Sunday, May 31, 2009


This is my last post. I thought I would wait until July, but I saw the oncologist last week and we are not scanning again until the end of August. So the wrap up begins...

I started this as a thank you post, listing all that people had done for me over that last couple years. It wasn't working, too many people, and too much to say. Will you please take it personally as I try and tell you now. THANK YOU. Yes, you. I am crying right now thinking of how lucky I am to have such a great immediate and extended family, a most incredible ward, and the truest friends ever.

And then Josh. He was perfect during it all. I will never know how.


I am feeling great. Which is its own blessing, then add the appreciation I have for it.

Medically, where do I stand? I was given, in the beginning, a 50/50 chance of surviving in the next 5 years. It has already been two years. If you look at a chart of people at my stage of cancer, dying, most of it is happening in the first few years. Right now they have no reason to think the cancer is back. They worry that there could be small amounts of cancer in the blood. If it does come back, I would almost certainly die. Melanoma spreads to the brain, liver, and lungs. It doesn't respond well to chemo or radiation like some cancers do. I scare you now mainly so you get any ugly or changing moles removed ASAP. Even caught in its earliest stage, you still have a 5-10% chance of dying from it. Sometimes fifteen years later.

They say your not cured of melanoma till you die of something else. I'm just saying.

Where I used to think I was going to die certainly with those kind of odds, I now can't see it happening. I can't imagine the stress and pain. So I don't. I imagine a happy long life. I guess chances of that are at least over 50%.

So, now that I have a future, what will I do with it? I am in the process of trying to figure that out. I have extra time on my hands now, and when school starts up...I don't know. Lots of possibilities. A clean slate, waiting.


Original Plan: Stay at home with at least 6 and up to 10 children. Half of them girls. Plan B: (intentionally left blank).


I saw in the news a story about a lady in Utah who was paralyzed during a car accident. A single mom with two kids, 31 years old.

The reporter: "If she could take the accident back, would she? She said, "No, I wouldn't. I'm getting the chills, but I really wouldn't..... Of course, but I wouldn't take it back because I'm living a great life." I had to go online for the transcript to see if I heard her right.

I did. And you know what? I had the chills too: I might say the same thing.

Something this has taken away from me (is innocence the word? almost, but not quite) which will never come back. But something had to take its place (perspective? truth? again, only almost) that I will always have with me.


Survivor -noun. 1. a person or thing that survives. 2. a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.


I gave my plants their first shot of fertilizer this week. This morning my peonies opened. Their beautiful pink papery petals. Happiness! I heard today that Eleanore Roosevelt said "Where flowers bloom, so does hope."


I don't know what pictures would be of interest to anyone, but here are a few from the last couple of years. Random, mostly.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

winding down

Sorry its been so long. I realize its time to give up blogging for a while. The blog was started as a way to keep in touch with my parents, who were moving, and have returned. It turned into a way to let everyone know how I was doing during the whole cancer-thing. Also a place to put some thoughts down during the ordeal. It was a good place to come for that. But now when I think about my blog I get stressed out. I worry at the end of an eventful day (or even more on an uneventful day when Ive had time to think) that I don't have time or motivation to write about it.

I have scans in July. After I write about my perfect results, I will say goodbye to blog, and the guilt Ive associated with it. I will get a few things in before then (mostly pictures of what I was talking about) and tie up some loose ends. But this last month has to be dedicated to winding this thing down, just as life is speeding up.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

petal to the metal

Mid-May is the green light in Utah to start planting. I have had to make a choice the last few days to neglect my blog or my flowerbeds. I have a bunch to say, all good things, and will backtrack here after I get my garden and flowers in. Of all the things I love being, today gardener feels like my favorite.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

dream come true tooth

Monday James lost that loose tooth. When he woke up he told me "I wish this tooth would just come out today." He reached up to wiggle it, and out it came.

I suppose this is where the tooth got its name.

Josh got home from a business trip this afternoon and James showed him this envelope he has had under his pillow:

He wondered why it had been ignored the last couple nights (Last tooth I was late as well, which led him to believe I was the tooth fairy. I was totally offended so he hasn't dare suggest it since.). Josh thought maybe in this economy it was a little too much to ask. I thought maybe it was the way he was asking. He did say please, but only after a demand.

We just slipped $2 under his pillow.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


James was baptized today, we are so proud of him. I love my church, and am happy to raise my kids in it. Couldn't get him to smile on account of his loose tooth. Still, I like this 'implied parent' picture.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Daily life continues. There is the chronic pile of laundry, the usual stack of dishes (the same dishes really), and the floor to be constantly swept, but occasionally (especially this time of year) is the element of surprise to keep things new.

As if the tulips and daffodils aren't enough...

I was weeding my front flower beds and gave out a cry of excitement (which James found very inappropriate) when I found my peony plant had not been lost to Winter (as I was sure she had-the delphinium and daisies next to her have had great green leaves for a month now). Joy!

The weather cant make up its mind; Rainy and cold, then sunny and warm. But the spring beauty remains constant.

On one of the warm nights we went over to Highland to an Elementary School for an orientation meeting for James' new 'learning lab' or third grade class he's in (by the way, according to his scores, he may very well have only missed three or so on his marathon test). I watched him in the classroom. Multiplication charts, reference books, science projects: James in his element.

We lingered after at the playground. People, unstructured physical play, and monkey bars: Sam in his element

There was a soccer ball on the field. Open fields, a ball of any sort, and a goal to reach: Luke in his element.

I was pumping on the swings. Surrounded by my kids, snow frosted mountains, and a quiet pink sunset: Me in my element.

And where was Josh? At a concealed weapons permit class. Huh?

Where, and with what, are you in your element?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

paris pictures

Finally getting some pictures up from the trip.

I wish I could brag about my photography skills here, but these are really nothing special. I was just a little awestruck. You will see why....

Paris 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

merci emilie

Maybe as fascinating as the city was to me, was my cousin Emilie. Ive been sitting here looking for adjectives to describe her. I cant quite find them. Here she wears orange heels, later she will change into red converse sneakers and look just as fabulous.

Full of fun, intelligent conversation.

She talks to random people, like this man by the Pomidou who painted Obama in 7 minutes, upside down, from memory.

She pops her collar. LOVE.

She notices all the little, random things in the city. She reads all the signs in the subway and takes pictures of advertisements of events she may want to attend.

My camera did not do her justice, but isnt she beautiful?
We mostly got around the city on the Velib' bikes, which are for commuters. She knows the streets well, and was the perfect guide

Got her masters at Cambridge, and now teaches at a University in Paris. We loved learning about France from her.

We stayed in her adorable apartment all week. She stands here, on the street where she lives.

She consults her well worn map.

If you want to read a fun blog,

Emilie and Xavier, her French husband. Super cute.

She kept reminding me of her mom, aunt Rosie, which is the highest compliment anyone can be paid. Love you Emilie, and thanks!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

april in paris

If I had to sum up my trip in one word, I guess it would be inspiring. I came home with some serious resolutions including...

try some bulbs in my grass

Mix the old with the new

Bake some bread

Pull out my oil paints

Convert to Catholicism based solely on this Notre Dam gargoyle overlooking the city

Paint my front door blue

Pop my collars

Plant my window box

Remember this sunny day on rainy ones

Change my facebook profile picture

Attempt rolled fondant

See the world.

Well, I have a lot to do. Ill get more pictures and details soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

the perspective ive been waiting for

I'm ready to take a break from writing about cancer for a while.

I don't think about it much now, although it has shaped the way I think. The way I feel. The way I act.

I went back through my blog about the last couple of years (has it been that long?). I'm so glad I wrote it down, it seems so out of focus now. It was a bitter sweet read. Bitter because it reminded me how I felt when there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There wasn't even a tunnel.

Sweet because I know how it ends. How space will be carved around me and light will flood in.

And then I step out. Squinting.

They say cancer is about life, not death.

I say it too.

I dance it in the family room.

I sing it in the shower.

I breathe it in the morning air.

I feel it when the sun shines.

I hear it when my kids laugh.

I know it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This week has brought me my first episode of 'survivors guilt'.

I have been following Linda's blog since I was diagnosed. She is a 35 year old mother. Her mole was on her knee, kept getting bumped and bleeding. The timetable of diagnosis and surgeries were almost identical to mine. She had 5 lymph nodes involved, where I had 3. She did interferon, and developed lymphedema in her leg. She rode the same emotional roller coaster Ive been begging to get off of. So many similarities.

But her cancer came back. And last week it took her life.

I try to understand this.

I watched a documentary on WWII veterans, and one was a leader of my church, Boyd K. Packer, who talked about how soldiers all around were dying, and soldiers right next to them living. He thought there was a certain amount of 'randomness' when it came to who survived.

I know I have been so lucky so far. I know Lindas journey could have just as easily been mine.

It humbles me. It saddens me. It reminds me. It inspires me. It creeps me out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

when you read this post humor me and say 'slash' in your head when you see the /. i love it when people talk this way. stephanie/fugal?

8 years ago today life blessed me/the world with James/my first born.

I could blog/brag about him all day, but that would be boring for you/time consuming for me.

Recently though, we took him to be tested for an accelerated program in our school district. We of course had told him how great he would do/how easy it would be for him to get in. As I stood in line that morning I started having my doubts/regrets. There were what seemed like hundreds of kids cramming in geography/math books with their well-put-together parents hovering over them. We finally got the table with folders that contained their bubble sheets/instructions. Linton was in the middle of names such as Wang/Lee/Chu/Chen. You get the picture/problem.

As we walked to his classroom I suddenly panicked and nervously/discreetly laughed the whole thing off. "You know James, this is really just about your time. And...trying to do your best. That's all, just like a little game. It will most likely be pretty hard, so no pressure!

After 4 hours/all morning of filling in A/B/C/D and writing essays....It was a highly anticipated/hilarious reunion (for me).

"How did it go James?"
"Oh..." He says disappointed. "Okay."
I look at him all sorry-that-I'm-pushing-my-child-and-making-him-feel-inferior-ish/embarrassed-to-think-he-was-above-average-ish.
He looked down. "But...I think I missed 3 questions."

Love you James!!One of my favorite conversations with James was age 4 while eating lunch/high tea. "Mom, where was I born?" "In Provo." "Oh! Provo!....Well then where did I grow up?"

Sunday, March 8, 2009


This week, it has been cold here as winter struggles

This week though, the crocuses came out boldly (but in their tiny way). Dormant season is almost over and life is...waiting.

It is exactly how Ive been feeling...

This week, there has also been running. For the first time in I don't know how long, I felt like intead of walking the track-running it. Running away from whatever has been holding me back. Insecurities. Fatigue. Wrinkles. Laundry. Guilt. Swollen leg. Reality. With my legs pounding to Coldplays steady rhythm, I started. And for two glorious laps I ran my heart out.

Oh well, you have to start somewhere.

This week, there has been planning. Like-for the FUTURE. Ive looked into going back to school. Doing something long-term.

I havent thought this way since diagnosis.

This week, there has a great deal of waking up early and not so many naps.

Energy level high, all around.

This week there has been...hope. Huge amounts.

...the rest is still unwritten.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

dir dad

In primary today Sam was given a little love note to write and put in his dads shoes as a surprise. "I even know what shoes he is wearing tomorrow!"

Sam was devastated when Josh got a hold of it and read it on the way out the door.

Just now, on a bike ride in the dark with Sam, I was praising his recent advancements in reading (it didn't come exactly natural to him). He beamed and bragged he even wrote a letter on his own today.

"Oh?" asks I.

"Yes. When dad found my surprise note, I wrote him another one and put it on his pillow."

"How sweet! What did it say?!"

"Dear Dad,
I hate you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

vacation clarification

People have been asking Josh about his upcoming trip. He is, however, not going. Not because I don't love him. But this is a girl thing. I'm going with my cousin, and staying with another cousin. They are fun, fabulous, and feminine.

On a car ride home this week we started playing 20 questions. Luke spat out the rules, "Okay, it can either be a Star Wars guy, a place, or a thing."

'It' was always a Star wars guy.

I found the most adorable puffed sleeve jacket today that does nothing to suggest the truth: I live in a house full of boys.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

forget the orphans....

How about a self-indulgent trip to Paris this spring?

I used the adrenaline from my ticket purchase to clean my entire house.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

what do you do?

I have never been bored in my life.

Ive had a job since I was 12. My sister and I babysat full time in the summers, and scraped seams off of freshly poured porcelain statues. I worked at the dry cleaners after school. Tried all things extra curricular (was good at none of them). I was a nurses aid after high school, and started college classes that summer. Studied way too much in college, and would work at the nursing home on the weekends I would come home. I worked 2 jobs when I got my RN license, and started doing photography as soon as I quit at the hospital.

Of course babies make you always busy, which I started having young. Callings have generally kept me busy.

Josh says I need a job again. He thinks I need to be around 'people.' The other day I was driving him crazy with the 'what am I going to do with my life?' crap. I started crying "I know I'm blessed, and lucky, and...alive. I'm just so bored." Which, as you know, means that I'm a boring person.

I asked my kids in private today what their mommy does. "Cleans." Is what they all said. I tried to get them to expand "Well, what does mommy like to do?" "I don't know....clean?"

This response does not come from them looking around and seeing a clean house. Its not because they see me scrubbing the toilets or vacuuming all the time.

The only thing I can figure is its the brain washing. When I get mad and yell, "You know what kids, all I do is clean this house. I clean up after you, and then you make a mess right behind me...." Or there's the old, "You can help me for 10 minutes, I clean every waking hour!" Or maybe I try to reason with them, "You know, if you put your stuff away so mommy doesn't have to spend all her time cleaning, she can go do fun stuff with you" etc.

Its not that I don't have things to do. I realize there is a stack of papers to be filed, a closet to be organized, clothes to be ironed, and dishes to be done around the clock. I just don't get fired up about these things for some reason.

I think I have decided against photography for a while. Too much stress, and way too much time spent on the computer.

Nursing is a big option, although Ive been looking for once a week jobs, and there just aren't any. I think if I get serious about this one I could find something.

I really wanted to volunteer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, I could head up some awareness campaigns, comfort struggling families, teach them about their disease. But they won't even take cancer patients until they are a year out of treatments. Most likely because we are still emotional wrecks? Or they figure half of us will be dead?

I'm thinking about politics. Maybe I can start volunteering for the city to get my foot in the door.

How can I get to Romania to start saving those orphans living in cribs?

Why am I feeling this way? Is it just mid February general blah?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

feline confessions

I think its strange how I don't have one friend who likes cats. I even think all my friends hate them over most any creature. I always told my brothers to "be wary of girls who don't like cats." But now I'm wondering if there are such girls at all (my brothers couldn't find them).

I love them so much. My house didn't feel like home until Winston jumped out of his humane society box onto my kitchen floor and meowed like mad.

We had an incredibly sick family last week with everyone but Josh in bed with the flu. I picked up like the most ridiculous hobby in bed during my on-line reading; the cat classifieds on KSL. They read like a novel. Its a whole new level of lameness, trust me I know. Here are a few fun ones I found:

Big, Handsome, Single Guy Looking For Love!
- Jan 30, 2009
Hi, my name is Tuffins but everybody calls me Tuffy - except my foster mom who insists on calling me 'Tuff Guy'. She's just making a joke, though, because I may look like a 'tough guy' but I'm really just a super sweet, shy bachelor looking for my soul mate!

I'm a very handsome black cat and I lived my entire life with my father, Boots, my sister, Callie, and our very best human friend, Steve. Unfortunately, Steve went off to the hospital and he never came back to us. I was rescued by No More Homeless Pets in Utah and now I'm looking for someone new to love.

I'm seven years old, very healthy, playful, well mannered and affectionate when I get to know you. I love to snuggle in warm laps and gets lots of brushing. I'm a little scared of new people and places so you will have to be patient with me at first. But, of course, all special relationships take a while to develop! I get along with most other cats, especially my dad, Boots, who is also looking for his forever home, but could be your only love. So if you're looking for a loyal, devoted friend, I'm just waiting to go home with you!

Absolutely Gorgeous Shaved like a lion. Declawed & Neutered Male Cat
- Jan 29, 2009
Free,PLEASE help give him a new home so he doesn't have to go to the shelter(Last Resort)! He is a great cat, behaves very well, great manners, awesome with children, lets my little girl play with him to her hearts content. I wish i didn't have to get rid of him but we are in an apartment. Thought i could get away with it but the landlord found out. I have two weeks to find him a new home so if your interested please let me know! He is gorgeous! Blue eyes, he is a long haired but i didn't want him to shed so we shaved him like a lion so indoors is a MUST! He is Declawed and Neutered.

- Jan 28, 2009
male, neutered, 3 years old,very lovable, especially towards men, black and white long hair, has lots of love to give.

Hi My name is Shoesaw I'm a female and I'm declawed and neutered. I'm an indoor cat. I'm up to date on all my shots.I'm loveing and like to be brushed and take baths.

Stewart-Beautiful Boy- Sweet ( most of the time!) $75
- Jan 26, 2009
Hi,my name is Stewart.I am a beautiful Black and White Single Male. I was rescued on the last day(on euthanasia list.) So lucky for me I'm still around. I need a home. Preferably the mature, advanced cat owner is best, NO small children, or other pets especially Cats please! I do best on my own. I am fully Vaccinated & Healthy. I am Neutered. I am a real stinker sometimes. I don't need to cuddle. If your independent, that works good for me. My rescuer CANNOT be liable for any damage I may inflict on my new owner..(I like to play rough) .. Stewart

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I have been at the hospital today getting my routine scan from head to toe. Lets just say there has been some mild to severe anxiety as this day approached.

I called the nurse for the results just now and she said, "Hi, you look great on film!"

" you mean by that?"

"There is no evidence of metastasis anywhere. Nothing at all."

Yea!!! I am so lucky.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

clean slate

I'm finally admitting that I'm just not going to get this out to my family and friends during the holiday season (it being late January).

I laugh at the time I had just finished with treatment and I got up and bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting on how great it was to have a clean slate. I felt (and do feel) I had the perfect excuse/reason for changing anything without a hit to my pride. You know I could suddenly be this perfect neighbor, most patient mom, thoughtful friend. I could quit working, start sewing, cook mostly veggies, do yoga at dawn, move to the country and raise chickens. All with everyone's blessing. They would smile to themselves as I walked to the park holding my cat in a wide brimmed hat smothered in flowers from the front yard, and humming a happy heartfelt tune. "Oh, her? She had cancer," they would tell their inquisitive friends on the front porch with and adoring sigh.

I'm still waiting to be her.

I cant even get a Christmas card out on time (okay maybe at all). I guess when you remove all my expectations, my past and future, I keep to myself and read novels. I only serve when there is a sign up sheet from the relief society. I wear frumpy clothes because I cant fit into my jeans because I keep eating because I don't want to scrub the bathrooms. AND because there is chocolate in the house.

So if you see me running to the park to get my kindergartener to the bus at noon and I have creases in my face from my two hour nap and yesterdays mascara, can you just smile to yourself and expain to others, "Oh her? She had cancer."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

birthday wish

I had my first surprise birthday party tonight in which I walked in wearing a bright purple over-sized Sego Lily elementary sweatshirt and a very mean face. Lets just say I didn't pull if off gracefully.

Why would Josh let me change out of my (ironically) forever 21 skirt I bought yesterday? And more importantly why would I care what I was wearing as it was just my family and my three friends? I would never have thought people in the 30s could be immature like that. Of course I never would have guessed you could get zits at this age either. Little did I know.

I blew out the candles wondering if the rule was I can't wish for any more wishes or I cant wish for any more birthdays.