About Me...

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Living with the Monster

I never thought I would ever say I have a relationship with Breast Cancer, but the truth is I do.

Did I dream about walking down an aisle, pretty in a torn pink dress as a little girl, nope I sure didn't. Did I ever daydream about looking the beast in the eyes and saying" I do"...absolutely not BUT in a way that is exactly what I did!

I entered into a marriage of sorts with the pink monster the day I lost my breast to cancer. Unwilling , you bet, but for better or worse I am married to the beast. I came to the alter of cancer kicking and screaming, hands bound and breast removed but none the less I was sealed to this beast, this monster in February 2006.

Do we see eye to eye? No we don't, but by making this relationship personal, I am able to understand her presence in my life a little better. I know she is afraid the day will come when these chains are broken on my terms and not hers. I know she needs me to thrive yet I know a cure is waiting, and she will be unable to stop it. She may see me as her pet, a silly girl with a crazy plan I realize the truth: I may not be the one to cut these chains but one day some one will!

I have those why me moments, especially when I see pictures of my breasts staring back at me. Somehow seeing my mess of a chest in a picture makes this battle even more real to me. I did not chose this fight, but I do chose the life I lead, and I did make a vow to the beast when I said I do... to live my life with courage and hope. Seeing my breasts captured by both light and color is a wake up call reaffirming who I am and the journey I am on this very moment.

I honestly do not notice my scars on a daily basis. I know they are there, I do look at them, but they have become such a part of me, I am blind to their presence. Yes I do look into the mirror, but I see through the looking glass in front of me. I am aware my breasts are not the beautiful well shaped bosoms of my youth but I am not ashamed of their lope sided, scar seared and unseemly sight when I see their reflection. What I am is a Breast Cancer survivor. I am a woman who has found the real me in the journey. I am a mother, a wife and a daughter. I am loved and I am thankful for each day I am given. I am not brave, but I am stubborn and I am committed to finding a cure.

I have come to realize my journey, my one on one time with this beast , the monster in my life, has made me who I am today. No I am not defined by breast cancer itself but I am surely defined by the battle I wage against her daily! My strength, my courage. my hope comes from a deeper relationship with this monster. She has touched me in a way nothing else can. She has scared me for certain and she has shaken me to the core yet she has not stolen my joy, my heart nor my faith! These things she can never take from me.

The truth is for now I am living with the monster. Each day I wake I do so to a monster waiting to greet me. I roll over and she is the first face I see. She follows me to the mirror, smiles and laughs in her most sinister way. She makes a pot of fear and leaves her dirty footprints across the floor. Yes, she growls a lot and at time she even brushes her painful scales across my body while touching the very scars she herself imprinted upon my chest. BUT she also knows I have entered into this relationship with the knowing one day I will break free from her chains!

Yes, she may have taken my breast and along the way she may have even chipped away the years I have here with you, but she can not take away the hope from I have within me. My life is a tapestry of experiences, some for the good and some for the worst, of love, laughter, of tears and of my personal journey through them all.

~ Christina

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sitting Down with the Mad Hatter

Its tea time in Wonderland… have you received your very UN-birthday invitation yet? It’s time to pull out the mismatched tea cups, the sugar bowl and the Hatter’s Topsy Turvy table of surprises.

Tomorrow night, Saturday, October 16, 2010, I will host, along with Christina’s Breast Friends, our annual Tea’d at Breast Cancer event. This is an evening to celebrate life after breast cancer and a time to honor those who have lost their lives to this terrible disease.

As we roll out the chairs, throw down the table clothes, cut the cake and toast one another we will be doing more than just raising awareness. No, we will be coming together and taking back a piece of our lives from the beast.

Sitting down for tea with the Hatter is about as crazy as playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts, but in the end each event brings us closer to a new day, a new hope and provides another guided pathway back home. You see if we but dare to hope we are able to overcome, to rise above the chaos and to light the way for those who follow behind us.

Yes, I am but one woman, at times a bit lost, a little tearful and many more times a bit too noisy living her life out loud but I do not sit at this table alone. True I may sit down for tea with the Hatter, yet as I look around myself I can see the wisdom of years sitting here, the rally of hope and the gift of true friendship at this table with me. I cannot explain why my voice has not fallen on deaf ears or fallen upon blinded eyes for these few because I simply have no answer but for reasons known only to those sitting at this table; they have willing followed me down the rabbit’s hole to have tea with the Mad Hatter.

Why do I choose to reside here in Wonderland? Well, it is not really a choice for those who have come face to face with the beast. This is where our journeys have taken us like it or not. Life after breast cancer is like a choreographed tango, a well thought out plan of action and on some days a much unorganized tea party. Some days the beast takes your defenses from you and on others you push her back taking the higher ground. But mostly it is power play for tomorrow, a battle of wits and a struggle for hope.

Yes tomorrow night we take back Wonderland from the Red Queen and her beast…even if it just for one night. So today I offer you an invitation to enter Wonderland, to sit down for tea with not just the Hatter, but with those who are on the front lines battling the Queen’s beast. We will leave the pathway lit for you; all you have to do is follow us down the Rabbit’s hole.

~ Christina

Christina’s Breast Friend’s Second Annual Tea’d at Breast Cancer Silent Auction

Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 6’oclock in the evening

West Memorial Office Park, 8584 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas 77024

Proceeds benefit Houston Komen. Both Silent bids and raffle items available.

Venue provided by: Commonwealth Title of Houston

Decorations by: Journey Kreations

Entertainment provided by: Brian Ring,Music Man Entertainment

Cake provided by: CakeSweetCake

Food provided by: Panera Bread, Ci Ci’s, and Fazoli’s

Special Appearance by: Cody and Cory Lombard- Performing a tribute to Elvis

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Normal is Overrated

Have you ever wished life would get back to normal? Back on track, turn around and just let up during a stressful time? Have you ever thought this is just crazy? Well I can relate to all the above with one exception: I have stopped waiting for normal to walk back through my door. I have accepted life as it is, crazy, un- predictable and completely uncertain, not that I like it all the time but it is what it is right?

As my kids say, normal is completely overrated! But then I guess growing up in the world of the beast, where breast cancer lurks around ever corner, one would develop this opinion. Seriously when you live in a world full of uncertainty, where a beast roams freely, and the color pink seems to define your way of life normal just becomes overrated.

Life in this world of the beast is not as terrible as some may think. No, it is not a life one chooses but if you find yourself residing within the beast’s borders, life can still be a beautiful journey. Sure your home may be a bit sideways, possibly even upside down with your lights hanging up from the floor and carpet on the ceiling. Doors may open outward and windows inward but what makes the opposite so normal?

It’s all in how you look at things, how you see your life and what you decide to do with the circumstances you find yourself in honestly. If you are striving to find balance in an unbalanced world it can be done. But if you are determined to right side a tilted, upside down world you will never enjoy the life, the journey and the beauty surrounding you. Honestly you will drive yourself crazy and lose your soul to the beast.

Each journey is unique, as is each painful step we take when life has dumped us on our heads, but when you look at normal as overrated somehow life becomes a bit more amusing. The weeds in our lives become a challenge, not a burden and suddenly painting the roses red seems a bit more entertaining than daunting

Living in a land of bald heads, IV’s, ports, scars are just part of the journey, not the destination. I look at my children and I am amazed. Their strength and determination in the face of the Beast is untainted. But then I guess when sitting down to tea with the Mad Hatter or dodging the Queen of Hearts croquet balls are a normal part of your world you could say you are a real child of wonderland.

Life is not a guaranteed straight path from here to there. No it is a journey from normal to crazy and back again. Yes I am a survivor living in the world of the beast yet I know without doubt so are my children. If they can see this world we live in as clearly as they do then so can I, we all can.

What is that I hear? Is it time for tea? Is it time to paint the roses red, no pink, maybe white again? What does it matter really? Embrace your crazy world and no matter what today brings, grab it by the tail my friend just as I plan to do each and every day I reside here in the Land of the Beast.

Normal? Honestly  I have to agree with my boys, it is simply overrated.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Growing Up In Wonderland

Have you ever asked yourself what it would be like to be a child growing up inside the lair of the beast? What if you were just 9 years old when your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer? What would life be like wondering if your mother was going to die from a beast you really could not see or feel when you were just 6 years old? To watch her lose her hair, her breast and all the innocence you once knew? These are the struggles so many children face each and every day. Many wake each morning to face the beast overhead as they watch their mother’s battle breast cancer, their fathers fight to keep it together and as they themselves try to be strong for those they love.

My precious boys, Joshua and Micah, were just babies in retrospect when the beast first came to knock on our door, to drag us down the rabbit’s hole and into Underland. They had no say so in the matter; all they could do was run to keep up. I can’t tell you how many times children are over looked, after all they bounce back right? If you lean toward the old, undeterred, dust covered book on most adult book shelves then children do not understand what is really happening. But I beg to differ and I challenge you to tell that to my boys who still worry even though I am in remission if they will wake to my smile in the morning.

How my heart has broken through the years for my children as I have watched them struggle through the pain, the hurt and the uncertainty of breast cancer. I have seen them struggle with school, with the distance of friends and the ever changing pace of growing up in this odd place we call Wonderland.

The pain children feel is a total different kind of hurt than we as adults feel. We can cope, struggle through the pain and come out the rabbit’s hole possibly in disarray but still we can push through to the other end right? Children of breast cancer sort of get lost in the tunnels. They end up spending all their life growing up in Wonderland because it is all they know. Do they ever adjust? Yes, they most certainly do becoming well adjusted, thriving children but their normal is never fully their playmates normal. The hole dug beside the family tree is only visible to their eyes so most days their playmates have no idea what they see or feel. Sadly no matter how hard these children try to hide the entrance to Underland, to this Wonderland, they still end up falling down the tunnel quite often. After all this is home is it not?

Do they still dance in the sun, and kick the ball around, sleep at night? Yes they do, but imagine if you will, going to bed dreaming of the sky turning black. Maybe think of being on the bus every afternoon wondering what awaits when you get there… no, not daydreaming about what you are going to do when you get home from school but being desperate to know if your mom is going to be alive when you finally do.These are the very struggles many children battle in the face of mothers with breast cancer. They grow up in a world filled with uncertainty, lost innocence and worry. Honestly taking a spin in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups are just part of an average day here in Wonderland as they grow up in this crazy land of the Red Queen. Day is night and night is day, nothing is ever as it seems and these precious children are forced to try and turn things right, holding onto those they love believing it is all up to them to save the day, to defeat the Jaberrwocky.

Precious are their hearts, their tiny lives torn apart by circumstances they have had no control over. How my heart breaks knowing there are days my children have lived with no direction, lost, wondering in and out through the many tunnels here in Underland. True they have had no sympathy from some adults along the way, those who because of their own fear have overlooked them, struck out at them or failed to understand their needs. Yet they have risen above it all, struggled yes to move those mountains, yet I have watched in awe as my own children have grown from lost little ones into strong, compassionate, forgiving young men.

Today I shout to the world my love, awe and appreciation for my boys, Joshua and Micah. You are my strength and you both have brought more joy than you can imagine into my life. I am inspired by your strength, by your undying joy, your unyielding faith, and by your integrity in the struggle. Yes, life may not have turned out the way we envisioned it, but you have given me more joy, more hope, than I could have ever imagined. Growing up in Wonderland may not have been on the map, but you two have sure done a great job at navigating us through Underland.

~ Your Mom, Christina

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Standing Tall

October is here… and for my family it means Breast Cancer Awareness month has arrived. Many of our monthly activities are planned around this Pink Ribbon month from walking side by side in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure, to fundraising, to just taking the time to celebrate another year I have with my beautiful family.

For many this month is a time to continue the journey in memory of those who have left us all too soon. We walk, we run; we live and we breathe the color pink during this time of the year. All in the name of defeating breast cancer... a worthy cause in deed.

Yes, I am a breast cancer survivor, one of the lucky and very blessed ones who has been given a second chance to raise my voice, to see my children grow and to wear my pink ribbon proudly. Who knew all those years ago as a little girl I would stand here today shouting to the world I had beat cancer. By the grace of God I can shout I am alive, I am in remission and yes it does rock! I know the beast could attack at any time and I could go under water, but for now, in this very moment… I am blessed to have today. I am blessed to have a circle of support and love, to know I am not abandoned to the will of the beast.

Over the weekend I was joined by many dear friends and by my sweet family, as they came out to support me in the Race for the Cure. I always wonder if I am asking too much of these wonderful people to join us year after year, to walk beside me, beside my family, yet still they come. Many who have just met us, a few who have been there from the start yet they all come because they are true friends willing to take a moment to stand tall against breast cancer.

I do not take my days for granted anymore as I once did. Every day I see the sun, embrace my children, lay beside my husband is truly a gift. I am grateful for the love and the support of my dearest friends and family who always seem to be to find their way to my side. Even in my darkest moments I have never been alone. So I want to take this moment to thank you my friends, my family, my fellow bloggers for all you do, for all your love and support through my journey with this beast. I know a day will come when she will be put to rest and a new dawn will emerge. We will shout together, rejoice and remember those we have loved and lost knowing together we have beaten the beast.

Until that day comes….keep on fighting my friends, my fellow warriors, my sisters and brothers in arms…keep on standing tall against breast cancer and one day we will find a cure.