About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a full time working mom, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a breast cancer survivor of almost a decade and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Roller Coaster Ride

Can I scream yet? Just once? Alright, I will just let out a loud AH! Ok. Ok, I'm good now, really. I just have to say it for sanity's sake....life is unpredictable, crazy and completely off the wall most of the time. This is exactly where I find myself this morning...


Last night I finally slowed down following Christmas .I have been moving full speed ahead since the Monday before Christmas...cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating, wrapping and treatments. Finally I have had a few minutes to breath. Last night I was feeling pretty good. My house was tidy as best as can be expected with 2 boys home and a tree sitting in the living room. Diner was cooked, and cleaned up. I had a movie in mind I wanted to watch after I took a nice long shower.


It was after my shower I noticed it. I normally check out my breasts several times a month,making sure there are no new problems, i.e. skin changes, lumps. But this past month has been an exception to the rule. It's Christmas month, life has been crazy busy and I just let it go .I'm in remission right? Why should I be overly concerned about anything anymore? All I can say is Christina,where have you been hiding? What have you been thinking? Get your head out of the clouds and listen up! You think you are out of the woods? Quite contraire darling. Quite contraire.


So the roller coaster ride just got nasty again .Maybe just a bump or two, I hope. Last night when I looked into the mirror at my reconstructed breast I was shocked by what I saw. My arm was swollen, my "breast" (if you want to call it that) was enlarged, red, with a bubbly rash across my incision line. The same spot my cancer was found originally. My heart just stopped and I felt as if I could not breath for a second or two. I know this sounds like self pity, but my life flashed in front of me. I felt a bolt of panic set in for just a brief moment.


Within a minute or two I had hold of my emotions and figured it was nothing too bad. How bad could it really be? I thought it would go away. I waited, and then waited some more. By this morning I was hopeful. But again I was starring at the same problem as the night before. Originally I was scheduled for IVIG today, but after realizing I had to deal with this new issue I canceled it. I knew I need to make a few calls. I called my gyn to see what she thought. She said call your oncologist, but to call her back if I didn't get anywhere. So I called my oncologist again ( I had already done so) but as my gyn had instructed me to, I kept calling because 'this was urgent'. My one big problem is I do not like to be pushy, so I end up waiting and waiting. About an hour after my conversation with my gyn's office they called me back wanting to know if I had heard from the oncologist office yet. I hadn't.Yep, you guessed it! She wants to see me right away. Of course she does. Why would this be any less an issue than anything else in my life. I only thing I can say is I know I am in good hands.


Waiting is the worst for me. I remember it so well during my " Nothing is wrong" period before the cancer storm hit me three years ago. So I do not plan to sit around and wait. I am going to keep living, doing and moving until I have an answer and even then I do not plan to stop my life for anything. Denial? Maybe, but I do have a life to live regardless of the situation. So I am going ice skating with my boys. We had already planned to do this during their vacation. Dr. S's office is just a few minutes walk from the rink, so I can spend time with my boys and see the doctor. What else is there to do? Sit, worry, panic? No, no, none of those things do me any good. So I will keep busy. I know this now is a wait and see situation. What else can I do? So I am living as if I have no worries. I was right here in the same boat 3 years ago when I found my first lump, in the very same spot. The waiting is the worst, so I am not going to allow myself to be buried by all the what if's. I plan to enjoy my boys and this time I have with them before they return to school. I will celebrate the New Year and continue with my life as I know it...complete and full.

So just keep me in your prayers? I can't ask for more. I am in His hands.

Christina
Update:
I saw my doctor today and I am finally having my breast MRI tomorrow.She thinks there is at least a leak in my implant. It is enough for me to just pull my hair out. I have been saying that for a long time. Been told nothing was wrong, let it be. So now here we are with this! Ok now I feel better. I love my gyn, she is just great! After all this she is sending me to another ( make that my 3rd) plastic surgeon to have this sucker taken out! I will let ya'll know when I have more info.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Her Legacy...

I was reminded today of the loss of a dear friend. Just the thought of my sister in arms, brings both tears and a smile to my face, both sadness and joy in to my heart. I took pause last week, and again on Christmas day, and yet again today.This year marks the passing of one very dear to us all. She was a beautiful soul, a fighter and courageous to the end. Her name was Kim ,she was and is still my hero.


When I met Kim I was in a low place. Not to say I didn't have hope, I did. But I was lost, wandering in the land of the beast. I had not yet met a fellow survivor along my path. My journey up till that point had been one of solitary struggle. Then she found me, and I wasn't so alone. I had someone to talk to, someone to lean on and to let lean on me. Kim was there shining so brightly you could not help but smile. As soon as I opened my heart to her I had a hand to hold.

I meet Kim in J Land. I came across her blog, and found her to be spunky, witty and ready to take on the beast we shared...breast cancer. Her humor was a breath of fresh air. Kim's life was an open book we all read, overflowing with a deep love for living and those she held close. Kim was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. She was my friend, a sister in arms, a pink warrior through and through. I loved Kim. She taught me more than words could ever express in the short time we shared. I still have to remind myself she is gone. I can still feel her sometimes as I sit at my keyboard writing an entry. I feel her loss deeply, at times I still grieve her short life. I long to read her written words, to know her insights and to ask her what her thoughts are. I miss Kim, as we all do.

Kim was a light. She was a warm, welcoming spirit. Her life was a guiding force whose light burned out way to soon. I know she will never leave us completely. Kim gave us all something of herself. I hold her memory close. I feel her loss every day. Yet, I know she would tell me to live, to laugh and to fight harder. It is those times I feel the desire to celebrate the beautiful life she lived.

Some may call her an angel, but to me she is much more. She is a bright shining star guiding us all through the dark night and deep waters. I miss her more each day, and yet her legacy lives on within each of us who knew her. Kim, left us all suddenly, and to this day I can feel the sting of Indigo and Mary's news... Kim was gone, lost to us here on earth. Tears still burn my face when I remember the day I opened the email. I felt as if I had been slapped across the face.

Kim would tell me not to give up, to fight, to throw myself 100% into the course of living my life as fully as possible. She would offer her hand, no matter how terrible she may feel. Kim was a fighter, a true warrior. Kim could raise her sword and charge full steam ahead. Kim taught me to be brave and to stand up for myself. So I pray I can do the same for all who need a hand. I pray I can continue to fight this beast for both of us, for Kim and for myself. Kim faced the beast as only she could do without regret. Kim felt the pain, she worried but she endured. In a world full of doubt, I hope we too can rise above the fear and offer others Hope just as Kim did. This coming year when October rolls around and we remember those who have lost their fight with breast cancer, remember Kim. When I walked this past October I thought of Kim, of her legacy to us all and the hope of finding a cure. Now I walk for Kim, as I walk for myself and all those who are still fighting this beast. Our battle is not lost, yes, we have lost a comrade in this battle, but we must still press on. In my own life, my own journey I know I must raise my head up, and keep walking this path, following this journey. No words can heal the pain of losing a loved one, but there is still hope. There is always hope. Somewhere Kim is calling to us all, to trust and to have faith and to allow our hearts to guide us.

So today I choose to dance even as tears fall down my face. I will lace up my pink dancing shoes and let the music play. I will dreams and see the world through my children's' eyes. I will hope, trust and believe. I will laugh and I will shout at the beast. I will dare it to come for me and stare it in the eyes. I will chose to be a pink warrior, a fighter and a survivor. I honor Kim today and every day I am given. I celebrate her life and her joy. The miles may seem longer than they have ever been before but we will overcome. Kim is still here with us,we just have to allow her warrior spirit to lead us onward. Be encouraged my friends...we may not have chosen this life, but we do own it. We can live every minute as it was the last or we can sit around and wait for death to come. Don't we have an obligation to seize the day? Sure there may be days the road beneath us feels like broken glass, yet the pain we feel reminds us we are still alive. Isn't the sun still shining in the sky above us? Don't we have the gift of living in this moment? So celebrate all you have been given, pain, worry, joy, hope and life! Honor Kim and all she has given us by living completely. So let's make her proud of how we have chosen to live our lives. Let's find a reason everyday to be thankful.

I wish we could wake up and know this was all a nightmare, but we are awake .I know there is no hiding the pain we all feel. We hold a void in our hearts, but Kim's love for us all is still there. She is holding out her heart ready to fill the emptiness. As long as we remember Kim, her life, her struggle and her gift of insight to us all, she is forever with us.

Kim, I miss you. I always will. I am trusting in God's promise... I will see you again, someday. So until I am called home, keep your star shining brightly for us all. Until then my dearest friend, I will keep dancing.

Christina

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Joshua's Christmas Wish...

Christmas is here. The season is not just around the corner anymore. No, Christmas is in full swing .Homes shimmer with colored lights and streets are beautifully adorned with wreaths of red and green. As for the our home, well we are ready to usher Christmas in. Our tree is decorated , a wreath hangs on our door and the outside lights are burning bright. All our stockings are hung, including the dog's, by the fireplace and Micah's train is steaming strong around the bottom of our tree .We are definitely ready for jolly old St. Nick to arrive and to celebrate the birth of Christ.

As all families do, we have our own traditions. Every year, no matter how old the boys get, we go to the mall and visit with Santa, we bake cookies and drink some hot coco. We take in the sites of Christmas, together, as a family, and sing Happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas Eve. We go out and look for our tree, string lights and let the boys place all their ornaments around the tree. As we count down the days till Christmas the boys find small treasures behind each door of our advent calendar. Then about a week before, we work together getting all the outside lights hung on the house. Finally we place our families', 35 year old Nativity scene, out for all to see. Sure many of the pieces may be missing, and a Shepard may now stand in for Joseph, but it is a tradition, our way of honoring the holiday's true meaning in our hearts.



This season is my favorite time of year. A time to celebrate not only my Lord's birth, but the love of my family.It is also a very somber time for me as well. I will never forget the Christmas Eve we took the boys to see Santa in 2006. My hair was just beginning to grow back in. My port was still in and we had completed out first walk ( Race for the Cure) two months before. It was Christmas and I was looking at a second chance at life at the age of 33. Life was uncertain and our emotions as a family were still very raw. I loved the lights, the reindeer and the beautiful fire flickering in the mall hearth. As we stood in line the boys seemed a bit controlled, unlike the kids around them who were giggling, jumping up and down and full of anticipation. Joshua and Micah just sort of stood there, speaking every now and then, looking around, smiling, but more reserved than most children on Christmas Eve.



As I remember, look back in my memory of the day I am still moved to tears. I can still see Micah getting off of Santa's lap and Joshua lingering a moment. Santa looked him straight in the eyes and asked him what was on his mind? What did he want Santa to bring him for Christmas? Then the words flowed out, as if a dam had burst inside him. Then and there I felt as if my resolve would buckle. Santa looked my way, and I could see the agony in his own eyes. My son, my sweet boy looked Santa straight in his eyes and without hesitating asked if Santa would please ask God to let his mommy live and not die from cancer! this was his only wish. He told Santa he wanted nothing else! I was broken, completely lost in this emotion as it burst through my well build wall of strength.



Nothing more could Santa say. You could see he was in shock himself. Santa was at a loss, how could he promise my child such a thing? So he looked my 10 year old son in the eyes, nodded his head and walked him over to where I stood. This brief but seemingly long moment passed as Santa placed Joshua's hand into mine. I hadn't even seen Santa walk Joshua over to where I stood. It was if the world stood still. I was speechless, saddened, broken. Here was my son, my child, asking Santa, to grant this one wish... of life, to his mommy. He wanted nothing more than to know he wasn't going to see his mommy die. Joshua had no care of what lay beneath the tree, or what wonders Santa would deliver later in the night. No his one, solitary wish was for his mommy... to live.



Life has taught me many lessons, but of all, this one is the greatest... children, are precious. If we but took a moment to really understand, to witness their acts of self sacrifice the world would be one of true brotherhood and peace. Children in their innocence give us more than any material gift can ever provide us. In the wish of a child, in a simple prayer, they can bring such insight into our over scheduled lives. If we all but took a moment, to consider all we do have and offer our love and forgiveness, unconditionally to those we love. If we were willing to give up our own needs, wants and wishes for someone else, maybe we all experience the true meaning of this season.



Of this I am sure, as I look back , as I remember Christmas Eve 2006 I was given the greatest gift of my life.In my heart I know it was the most beautiful I have ever experienced even though it was one of the most painstaking in all my life. As I reminisce I am reminded of Christ's gift to us, of his birth and death, and the timeless message of self sacrifice. I am here today, I live because my son prayed fervently for my life. He did not waiver in his desire or his resolve. As a child, Joshua gave up the most important wish of the year... he gave his Christmas wish, to his mother....

So this year as you light the candles, bake gingerbread men and open gifts surrounded by family, remember the true meaning of this season is giving of yourself.


Christina


Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Christmas Card To You...


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year my dear and cherished friends. you are all a part of my life and my journey. Today, I thank my God for your presence in my life...

Christina

P.S. Be sure to turn down the music player at the bottom of the page and turn on the the music with the slide show. Also be sure if you click to the site to watch it in original view.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Get Out of the Station Wagon!


Two words: Breast Cancer.
Stage: Two.
Nodes: Positive.
Type: Triple Negative.
Plan of Action: Mastectomy followed by chemo.
First thought: Dear God. What will my kids do!

Life is so fragile, in moments our lives change and suddenly we realize we have no time to lose.Life is not just changing, life is racing past you. There is no making time up, you must live in every moment, without regret. As each morning comes, as you breath in deeply, as you wake your children you realize each and every day may certainly be your last.

I was 32, in my early 30's when life came to a screeching holt. I was looking in the mirror one day healthy and the next processing news my life could be actually coming to an end. Everything changed, my priorities were reorganized. My boys are everything to me and so I began living as if every minute I had with them was my last. Honestly, it isn't a bad way to live.

Cancer found me in a crazy way, I was blind sided, but the gifts she has given me . Well, they are precious. So I ask you this: What would you do if you were sitting alone when you heard the those words two words, breast cancer? As a mother would your worry be for your children? Would you ponder your children's lives without you? Who would tuck them into bed at night, kiss their worries away and celebrated life's everyday victories with them? When your last goodbye was said, how would they remember you? So again I ask what would you do?

Would you just stop, wait for the day cancer strikes her last blow? Or would you stop and smell the roses, take in each and every moment you were given with your children? Yes, it's a uphill battle, but hope is not lost. Death, we can face it bravely. But what about our footprints ? How do we leave them behind us for our children to follow in, to remember us by? As a mother my purpose since breast cancer came knocking on my door has been about leading my boys to a place of laughter, yes filled with some tears, but mostly a life full of hope. When my boys look back how will they remember me? My simple hope is both vividly and full of life over flowing.

So Again I ask what would you do? As a woman, hearing those words and knowing you have only one shot at beating this beast what choices would you make? Knowing you had to fight to live, to survive what would you do? How would you strike back knowing you had only this one chance to hit the beast with all you have?

My point is this, cancer can be overwhelming. Life comes at you from all sides, full of demands both from the beast and those surrounding you. Sometimes, the choices can be hard. Some may not really even see you are fighting, striving to come up for air. But then your heart and soul are revived and suddenly you are a whole new woman. You're not the same person you once were and coming to terms with this knowledge can be overwhelming at best. The you who used to allow those around you to drain you of your time, energy, balance and confidence is gone. You find you are stronger, absolutely ready to take charge of your life and the time you have left with your babies.

Stepping back from the chaos life begins to bloom unlike anything you have ever felt or known before. The clarity, all the colors and this new life can be altering and to some shattering. The back lash of this new you can be frightening to those you love, and those closest to you. Some may even feel betrayed. Suddenly feeling as they are on the outside looking in. Without a reason they can start closing in on you from all sides without even realizing it. Your cancer may seem invisible, out of plain site. Sadly many may take your strength for granted. Unintentionally many get caught up in their own fear may not even see your cancer. At the end of the day you may feel left behind as the beast rages inside of you, dragging you off into her den. You are the warrior, the strong one, the woman who can take control of everything and be everything to every one. You have no vulnerabilities to anyone anymore. Then you wake up one morning and realize if you keep up this speed, you will have nothing left to give your children. The station wagon full of Larry, Mo and Curly suddenly comes to a painstaking holt! The brakes squeal and the doors open. Without another thought, you hear yourself say," Get out of the station wagon! Please? "Life is just too short.

I sometimes have to stop and laugh at the thought of me fighting off this beast, branding a sword in each hand, and a dagger in between my toes. I am a one woman show twirling, dodging blows, striking when and where I can. I am the village protectress fighting alone. How could I dare allow this beast and her furry to touch the villagers? Maybe I should call myself the village idiot instead? Truth here folks? I am not Joan of Arch! I can not do this alone! I do not wish to throw myself upon the fiery stake. Really I don't. this is the thing we all have to stop and realize we are not one women armies. I can tell you without a doubt I am not a caped super hero! I have plenty to go around,really I do. I just have to be careful to keep enough of me a side for my children too. Plain and simple, I am weak too. I stumble and many times collapse even though I do so behind closed doors.

Mothers, with cancer have a choice to make. Do we spend every moment of every day trying to please everyone, or do we snatch up every moment we have left with our children and run? We are fighting, hitting back, pushing and shoving the beast away at every turn. This time we have with our children, these memories we make, well they may seem selfish to many. Sadly they may be, but the time we spend with our children, the promises we keep, these are the times we imprint memories upon our children's hearts. These are the moments we pray they will never forget. While we fight to live we are praying our children will not forget us, who we are, who we were. We want them to hold these moments close even if they are bittersweet. Our souls will rise and fly away soon enough, so this time, these moments, these lives we hold close are painfully too short.Once this life is gone, we can't take it back, or make it up. All we have is the here and now so why aren't we living life as if it is our last everyday? Gently, tenderly, painfully we need to grasp at whatever time we are given with these precious tiny lives. Our real hope as mothers living with breast cancer? One day when our children are grown , when time has passed and they visit a landmark, sit in a chair, enjoy something as simple as a slice of pizza... they will remember us, their mothers.

So yes, my children are precious to me, as all our children are.They are both my heart and soul. If and when the end comes , I hope I have done enough so they remember and do not forget me. I pray they will keep my memory alive, who I am and how much I have loved them inside their hearts as they grow into men. I am reminded of the Disney song from Dumbo, "Baby Mine". Dumbo's mother was trapped, imprisoned but still she reached through those bars and cradled her baby. The song is a precious lullaby between mother and son. The telling tale of separation and a mothers' one chance to hold her child close to her, impress her love upon him and say goodbye.Many may scold her for protecting her child, still she would do it all over again. That is the way of it, isn't it? I could ask for no better example of cancer's prison.

None of us ever want our children, husbands or any of our family or friends to feel alone or left out in the rain. We do want to be strong for everyone, but we can't. Truly. we have tried to be all things to all people all of the time. But those days are behind us. Some may lose faith in us because of this. I know many women facing this battle go through this over and over again. I say this to those of you still struggling: Faith may wavier but HOPE is never lost! In the end I know we will all make it through this struggle, one way or another.

As for me, I just don't want to regret any moments spent with my boys when the doors to this life finally come to a close. I want to know I have loved and been loved. I can't change this course life has me on. The miles may be long, and many days lonely. But this I know, one day the winter will turn into spring. Life will bloom again, even if it just a for a season. I pray the long night will pass and our brave fight will come to a peaceful end. I do not wish the scars of battle to last forever. So I fill this time we have left with memories, full of life and the living of it.

I have nothing to hide, I am an open book. So as I battle, as I heal and when I make my final journey into the light through darkness I will embrace the struggle. I tell you in the end, it is so much better to live, even if your spirit is weary, live life with your children as if there is no tomorrow. We do not have to go without leaving a living book for our children to read. Our children's love has the power to open bigger and greater doors.

So finally I ask you once last time how would you spend your last moments? Who knows the way it will end. Life is not a sure thing. We all gamble with the odds and pray for the best. So dance, fly and soak up each moment you are given with your children. The pathway is already lit, all you have to do is take the first step.

Christina

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reason For Pause

This week we started pulling out all the boxes. You know the ones, filled full of tinsel, snowmen and little villages? Every year I am amazed by how many we seem to have. It's really not that we are gaining more, simply put, I am just getting worse at repacking them up. Still, seeing the lights, the angels and of course jolly old St. Nick gives me reason for pause.

It was this same time three years ago, I found the smallest of lumps. Three years ago I felt my heart pause. Three years ago I felt the fear of cancer slip quietly into my life. Since then I have been beaten up a bit, shoved a time or two, cut and sewn back up but for all the wear and tear I have emerged a survivor in true form. So for me this time of year is a time to reflect and to celebrate. Our home is full of life, joy, laughter and most of all HOPE. We have seen the darkness, felt the pain and with God's grace we have lived to tell the tale so to speak.

Here and now, in this time and in this place I am alive. As I look around my home, I see my children, my beautiful boys living in the moment. As we count down the days till Christmas I am reminded of just how precious the time we spend here on this earth, in this lifetime really is. How wonderful it is to wake and greet a new day! How blessed I am to be surrounded by those I love and those who love me. How can I complain or how can I take anyone or anything for granted ever again?

I remember clear as day the moment I found my lump in December 2005. I knew right away, though I tried to find every reason why it wasn't cancer. I tried to forget about it and enjoy the holidays with my family. I desperately didn't want it to be cancer. I did all I could to push it away, block it out, and pay no attention to it. So I lived, just as I have always done, in spite of the beast who was lurking around our home, our tree and my life .We put the lights up, decorated the tree , put the gifts out and enjoyed the season. Little did we know how much life was about to change.

So this year I celebrate all we have, no matter how big or small. We are a family, together, able to hold each other tight. Life has changed, but we are the better for it all. Now, the gifts around the tree have little to do with how blessed we are. The size of our tree has no significance, nor does the meal we put upon our table. What do you ask has real meaning during this season of celebration? Life, family and hope. The grace God has given my family and I is the greatest gift ever we have been given.

I felt the power and the true meaning of this season on Tuesday night as I sat just hours after my IVIG infusion, watching my son Joshua sing. He stood there surrounded by 259 other choir members from his school singing the Carol of the Bells. I sat there with tears streaming down my face. He was so happy, confident and beautiful. For a second I saw the grace of God pour down upon him and I was moved beyond words. I was in awe as I was humbled in His presence. How can I worry? How can I complain? God has not forsaken me. All I will ever need in each and every day He affords and blesses me with.

I am living here and now. I am breathing, and laughing. I can feel my heart beat and my soul stir. So I sit in awe of His mercy, of His unending love and this life He has given me. I am a wife, a mother and a survivor. I am alive to feel my husbands hands hold mine, to feel my children's arms wrap around me and to feel the sun shine upon my face everyday. I have much to be thankful for and even more to praise Him for.

So this year, I live in wonder of the season. The beauty of His gifts surround my life. I am alive, full of hope. I may still battle this beast on certain fronts, but I do not do so alone. Grace, mercy and hope fill my heart as they carry me through to another year.

May we all sit and rest a spell knowing we are loved. May we all feel the blessings of Christmas both past and present.

Christina

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Life's Journey

This time of year brings me back. Most know I was diagnosed with Triple Negative, stage 2, node positive Breast Cancer in 2006. Life changed for not just me, but for my family. I was dumbfounded, taken back as I had my feet knocked right out from under me. How could this happen ? I was so young. My life was still in front of me, how could God take it all from me now? I was scared, hurt and shocked. I became painfully aware my life was not my own nor was time on my side. I was not just looking death in the face, but she and I were eye to eye!

The holidays had just come to a close and it was the beginning of the new year. I found the lump at the start of December 2005. I was concerned as "it" continued to grow through the Christmas holidays. I sat on this turn of events for a while. I didn't want to ruin Christmas for my boys. We had just bought our very first home, Johnny and I. This was our first Christmas in our new home. I wanted the memories to be special, not marred by some silly worry of mine.


You know the story... Breast biopsy, cancer, mastectomy, chemo and the list goes on. Life for sure changed. I was just completely side swiped. I dealt with this new change of events fairly well it seemed. I lost my breast, my hair and my once rosy life in a very short time. Many would ask why not be bitter? Why not be angry? Why not be mad at God? Well the truth is this: I did feel hurt and yes abandoned, at first. I did not understand but I did have my faith, and my family.


The real deal is I had already gone through the whole being angry at God thing much earlier in my life. I was 8 years old to be exact. It was the same year I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Following a blood test in the doctors office I was placed in the hospital and placed on insulin injections all just days after my birthday. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, the very same one some 24 years later I was hearing this Breast Cancer diagnosis in. I had already let my anger and fear fester in this very same place. I had already shouted at my Maker and felt His gentle touch in my 8 year old life. As a child I was angry, I wanted a normal life and I feared not being able to have children of my own one day. I was scared I would never marry or have children until I met my dietician who was a diabetic herself , married and having a child of her own. I cried, I told Him off and then I surrendered all my hurt to His plan. I did not understand the full depth of things then, how could I? I really did not like the idea of dealing with this new scary beast, inwardly I was terrified. What I learned over time was this was my burden, yes, but I did not have to carry it alone. I lived through the bullies and there were lots of them believe me, both kids and adults alike. I was punched in my stomach once for petting a kids dog in my own yard. (He was afraid I would give diabetes to his four legged friend.) Then as I got older I was looked at different by teachers and down upon even a by a few pastors as they taunted me in their own ways. Life was hard, but those times, those hurtful, painful times taught me a lot about who I was and who I believed in.


I stopped being mad at God and started being grateful for the gifts I had. I was alive for starters. I was also loved. I had a good family who loved me, who were there for me every step of the way. They believed in me and all they saw in me. My parents would have moved mountains and through the years made sacrifices beyond my understanding all so I would be taken care of. As life moved forward I came to terms with this plan. I adapted to the shots, no sugar and the bullying I continued to endure. You ask how can I be so forgiving of my Lord, especially when some in His name were some of my worst offenders? Well I realized as I got older it wasn't the Lord who was out to get me or who was causing any of my hurt. Sadly, it was those who spoke in His name, yet had no real understanding of His compassion, those who were led by their own fears who caused my hurt. (He may have allowed it, but He surely didn't cause it.) I may not have understood His plan, and to be blunt I didn't exactly like this plan of His, but He was there with me every step of the way. I spent more time in the hospital than I did out it seemed, but you know what? I grew into a compassionate woman who found love and who did have her own babies, ( in the very same hospital)two boys to be exact. I can feel and honestly relate to pain and sorrow now because I have actually been there.


As time marched on Johnny and I made a life together and it wasn't not so bad. Maybe we didn't have grand things but we had each other, we had our children and we had our faith. I have to say I was still caught off guard though when this new beast came to town dragging me off into her den. I wasn't ready for her stench and so I was completely turned around off course on some detour road when the cancer took my breast. I was not happy at all. I was not pleased with my God at the time either, but I did trust Him. As time went on I found over and over again He was my shelter and was where my Hope truly is. Yes, I faltered, I turned away for a while, I sank below the waters surface for a while too. But then I heard His joy calling me home. If I am not bound to this earth, then why was I throwing such a fit? Isn't my faith and trust in His grace enough? It was then, in a moment of pure clarity did I see His plan. He knew this beast would come. He knew I would struggle and endure pain beyond measure but He also knew I would come through it stronger for the journey. Yes, He allowed my childhood beast to approach, circle and to attack. Why you ask? I was just a child, how very true. But I know this deep down beyond a shadow of a doubt it was to prepare me for the stronger beast coming years later not only to destroy but to devour all of me.


In those dark waters I found myself laughing, crying, hearing His voice so clearly I was completely taken back. It was as if I had just found the missing puzzle piece I had been searching for all my life. Suddenly strength I didn't know I had was building inside of me. I knew I could survive this kick in the gut even if I had to go through hell to do it. I was surrounded by love, family and angels. His grace was flowing through my life and He had a plan even if I didn't have all the pieces. All those years I dealt with the highs and lows of my diabetes I was growing stronger, my faith was building and God was slipping all the right pieces of my life together.


I could hate God , yes. I could be angry at His choices for my life, absolutely. But looking at my path at where I stand now from where I have come from I see His hands molding every part of my spirit and this life He has given me. I trust my Maker. I may not always like what I see Him doing, but I do know I am loved and held together by His Grace and Mercy. Even if I can't see past today, I know right here and right now my God is for me and not against me. He loves me and no, my life is not passing me by. I am right where I belong. So with all my might I will continue to embrace all life has to offer and all He has to give me.


I have pondered my path, this journey and accepted what may come. I have gained experiences and friendships along this road worth the battle I now fight. Yes, the pathway may not always be lit but I will always have a lantern and a slightly crumpled up map guiding me for sure. I will get there in His time. I am an open book, a living breathing testament of God's grace. My soul is at peace ,my life is in bloom, and I am definitely stronger for the journey. I have a place in this world, a family who loves me and a path set before me. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and though I plan to live a 100 years, my time may come earlier than I expect. My body may tire or give out too soon, so why would I waste a minute being angry? I want to live completely in every moment I have. Then, when I take my last breath and pass into the unknown I am ready.


This I know, when I meet my Maker I know I will not cross the veil alone. I will not leave this world with regrets. I will not leave my own legacy behind, for it is His. A legacy of strength, of hope and of faith I leave to my children. I am His creation, His child and when this life is over I will be Home in His arms.


Christina

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Want My Nickel Back!

Remember what I said about never having a dull moment around the Olachia household? Well, if it weren't for the curve balls thrown our way we wouldn't have any excitement to talk about! So last night the four of us were at home, relaxing after the big family turkey dinner. Life was good.

Then suddenly at 11:44 PM Micah came running in our bedroom, tears streaming down his face, crying. He was panicked, overwhelmed, afraid. The next words came out like a bolt of lightning: "Mom, I swallowed a nickel!" My response was: "You did what?" I called poison control like a crazy woman next. Their response was: "He did what!" Then I called Johnny. His response was : "He did what!" See the pattern here?


My poor baby was terrified. His tears kept coming and his words were like a knife through my heart," Mommy am I going to die?" That was it, I sank like a rock in a very deep river. Johnny was out at the store, so he was driving home like a mad man. He came though the door and started scanning the living room floor. He just couldn't believe our nine year old son could have actually swallowed a 5 cent piece.


Next I picked up the phone and called the doctor. It has been 7 years since I have had to call after hours, but if ever there was a reason this was it! The nurse chuckled, I couldn't blame her. I was talking about a 9 year old, not a 4 year old. I explained that he had tripped and in the process the nickel in his hand had ended up in the back of his throat and he had swallowed. Yes, it was crazy, nutty to be exact but the truth was I couldn't depict it any better than if it were in a movie. She told me not to let him eat or drink anything till the doctor called. Our food? It was left and forgotten about on the table till morning.


By the time the doctor called ( it really didn't take long at all) Micah had calmed down. Johnny was still out in the living room shaking his head, looking for the missing piece of change. He was on his hands and knees, pulling up furniture, all with a flash light in his hands. Comical to say the least. First thing out of the docs mouth was, you guessed it: "He did what!" Next Dr. B told me to have him sit still and give him some bread and water.( My mind raced as I saw Micah sitting in a jail cell, wearing black and white stripes while I handed him his bread and water.) He said to watch him and hope he didn't toss his cookies up.That would be a bad sign to say the least. His advice following was just to keep an eye on him through the night and bring him in for X-rays in the morning. So I got the kids down and returned to our room, passing Johnny on the way as he still searched in vain for the missing nickel. I just shook my head and went to bed.


We kept our word and took Micah into the office in the morning for his X-rays. After a bit I heard the doctor giggling. He called to us to come into the other room where Micah's X-rays were front and center. Sure enough there was the nickel, bright, round and stuck in his tummy. Poor Johnny just lowered and shook his head while laughing. So now we have to watch his stools. Yep you heard right. We have to stir through our nine year olds' BM's.( Found a hanger for the task. Yuck!) Gotta love it! The Doc said if we don't see the nickel pass, we will have to take him back for another X-ray. If it's still there you ask? Surgery, plain and simple. Lovely thought there. I just can't stop thinking about our trip to Philly over the holidays. If it is still sitting there pretty in his little tummy will the metal detectors go off? Can you just see that? --Bing, Bing. "Ma'am step away from the child". I can just imagine security, lights flashing, people running, my son on the floor at the bottom of the pile, guards shouting 'secure the child' and of course my hubby on top of the guards completing the pile. Joshua would be standing there mouth wide open on the floor in shock. I on the other hand would have my hands balled into fists running full speed ahead screaming "charge!" . We would all go to jail. Like I said, never a dull moment around these parts.


Life is full of these uncharted, unplanned, yet amazing moments when things you never thought possible happen. My life with Breast Cancer, my auto immune complications, diabetes have all been unplanned. But they have also been surprisingly helpful too. No, they haven't been fun or easy lessons, but they have given me a sense of humor, and a better sense of who I really am as both mother and wife. Without each crazy moment life offers us, where would we be? How could we appreciate the good times, or understand how the complicated twists and turns life throws our way could benefit us ? I am not just a breast cancer survivor, I am a mother, a wife and a living breathing open book for all to read. I live for these moments, these surprises that come wrapped up in the cracker jack box. Without the harsh, scary moments we could not completely enjoy the triumphs, the humor and the laughter of life's good times.
All I can say now is," Hey Micah, I want my nickel back!"
Christina

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ThanksGiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite time of year A time when family and friends all gather together around the table. Good food, laughter and remembrance, all these things embody what this time of year is about. We give thanks for each other, for the blessings God has bestowed upon us and for the sweet, sweet gift of life.


Thanksgiving 2006 was the hardest for me I think. We really had no family near us so to speak. The few relatives that were within a 10 mile radius, had buried their heads under ground. I remember seeing one of my cousins for the first time since I had lost my hair. My mom had basically bribed her to come see me. Disaster was written all over that operation. I just sat there holding back the tears as she and her mother sat as far away from me as possible. She couldn't even look at me. I was crushed. I left there feeling as if I were some kind of leper, repulsive and unloved. I know deep down this was not their intent, but it was the outcome of their actions. Still the damage was done. I was officially was outsider in my own family.


As Thanksgiving neared, I thought we would be alone, banished and forgotten. My heart was heavy and felt broken. Sadly I didn't even have the energy to pick them all up off the floor. We were outsiders in our own family. But then, as I was planning to cook for just the 6 of us, my uncle called. Such a sweet voice was his. My uncle Mike ( for whom Micah is named after), he had just come down from Dallas with his sweet wife, Brenda for the Komen walk.


As a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my Uncle Mike, and my Uncle Pat. They are my dad's little brothers. Kind, genuine, thoughtful and lovable are these Uncles of mine. As I sat there talking to my Uncle tears were streaming down my face. I missed him, I missed my family and I felt very alone. But here was my uncle, on the other end of the phone, asking my family and I to come to their home for Thanksgiving, to come spend this time of thanks with people who loved me, still needed me. I was speechless. I had already wrapped my mind around the idea of being alone yet here my uncle was snapping, tearing, pulling those vines of self pity off me!


I was unsure of the drive to Dallas. I felt depleted, and I was weary of the 6 hour drive ahead of us as I climbed into our vehicle that evening. We headed up to my Uncle and new aunt's home. We arrived late Wednesday night and were welcomed with open arms. More of my cousins were there and they hugged me tight. I felt so loved, so alive. I was happy to be around this family of mine. No one looked at me any differently than who I have always been. I was Christie, motor mouth, giggly and undeniably me! True I had no hair, no eyebrows or eye lashed. Yes I was missing a boob, but I was still me. My dear family knew me, loved me and embraced me for who I was not what I was.


That Thanksgiving was spent around a great big table with lots of wonderful food. We spent time talking, reminiscing and watching football. The boys were happier than I had seen them in a very long time. Joshua and Micah played outside with their cousin most of the day.We went to a movie, and you know what? No one was embarrassed to stand or sit by me in public. Life was wonderful that day. I was loved, we were loved and brought in to feel close to the family we were apart of.


Life has changed dramatically since then. My hair has grown back , as has my brows and lasheS. I have 1 and a half boobs now instead of just one. I look like me again, yet there are still some that cannot bear to be around me still. The very thought of my cancer still scares them, repels them and so they continue to avoid me. But I am not as weak as I was then either. I am stronger, more confident than I was before. But mostly, I am loved. I am apart of this family, the family Johnny and I have created and God has graciously given to us.


So as the sun rose this morning I began to gather my family, and the food I had prepared. This year we have but a short drive, as we are spending the day with extended family. Today, we celebrate and we give thanks. As I gather around the table today with Johnny, the boys, my parents and our wonderful extended family I am reminded of how precious life is. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, none of us know what the next day will bring. What we do have is the here and now. These precious, fleeting moments are gifts. So I give thanks today for all I have been given, cancer and all. I have my life, my family and I have today to spend with those I love.


So I say to all those I love and hold dear--- Happy Thanksgiving. I may not be able to sit down at your tables today, but I am with you in spirit. I hold each of you dear and I am thankful for the love I feel from all of you. Enjoy this day of thanksgiving, cherish the time you have with your loved ones and embrace the day as if it were your last!


Christina

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not Just My Story...

Life is a journey, it does not matter what path you are set on. Life can be joyous, and cruel. Along the path life can bring unexpected pleasures and loss. Grief can come from not just ahead but it can sneak up from behind. Low lying branches can snag your arm. pulling you downwards. the road before each of us can and will be rocky at times no doubt. Yet even in the midst of such pain, weariness and confusion life can offer us bits of strength and hope we never knew where there.

Many times in the midst of our fight with death, fear, illness, our children are overlooked. No we do not over look their care, needs or the love we give their precious souls. What is lost, overlooked sometimes is their might, their core of true inner strength. This is the lesson I was taught this last week.

As I came out of my IVIG treatment, waking after 15 hours of sleep, I realized my children had been kept from me. My heart broken as I saw clouded images of both Joshua and Micah asking to see me and being turned away. Tears filled my eyes and swept down my face. By no choice of my own my children had been denied their mother. I was broken as I wept right there in my own room. The one promise I have always made to my boys was broken: I have always given my word they would never be kept away from me. I have always made it clear to my doctors, nurses and care givers to allow my children close to my side. All that came crumbling down last week.

As I began filing away, throwing out and gluing the pieces of my heart back together I received an email. It was from Joshua's councilor at school. I clicked on it and began reading what I thought was much of the same.... Joshua said he was fine, private, keeping much of his thoughts to himself. But that wasn't the news, not all of it anyway. Yes, he was quiet and yes he did say he was fine. What I wasn't expecting was he was open to speaking to another child whose mother was facing cancer and chemo.

As I read on I learned how Joshua was eager to speak with this child who was having an incredibly difficult time with the mother was going through chemo. So my Joshua, my quiet boy willingly offered his experience up letting this other child know they weren't alone. As the two children sat there they both spoke about how they handled their mom's difficult times. they talked for a while about how they handled things at home and how it affects them at school. The counselor said that Joshua was incredibly helpful and full of good ideas on how to handle the day to day worries of this illness. Joshua spoke of my battle, how he dealt with it, how he still deals with the fear, and even encouraged this other child to have their mother read my blog! Joshua's counselor then said she was so proud of him and what a great and awesome leader he was.

I sat there, in front of my computer with tears filling my eyes so proud of my baby and in awe of Joshua's strength. My heart felt as if it would burst. Then as I pulled away from the screen I began to slowly realize Joshua's inner strength. I saw the depth of his endurance, the width of his understanding and the beauty of his compassion. All these attributes I have known he had but somehow hadn't seen as a whole before.

This Breast Cancer has been my battle, my beast to fight, to beat or has it? The truth is this isn't just my battle, it is also my husbands' and my childrens'. Through all the ups, downs, treatments, operations and everyday existence my children have walked with me. Every ditch, mile and sink hole I have climbed out of or gone through. my boys have too. Joshua and Micah have placed their faith and feet in every footstep I have made along the road. It has not just been my eyes to have the rose colored glasses break, but theirs as well.

I have often wondered all the whys of God's plan in all this. I have asked God many times about the nightmares, tears and sleepless nights my children have faced together. I have thought about the men my boys will one day become, what kind of husbands and fathers they will be. I have struggled with the emotional burdens they carry and the scares this will all leave behind in the wake of their lives. I have worried, tossed through many nights over what I will leave both boys in the end. Yet in this one email I could see God's grace. The insight and wisdom He has given my children. I was given a gimps into Joshua and Micah's unique ability to continue growing and thriving in spite of their own worst fears.

My son, Joshua, has proven in the midst of the battlefield, hope can be found and shared. My first born became the teacher and I the student last week. Joshua, in this act of bravery and compassion , taught me just how strong our children can be. I now see the full scope of the beasts' affect on our lives. Life has been tough. but it has not been all bad either. In Joshua's clarity I can see the full depth of his soul, and blinding brightness of his spirit. This is not just my story to tell anymore...it is his too.

Christina






Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recovery and Awards

Life has been crazy the last two days. I have not been up to my normal speed so I am sorry it has taken me this long to write this entry.

I just want to say I am humbled and blessed to be surrounded by so many dear and wonderful friends. I am still recovering from the IVIG on Tuesday. It was much rougher than I expected. My BP sky rocketed for one, then I developed a major headache, followed by fever, followed by throwing up. Finally the nurse knocked me out. That is really saying it lightly! I woke up close to 7 AM the next morning...15 hours later. No joke.

So I have been recovering the last couple of days. I am stilling running a low grade fever and I have eaten two meals since Tuesday, But I will say this in spite of it all: I can bend my fingers! Yes I said bend. I can almost make a fist. I am so excited. If this is just after one treatment, what will happen after two? Truth: I hate the process, but if the process will give me some of the pieces back of my life I feel have been taken, well, I am game. I look at it the same way I looked at chemo.

I hated every minute of it. It sucked to be plain honest. It was painful, terrible and devouring. But it saved my life. So the bottom line is this: I may not like all the turns I have to take. I may not like the meds, the treatments or even the doctors sometimes. But in the end if one of those options will give me just 5 more minutes with my children, I will swollen what ever poison handed to me.

Life is hard that way. I know. This new treatment scared my boys. They came home from school and I was laid out on my bed out cold, an IV running into my arm and the nurse would not let them come near me. They were terrified, scared, beyond fear. Last night both Joshua and Micah came to me, in tears. Micah asked if I was going to die. He said he was scared I was going to be taken from him. He slept in our bed glued to my side. Joshua, wiped his tears away hurriedly and asked if he needed to worry. What can you tell your babies at that point? I just held them, told them I loved them and that I have no plans to go anywhere, anytime soon.

Life... can be unbearable at times. But every minute you have with those who you love is beyond the burden we carry. How does the song go? " Life any always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride." Well, that is how I feel. A dear friend recently shared this with me: "But would you and I have had this chance to cross paths if it had not been so?" The answer is no. I would have never found such true friendship or such beautiful kindness as the kind I have found here in "J Land".You are each part of my family, part of who I am and who I am becoming. I love to read through your entries. They make me laugh, think, cry and hope. Each one blesses me in their own special way, so I want to thank Sugar (Her link is attached to the award) and Michelle (her link is attached to her award) for the Marie Antoinette awards they have passed on to me.

I am going to do this a little different since I have received two awards. You will see below what I mean. Sugar out it best when she gave her award out when she mentioned that there are way too many blogs to give this award to. I wish I could pass it on to everyone.

7. Dreamlight at: http://butterflydreamer-dreamlight.blogspot.com/

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14. Robin at: http://yellowbrickroadtwo.blogspot.com/
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Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your journal - Real People - Real Blogs.
2. Place a link from the person, from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate at least 7 if you can.
4. Put the links of those on your journal.
5. Leave a message on their journal to let them know.
6. Put the award on your sidebar/journal.
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Please be sure to congratulate everyone and spend some time reading these blogs. I have chosen these because of their humor, truth in their journeys and insight into life. they may be simple or complex but they all have something to offer us. Every blog I follow I enjoy and come back time and time again. So please don't feel left out! I know many have already received this award so I chose to pass this on to those who had not had the honor yet.

Enjoy!

My love to all.

Christina

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life On the Merry-Go-Round


Well.... OK I am stumped. Not really sure where to begin, what to say or even really what to do with myself actually. Never a dull moment... that's me! I sometimes feel as if I have been living my life on a merry -go- round. You know the one on the playground we used to spin on as kids? Round and round we would go...



One minute we were perfectly still, ready for the twisting mayhem to begin. Then we were off and spinning out of control. Remember how we would laugh and scream and laugh some more? Remember how much fun it was? So where has all my sense of adventure gone?


As a little girl I had a real sense of imagination. I would build forts, fight off the enemy then have tea with the Queen. I would be a princess, a cowgirl and wonder woman all in one day. Today I would love to liken myself to a female Indiana Jones. You know? Dodging the bullet, swinging across the cliffs out running breast cancer and her consorts.


With that image in my mind today, I must reach as far back as possible. I need to call on my old friend, adventure. It's time to dust off my hat, pull my jacket back on and crack the whip! Fear... I do not know his name! This afternoon I need to do more than imagine a quick escape... whatever traps lay a head of me I must overcome.


That said, today I start my IVIG treatment. I am a bit nervous as I don't really know what to expect. I do know this is an infusion and it will last 4 hours. A nurse is coming out to the house to administer the treatment. She will monitor my blood pressure every 30 minutes. I will do this dance once a week for an indefinite amount of time. Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lymphedema they all seem to keep handing me off from one to the other. At times I feel as if I go from the tango to the pasa doble to the rumba.


Tiring isn't it? But trudge on I will. After all, I am a princess, a cowgirl, wonder woman, and Indiana, right? I can dance and I can sit with the Queen. I can defend the fort and capture the villains. I can out run a boulder and dance like a pro. Maybe it is time to get back on that merry-go-round. Adventure? Sure why not? Maybe a good dose of adventure is exactly what I need? Ready? Set. Cross your fingers. OK, let's go!!!


Christina


P.S. Please be sure to sign my guestbook!

Mending the Broken Pieces, My Conversation With God...

Christina---
God, are you there?


God----
Yes child.

Christina---
Have I disappointed you?

God ---
No, not at all child.

Christina---
Are you sure God?

God---
I am sure.




Christina---
Then why has this happened?
Why me?
Why my life and my family?
Why have You allowed this beast to drag me into her den?
To feast upon me, and scar me like she has?
Can't I just stay here, in the darkness... forever?
Can I choose to forget everything?
To just sleep.
To be rid of her scales?
God?
I am really tired.
I do not want to battle this merciless beast.
I do not! I do not! I do not want to!

God---
Christina...breathe.
Stop holding your breathe.
Go on, child just breathe .

Christina---
(Loud exhale)

God---
Ah, doesn't that feel better?
Wake up now.

Christina---
No, I don't want to.

God---
But it's time...
Open your eyes, Christina.

Christina---
I don't think so God.
No, I just don't think I am ready.

God---
Open your eyes Christina.

Christina---
Not yet.

God---
Christina...
Please open your eyes?

Christina---
I told You,
I'm not ready.

God---
Christina,...
Do You trust Me?

Christina---
But I'm scared.
I'm scared to see all I have lost.

God---
Lost?
What have you lost?

Christina---
My breast,
my life,
all that I have known.

God---
Child open your eyes.
See all you have been given.

Christina---
Been Given?
Are you kidding me?
How do You figure?
Haven't I just lost my breast?
What have I been given God?
Have You seen me lately?

God---
Yes, I have.

Christina---
What are you trying to tell me God?
Are You saying I am not deformed?
You don't see my uniboob?
Come on God...
do I really have to, spell it out,
let the -cat- out of- the- bag
here for You?
After all You did create me with two.
Let's do the math...
Two minus one equals...
One!!!!!!!
Don't You think something is just a bit , well, off here?

God---
I see you child.
I see your spirit.
I see your soul.
I can see all that you were.
I see all that you are.
And I see all that you will be.

Christina---
Will be?
Um...
No breast here God!
What can I be except a freak of nature?

God---
Need I remind you child ...
I am the One who created nature?
I see the woman you have become.
I see the mother you are.
I still see in you...
the child you once were.
I see My daughter...
I see her is standing in front of me, completely whole.

Christina---
You see me ... whole?

God---
Child, I see all these things.
Do you not know this already?

Christina---
But God...

God---
But what child?
Can you not see?
Have I not given you insight?
Look!
Open your eyes...
See all your life...
It is waiting for you.
All you need to do is ,
wake up and
open your eyes.

Christina---
How can I?
I just want to sleep.
Can't I just stay here in the darkness?

God---
No, child.
That is not My plan for you.

Now Wake Up!

Christina---
But my eyes are still closed.

God---
Then open your eyes Christina!
Wake up child.
Don't look back.
Don't look beside you.
Look only to the front of you.
See all the beauty,
the joy and
the hope yet to come.
After all this time,
my child...
don't you yet know?
It is I, holding your heart?

I AM always with you.
I have never left your side.

Christina---
But I'm afraid.

God---
I know.
Take My hand.

Christina---
I don't want to see the scar.

God---
What scar?
I don't see a scar child.

Christina---
You don't!
Are you sure, God?

God---
Yes child, I am very sure.
I only see you.
I give you this promise:
All your worries,
I will replace with Strength.
All your fears,
I will replace with Hope.
All your pain,
I will replace with Courage.

Child, I will not leave you!
I will not turn My back on you.
Child... wake up.
Open your eyes.
It is time.

Christina---
Just breathe?

God---
Yes.

Christina---
OK...
One.
Two.
Three.

Johnny---
Christina,
Are you OK?

Christina---
I will be.

Johnny---
Are you sure?

Christina---
Yep.
I have His promise.

Johnny---
Who?
What?
His promise?

Christina---
God said,

"He would mend all my broken pieces".

Johnny---
What?

Christina---
I just need to trust Him!







Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Crazy, Wonderful Mismatch


As a child my day dreams were filled full of fairy tales,--- princesses, castles, jousting, knights and riding off into the sunset. As a woman, my sights were a bit more realistic when I met my husband. Alright so Johnny isn't my knight in shining armor. Getting the man up on a horse would never quite happen. I think I would actually pay to see that happen!


The two of us are a crazy, wonderful mismatch. Johnny and I met and married in 6 months time. Most of our family and friends thought we would never last. Well, here we are 13 years later. True we have had our troubles, fought our battles, but we have always come out on top together. The bottom line is this: We absolutely love one another! We have known that from the first moment we met. I know what most people think, but for Johnny and I, the old taboo of finding love at first sight was a perfect fit.


Johnny was not just handsome, he was strikingly beautiful. His high cheek bones, brown eyes and cinnamon skin was more than my senses could process. Johnny was strong, quiet and so completely my polar opposite. Yet I was drawn to him. I saw the rest of my life in his eyes and I knew, he knew, we were each others match.


Johnny and I were both fairly young when our souls crossed each other's path. We were both searching for that "someone" to complete us. We found each other and never let go. No matter the trials, the hurts, the ups and downs, we have always come back to the one thing that holds us together, well make that two things.:We always come back to the Lord and our deep love for the other.


Johnny is the one man who has loved me unconditionally in my life. The one man who has seen past my insecurities in life and taken me not just into his bed, but into his life. Johnny has sacrificed many parts of who he is for me. When his family on the Reservation would not accept me or our children, drawing a line for him, making him choose us or them Johnny painfully walked away from his past. I cannot stress enough: It was painful! It is not an easy thing for anyone to do, but as an American Indian man this is even harder. There are 10 American Indian commandments. One of them is to show great respect for your fellow beings ( honor and respect your family). But they also state to do what you know is right, be truthful and honest at all times and take full responsibility for your actions. For Johnny this is a complete contradiction when it come to his family --- his mother, his wife and his children. In order to do what was right, to keep his family together, to be able to look his children in the eyes, he was forced to choose. The pain inside of him must be excruciating.


I can't imagine the turmoil inside his spirit over this. For over 7 years it has remained so. Micah was just 2 when this great divide occurred. Joshua barely remembers calling his grandmother "Apple" as his little self used to call her. It has pained me through the years because I can feel his pain just under the surface. The ripple affect hurts everyone involved. Johnny does *give assistance and kindness wherever needed, but how can he *look after the well-being of mind and body when his spirit has been torn in such a manner? Our boys, precious and kind, have but a glimpse of who they are, where they really descend from. For Johnny, sharing this part of his soul is terrifying. I do not understand why this had to be, but it is the reality of our here and now. I pray often for reconciliation for both Johnny our boy's sake.



When I look out over all the water under the bridge I see the current pulling us, forcing us down the river. Do I understand all the ripples, the waves pushing us up onto the shore ? No, not at all. But I do understand God has given us a boat to sail through times such as these( even if leaks spring up from time to time). In the wider picture this is yet another part of our struggle together. This life we have chiseled together has been tough and yet very beautiful. I love this man with all my being. Johnny is a very inward man, a closed door to many most of the time. Yet for all that, Johnny is a gracious , loyal man and a protective husband and father.


Johnny has been by my side all this time, holding my hand, carrying me when I could not continue on my own. No, he is not a man of many words, and true Johnny is not a man to exhibit his "feelings" for all to see. But when we are alone, just the two of us together, Johnny is my rock. When I am weak, Johnny is my strength. When I am afraid it is Johnny who is readily by my side. My husband has loved me through the good and the bad, some rich but mostly poor times, in sickness and in health. Johnny has loved me with two breasts and held me closer with just one breast. I love this man, my husband, and father of our children. We have taught one another so much. (I may have laughed as I taught him how to make eggs and grilled cheese, and he may roll his eyes trying to teach me to play poker). Still through out all the many ins and outs of our marriage I could not have lived without his gentle might, nor would I be able to survive without his inner strength shinning brightly on the path before us.


Johnny is a gentle warrior, and a good man. Our life together has not been easy to say the least, but it has been worth every step, worth every mile. We may never find gold at the end of the rainbow or out live my cancer. But in the end we will have lived a long life together worth the uneven, rocky path set before us. In the end, I believe sometimes it's the broken road that leads us right where we need to be... into each other's arms.


Christina


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wonder Woman, I Am Not!

As a little girl, I always wanted to be Wonder Woman. What little girl wouldn't want to twirl around transforming into her extraordinary alter ego? Like so many girls my age I dreamed about putting on this super heroes golden tiara and cuffs, red boots, snazzy one piece suit and of course her lasso of truth? The hours I would spend daydreaming, imagining and pretending to be this amazon princess...


My parents still love to tell the story of when I was two years old and how I convinced myself I was indeed Wonder Woman. I climbed up and onto their chest of drawers with a cape (made from a towel) tied around my neck. Apparently in the very early hours before the sun rose they awoke to catch a glimpse of my tiny body projecting off their dresser, flying over their heads and across the bed all while shouting " Wonder Woman!".


After all these years I guess it still comes down to my love of Wonder Woman. I am sure that it comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me as 'Christina, Breast Cancer Warrior' also knows my heroine is still indeed Wonder Woman. Apart of the everyday working world she is Diana Prince, seemingly ordinary( wearing big bold glasses and her hair up) . As part of the Amazon beauties she is known as Princess Diana, a super heroine whose powers allows her to catch super villains and super villainesses ( all the while wearing high heeled boots and free flowing hair) .

There are times I still try and imagine myself as Wonder Woman. The scene that plays in my mind is between our heroine and Carlo Indrezzano. (It goes something like this. Carlo Indrezzano: YOU saved me? Wonder Woman: Yes. Carlo Indrezzano: Impossible. You're a woman! Wonder Woman: I have heard that once or twice before. ) But the truth is this: I am no super heroine. I have no theme music, no costume, or any twirling transformation which dissolves me from ordinary to extraordinary. I do not possess any kind of super powers, extraordinary beauty, or any such gadgets. I cannot twirl around and have perfect, beautiful put together cleavage. I do not possess a lasso of truth enabling me to force doctors and insurance companies to admit the truth to me. Nor do I own a pair of bracelets allowing me to deflect cancer bullets.


What I do have is Hope, Courage and Strength. I do hold faith in this power I have as a woman, as a mother and as a survivor. I do not believe my own Feminine Mystique been any less dampened because I have only half the cleavage as before. What I do have is the strength as a woman in both my family and my children . I have lost nothing and gained everything in letting go of my childhood fantasies. Instead of balancing an alter ego ultimately it is Hope and the legacy I leave behind for my children that guides me day to day as a woman.


As a little girl I could not have imagined my life would have taken so many detours. I could not have ever written a script any wilder than the one my life has been cast into. As a little girl I wanted to live on an island, far away. As a grown woman I know that no one can exist as an island unto themselves. As a little girl I wanted to be beautiful, flawless. Enduring my own battle scars I have learned outward beauty is merely skin deep. The real deal is always found just below the surface. As a child I dreamed of great strength, shouting to the villains, "Show's over boys". My childlike imagination was fearless in the face of danger. For all my hoping and dreaming as a child this may be the one characteristic of Wonder Woman I still hope to actually attain.


Bottom line: I do not need to fly around in an invisible plane or perform imaginary heroic feats of my childhood mind to survive this Beast. I do not need to wear a golden belt for strength. I simply need to hold my Faith a bit tighter. Nor do I need a costume to bring me Hope . Ultimately, the truth is much simpler as in place of Super Powers is something much stronger--- my family. No, Wonder Woman I am not. But Mother, Wife, and Survivor I am!


Christina







Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letting Go...




My Joshua is 12 today.


I just have to stop,



and let it sink in....



Unbelievable.
Has time flown by so quickly?
Where did it all go?


Joshua was just 9 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. He was in third grade. We had just moved into our first home. I had just thrown him an out of sight Dinosaur party. He was still so young, innocent and untouched by real fear and worry.

This year as Joshua turns 12 he has entered the 6Th grade. We have been in our home for 3 years and his party has no theme. For the most part Joshua is still innocent and young. But unlike before, worry and fear have taken up residence ---even if it is only seasonal.

Indeed, life has changed. For better, for worse? Both I would have to say for I do not believe you can have one with out the other. Life's little lessons have big punches don't they?

Joshua, my precious son, a boy becoming a man ,is kind, good natured, tender hearted and loyal. He has stood by my side through it all. Taken my hand when I least expected it, wiped away my tears and hugged me tight when I could not stand one more minute of this insanity. My boy is growing into a good man, tender and understanding, well rounded with strength I could have never given him on my own.

I am grateful, and yet somewhat sorrowful as I see him grow. I am loosing my boy no doubt. I worry I have not given him enough care, maybe too much grief and fear along the way. Yet, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know he is always aware of my unconditional love. I have to believe that when all is said and done Joshua will have that one gift to hold on to through all the years of his life.

Yes, my boy is no longer a child, not quite a man, but forever my child.

Time to let go...

Christina

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Roses, Chistina!!!

"When I was a child, ladies and gentleman, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...I learned very early in life that: "Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain't got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend -- without a song." So I keep singing my song."”--- Elvis Presley




Life is full of unexpected surprises. Some good and some rotten. Wrapped up any way you want , life is a gift. Each and every day we are given to wake, each day we have to greet the sun and each day we have to hold our loved ones close is a precious gift. Pain, troubles, fear... sure they are all part of the day, but so is the love we share and the joy we hold. Those surprises, both good and bad are the prizes at the end of the day continually making this life worth living. Every morning I get up and face a new day is a reminder of how truly blessed and how very much alive I am! Sure, I have a ton of left over baggage from the previous day, but don't I still have this new day in front of me? A day full of possibilities and new adventures? Yes, and this morning after two brutal days I was reminded of those blessings.

Children have a way of shaking us right out of our self induced misery. They really do. My morning started off, well rather chaotic. I over slept, missed the alarm and didn't wake until I heard the neighbor boy knock on our front door at 5 till 7 this morning. Crazy does not begin to cover it!

I jumped up, threw the covers off and on top of both Johnny and poor Micah. I went scrambling out of the room and into the living room where Joshua was sound asleep. Of course he was, poor baby, I hadn't woken him up at 6:20 A.M. because I had slept through the alarm! Both Johnny and I were up and running. Normally Johnny isn't up till after 7 A.M. when he takes both Joshua and his friend to school.

Breakfast, no time Johnny said. Well as a mother that didn't even sink in. Breakfast was on the table lickity spilt. I was brushing Joshua's hair, grabbing his back pack. Johnny was digging through the clean laundry for clothes. I was a wreck. Then my eyes caught sight of Joshua's buddy. Bless his heart he was folding up the bedding for me. I hadn't asked but there he was. I was standing there in shock. This sweet boy was helping me out. I must have looked like a crazy women. The scene must have been nuts, but there he was just folding away.

Suddenly everything stopped for me. This was my first gift of the day. I was humbled and touched. Then as suddenly as it began the race to get out of the door slowed down. Zack just looked at me and said, " I just thought I would help you out Mrs. Olachia." I hugged him and thanked him. This was my first reminder... life is precious, slow down, enjoy the ride and for goodness sake Christina, stop and smell the roses!

Joshua finished his breakfast, brushed his teeth and saddled up his back pack. I hugged my boy and kissed him on the cheek and said goodbye. Then I turned my attention to Micah. Like clockwork Micah comes in our room at 11:30 P.M. and crawls into bed with us every night. Never fails with his sleep mask pushed up, rubbing his eyes Micah announces that he cannot sleep. Then he crawls over Johnny and the dog to sleep next to me. There he was sleeping like a baby all wrapped up in the cover on our bed as if he owned it. His morning would go a bit smoother as school for him starts an hour later.

I woke him up and had him out to the table for breakfast with out a fuss. No one was announcing there wasn't time this time around. Blessing number two. As Micah woke up, his excitement started to build. Today was 50's day at school marking the 50th day of school. Micah was dressing up like Elvis! Oh how he loves Elvis. In fact for his 8th birthday he had an Elvis party complete with an Elvis impersonator!

Talk about crazy fun!He finished breakfast and sat there expectantly. I pulled out the 5 different hair care products I needed to get his hair fixed in place. This is the thing about Micah's hair: It was fine and straight before my chemo ( Just like mine was). Now his hair is thick, curly and a mess ( Just like mine is). So tackling his hair and making a duck tail out of it was a project. Spray, defrizzer, mouse, gel ( tons of gel) and hair spray. Finally his hair was done. Next came the white T, the jeans ( rolled up a bit), the fake leather jacket, and the icing on the cake... gold glasses with side burns! He was ready and eager to play his role. Micah kissed me and then he was off and out the door. There was no stopping him.Talk about blessings, surprises and gifts! What a morning I have had and it is only 8:45 A.M. !

This is the most important lesson I have learned and from time to time have had to be re-taught: Life is a blessing. Give or take, joy or sorrow, dark or blue skies... we are here for a purpose. Without one, we cannot have the other. Life is not perfect and so we have to hold on to the little things that make life bearable.

Yes, this has been a crazy few days for me and yes, I have grumbled and complained. We all have those moments. Without them we would not be human. But today, wrapped up in the crazy chaos of this morning I found hope again. I latched on to the blessings right in front of me, my family and those who lovingly surround my life. Without realizing it I started climbing back out of the pit I had fallen into.

I am blessed. Pain will come as will fear and frustration. The thing I have learned though in all this turmoil along my journey with the beast is that we all have to rest. Even the beast has to force herself back into the den every once and a while. We are warriors, journeymen and women, but rest is a vital part of living. Blessing work the same way my friends. We all need them and we are all blessed by them... we just have to be open to what we are given come rain or shine. We just have to open our eyes and see the gifts waiting for us to open.


Christina