him well.

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He exemplifies what it means “TO SERVE”

Not quite 3 weeks ago, I went through the most major surgery of my life.  I was under for 10 hours.  This guy didn’t spend the day watching t.v., playing games on his phone, or anything else that would be totally normal and expected for such a long day.  I had packed our case of DVDs for he and my family to watch in our hospital room, be able to have a good laugh at, and lift their spirits from worrying about me.  I mean, that’s what I would do:  pray some, laugh some.  But not him.  He “one-upped” me.  (Punk!)  He never stopped praying.  He prayed and he fasted.  All. Day. Long.  That’s the kind of guy that he is.  (He’s making me look bad, right??) Seriously though, he’s good as gold and was determined to not give up until he saw my eyes open.

When my nurse mentioned it was time for me to stand up the next morning and take my first steps, he was there.  When the nurse took me in for my first shower and mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to do it myself and would need help with the care and cleaning of my 4 new major wounds, drains and incisions while getting in and out of the shower, as well as getting dressed … he didn’t bat an eye.  He was there.  When I stepped out of the shower, and couldn’t handle looking in the mirror at myself, he was there to turn me around, hold me up and tell me I was beautiful.  And I knew he meant it.  Even when I couldn’t see it for myself, he reminded me of what he could see.

When it was time to empty the 4 drains that had to become my new best friends,  not only was he there, but he asked the nurse if she would teach him so he could do them.  In fact, nurses said he was setting records for “most drains emptied by a caregiver while still in the hospital”.  Just as he knelt down on is knee to ask me to marry him, he knelt every morning and every evening to repeat this “drain ritual” with me, turning something that could have been awful to something beautiful. How?  Because, after over 12 years of marriage, 5 kids, 3 miscarriages, and what had become a “very busy life”, we had these quiet moments together where all I could do was humble myself, sit, and let my husband get down on his knee again… and love me with all of his heart.  I’ll never forget that.

the sun loved the moon so much

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What more can I say?

I truly don’t know what I’d do without this guy.  He’s anything and everything I could have asked for, and then some.  He makes me look like a terrible person and feel like an amazing person, all at the same time; both because he’s so stinkin’ good that I could just never keep up and because he brings out the best in me all at once.  He’s about as genuine as they come. That’s what I’ve always been so drawn to.  His heart is as pure and as good as gold.  I’ve never met anyone like that in all my life. I’ve never known someone with that strong of a desire to will to do “good”.  It’s both admirable and totally intriguing to me on a daily basis.  I live in awe of his golden heart and desire for Heaven.

#StayGoldPonyBoy

I’ve always felt like I could be the very reason why they say the phrase “Curiosity kills the cat, ya know?!”  I’ve always had an irresistible urge to touch fire a few times before I learn that it really does burn.  God knows that.  He knows me and knows, like all of us, that I’m a work in progress.  I know God put this steadfast, rock-solid husband of mine in my life to keep me grounded and keep our family’s compass headed in the right direction.

where you go i will go

*And, Babe, no matter how difficult I can be, you know I love you for all that you for it all. Because, with all my heart, I want the same things for us, too. I am so grateful for every sacrifice you make for us and the love that you give us.

  I LOVE YOU.  

YOU ARE MY HERO.

Happy Birthday

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