Spreading Kindness on Good Day

https://www.gofundme.com/7z-support-the-moore-family

My amazing school family created a GoFundMe account for our family when I received my diagnosis in November. I am so incredibly touched by their generosity, and I love that this has started a snowball of other good deeds. For me and for others. Kindness matters!


Well, well, well. What a morning to remember.

The morning started early. I left the house at 6:15 in order to be at my sister-in-law’s house by 6:30. She graciously drove us. We picked up my mom and grandma on the way and headed downtown to the station. As usual, the tollway traffic was lame. We weren’t getting anywhere quickly. The GPS said we were set to arrive around 7:50…well that’s not good considering we were supposed to be there at 7:30. We had talked to the producer the day before and she had said that we could get there at 7:30 so that the boys (Kiptin and his brothers) could get a tour of the studio and see where everything was, how it works, etc., in hopes that Kiptin we would feel more comfortable before we were actually on camera.

Oh and get this. The producer mentioned that there would be a make-up artist. Excuse me, what? This is getting fancy. She said to come with light make up on and then the make-up artist would do their thing and get it “HD ready”. Well okay then.

So we’re stuck in traffic…Danny called and was giving me a hard time for not leaving earlier…and well, at this point, there was nothing we could do but hope that we weren’t late. When I was getting ready earlier that morning, I went ahead and did my normal make-up because I was too nervous the thing with the make-up artist would fall through and then I’d be on TV looking like an albino ghost. (Stop and picture that for a second.) So yah, I did my make-up.

By the grace of God, at about 7:25, traffic cleared up and we made it within the next ten minutes. We pulled up at the same time as the Fitzgerald’s. Phew. Those boys (all 4 of them) got out of the car and oh.my.word. were they precious! Their hair was done and they just looked so darn cute. Kiptin, who always wears athletic shorts and t-shirts was in khaki pants, a button up shirt, and bright red converse. This boy. I’m telling you. My heart gets a little closer to exploding every time I see him…and now his hair was even gelled.

Once we walked it, each person had to sign in individually…it kind of felt like we were signing into a prison. We had to be quiet, turn off our phones, wear a badge, and write the time we signed in. Yikes.

The security guard walked us back and showed us around. We got to see different accolades  the station had received, pictures of different anchors (past and present), and a lot of different history about the station. Then he walked us around where we saw some of the offices and desks of some behind the scenes people…and then, I realized that this is where I’m supposed to be working. Y’all. The vending machine was heavenly. It had Hot Tamales, Haribo Gummy Bears, Sour Patch Watermelons…the list goes on. It was like my dream. I think it was fate. (Fox 4–do y’all have any openings? I’m a hard worker and I’m fun to be around…I’m organized too, that’s a plus.)

Lauren Pryzbyl posted this early in the morning…

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We got to watch Chip Waggoner do the traffic report. Man. I just don’t get the green screen. I would be a hot mess standing in front of a blank screen moving my hands around like pointing to “hot spots” and accidents. He said that after our segment, I could come back and practice…lucky for him, I got distracted and forgot. Chip, I’ll be back…and I’m going to learn how to master the green screen.

Then they took us to the part of the set where Lauren Pryzbyl (more about her in a minute) and Tim were live. Several thoughts here:

  1. Yes, Lauren Pryzbyl is just as gorgeous in person as she looks on TV. But you know what? Not only is she beautiful, she is genuine. She is down to earth and so incredibly personable. And, she teared up when she started talking to us when she was quoting a line from my blog…a crier…a girl after my own heart. I had no idea what to expect before meeting her…but man, even if I had had high expectations, she would have exceeded them without a doubt. She had a way of making each of us feel comfortable…which was nice considering I was feeling pretty confident I might wet my pants before we walked in.
  2. Tim Ryan is just as funny in person as he is on TV. He is real. He is honest. I love it. We didn’t get interact with him much, but when we did, he was fantastic. He and Lauren are fantastic together.
  3. Every single person we met while we were there, especially the people who helped us get situation, mic’d up, etc., was incredible (I know I’ve used that word a lot…I need to pull out the thesaurus.). They were all so personable and so welcoming. They may us feel like they were genuinely glad we were there. More than anything, they made Kiptin feel like he was a little hero…and he is. I’m pretty sure he felt like he was on top of the world walking through that place.

Okay, now that those thoughts are out of the way, let me continue. Once we got back to where Good Day was being filmed, a very nice man got us all situated in out chairs, got us mic’d up, and told us the order of how things would go. HOLD UP.

Colleen and I looked at each other and said, “Wait, where’s the make-up?!” It was a good thing we did our own make-up otherwise we would have been in trouble. I’m not sure what happened…but we totally skipped over the whole make-up artist thing and went straight to preparing for the segment. Let me just say this–Thank you, God, for looking’ out and speaking to me this morning and telling me to go ahead and do my make-up. We would have had a serious problem if I rolled out of bed in hopes of meeting with the make-up artist. Phew. Look at my God, He’s always lookin’ out.

Time seemed to be passing quickly as we were getting ready. We were able to watch Lauren and Tim do several news stories, go to commercial, etc. And before we knew it, they were counting down from 5…and we were live. Holy smokes. This whole time we were worried about if Kiptin was going to actually talk on camera…when I’m not sure I could have told you my name and date of birth when the cameras started.

Like I said, Lauren was amazing. She made us so comfortable and it felt like we were just having a normal conversation…until I had to talk. I’m cool with talking in front of people…but like I said…when I talk about the love I have for that little boy, I.just.can’t.do.it. I was going strong…and then the tears came. Fortunately, they had put a picture on the screen at the time, so you couldn’t see me crying…but you could for sure hear it in my voice. I’ll take it. No ugly crying on TV. Not for this girl.

Let me just say, my favorite moment from the whole entire day was when Lauren asked Kiptin a question and he looked at his mom and whispered, “Can I say it now?” Ah! I just wanted to go squeeze him. He’s the cutest. He did SO good. We were all shocked and so thankful that he was open and responded so well to Lauren.

Several minutes went by and it was done. Phew. Not too traumatic. I wish I could have gotten through it without any tears…but that would have been way too uncharacteristic for me.

During the segment, Kiptin and Colleen mentioned that they are still open for taking orders…and immediately, the orders started coming pouring in. All.Day.Long.

Here are some pictures from the day. Once we were done at the station, we granted Kiptin his “wish” of having lunch together. (I mean, really? He.is.perfect.) He requested McDonalds, but we vetoed and went to Breadwinners because…well, it’s Breadwinners and it’s a-ma-zing.

A lot of classes watched the segment live on projectors in the classroom…how awesome is that? Some classes throughout the district watched, too. My cousins, who are both teachers, watched with their classes. Friends of mine who are teachers, watched it with their kiddos. Kiddos of all ages got to see how a 6 year old is on his way to change the world. How incredible.

After breakfast, I headed up to school for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve said it before…that place is good for my soul. I was able to hug so many people that I love. I got to see/hug some of my old kiddos and man, it was good for my heart.

I hate attention. I don’t like attention being called to myself. I’m okay if no one sees me. Well heck. Today, I felt like a celebrity. It was super uncomfortable, but so neat at the same time. I sat in the front office all day, so when kids walked by, they could see me in the windows…and oh my! You would have a someone famous (say…Ellen or Monica Potter) was in there. 😉 The kids jumped up and down, waved their arms and yelled my name. It was the sweetest thing. For a moment, I forgot I was bald. They looked at me like it was the old me…the me they were used to.

 

 

And then, Lauren tweeted this. I told you, she’s amazing.

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Here’s the link if you weren’t able to watch it. Good Day Cookie Segment

If you take anything from it, take this: Spread kindness. Do something kind for someone else. A little kindness goes a long way…and Lord knows we need all the kindness we can get in the world today. Be a Kiptin. Be a Kiptin in a world of Negative Nancys (no offense if your name is Nancy). If a 6 year old can shine such a bright light…can’t we all?

Thank you, Fox 4 Good Day, from the bottom of my heart for having us on to share our story. My hope is that someone will be blessed by this story and will be inspired to spread kindness…and that kindness will spread like wildfire. A fire that won’t be able to be put out.

And finally, my favorite picture of the day.

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I feel like this picture is a perfect representation of our day. One little person, who had an idea. An idea that would touch his teacher’s heart in a way she’ll never be able to fully express.

And then there’s a teacher…a teacher who loved this little boy and believed in him from the moment she met him. A teacher who did everything in her power to get him to believe that HE was enough. And that he had what it takes to change the world with even just a little bit of kindness…and that, that was all before she was even diagnosed with cancer.

Imagine where these two will go now. Spread kindness.

Kiptin Ryan Fitzgerald…you, my sweet boy, are a gem.

 

Blood Transfusion, Live TV, & Monica Potter

What do a blood transfusion, live TV, and Monica Potter have in common? This girl! (I’m pointing to myself.)

I’m currently sitting in a hospital room receiving a blood transfusion. Whooo! Yay! It’s what my oncologist got me for Valentine’s Day. Because you know, every good Valentine’s day starts with a “date” with your oncologist. Yesterday I went in for blood work and to make sure things are on track for me to start Round 5 next Monday.

Good news: My white count was up. It wasn’t great, but it was higher than it has been…thanks to the Neulasta shot I got last week. Remember that shot I got last week that made me feel like I was 107 years old and my bones were broken? Yah, that one. Well, it worked. White count was decent.

Bad news: My red count was TERRIBLE. Like, startlingly low. Dr. Stone came in immediately and said that I needed to go in tomorrow for a blood transfusion. He has mentioned a blood transfusion after the past several rounds, but had said he was thinking we would be able to avoid it. And here we are. Instead of avoiding it, we’re facing it head on. But, in positive news, it should make me feel pretty good over the next few days, so there’s that…I’ll take it.

Live TV…this one makes me sweat. My sweet sister in law forwarded the Kiptin Cookie story to the a Channel 4 news anchor that she watches every morning. Well, the anchor, Lauren Pryzbyl, commented on the blog post–“Tears!! Love what is happening here and would love to share it with our viewers on Good Day FOX 4. Would love to have you and Kiptin on Good Day. Please let me know the best way to contact you. Thank you for your time and keep up the fight!!”

And so, after a few emails and phone calls with one of Fox 4’s producers, Dana Driver, we are set to be LIVE, tomorrow morning at 8:20. I’m not sure you read that correctly…I said live. Not where you can screw up and they can go back and record and edit and try again…like, whatever happens, that’s what everyone will see. Yay! This should be interesting. I am SO incredibly grateful that people are going to see this boy’s heart…that people are going to see that there is still good in the world…that there is hope. I’m going to need a few prayers and a few Xanax to keep me calm. Normally, I have no trouble talking in front of people/kids/adults, but there are several things lately that I just can’t seem to talk about without losing it. The ugly cry. Oh man. There’s a really good chance the world anyone who watches Good Day is going to see the ugly cry. It’s not pretty. But, the story is. Hopefully I’ll be able to avoid the ugly cry, keep myself together, and get this kid some recognition. Hey, a girl can dream. Is 7 am too early for a glass of wine? (Kidding) Don’t judge.

Kiptin’s Mom, Colleen, has been prepping him so that he will be comfortable enough to talk tomorrow. The kid loves to talk, but does get super shy at times. And I imagine having cameras all around you might make anyone shy…so we’re doing what we can to get him prepared. Colleen asked him what he wanted as a reward if he does really well…you know what he said? Guess. I was thinking like, a trip, a new fancy toy, a puppy, a video game…after all, he is a 6 year old boy.

You know what he wants? He wants to go to lunch with Mrs. Moore. Can this kid get any more amazing? Little does he know, I need him so much more than he needs me. For now, I will keep letting him think that I hung the moon…but one day, he will realize that it was actually him who hung it. (That doesn’t sound grammatically correct, but I’ve got more important things to worry about right now.)

*Side Note: Somehow, Kiptin’s story ended up in a contest on EllenNation.com. I’m under the impression that the story with the most votes will be featured on Ellen. I’m not sure about the specific details of the contest, all I know is there are a bunch of stories and we need votes. Click the link below to vote. Here are the steps…

  1. Go to Ellen Nation.
  2. Click to register.
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  3. Scroll until you find this picture. Click on it.
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  4. Click the green arrow.
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  5. Feel good about yourself because we’re now one step closer to sharing this precious boy’s story with the rest of the world!

Moving on…Monica Potter. Y’all. Hang on to your seats. For real. I’m going to give you a minute to take a deep breath and perhaps, a moment of silence. A moment of silence in necessary to commemorate a new friendship obsession that is blooming exploding. [Waiting…waiting…]

So I’m sure most of you have ready the post about how a friend of mine reached out to Monica Potter and shared my post about Parenthood. Monica had replied and even mentioned to her that she she wanted my permission to share the story on her Facebook page. Well, of course, I gave her the okay because, y’all, it’s Monica Potter. If she would have asked for my right leg, I probably would have given it to her.

So anyway, I have been watching her page like a hawk. (Not to sound like a stalker or anything…but it if walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…) Nothing. She hadn’t posted it. With that being said, I’ve been looking for a reason to reach out to her now that I knew she was familiar with my “story”.

Then once my little 6 year old prince started a cookie business and raised over $1,000…for me. Ding ding ding! This was it. This was what I could share with her because who doesn’t love a 6 year old little hero?

I sent her the link to the blog post and told her that I thought she would like to hear a heartwarming story, yadda yadda. And y’all, SHE RESPONDED.

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You’ll notice, she mentions that she got my number from Jaclyn and tried to call, but thinks it was the wrong number. Ummm, hold the phone! (I think that’s how that expression is used.) Why in the world would someone famous like her, take the time out of her day to call me? Someone she didn’t know from Adam. (And for you Parenthood fans…did you catch that pun? Adam is Kristina’s husband on the show. Man, I even impress myself sometimes.)

Continuing on…once I put the pieces together and realized that she had tried to call, I decided to check my voicemail. And let me preface this by saying: I HATE VOICEMAIL. I hate checking my voicemail. I don’t know why, but I know that it drives me nuts. Normally, when I get an alert that my voicemail is full, I delete all 96 of them (without listening) and move on. So if you’ve ever left me a voicemail and didn’t hear back, I apologize. I’m guilty. Just text if it’s important. 🙂

I digress. So I went to look at my voicemail and I noticed there was one from a Los Angeles number. Oh.My.Word. It couldn’t be. Not a chance. I went to click play and my phone kept messing up (see, another reason I hate voicemail)…eventually, I got the message to play.

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And then I died and went to heaven. At least it seemed like it at the time. (Considering the circumstances, I probably shouldn’t have said I died…but, for the sake of an entertaining story, let’s go with it.)

Y’all! She called me…intentionally. And, she left me a message…a message specifically to me. She even gave me her number and said to call her back so we could chat. I was sure that this wasn’t real…Monica Potter called me? And she wanted me to call her back. Someone could have told me I won the lottery right then, and I would have felt the exact same way.

And the crazy thing…the second she started talking in the message, it was her same Parenthood voice! Now don’t think I’m stupid…I don’t think that she has two different voices, one that she used in Parenthood and one that she used all the other times, but it sounded exactly like her. All she had said was “Hi” and I immediately knew it was her. (Not to mention, when I played the message for Danny, he essentially said the same thing–she sounds just like she did on TV!)

So, I did what anyone would do and I threw my phone down, danced around a bit, and cried (shocker!). I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that someone so well-known and famous (in my eyes) would take the time out of their busy schedule to call to tell me she was proud of me. It may not have seemed like much to her, but oh man. It meant the world to me.

By the time I got the message, it was already Friday night…so I figured I would wait until next week to call her back. You know, maybe she was spending time with her family…I strive to be a considerate stalker. (Monica, if you’re reading this, I promise I’m not actually a stalker. I just like you. A lot. And I think you’re pretty incredible.)

Monday rolled around and I spent most of the morning trying to build up the courage to call her back…and when I finally got brave enough, I called. It rang for what seemed like 45 minutes, and then went to voicemail. I was a little relieved because I got super nervous while it was ringing. But then, it happened. I rambled on and on like an idiot on her voicemail. (Do you see why I don’t like voicemail?! There’s a common theme.) The rest of the day passed and I didn’t hear anything…because, well, she’s important. She has things to do.

But being the Fan Girl I am, I went ahead and did what any Fan Girl would do…I saved her number to my phone. And let’s be honest. I did this not because I thought I’d ever need it again or because I thought we just might become best friends and call each other frequently…but because, let’s face it. If she did call back, the screen would say I had an incoming call from Monica Potter…and I needed to screen shot the heck outta that.

I was sitting with a friend later that night working on some LipSense stuff (you should totally try it), when I looked down at my phone. Y’ALL. Picture this, especially if you have an iPhone…Text message from Monica Potter. Ahhhhh! It was almost as perfect as getting a call from her…so I screen shot it, right? NO. I freaked out, got too excited, and clicked off the darn screen to see what she said. Dang it.

I did, however, screen shot the message. I was going to post it on here, but then figured that may be weird for her. She was trying to be nice and I’m going crazy posting for the world to see…so I’ll summarize. She said thanks for checking in, she was about to head to bed but that we could hopefully reconnect over the weekend. And then she wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day. Oh.My.Goodness. My Fan Girl heart was about to beat out of my chest! This lady was genuine. And you know how I said she sounds exactly like she did on the show? She texts exactly like she talks. I felt like I could hear her saying those things in her Parenthood voice.

I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, Monica (We’re not on a first name basis, I just pretend we are.) will realize that I’m her long lost best friend and we need to reunite. I’m pretty sure our friendship is what’s missing in her life. (She may not know she’s missing anything…but I’m sure of it.)

In all seriousness, if you are reading this, Monica, please know how much it meant to me for you to take the time to call and text to check on me. It may not have seemed like much for you, but it meant the world to me and reminded me that they are still good people out there…thank you for being one of them.

 

 

 

The Heart of a 6 Year Old

https://www.gofundme.com/7z-support-the-moore-family

My amazing school family created a GoFundMe account for our family when I received my diagnosis in November. I am so incredibly touched by their generosity, and I love that this has started a snowball of other good deeds. For me and for others. Kindness matters!

I’m sure by now, most of you have seen my post regarding one of my precious students, Kiptin. Sweet Kiptin is 6. 6 years old. Since I have been sick, Kiptin has been looking for ways to help our family so that I can “get better faster”. I had absolutely no idea what this 6 year old was capable of. I had no idea what a blessing a 6 year old could be. This family has continued to bless me since the beginning of last year when I had his brother, Nolan in my class. From day 1, I’ve known there was something special about these boys. I would take them home in a heartbeat. For some reason, their mom won’t let me. Weird. She won’t even let me offer it to the because I think she’s afraid they would take me up on it. 🙂

Their hugs…they are like magic. They erase everything negative and fill my heart with pure joy…and that was before I was sick. Imagine what those hugs do for me now.

During my third round while I was in the hospital, Colleen (mom) brought Kiptin up to see me. He brought chocolate chip cookies that he baked all by himself. He was so proud. Not just of the cookies, but of the fact that he had done something that he knew would make my happy. How many 6 year olds are that aware or their surroundings? And that empathic? Not many, I can assure you of that.

Needless to say, the cookies were delicious. Everyone who was visiting at the hospital at the time had one and raved about how great they were. This sparked something in sweet Kiptin. After they left the hospital and headed home, Kiptin asked his mom if he could start a cookie business where he could come home from school, bake cookies, and then sell them, and be able to surprise Mrs. Moore with 100% of the profit. Y’all. He’s SIX YEARS OLD. There are adults out there that don’t think like that. Heck, most people don’t think like that.

Once they figured out everything they would need to put the plan into action, Colleen posted in their neighborhood Facebook group. Here’s the original post.

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Within 2 hours of posting, he already had 48 orders…and 86 orders by that afternoon. That’s a total of 104 orders within just a few hours. When he finished making those, he opened up orders to the staff at school. He got orders from them…and more from the neighborhood.

Last week, Colleen text me and asked me if they could come visit because Kiptin had a surprise. I had a feeling that by then, I was going to want to get out of the house, so I offered to come to their house the next Thursday. I had absolutely no idea what I had coming.

When I got there, shy Kiptin wouldn’t really spit out many words, but he sure was grinning ear to ear. Colleen explained what he had done, how many orders he had gotten, etc. Then Kiptin came over and handed me an envelope. In that envelope was $1,050. All from cookies. Made by a 6 year old. A 6 year old who cared so deeply for his teacher that he wanted to help raise money for her to help pay her bills so that she could focus on getting better faster. I just can’t fathom the size of this little guy’s heart. He and his brother(s). How do you teach your 6 and 7 year olds to care like that? To put others before themselves? In a broken world with so much negativity, these boys are shining a light for all to see. I can’t wait for them to grow up, look back, and remember what they did. I hope they’ll be proud of themselves…because I know they have made a whole slew of people prouder than words can express.

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As I sit here writing this, I am brought to tears sobbing. I know that’s not surprising, but I’m constantly stopping to clear the tears so I can see the screen. This week was a rough one. Not only was it hard physically, but also mentally. I’ve avoided typing this because I haven’t quite come to accept it…but over the past few days, my eyelashes have been falling out. They have thinned quite a bit just this week. As I’m sure you’ve read in previous posts…this has been one of my greatest fears. I kept telling everyone that I could pull through all of this as long as I was able to keep my eyelashes. Well, silly me. I have prayed long and hard that I can keep the few eye lashes that I still have. You know, it’s funny. It’s funny that out of everything going on, my eyelashes are what I’m sad about. Shouldn’t I be sad about being bald? Or sad that I’ve got horrible drugs pumped into my body that make me feel like crud? Shouldn’t I be sad that I can’t hold and play with my babies like I should be able to? No, its my stupid eye lashes that I’m sad about. Ugh.

I’m almost afraid to admit that. It seems so vain…so embarrassing. But, it is what it is. My eye lashes are what made me feel pretty. They brought me comfort when I didn’t have hair. They distracted people/myself from the fact that my head looked like a cue ball. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s my eyelashes that keep my friends around. If so, I’m in trouble.

I cried many times week, mainly out of frustration. Several times I was caught feeling sorry for myself. I finally forced myself to get out of the house today before I went stir crazy. Although my body has been hurting, I had to get up and get out. And boy I’m glad I did. The moment I got to see two of my very favorite boys, and one of the handed me that envelope, nothing else mattered at that point. One boy handed me an envelope, and the other one handed me a shirt that said “Grateful, Thankful, and Blessed”…and that couldn’t be more true. I am so grateful for the incredible support we have received from this family, thankful to have had the opportunity to be Nolan and Kiptin’s teacher, and blessed beyond belief by their entire family. I will never be able to express to them just how much I love and appreciate them.

Rob and Colleen, you two are raising 4 remarkable boys who will soon be young men. Their impact on this world is going to leave all of us speechless. Thank you for sharing your boys with me and allowing them to be two of the greatest blessings in my life. I will never forget the feeling I had today…thank you for allowing them to provide that for me.

I would absolutely LOVE for sweet Kiptin to be recognized for his huge heart. I want for people to see that there is still good in the world. There are still little people who are making a huge difference. Stories like this don’t get shared enough…but the negative ones do.

I adore Ellen DeGeneres. I love what she’s about. I love that she’s real and that she stays true to who she is, despite the crazy world we live in. I also love that she likes to spread kindness and highlight other people who do the same. Do you think it’s possible that we could get this story to her? What a rewarding experience this would be for Kiptin…and for me too, let’s be real.

If this sweet story hasn’t encouraged you to spread kindness in some way or another, I now challenge you. I challenge you to do something nice for someone…a friend, neighbor, or a stranger. When you do, will you post it with the hashtag #TeamAshley? Not to brag, or gloat, but to show that kindness can easily be spread. Take it from a 6 year old.

 

 

This and That

Well, we wrapped up Round 4 on Friday…and it was a doozie. All in all, it went well, but this round seemed to hit me harder/faster than the previous rounds did. I started feeling crummy in the hospital, when normally I’m on Cloud 9.

I had some visitors, but I also had some time to rest. I struggled sleeping at night while I was there, but I made up for it during the day.

Something was a little weird with this round. It seemed like the pharmacy was over-filling the chemo bags. Normally, once I get checked in on Monday, I do the first bag of chemo, it takes a few hours, and then we move on to the 24 hour, around the clock drug for the next 4 days. Each bag takes rough 24 hours, give or take a little bit. However, this time, the first bag took a few hours longer. We didn’t think much of it…my nurse just added a little bit more time until the bag was empty. Once that was done, we started the first 24 hour bag–it started at about 5:30.

At the time, I was thinking, no biggie, we will catch up over the next few days. But then on Tuesday, when 5:30 rolled around, there was still quite a bit of medicine left in the bag. Hmph. The longer this takes, the later I’ll get out at the end of the week…

The bag finally finished at about 8:30. Fast forward to the Day 3, the bag didn’t finished until almost midnight. This was concerning for several reasons…first, was it safe for me to be getting all of this extra medicine? The nurses and doctors (and the rest of the world, for that matter) had mentioned how toxic and dangerous chemo is…was it okay for me to be getting so much more than the “normal” amount. Second, if the timing kept going like this, I wouldn’t be released until Saturday…boo!

So, I asked my nurse about the issue and told her my concerns. She absolutely agreed and said that something wasn’t right. She talked to the charge nurse and she thought that the bags were just being over filled. They weren’t necessarily putting in more medicine than normal…now it was just more diluted. She called the pharmacy asked them about it. They said they would look into it and get back with her…more than likely, it would be after her shift was over. However, she kept my new nurse in the loop and they were determined to get it figured out.

The next day, they heard from the pharmacist…and there wasn’t really a real answer. They did say that they appeared to be over-filling the bags, but they didn’t really give a reason as to why that was happening. I’m not sure how I felt about this. I feel like that’s kind of a big deal…

Anyhow, the nurses got permission from the hospitalist, my oncologist, and the pharmacist to speed up the rate at which the medication was being administered (that sounds real fancy…it’s not). Normally, for the 24 hour chemo, it’s set to go at 21.4 ml/h, which is SLOW…as molasses. Had we left it at this rate, I would have ended up going home Saturday evening. Now I’m not sure if you know me or not…but I’m a girl on a schedule. And my schedule said that I was checking out on Friday…this wasn’t going to work.

Fortunately, since it was taking so long and putting us so behind, we were able to speed it up to 30 ml/h…which is still slow…but at least it meant that I would be able to go home on Friday.

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I got a surprise visit from the namesake of my amazing school. It meant so much to me that she would take the time out of her day to come and visit. She brought a beautiful prayer shawl that she had made at a local church. Mrs. Scott, you absolutely made my day! Thank you so much for coming to see me…I am so blessed to work at a school named after such an incredible educator.

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Seeing this two was good for my soul. 🙂

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Oh, I love this one so! I wish her chunky brother could have joined us.

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Kisses for Mommy

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My whole world…minus a fat baby. Miss you, Hud.

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One of my mom’s best friends since childhood, Michelle, and her mother, Janet. I’ve always known Janet (left) as Snow White. When I was younger, she worked at Neiman’s with my grandma and used to dress up as Snow White for one of their big events…I always thought it was pretty cool that I knew Snow White. 🙂

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The Kern family has been such a blessing to me!

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My Sweet Mason

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I know Snow White…but I also know Barbie. This is my real-life Barbie. 🙂

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The McCracken’s…it’s always a party with this crew. Next time, Ellie needs to join.

At one point on Tuesday, the charge nurse as well as much day nurse rushed into my room to let me know that JCAHO was in the building and that they had a feeling they were going to be stopping in my room. JCAHO?! What?! How did I get so lucky! First of all, who in the heck is JCAHO? Second of all, why were they coming to see me?

The nurses explained that JCAHO is an organization that evaluates and accredits hospitals around the nation. They just so happened to be in the building that day and were going to be choosing some patient files to look through, etc. It seemed like it a pretty big deal for the hospital…I was hoping I wouldn’t screw it up. Nothin’ like a little pressure during chemo.

A little later that afternoon, a crowd of ladies walked in with clipboards…they were rather intimidating. After they exclaimed over the decorations, they started asking various questions about my condition, treatment, and details of my hospital stay. They started asking questions about the level of care I was receiving, how the nurses were doing, etc. [Cue the waterworks.] I started talking about the different nurses that I had, how thorough they were, and how blessed I felt to have them…and then the tears came. I felt silly, but I also felt that they could see it was coming from my heart and it was genuine. Most of the women in there eventually had tears in their eyes…whoops. I pray that in that moment, they realized that this was so much more than a “test”…I pray that they know what an impact the nurses have had on me. What a blessing they have been.

My nurse came back in a little later once the JCAHO team had moved on, and she was in tears. She went on to explain how much it meant to her that I gave such a genuine response when they talked to me. She said although we had only known each other for a day or so, she could tell that there was something was special about me. What a gem she was…I am so thankful for you, Lisa.

Fast forward to the end of the week…on Friday, once the 24 hour drug finishes up, I have to go one more called Cyclophosphamide. The last several rounds, I started getting a headache right about the time I started this medicine. I was sure it was a coincidence. It’s not. That darn medicine gives me a killer headache…it feels like a sinus headache. Behind my eyes and nose, it just burns. It feels like I went swimming and got a whole bunch of water up my nose. It’s quite pleasant. I just so happened to have the same nurse this Friday as I did the Friday of Round 3 and she remembered me getting the same headache. She gave me some heavy duty medicine that helped, fortunately. By the time the chemo was done and discharge papers were signed, my headache was gone. I was still feeling like crud, but at least my headache was gone.

I ended up getting discharged around 5:30. We headed to Chuy’s to get take out and then headed home. I felt pretty crummy for the remainder of the weekend. Hud ended up having a fever off and on, so he stayed at Amy’s until Monday night. Oh I couldn’t wait to love on that sweet boy!

Getting together and watching the Super Bowl is one of my favorite things to do, but I just wasn’t quite up for it this year. Even though we didn’t hang out with friends, my sweet friend Nicole made some Buffalo Chicken dip that she knows I love. I’m tellin’ you…these neighbors are something! Most of the day I felt like crap and just wanted to stay in bed. Harper and Danny played throughout the day while I took it easy. I asked Danny about printing some Prop Bets that we could do…I have always enjoyed these. We had a nice night home as a family (minus Hud) and I focused on feeling better. For the record, I beat Danny with the prop bets…I’m just sayin’, maybe I should go to Vegas. Anyone with me? I’ve never been.

Here are some pictures of the kiddos from the week…Amy and Jim, thank you so much for always taking such good care of them.

Monday morning I headed back in for the lumbar puncture. Everything went well and I started 24 hour bed rest when I got home. The bed rest is to make sure spinal fluid doesn’t leak and cause a spinal headache. I’m not quite sure what I’d do if I got a spinal headache at this point…thank the Lord none of those came around. They aren’t welcome here.

On Monday after the lumbar puncture, I went to the oncologist to get my blood drawn. Before they even got the numbers back, Dr. Stone’s nurse, Gennie, said that I was neutropenic–which essentially just means that my white blood count was extremely low. It’s pretty common after chemo treatments…nothing to be worried about.

So on Tuesday, once my bed rest was over, I drove myself to the doctor for a Neulasta injection. I wasn’t feeling horrible…my bones were just hurting…nothing that would stop me from driving. I got to the office, waited in line to check in, and then everything went nuts.

I got extremely lightheaded, really sweaty and then chilled, and felt like my legs couldn’t hold me up. Somehow, I was able to walk to the injection room to sign in and then went and sat down. I’m still not sure how I made it to the chair. A called Danny because I was so frustrated. Frustrated that I was feeling so crappy…frustrated with everything at that moment. He left work right then and came straight to the office. When the nurse came to call me back, I told her how I had been feeling, so she immediately sat me down and took my blood pressure. At first it was 93/63…then a few minutes later, it dropped to 89/54. This was really low for me. I’ve never had any issues with blood pressure, but since I’ve been diagnosed, it has been up and down…but never this low.

She got me some crackers and juice and they decided to give me fluids through my port. I didn’t feel fantastic when I was done…but I felt noticeably better than when I walked in.

I felt like I was improving once we got home. Nothing really sounded good to eat, so I had a protein shake…and I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I laid down for a bit and then began throwing up several times. Once I was able to stop, I laid back down and called it a night. In case you were wondering, I was still frustrated. I’ll get over it.

My precious nephews…their school decided to choose an Act of Kindness to celebrate the 100th day of school. They chose the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society. The children were asked to bring 100 pennies to donate. Greyson decided to #GiveMoore and brought 200. 🙂

Last but not least, another #TeamAshley picture.

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Sweet Allison

Preparing for Round 4…and Monica Potter

Last week, one of my dear friends who we used to live across the street from in our old neighborhood sent me a message. Here’s what it said:

“Hey girlie! So…I loved your post about Parenthood. I was seriously obsessed with that show and Monica Potter (Kristina), so much so that I actually follow her on Facebook. I hope you don’t care, but I messaged her your post and SHE MESSAGED ME BACK AND YOU!!! WHAT?!”

So of course, I did what any obsessive fan would do and asked for screen shots for proof…

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Y’ALL! MONICA POTTER READ MY POST ABOUT PARENTHOOD…AND SHE LIKED IT. How awesome is that? I mean, I think it’s pretty dang cool. She mentioned that she was going to share it if I was okay with it…but I said “No.” Ha! Who am I kidding?! I said yes while jumping up and down with tears in my eyes. However…it has been a week and she still hasn’t shared it. I may or may not check her Facebook page every 32 minutes seconds to see if there is an update…nothing yet. I’m sure she’s not busy doing anything else…what’s taking so long?

I mean this basically means we’re best friends now, right? I’m pretty much hoping I get to meet her some day and get a picture with her…hey, a girl a dream. But really, let’s get this up. I promise not to stalk her…I just need to meet her…and become friends. Is that too much to ask? I’m a fun girl. I can try to make her laugh…and maybe get her to try on some pretty new lip stick. No? Too far?

Round 4 Begins…
Well, here we go! My counts weren’t fantastic, but they were good enough to continue with Round 4. There’s a chance I will still need a blood transfusion because my Hemoglobin is so low…but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. It sounds like it’s not a big deal and we would continue with chemo at the same time.

From my last post, I went to the oncologist last week for an injection to boost my white blood cells. When I went back to the doctor on Friday to have my levels checked, my white blood cells had gone up to 27.7. They were at 12 on Tuesday. So, needless to say, the shots worked. They made me feel like complete crud, but they worked.

Here we are on the way to the hospital and getting checked into my room this morning. So thankful for this guy. Thankful that he has chosen to stay by my side during this whole hoorah. You are one of a kind, Danny Moore.

Last week when I was out running errands with my sister in law, she said that I didn’t need to worry about decorations for my room for the next round of treatment. I LOVE having my room decorated, so I was so excited to see what she had come up with.

She reached out to different schools in Frisco, many of which I knew people from working with them before…she received hundreds of Valentine cards and decorations hand made my students and teachers throughout the district. My sister had people at my current school add to the decorations…so special. Oh. my. word. I have absolutely loved reading each and every one. She and my grandma came up and played Cupid while I was getting hooked up. Not every single card was hung up because well, we ran out of space and didn’t have a ladder…but thank you to each and every person who took the time to make something for my room. It has not only brought pure happiness to me, but also to each and every person that comes in my room. Other nurses come in and comment about how cheery and bright it is…and how they wish every room was like this. Here are some pictures…they don’t quite do it justice. It is BEAUTIFUL. “We Whaley Love You”…ahhh, so precious!

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My mama is staying with me tonight…and we match. 🙂 

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I got to FaceTime with these two. I hate FaceTime…but I sure love that girl and her daddy. I am so thankful that they get to have this time together.

This past weekend, we had big plans to celebrate one of our dear neighbor’s birthdays. (Happy Birthday, Ding Ding!) I’ve posted about them before…guys, it’s true. His last name is Dingler. For real. Hence the nickname, Ding Ding. We have been blessed to become extremely close with his entire family. We were fortunate to get to celebrate his birthday with some of our dearest friends.

On Friday, I wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it out on Saturday. I was feeling pretty crummy, but was taking it easy in hopes that I would be able go…and not feel horrible while I was there. Since we were able to get babysitters, we decided to make a night out of it and head to Fort Worth. Here are a few pictures from the night. We went to Wild Salsa for dinner and then headed to Pete’s Piano Bar. Oh.My.Goodness.Gracious. Wild Salsa was de-licious…and our waiter was a riot. I LOVE the picture we got after dinner. I am a little obsessed with these people. The best neighbors make the best best friends.

*Sidenote: I’m using the free version of WordPress, so I can’t post videos. What does this mean for you? It means that you won’t be able to watch Jonathan sing Ice Ice Baby on stage in front of a whole bunch of people. I’m sorry to let you down…it would have made your day.

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I’m so bummed this picture didn’t turn out. Although, I do spy a bald head…

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My main squeeze.

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Don’t mind the fact that my head looks like a light bulb…

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More #TeamAshley Support

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Here are some pictures of our sweet babies over the weekend and on Monday after school. They are loved so well by their grandparents. We are so blessed. Thank you for loving them so well!

And finally, more #Team Ashley pictures. The two on the left are from my prior school, Robertson. I miss each and every one of you–thank you for your support! On the right, two of my precious neighbors. 🙂 Keep the pictures coming!

Well, we’re almost done with Day 1. We’re just trucking along. I had one of my very favorite nurses today…not a bad way to start the week. 🙂 I get to have her again on Friday.

Please pray that these nurses are blessed…they have been such a blessing to me…I want them to be blessed in return. They are the best around. I’m going to force them to take pictures this week so you can meet all of them. You’ll be better for knowing them. 🙂

Thank you for all of your prayers, they are working!

Conquer the World

Y’all. I feel like right now, I could conquer the world. Like, really conquer it. I’m not sure what the means and what all that entails…but I’m pretty sure I could do it.

To say today was a good day would be an understatement. A huge understatement. I’m sure most of you have seen this by now, but here was my Facebook post from this morning.

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I’m not sure if you read that correctly. In case you aren’t fluent in English, here it is in a few other languages. (Don’t be impressed, I totally just “google translated” the heck outta that.)

La chime fonctionne!
¡La quimio está funcionando!
Khimio rabotayet!
Die chemo arbeitet!

And in case English is your specialty and you just didn’t see my post…THE CHEMO IS WORKING! This is the news that we (hundreds, even thousands) of people have been praying for. Our prayers have been heard.

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Waiting for the PET Scan

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into the appointment today. When I finished up with the PET scan on Friday, I excitedly asked the tech (who also performed my first PET scan and seemed to clearly remember me and my “situation”), “Is it all gone?!” He kind of laughed and then said, “I didn’t say this, but it looks a lot better.” He repeated himself multiple times, in multiple ways…”You didn’t hear this from me. I’m not saying that I’m seen and compared both scans, etc.” I didn’t really share that with anyone on Friday because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. What if he had been wrong and I had pumped myself up just to be knocked down again by a bad report? Although I didn’t share that news, I was so grateful that he shared that because it provided at least a little bit of relief as I knew I would be waiting until Tuesday to hear the results. I didn’t hold my breath and hang onto his every word…but it brought me hope–something I appreciate these days.

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My lunch dates after the PET scan.

 

Before my appointment I had my blood work done as usual, and then met with Dr. Stone. We started with the PET scan…he pulled up the report and shared that the PET scanned revealed that the tumor had shrunk almost 40%. You read the right. FORTY PERCENT. That’s insane!

He mentioned that the spots in between my lungs were gone…g-o-n-e. As in, not even a speck showed up in the PET scan. And there was no evidence of lymphoma anywhere else in my body. Praise-the-lord!

He then explained that the “uptake”, which is the brightness that shows the current lymphoma, had decreased significantly. We are going to do rounds 4 and 5 for sure, have another PET scan, and then meet with the bone marrow specialist. At that point, he will determine if we need to continue with the 6th round. When we meet with him then, we will also get all of our questions regarding the bone marrow transplant answered. I have a lot of questions regarding that process, but I know that we’ve got to take it one step at a time.

In the mean time, we will continue to do the intrathecal methotrexate (lumbar puncture) the Monday following treatments.

As for my blood work…that wasn’t so positive. We were 1-2 with positive news for this appointment…I’ll take it. My levels were really, really low. So low that he mentioned he doesn’t know that I will be able to start treatment on Monday. [The planner in me does not like this possibility, as I like to be on schedule…but we shall see.] Because of this, I’m going to be getting  Neupogen injections over the next 3/4 days in hopes of boosting my white blood cells. He also mentioned the possibility of doing a blood transfusion on Monday when I get admitted, then starting treatment several hours later. I have an appointment on Friday to check my levels again, so I plan on getting clarification for Monday then.

After we met with Dr. Stone, we had to hang around in order for insurance to approve the Neupogen injections. We waited…and waited…and were finally called back to get the injection and then I met with the receptionist to schedule the injections for the rest of the week. She asked why I wasn’t able to have chemo done at their office and I explain that with my regimen, I had to be admitted to the hospital for give days, etc., her response was “Yuck!” But man, she doesn’t even know. She doesn’t know how blessed I have been by those nurses. If I had to choose to have chemo done every day at the office or how I have been doing it, at the hospital, I would choose the hospital in a heartbeat. I can’t quite put into words what a positive experience it has been. (Side note: Once treatment is done, I would like to do something for the nurses that I have had consistently throughout my treatment. I’m not sure what…and I’m struggling to think of anything…so I need your help. What’s something that would be meaningful and would show my appreciation for them? Oh, and it can’t be expensive. In case you forgot, I’m not getting paid while I’m out…so we’re not exactly rolling in the dough.)

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Right after the appointment…you could say we were on Cloud 9. 🙂

Once I was scheduled Danny went to a lunch for work and I ran some last minute errands for our family pictures.

I was at Sam Moon (overwhelming, right?) looking for a necklace for Harper. She requested a “shell necklace”…well unfortunately, they just so happened to be all out of shell necklaces…but they did happen to have one that matched her outfit. These days, there’s no telling what’s she’s going to like…so my fingers were crossed.

While I was looking around, I could see this man and woman kind of looking over at me, whispering a bit, and then looking back again. Finally, the lady came up to me and straight up asked, “Are you going through chemo?” What?! What gave it away? Kidding. I told her that I was and she explained that her niece, was currently undergoing reconstructive surgery for breast cancer. I’m not sure how old this lady was, but if I’m not mistaken, her niece had to be about my age. She explained that’s why they were in town, etc. How they ended up at Sam Moon and how she talked her brother into going with her, I’ll never know…but nonetheless, the young girl was going through surgery and I’m assuming chemo is in her near future.

She said to me, “I just want you to know that I am proud of you for “rocking” (she literally said rocking) that bald head. No hat, nothing. You are so beautiful and you are going to beat this.”  Wow. She was a complete stranger. I know it took some guts for her to actually ask me, but I’m so glad she did. I told her about how my biggest fear was losing my hair and how I had finally just embraced it…and then I excitedly told her about the results of the PET scan. She exclaimed, “God is so good!” And boy, is she right. He is healing me as we speak. In a world where it seems like everything is negative and people are all crazy losing their minds, it meant so much to me that she would reach out.

And then…I went through the Arby’s drive-thru. (Don’t judge, I LOVE Arby’s and Danny will never go with me…so I went by myself for the first time in forever…and in case you were wondering, it was de-light-ful. If you’re ever up for a Roast Beef ‘N Cheddar, hit me up!) As soon as I pulled up to order, a very, very chipper young lady greeted me over the intercom. I ordered…well, I began ordering. And before I could finish, she had already asked me 72 questions about my order. Her energy made me tired and I only talked to her for a whole 90 seconds. But props to her, she was good at her job…and very…thorough. Yah, we’ll go with that. She was thorough.

So I pull up to the drive-thru window and she says in a very spunky voice, “Oh! I loved the shaved head!” It kind of took me by surprise, but I said thank you…and then she kept going. “But, doesn’t your head get cold?”…”No, not really. I wear hats a lot of the time and it hasn’t been super cold recently.”…”Oh. Can I ask why you would do that?” (She was referring to shaving my head.) I responded with, “Um…well, I’m currently undergoing chemo.”…”Oh!” [Insert awkward silence…until I drove off.] I’m not totally sure what went through her head once I answered her. Maybe she was just naive…or clueless…or just interesting. Had I asked someone that, I would have been straight up humiliated and embarrassed because…well…duh. Most of the time, when I see a woman with no hair, I assume that there’s a good chance the reason she’s bald rhymes with Nemo.

Either way, I found it comical. I laughed to myself for a while and then called my mom and Danny. The conversation was funnier in person, or at least over the phone. I’m not sure that you can get the whole picture reading it on a computer screen. Do yourself a favor and with your best acting voices, read the conversation and see if it’s funnier that way.

I don’t know if it made me laugh because I was uncomfortable for her, or what…but either way…props to her for being bold enough to just come out and say what she was thinking. And well, props to me for going to Arby’s by myself….bald.

Later that night we had family pictures and let me just tell you…Harper redeemed herself from our last session. She was a gigantic turd last time. This time, she was delightful…and beautiful. Well she was beautiful last time, but this time, she was agreeable. And Hud…well, he was precious. He was just fat and smiled a lot…especially if you slipped him some Yogurt Melts in between pictures. I can’t wait to see how these turned out. The last pictures turned out better than we ever could have imagined, especially considering the 4 year old monster we had with us.

The ESL teacher at my school emailed me several weeks before Christmas and said that since her mom passed away, she chooses a family to bless for Christmas…and this year, she chose us. Once again, we are blessed beyond belief. She explained that one of her good friends is a photographer and that Sara (said ESL teacher) was going to pay for a session for our family. Since we had just taken family pictures at the time, I asked if we could wait and do pictures once I lost my hair. This made me a little nervous (because remember, at the time, I hadn’t embraced the fact that I was going to be bald)…but I figured that this is my life right now and I need to accept it.

So once Christmas was over, I contacted Sara’s friend Rachel (photographer) and we set up a time. Rachel was amazing. So sweet…and so talented. She was SO good with Harper. Harper opened up to her immediately, which says a lot. I had a bit of anxiety leading up to our session, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how the kiddos cooperated.

Now, I’ll be able to look back one day and see memories of this crazy time in our life…and I’m thankful for that. I’m so glad she was able to capture this time for us. I can’t wait to see her work. Sara, thank you for being such a blessing to our family…and Rachel, thank you for using your talents to document this time in our lives that hasn’t always been easy…but it has been real.

As I sit here and reflect on our appointment with Dr. Stone, I am overflowing with gratitude. I don’t know why God has chosen to begin healing me so fast and seemingly easy, but I am so thankful He has. I know that compared to a lot of other cancer patients, I am truly blessed that the cancer has responded in such a positive way. I am brought to tears (shocking, I know) when I think about how this whole experience has changed me and impacted me for the best. We still aren’t out of the wood yet, but man, we’re making our way…and I’ve got the most incredible tribe of people wandering through the woods with me. We couldn’t have hoped for better news…and for that, I am thankful.

Here are some random pictures from the past week or so…

*Update: It’s Thursday night and I’m on day 3 of the Neupogen injections to help boost my white blood cells. Dr Stone mentioned that the shots would potentially make my bones hurt, similar to the way chemo does. After day 1, I was like, “Nah, I got this! I’m going to feel good…these shots aren’t going to slow me down…this is my week to feel good!” Oh boy was I wrong. About half way through the day on Wednesday, I felt like I was hit by a freight train.

I have also had a cough the past several days…mainly at night. When I go to lay down, I would start coughing and continue until I was gagging and in tears…and I just couldn’t seem to stop. I tried over the counter cough medicine to no avail. After two nights of misery (poor Danny couldn’t sleep either because I was coughing so darn loud), I finally decided to call Dr. Stone’s nurse and ask for some better medicine.

Fortunately, she called something in and I started it immediately. The pharmacist was adamant that if I was on the cough medicine, I could NOT take any pain meds. Well at the time, I was feeling good, so this was no big deal…until my bones started hurting and there was nothing I could do.

I went in for my shot today and the nurse asked if I was having any bone pain…I said yes, but explained that the pharmacist said I couldn’t take anything while I was on cough medicine. She asked a few questions and then said that she was certain that I could take a pain pill if I really needed one. She said there wasn’t enough codine in the cough medicine to have a negative effect with the pain pill. Bless you, sweet nurse. I took a pain pill as soon as I got home. I don’t know that it actually worked…I woke up feeling pretty awful still…but I’ll make it. This will hopefully be the worst of it for now.

Praying that tomorrow when I go in, my counts have gone up.

And on a side note…I have another huge prayer request. Danny’s precious grandma, Mary Jo (Mimi), was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She is absolutely one of the most genuine, God-fearing women I have ever met. She has the biggest heart and loves her family fiercely. I have only had the privilege of knowing her for the past 9 years…but I feel like I’ve known her forever. She makes me feel like I have known her forever. She blesses everyone she comes in contact with…I feel so fortunate to have married into her family. Please, please pray for this incredible woman. Pray for peace…healing…comfort…and direction. She will meet with an oncologist next week and figure out where they will go from there. In the meantime, she will continue to smile…and fight. This woman is a fighter. And she is so loved.

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Just look at her. Isn’t she precious?

I’m angry. I’m sad. And I’m just down right furious. Cancer has messed with the wrong family. I just don’t understand. I don’t understand why certain people have to experience life with cancer. I don’t understand why it is so present in our world today. Why isn’t there a cure yet? Don’t get me wrong, I know huge advancements have been made to treat it, but I’m ready for the day when it’s gone…completely. I’m ready for the day where no one ever has to hear the words, “You have cancer.” No one should ever have to hear those words.

Here are a few more #TeamAshley pictures I’ve gotten the past several days. Keep them coming.


Thank you for all of your prayers, well-wishes, everything. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re making our way. This would not have been possible without the incredible support we have received. I cannot thank you enough for the love you have shown our family.

 

 

Parenthood…and real life.

Oh, Parenthood.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times before, after I got diagnosed and realized I was going to be at home quite a bit, I knew I needed a good show to binge watch. I had watched Parenthood when it originally aired, but didn’t pay attention as closely as I should have. I knew the characters, the plot, etc., but I didn’t make near the connections I did this go round.

This time around, it held so much more meaning. Every episode had something that was eerily relatable to my life right now.

I’ll spare you the details of each episode/season, but there were a few moments in season 4 that I feel the need to write about.

The whole show is based on an old couple (The Bravermans) who have 4 grown kids (Adam, Sarah, Crosby, and Julia)–each kid is/was married and have kids of their own. The show tells the story of the ups and downs of their family while the dynamic of their family frequently changes, thus adding drama.

In episode 2 of season 4, Kristina (who is married to Adam Braverman), goes to the doctor for a routine appointment and is ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer. [Cue the waterworks.] I cried the first time I watched this show…and now that I’m on the other side, experiencing similar things as Kristina, this episode took on a whole new meaning. The devastation they felt when the doctor revealed that she had cancer. The fear of the unknown. The hesitation to share the news with everyone…everything felt so similar. The writers and actors did such an incredible job portraying such a emotional experience.

I was amazed at how accurate this scene depicted a chemo session. Before my regimen changed, I did my first round at my doctor’s office. I went in early in the morning, sat in a chair/recliner identical to the one in the picture. You have a pole next to you holding your chemo…and you are curled under a blanket because it’s an ice box in there. And, you see so many other people going through the same thing…some of the old, some completely alone, but all experiencing the same thing.

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But wait, it gets better.

Later in season 4, while Kristina is undergoing treatment, she has a moment of weakness. (Wait, that’s acceptable?) Kidding. I have a lot of those. Side note: Kristina and Adam have 3 kids, Hattie who is in high school, Max who has Aspergers and is in middle school, and Nora, a precious baby girl. No, Danny and I don’t have three kids…but what struck a cord was going through this with a baby. It just sucks.

At one point she is frustrated because so much is going on. She wants to make dinner, pick up Nora, and just do “normal” things around the house…and because of the chemo, she just can’t. She puts everything down, starts to cry, and says, “I just want to hold my baby. I want to wake up and things be back to normal.” Me too, Kristina, me too.

I want to run and scoop up Hudson when Danny gets home from picking them up. I want to run and play soccer with Harper in the backyard. I want to build forts and chase Hudson around while he gets into EVERYTHING. But you know what? I just can’t. [Sidenote: I am NOT writing this for sympathy. I’m not writing so people will feel bad because things aren’t “normal” right now. I’m writing this because I was so touched by several episodes of this show and was so impressed with the way it was written. And honestly, it’s helping me validate my feelings/fears/etc.] Continue on.

The week during treatment, I obviously spend very little, if any, time with the kids. Hudson tends to have some sort of crud that’s contagious, so he typically has to stay away. And Harper…she has only come up 1 time so far. It’s probably not the best atmosphere for kiddos. We FaceTime every night, but it’s just not the same as loving on her in person.

The week following treatment is typically orchestrated by the devil. That’s the week when my bones hurt, head hurts, and I just want to stay in bed and sleep it away. In other words, I’m ZERO help with the kids. It physically hurts for me to try to pick up Hudson–it could be the chemo, or it could be the fact that he’s just fat. 🙂 Either way, it’s not good. That entire second week, I don’t move far from the bed. I’m rarely able to get up and eat dinner with them…1 because nothing sounds good, 2, it hurts to get up, and 3, my two babies are noisy…and busy…so it’s overwhelming.

These scenes pretty much sum up how I feel that second week.

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**I’m going to come back to this picture and share some of the conversation between Adam and Kristina right after this scene because it really struck a cord with me. Adam reminded me so much of Danny.

The third week, for the most part, is a good one. I’m able to be up more, help with the kids, etc. I still find myself extremely weak and fatigued, so I can’t pick up and haul Hud around like I used to be able to…but I’m much more present during this week. I’m so thankful for weeks like this. I try to take it slow and soak it all in as much as possible. I pray that the days will go slowly because when week three is over…it’s time  for treatment again.

So once I’ve started feeling good for a few days, it’s time to pack my bags and head to the hospital for the next round. These three week cycles go by REALLY fast.

The point of that connection was, I (and Kristina as well) just wish things would be back to normal. To where I could scoop up Hud and run around and not feel like I got run over by a truck.

But you know what? If things were back to normal and none of this had happened, we would not be receiving the love, support, and prayers of thousands (literally thousands) of people around the world. We would not have realized how precious life is and how incredibly blessed we are…in every aspect of our lives. If this hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be fighting this fight together.

Okay so moving on. In another episode during season 4, Kristina and Adam are arguing about their son, Max, going to a school dance. Kristina really wants him to go and Adam doesn’t. Max is adamant about not going, and Adam supports his decision. For Adam, it just does’t seem like a fight he’s willing to fight. So why wouldn’t Kristina just let it go?

Here is their conversation:
Adam – “…there will be time for that.” (Referring to going to dances, experiencing milestones in middle school, etc.)
Kristina – “I feel very optimistic about everything. I do. But I also feel like, and I just want to be honest with you, I don’t know how much time there is. None of us do. I don’t want to miss out on any milestones.”

Girl, preach it. I know my time isn’t coming to an end in a month, or even in a year…but we have no idea how long we have. It just reminded me to take the time to enjoy the little things. Do things you wouldn’t normally do…you may never have another chance to. And like Kristina, I am optimistic. But at the same time, I’m terrified. In my heart, I feel that I will be healed and will be able to look back and share my story. But at the same time, I find myself questioning why? Why me? Why cancer? Why right now?

People frequently mention how brave I am…or how positive I have been throughout this whole thing. And to that, here’s what I have to say. ‘Brave’ is a term that can be used loosely. I’m brave in the sense that I’m not scared to go in and receive my treatment. I’m brave when it comes to talking about my story. I became more brave as the time came to lose my hair. I appeared brave when I shaved my head.

But my friends…I am not always brave. On the other side of bravery, there was fear…worry…and doubt. Because of the support I have received, I have felt that I have no choice but to be ‘brave’. It’s not an option. When you’re told you have cancer, you have two choices…1) You address it, head on, and do whatever necessary to get it out. That may mean surgery, chemo, shaving your head, and whatever else.

Or 2) You sulk in your own self-pity and feel sorry for yourself. (I’m not saying it’s not okay to feel sorry for yourself, I’m just saying you have to do more than that.)

So, you have to make a choice.

Are you going to fight it and do whatever it takes to win? Are you going to do whatever you can to set an example for others and make them proud to know you?

Or are you going to sulk and wish it hadn’t happened to you?

I chose the first choice. It’s the only way I see possible to come out on the other side and win this fight.

After writing this, I feel pretty awesome. I’m a strong gal. But wait! I have my faults. I worry. I have doubts. I cry. It’s normal. In fact, these things happen more often than I care to admit.

I’ve debating even writing this next part, but many people have mentioned that they appreciate me being “real” about this experience…so, this is real.

I’ve caught myself laying in bed wondering…
-What if the tumor doesn’t shrink? Heck, what if it gets bigger?
-What if 5 years down the road, the cancer comes back…even more aggressive?
-What if the cancer becomes out of control and doesn’t respond to the treatment. It happens.

And then, it gets even worse.
-What if I’m not around to see my babies grow up?
-What if I’m unable to ever return to the classroom and teach all of the precious babies I was meant to teach?
-How will Danny make it as a single dad raising two kids? Will he find someone else?
-Will my babies remember me? Hud is so young. What will he remember about me?

I know these thoughts seem so horrible and even dramatic…but I have them. It’s normal. At least, I think it’s normal. It might not be normal for everyone…but for me, I think it is. Thinking those things hurt and they make me mad. No, they infuriate me. But you know what else they do? They make me want to fight with every ounce of my being. I’m determined for those questions to NEVER have to be answered.

Most days, I do pretty well. I feel positive. I feel blessed. And I’m fighting the good fight. But, like I said, there are times that’s I’m not so good…but that’s okay. Fortunately, the good moments far outweigh the bad…and for that, I am grateful.

**Before I make myself shut it down, I want to refer back to the picture of Kristina laying on the floor, sick as a dog, by the toilet. While she isn’t feeling well and is just “down” (both literally and figuratively), here is their conversation.

Adam: You gotta stay positive.
Kristina: Please, stop.
Adam: What?
Kristina: I know that you’re trying to make everything okay for me. You always have our whole lives. And I love you so much for that, but you have to let me be scared. I wanna be able to come home to you and just say, “Adam, I’m really scared today and I want you to hear it. I don’t want you to tell me to think positive or that everything is gonna be great, because right now, I’m not sure that it’s going to be. And I just want to be able to feel scared. That’s just what I need from you right now.
Adam: Okay. I can do that. I love you.
Kristina: I love you too, so much.

For those of you who know Danny (and everyone in his family for that matter), he is so incredibly positive. About.every.single.thing. He always has a smile, everything is always good, there’s no room for bad news. That’s one thing that made me fall in love with him.

But at times, in our current situation…I have to remind him that it’s okay for me to be scared. It’s okay for me to be down at the moment, whenever that may be.

Phew. That was a lot. Many of you have mentioned that you appreciate how “raw” and honest my posts are…and this one is just that…raw and honest. It’s not all pretty…and some of it I’m not too proud of…but it’s the truth.

I appreciate your prayers and kind words. Those are what get me through the low moments. Each and every one of you are the reason that I have more positive moments than negative ones. I am so blessed and I do not take that lightly. I am forever grateful.

P.S. – It’s late and this post is super long…there are probably numerous typos and parts that don’t make sense…do your best to figure it out. I didn’t proofread…like I teach my First Graders to. I may not be setting a good example of how to proofread, but I setting an example of how to be a FIGHTER. I think that’s more important.

Also, if you haven’t ever watched Parenthood, you totally should. Unless you don’t like to cry…in that case, don’t watch it. Ever.