Saturday May 10, 2014

ok, peeps, it’s the eve of Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day for the most part has always been emotional for me and the people who know me, know why.  It’s not necessarily negative emotions either.  I’ve come to realize a lot in my almost 38 years here.  I was fortunate enough to grow up with lots of “moms”.  I have a Mother and a step-Mother.  I was practically raised by my grandmother and my aunts.  I even got to know my great-grandmothers when I was young.  Very fortunate and blessed in that regard.  As some of those women in my life have passed, I have fond memories of them and some of my quirks are because of them.  All of those mother figures are part of who I am today and I am happy with who I am today.  Cancer is not part of who I am, Cancer can suck it.

As I think of memories of my Grandmother, I always smile.  Although she is no longer here and cancer took her at a young age, I am so thankful that I had her in my life.  Every single day of my life I think about her and the morals that she instilled in me (which got away from me for awhile), I pray that I pass this on to my girls.  One of my biggest fears is that my kids will not have a lot of memories of and with me because they didn’t have enough time with me.   When I was told an estimated number of years that I have left, based on statistics, the first thing I did was do the math.  Ok, that means my youngest child would be 6 or 7, maybe 8???  That’s not fair.  How is that fair that MY kids get the shaft on the time that they have to make memories with their mother? Well, plain and simple, it’s not and I have no control over that fact.  But, I absolutely have control over today and what I do with them today and how I hope it will impact them on the future.  I hope they take the good stuff and internalize it.  I hope my two daughters know that we will always be a reflection of each other.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the deserving Moms out there! I hope your heart is filled with love and appreciation!

xoxo, Jessica

SL – Blog Entry May 4th, 2014

Hello blog world!

Always seems like we don’t blog enough. Life goes so quickly, especially those years with kids. Minutes become hours, hours to days and boom – years have just flown by. I have to say, I’m not sure what we will do once the kids are gone. Certainly a while for us, but as my Justin is about to turn 17, it’s so true the time just flies by.

So I guess I will start with my Jess. It’s the reason for the blog, the reason for my happiness, my own personal success, I have always called her the gift God sent me.

Jess does a great job with all the medical crap. She knows this world. The world of news and updates, pain and medicine. She knows the real story at all times.

What has always amazed me about her, she has an inner strength. It isn’t a false bravado. She has this quiet confidence, this quiet strength that you can only see and come to understand by being beside her every day. I’ve said it many times, we work because she doesn’t need me to complete her. With work, hoops, my kids, my circus life, I’m just not around as much as I would like to be. She has built such a strong family, an incredible friend network and she just never waivers from doing the right thing.

So while that strength is so crucial to her fight, it is only natural to have letdowns and become “tired” with the fight. I have realized during my life that this is where I’m pretty good. I see things pretty clearly. Maybe it’s with all the failures I’ve had, maybe it’s all the coaching and trying to help people when they are down, but it’s helped me with the understanding of knowing the “next step”.

Cancer blows folks. The physical side that is takes away is easy to see. What cancer does as well is eat at your confidence, your mindset, your ability to get up every day and get through.

So as Jess said in her blog, I’m not exactly the softest person when it comes to getting my point across. I absolutely embrace this role, to be the voice of the “next step”. I know how much pain she is in, I know it sucks to have lost her hair and to not work every day. This isn’t the life she expected. Especially after all she has been through. So my chats with her are simple. They go something like this..

“You’re blessed. We both are. Our four kids. Our life. Our new place. So we need to go to chemo. So you need to have poison injected into you every three weeks and have to take pills every day. So you’ve lost your hair. So you can’t work. Who gives a shit? You have two babies who you are going to watch grow up. You have a husband who loves you. You don’t need to work. You can absolutely handle the chemo. Your doctors are so happy with where you are. You’re not getting worse. Maybe that changes tomorrow, but if we had to live the rest of or lives like this, we would be lucky. What’s the flip side? I’m making funeral arrangements for my new bride and having to figure out how to take care of four kids on my own, especially two who are under 6 years old? I don’t wanna hear this crap anymore. You will live and have a wonderful life. I guarantee it!!”

Not that I care about sharing our late night chats but I’ve come to realize that sharing is also educating. I have so much respect for anyone who goes through this fight. But I also have so much respect for those people who stand next to those folks each and ever day. I admit it, it’s a bitch. Hospitals, doctors, the ups and downs. It isn’t nearly what Jess is going through, but it’s second.

But the truth is, I love my life, my wife, the kids, the circus. All of it. I know I’ve hit the lottery. Knew that when Jess was stalking me. Hee hee!

On to the kids. Well it’s simple. They are awesome. Hannah and her dance, her sweet heart, she is just the sweetest person in the world. No doubt about it. She is the one I will do time for. Anyone ever hurts that kid, I’m gonna rock someone’s world. As Jess said, we had her first recital. She was so good. So on point. You know how those are. Kids don’t focus. Caught up in the lights, the audience, just so young. Hannah was perfect. Focused. What amazes me about her. She has such an ability to concentrate. I was so happy for her. And for Jess. See this is what you miss when you’re not around. Why I will make her fight. This is the gold and what I’ve treasured about being around my kids.

Second is the Izzy Bear. Turns 4 this month. Thank Christ. We are done with the “three year old” phase. She may not make it. She is a tough little chick. April wasn’t a good month. Everyone wanted her sold. Almost happened. With that said, I took her to dance class yesterday before the recital. “Frozen” theme. She knows all the songs and all the words. Was the leader in class. Teacher told me she was so helpful. Hysterical this kid is.

My little Courtney is still rocking it in school. Lax and everything else she gets thrown at her. She will be going to her first overnight hoop camp this summer. She is so excited. Amazing she will be 12 this June. So beautiful. So smart and such the little pain for me. Another person who will most likely force me to spend some time behind bars. As long as it’s for family, doesn’t have me concerned.

The big man Justin, as I said, turns 17 in June. Doing so well. License should be coming this month or next. Jess and I are giving him the Durango. He heads to St. Andrews in Rhode Island to board and attend 11th grade in the fall. Going to be a great challenge. His hoop is busy and the BABC squad is coming together. What I love most about him and his hoop life, he just finds a way to get on the court and be productive. I hope that continues.

Other items. As Justin is getting ready to get his license, and we are giving him the Durango, we got Jess a new car. A 2009 GMC Yukon XLT. So nice. It’s a huge boat but Jess loves it. Of course I’m not allowed to drive it. So much better with all the kids and circus.

The other major update, 2013 was a great year at work. I don’t talk about it much, but as a sales guy, my world is as good as I make it. And if I suck, it’s on me. I finished #2 in the country and it’s been a while since I’ve had that sort of work success.

As my world has become normal again, its allowed me to get my career back on track. I work for an HR outsourcing company, Oasis Outsourcing out of West Palm Beach. Yes the company is awesome but it’s the people there who have made such a difference in my life. They have been so supportive with all that I’ve gone through the past 2-3 years. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m killing it right now, so maybe they have to be nice to me. Ha!!

Well I earned the annual President’s Club trip to Marbella, Spain. Our last vacation? No idea. Our last time where we didn’t have the kids and the Leip circus? Never. So it’s 7 nights and 8 days, all expenses paid with the top folks at the company. We are so excited but so nervous about going.

Plus, the Pink Ball which Jess is one of the honorees is during that time. It’s an incredible fundraiser to help those like Jess. We can’t believe we have to miss it. Well, Jess is really upset about it. They can all bite me cuz we earned this and deserved this. We are going! If people do not understand how this trip will be so great for Jess, well then I’m not sure I care what they think anyways.

Other than that, our world is like everyone else’s. Kids, fights, work, stuff. Everyone has the same crap. We just have a blog. Ha!

I hope everyone out there is doing well. Anytime folks want to come by, have dinner, drinks, come on by. We would love to have anyone come!


Saturday May 3, 2014

Alright, so today was a perfect example of why life is good.  My daughter had her first dance recital that she worked so hard for.  She’s been practicing since September and today she nailed it.  She was so proud of herself and I was beside myself proud of her.  Another day when I completely forgot that I have terminal cancer.  Just a great day all around which makes for a good life.  I have a good life.  I have what is important right now.  I realize that it can be taken from me at any time, especially if I give in to it, but right now I have it all.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have freaking Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.  It sucks.  Unlike most people, my body and my mind don’t work together all the time.  My mind wants to be “normal”, get up and function like a normal, healthy 37 year old but my body says “Hell, no” sometimes.  My joints will literally not move.  This is a side effect from 2 of the meds I am on, they are stripping the estrogen from my body which also strips the lubrication from my joints.  I have pain from the back of my skull all the way to my ankles, especially in my hips and legs and sometimes it hurts to even walk.  On these wet crap days, my bones hurt so much I feel like I am 100 years old with severe arthritis, I am just so stiff.  In my life, there is always a reason to get up and out of bed.  Besides the fact that I have responsibilites, I have my days to look forward to.  When I have my bad days, I have Scott to pick me up, sit me down and lecture me.  And, by the way, he is not nice about it.  He will yell at me and put me in my place and, to be honest, I usually deserve it.  I don’t own the right to be negative about my life being cut short.  I owe my kids and my husband the life that I commited to, they deserve everything that I can give them.  I am so lucky and blessed in that respect.  I have so much love and so much to be thankful for, I really can’t complain.  The old saying “Life is too short”, is quite real for me and my family.  Those aren’t words that are used lightly around here and we never take anyone or anything for granted.  As I watch and listen to my children everyday, I am so proud of who they are.  They get “it” already.  They know what is really important in our lives.  It’s still okay to cry about the broken crayon or misplaced toy, they are not machines and they have been asked to grow up quicker than most.  They are so smart and they are not embarrassed that their mother is different than everyone elses.  They will acknowledge that I am “different” but they are proud of me and love me just the way I am.  I know that I am teaching them what is important and they are going to make the world a better place.   

I know we haven’t posted in our blog in awhile, it’s been busy.  Getting settled and into a new groove in our new home.  We had a wonderful Easter! The holidays just get better and better with us, making more memories and forming new traditions. 

As far as my health, I am still on my four maintence drugs right now…Herceptin and Perjeta infused through my port every 3 weeks, Femara every day and Lupron injections every 4 weeks.  The tumor in my breast had shrunk over the winter, down to about 1 cm.  It is now at about 3 cm.  We may have to get on some heavy chemos and zap it down.  I am having all organ and bone scans on May 13 to see what is going on and my oncologists will decide the treatment plan then.  My tumor markers are climbing.  I am still “stable”. People ask me why I haven’t had surgery yet, especially if the tumor is growing in my breast.  Truth is, I’m not a candidate for surgery right now.  Too many tumors in my body.  Metastatic breast cancer means the cancer is in my blood.  If I get to the point where the tumors are shrunk and my liver is “sterile”, then I will be healthy enough for surgery. 

Now…this is very exciting…my husband has been putting in quadruple time at work, busting his butt.  Always working, never home.  It has paid off.  Big time.  As you know, we got married on a Wednesday, took an hour and then went back to our business as usual.  Scott has earned an all expense paid trip to Spain for the two of us.  All expense paid trip to SPAIN.  Next Month.  Yep. We get a honeymoon. 

Happy May everyone! Love, Jessica