Monday, December 27, 2010

On Boxing Day My True Love Gave To Me One Golden Ring

Yesterday was Boxing Day. It was also Dave-O's and my 23rd anniversary. You might be thinking we were crazy to plan a wedding the day after Christmas and we're too old and tired to put up much of a fight on that count. But back then, we were young (22) and naive (wondered if the soundtrack to Rocky was the theme song for Boxing Day). We were in college and it was Christmas break.

When we grew up we realized that Boxing Day is a bank holiday. Boring. When we got even older and wiser, we further realized it's not even celebrated here in the States. Actually, I don't know if it's technically "celebrated" anywhere, but rather observed. (Although, if I were a banker, I'd sure celebrate a day off, not to mention a mention on calendars all over the world.) Which brings up good question: Why in the world is Boxing Day in my way every time I go to write my anniversary every time I get a new calendar? This kind of higher knowledge* helps keep me pretty humble, because I've yet to figure that out.

My first idea was to flip over the calendar and see where it was made*. But Wiki says China doesn't observe Boxing Day either. And anyway, my 2011 calendar was made in South Korea, which says "(Canada obs.)" the holiday.

Btw, happy belated Boxing Day, Canada! Not to mention, my UK peeps, although, I'm not sure if your Boxing Day was yesterday or today?

And speaking of Boxing Day, you're probably wondering how we observe it at the Evanshire. First of all, if Dave-O merely observed it, that would be about as boring as a bank holiday and we'd be in therapy. We didn't have prenups, but celebrating every small little thing was a given. As in, he knew I do when he said he do.

Well, I gave him the movie, The Number 23. Obviously. He gave me 23 lottery tickets. Here's how that went down: We won $23 with the first batch, which was a little dejamovie-ish. Of course, we traded our winning tickets in for 23 more lottery tickets. The second 23 started down the slippery slope, into 19, which dwindled ever so quickly to 13, which crashed at 1, which made a surprising last stand, to 9, which immediately plummeted to 2, which flatlined. We let Amanda scratch off a few of the tickets and pointed out the obvious: gambling doesn't pay.

Dave-O also took me to shoot the gun he got me last year for our anniversary. Yep, of course it's a 22. Did you even have to ask? Then we went to Bonefish and had Bang-bang shrimp. What else would you expect me to pair with a night at a shooting range?

After dinner we went to seeThe Fighter. Which seemed appropriate, since it was Boxing Day and all.


*For Christmas Dave-O and I gave Amanda a dress we'd bought for her in Cancun. It wasn't until she opened it up that we realized it was made in China. So now, we're not quite sure if we even got her a souvenir from Mexico? Or if we got her a souvenir from China, which would be quite a feat, since we've never actually been there? Or is it like a double word score in Scrabble, and we get to count both China and Mexico?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Mark of a Good Year

A year ago today I downed my last of 24 chemo cocktails. Time sure flies when you're not in a chemo fog. Also, when you're having fun. And I've been having the time of my life.

For instance, as my readers may know, I am in the process of a campaign to outlive as many pink survivor bracelets as I can. As of last Friday I've worn out three of them until they've fallen off my wrist.

I got the first one at my very first Race for the Cure in 2008 which I somehow did only 2 weeks after my double mastectomy. Back then I didn't even know if I technically qualified as a survivor since I was still under the influence of pain meds from the surgery and wasn't sure if I'd actually survived yet.

I wore that first pink bracelet out before the 2009 Race for the Cure. I have to be honest. At first, I panicked when it broke. I know this sounds crazy but a tiny part of me wondered if it might be a bad sign. I not only raced for for the Cure that year; I also raced to the pink bracelet booth to get a new survivor bracelet.

There was no panic involved when the next one broke. I was like, "Psh... is that all you've got?" when my second pink survivor bracelet didn't survive to accessorize my wrist for the 2010 Race for the Cure.

And in a super savvy move, I got two survivor bracelets at this year's Race. Part of me felt bad taking two. But I knew all of me would have felt way worse when it broke last Friday - after only three months - IF I didn't have the foresight to grab an extra.

Three months must be some kind of a world record. That's what I call living hard, in other words: the abundant life.

I'm glad I had another to put on right away when it broke the other night because my wrist feels naked without a survivor bracelet on it. Understandably I'm concerned about my sole surviving pink bracelet, since our next Race for the Cure 2011 is 9 months away. And no, taking it easy is not an option. Which is one of the reasons I'm planning to do a few other Race for the Cures across the country in 2011. This is still very much in the brainstorming stage, but you can follow the progress of Team Shaken Not Stirred's Race for the Cure at my web site.

So besides breaking out my back-up pink survivor bracelet, what did I do to mark the occasion of tossing out the old calendar that counted down my chemo cocktails? Look in the mirror.
No, I wasn't trying to trick you into saying that I'm the fairest of them all. And no, I didn't join the National Tattoo Association, Inc. But I got a tattoo to literally mark the occasion. Most of the times I'm mostly a metaphorical kind of girl. Every once in a while I like to spice things up. This time, with three leaf clovers.
Amanda (above, to my right) has talked about getting a tattoo with me ever since I got cancer. I thought it was so cool that she wanted a permanent mark on her body as a sign of her love for me when I was feeling so very temporary. She first mentioned the idea of wanting to get a tattoo where my port was when it was being such a pain in my pec. That area still gives me issues, and isn't quite ready for a tattoo. Yet.

That Christmas she told my sister Jennie (above, to my left) about our tattoo idea and she immediately decided she was in. We decided that once the cancer and the chemo were in my rear view mirror, we'd all get a tattoo together. We've been talking about our tattoos for the past two years, trying to come up with the perfect design. Recently Amanda found a simple three leaf clover that all three of us felt was the one.

I liked the idea of a three leaf clover on a few levels.

The three leaves stand for the three of us, but also reminds me of the three in one of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Which is significant to me, not only because that is the beginning of what I believe, but also, our roots go back to County Cork, Ireland. So meanings go deep and are interwoven, like the celtic weave in the clover. Also, I like the color green. In Lord of the Rings it is a symbol of hope. It's also the color of my eyes. And tennis balls.

I know a four leaf clover is supposed to be the lucky one and all. But I say hang the rules. Why not switch it up a bit and spread the luck around?! Psalm 50:10 says that "the cattle on a thousand hills" are God's. Just imagine all the clovers that all those cows are chewing on all those hills all over the world. That's a whole lotta luck just waiting to be found if you ask me.

Why do we make things so hard?

Anyway, my lucky charm is a cool and constant reminder to me of how very lucky I am. If you don't believe me, check out this picture of me with my favorite band, Over the Rhine, taken at their Acoustic Soiree at St. Elizabeth's Cathedral this past Sunday.
If you still don't believe me, check out the one from last year.
If you still don't believe me, how about the one from the year before that?
Tic-Tac-Toe... See? I win!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Arriba! Arriba!

Honestly, I don’t even feel like I belong in the company of the women in this video. They are my heroes.
I know I should be packing right now. Our plane to Cancun leaves at tomorrow at 9 a.m. But I just watched this video again. Which left me beside myself again. So I poured another glass of wine and lifted my glass to Karen, Karen, Karen. Her friends tell me this is the proper way to toast this amazing woman I never had the pleasure of knowing.
But I have had the pleasure of playing tennis with some of her friends, who have become my friends as well. So Karen and I share these wonderful friends in common, and tennis, and yes, breast cancer.
And now we will have Mexico in common too.
I don’t mean to be all melodramatic, but my hub and I had just booked a Caribbean vacation to celebrate our 20th anniversary when I got diagnosed with breast cancer. My mastectomy got scheduled right in the middle of our holiday so we had to cancel it. The kind people we had booked with let us out of our obligation, without even keeping a deposit. Not only did they wish me well; they invited us back when I was.
Look out Caribbean, here we come!
Wow… just wow.
Tomorrow I will be on a beach in Cancun. A year ago I was wrapping up my last round of 24 chemo cocktails. I couldn’t paint a prettier picture of contrast if I knew how to paint. It’s sublime and intoxicating at the same time.
Which brings me to cheers, to Karen, Karen, Karen!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Like Daughter, Like Mother

*Warning: This post may be contain angst. There are just a few things I need to get off my chest*

A year ago today I drove to Indy to go to the doctor with my Mum to hear results of her recent breast biopsy.

The biopsy was a year ago Wednesday, preceded by a mammogram a year ago Monday. I wasn't able to go with her because I had chemo that Monday, which sucked in layers.

When I got breast cancer, both my Mum and sister, Jennie, came to Cincy for my lumpectomy and my mastectomy. As soon Jennie went home to Charleston, she did not pass go, did not collect $200, but went directly to the mammogram center. They sent my sister (who was feeling my pain in her own bosom the way sisters do) home without even giving her boobs a good feel for good measure, and told her to come back when she turned 35, so insurance would cover it. Her 35th birthday was only 2 months away.


Thank God that mammogram came back OK.

But seriously, Grr....

My Mum did not proceed directly to the nearest mammogram center. She doesn't have insurance-


-so it didn't even enter her mind. Until she saw a commercial by the Little Red Door Cancer Agency advertising free mammograms. So my Mum got a mammogram. They found a lump. They followed up with a biopsy.

Thank you, Little Red Door.

Still, she wasn't supposed to get breast cancer. I had taken the genetic test and "passed".

I knew the 1/8 breast cancer stats. I know this might sound sick, but I often find myself doing the math when I'm in groups of women, and if I'm the 8th, sometimes I think to myself, "Cancer dibs! Please, God. No more cancer in this group of women."

Then I make a mad dash to another group of seven women. And then another... which I know is probably, not technically fair. But it's not like cancer plays fair.

If you oughta be able to, for sure, be the 1 in 8 for anybody, your Mum oughta be one of the seven. But a year ago today I was sitting in the doctor's office with my Mum, her 2 sisters, 3 friends (=7) when the doctor (a female) said the C-word to my Mum.


(I didn't really say Grr.... Sometimes I say really bad words at cancer and it makes me feel better. I don't mean to offend anybody when I do that. It's just that sometimes I get so offended by cancer that I either forget to, or don't feel like, being eloquent. Sometimes I get so ticked off at cancer there are no words to express. Sometimes, like today, I have this nagging grr... that I just have to get off my chest. I mean, it's not like I've got any convenient places to hide stuff there anymore.)

Anyway. Jennie flew to Indy for our Mum's lumpectomy, and thankfully, I was able to make it too, since it was scheduled in between my second-to-last and FINAL! chemos.

Thank God for the Little Red Door because that mammogram she got after seeing their commercial helped them find the cancer early.

Like my oncologist says, "Early diagnosis, excellent prognosis." It's a mantra she drilled into me so deeply that I could slur it, at will, even in a chemo fog.

Unfortunately, my Mum's breast surgeon wasn't happy with the margins she got, so she scheduled a second lumpectomy.

I couldn't make it to my Mum's second lumpectomy. We both had surgeries scheduled a day apart in separate cities. Neither of us could be there for the other's.

I had downed my last chemo for an early Christmas present, and was scheduled to have the port removed on Epiphany. Her surgery was scheduled for the day after my surgery. Which also happened to be the day before my end of chemo, Not-a-Chemo-Cocktail-Party. Which, unfortunately, she obviously had to miss, sine she was recovering from her surgery.

Fortunately, the breast surgeon felt really good about the margins after my Mum's second lumpectomy. Then she knocked down 33 radiation treatments. Now she's on Tamoxifin, but she's technically cancer free. And it's been a year today! Go Mum! Way to kick cancer's ass! Happy Cancerversary! Yeah, it was the worst day, but it was also the first day, of the rest of your life. So cheers, to health and happiness! Yeah, it's been one hell of a year, but you're one hell of a cancer ass kicker. So go you!

(Isn't it a good thing we're both too old for you to chase after me with a bar of soap to wash my mouth. Whew.)

Anyway, way to go, Mum!

And, in honor of your 1-year cancerversary, here's a video of Amanda singing the "Cancer is a Bitch" song, which she wrote for my last chemo and performed at my Not-a-Chemo-Cocktail-Party. Pretend you are me, and that she's singing to you. Of course, you'll have to minus all the references to chemo and insert radiation-type terms, but you get the idea. And yeah, I know it's also not Christmas. Normally I don't pull out the Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, but I think this particular one is my one exception.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Doing Quarters in the Chemo Cocktail Lounge

Yesterday was my final appearance at the chemo cocktail lounge for 2010! How weird is that to say after the past two years. But Ya freaking Hoo!

These days I'm just a quarterly maintenance person. My chemo sistah Shelly had her very first maintenance check-up too, so we naturally we scheduled our appointments on the same day so we could haunt the chemo lounge the day after Halloween.

Our chemo sistah, Julie or "Cruise" was going to be having trick or treatment, so we were excited to hang out with her. We call her cruise, because we often have had treatment at the same time as her, but then she goes on all these cruises that messes with "the schedule" and we have to wait for another cruise or something to bump her back on schedule with us. Anyway. I've written about Cruise before asking you to pray for her when you pray for me, since we have the same name and I figured it would be no sweat. Her breast cancer has metastasized to her bones and liver but she just blazes a LIVESTRONG path that inspires me. She is leaving for a cruise tomorrow and it didn't surprise me when she said her itinerary was chasing a hurricane. Watch out, hurricane, is all I can say.

We inducted a new friend into our little club. "Etch a Sketch" has super long and beautiful hair that she had just had a lovely photo shoot of before it goes into hibernation during the winter of her chemo. Her positive energy positively lit up the lounge. It was so great getting to meet her. She is probably not having the best day today, as she was doing her second round of Adriamycin and Cytoxin. (Sorry if those are spelled wrong but I dislike them so much I don't feel like doing a spell check on them). Anyway, I hope you'll say a prayer for or send some good vibes to Etch a Sketch.

We got to the chemo cocktail lounge at 11:30, in time for Cruise's trick or treatment. Shelly's appointment was at 1. Her counts were good! Yay God! She got her end of chemo scans scheduled for later this week, so let's all pray for the happy all clear! She also has to have a MRI on her leg because it's been super sore. So we're not worrying about it, but praying that it will stop being so sore and trying to rain on our parade and stuff.

After Cruise got her trick or treatment and went home to pack for her cruise, Shelly walked me down to the labs because I am at the bottom of the totem pole of appointments now;) While we were standing there waiting for me to get called back, we met an amazing survivor, very appropriately named Joy. She heard us mention Herceptin and we got into a delightful conversation with her, where we found out that she was on one of the Herceptin trials, which made this miracle treatment available to both Shelly and me! How cool was that?! I remember seeing the Herceptin movie, Living Proof, and just being amazed at the women who took it as a trial drug way before it became the drug that saved my life. I think it was the first time I really cried after I got cancer. I was so overcome by the amazing women who went before me. I was just as overcome yesterday, getting to meet one of those women. I actually got to say thanks. Wow.

Then I got called into the lab to get my blood drawn. First I step on the scale. The day after Halloween and minutes after eating not quite a quarter of Cruise's birthday cake. I made a comment about packing on the pounds since my last visit and my nurse said, "Yep." Or something like that. My temp, heart rate and bp were a happy menaje trois. And when she drew my blood I said I had done my part to make her job easy at the Hallow-wine party I went to at my next-door-neighbors after the trick or treaters went home to count candy.

My counts were all good. I have to wait to hear on the tumor marker and my vitamin D count. But there is no reason to think those will be anything but good.

I have to wear this sexy paper shirt now, when I go in for my check-up, so I had to change out of my Beatles tee shirt. But I was glad that I had chosen my white TOMS to wear with it that morning, because they so went with the white paper shirt.

One thing I noticed during my the wardrobe change was that I guess I was nervous because I had pitted out my tee-shirt. I couldn't remember the last time I'd had body odor but I'm not kidding, I almost knocked myself out. Here's the tricky part. Since I had lymph nodes removed I have this thing about putting on antiperspirant because it feels like my underarms have enough issues and antiperspirant seems like it would just constipate things. I don't know if everybody who has had breast cancer thinks about these things but I do.

Anyway, my exam went fine. I had Dr. Lower check a tiny pea that has developed in my armpit and she said it is nothing, and nothing to worry about. I didn't feel like worrying about it anyway, because it would only make me sweat more, so I'm not. I only mentioned it to her because it's stupid not to say stuff about things you could potentially worry about when, if you just said it you could put it out of your mind. That's my PSA for the day.

On my way out of the office I ran into Leona, who I hadn't seen since my bookreading bash. Shelly and I met her during her last chemo, and right before her surgery. They found a little lymph node involvement, so she is currently half-way through her radiation treatments. And doing fabulous! It was so awesome catching up with her and seeing her head sprouting the salt and pepper. It reminded me of when my head was fuzzy and my Redheads couldn't walk by me without petting my head because it was so soft. I didn't really have many favorite things about chemo, but that was one.

I hope you'll also remember Leona when you remember me, and Shelly, and Cruise, and Etch a Sketch.

And until next quarter, that's a wrap from the chemo cocktail lounge, and thank God my cancer is old news. Here's to hoping it stays that way.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

WIP it! Into Shape. Moving Forward. WIP it Good.

So I got a domain name ( and made a web site for my work in progress, Shaken, Not Stirred... a Chemo Cocktail. Here's what the home page looks like:
I made it on my MacBook Pro with iWeb. iHeart iWeb.

Like my manuscript, my web site is also a W.I.P. I've yet to figure out how to "drag and drop" my blog into it. And I don't do html. So right now this blog and my web site are at an impasse. Also, it would really like Facebook and Twitter buttons since it's getting cold outside. But I don't know how to sew. And there is other stuff I hope to do with my web site in progress, but I think we've discussed my shortcomings enough.

Plus, Mad Men is almost on so I'm kinda in a hurry.

A quick update on my manuscript:
So far I have about 20,000 words. A prologue and 18 chapters.

Chapter 19 will begin "The Chemo Cocktail" part of the book. Even though it is not quite half-way word count wise, it feels like it is the half-way part of the manuscript.

I'm having the time of my life writing! It's really not even fair. We'll see if anything comes of it. But come what may I'm riding this one with my hands raised to the sky! Wheeeeeeee!!

(So whatcha think of my web site in progress?)

p.s. I also made a sock monkey postcards web site here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cincinnati Race for the Cure 2010

I walked with 75ish names on my shirt, of peeps I love who have fought or are fighting cancer.
In no particular order, because they all rock my world equally, here is the honor roll:
My chemo sistah, Shelly
My survivor sistah, Cathy (who lent me all her hats when my head was cold)
Cathy's Mum, Peggy Jean Mason
Cathy's Grandma, Ila Mae Thornbury
My Auntie Cheryl
My Uncle Bill
My Mum
Gail Konop Baker (fab author of Cancer is a Bitch)
Cancer/Blog sistah Daria
My bank teller's Mum
My lifelong friend Monica
sweet Amy Inkrot
My poet friend, Susan Fuchtman
Kristi Frasier
Mary Jo Cropper, of the Mary Jo Cropper Breast Cancer Center
Mardy of the ridiculous amazing pipes
I can't wait to meet my new friend Betts
My neighbor/tennis bud Janet Cross
Kim Wanamaker's sister, Lori Robertson
My chemo bud Don Boudinet
Fellow tennis lover Rich Reis
My friend Ruth's dad Jim Lueckenhuff
My friend Patty's Mum
My sister's friend, Megan's Mum, Jeanne Nelson
My sister's friend, Kandi Castles Fernandino (who recently did the Chicago 3-day walk!)
Jean, a trailblazer from my chemo lounge
Julie Haubrook, a chemo sister
Leona, another chemo sister
the sisters
Amy Reid
Barb Martin
Donna Scheffler
Cancer/Blogger sister, Jo
Tennis friend, Stacy Souders
Artist Deb Mulligan
Celtic lover Debbie Smith
My friend Marsha's sister and bro-in-law, Brenda and Bob Markham
My tennis friend Mindy's friend, Cindy Miranda
My friend Becky's friend who is now my friend, Julie Garvin Luce
The amazing Maria Meyer
My Florida sistah-friend Mary Kate Bourquin
My friend across the Pond, Anita Mason
My neighbor Ron
his wife Sue
his daughter Amy
My step-mom's sister, Diane
my hero Tiffany Floth Romero (of The Tiffany Foundation)
my hero Karen Wellington (of the Karen Wellington Foundation)
my hero Heather Ray
sweet Sarah McGurk's sweet Mum
Paul Swanson who I met at the survivor ceremony
My friend Terri's friend Darlene Izzo
Sonya who I met at the Race
Jill Cummins who I stood next to at the survivor ceremony
My friend Becky's friend Terri's Mum who passed away the day before the Race:
rest in peace Ilene Sween
Floyd Penrose, who we miss very much
My friend Steve's Mum Carol Lawson
Nancy Ficher
Jelka Gern
Heide Golde
Marianne Adam
Linda Cisco
Rhonda's Mum who life ended up saving my friend Shelly's: Janice Hubbard
I never got to meet Teri Neu Simpson but I prayed for her
awesome blogger and cancer ass kicker Clusterfook
My friend Heidi's Grandma
My tennis friend Linda Wimmers who taught my Mikey Geometry and loved Africa
The first friend I ever lost Sue Thompson

The three amigas from Team Shaken Not Stirred
Me, Cathy, Shelly

I finally got another SURVIVOR bracelet to outlive! This will be number 3! Game on!

Dave and Me

The Finish Line... starring yours truly!

My chemo sister Shelly and me, and our new friend Paul, at the survivor ceremony after the race. Photo courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Even my Mikey Skyped for the Cure from Germany with love!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Yellow Bus Moment

Whoa... what just happened? It's so quiet here in the Evanshire, I can almost hear a pin drop. But for some reason that makes it hard to think. Used to the hubbub about me. So I strain to see if I can Name That Tune the pin makes when it drops.


So I get up and go start a load of laundry. I walk really loud just like Matt does to see if I can trick myself into thinking it's him stomping around. But I'm just too savvy to fall for it.

The washing machine's hum helps, but it's no Amanda Michele Freaking Evans. I cue the dishwasher to harmonize with the washing machine. Amanda can harmonize with herself, times 4. (Check out "The Butterfly Song".) Boom, roasted. It takes way more than two appliances to keep up with my little whirlwind, I mean, daughter. Though h
er wake, I mean, trail is much easier to spot than it is not to trip over.

But yeah, so my nest is relatively tidy today. The Redheads have all done cannonballs out of the Evanshire and are making splashes even as I type.

Mikey is safe and sound in Germany at the YWAM base. This is where he is living for the next 7 months.
Kinda beautiful, yeah? Just beyond his building, which I think is mainly a guys' dorm, is the Castle.
The Wifi is in the Castle, which is where keeping in touch with Mikey happens. Or should I say, where it will happen as he settles in and down enough from all the excitement and splashing around so that we can establish a more regular time to connect. We have gotten to Skype with him a few times, and can I just say thank God for Skype, not to mention Facebook?!

Basically, he's having the time of his life. On Monday when we were skyping, he told me, quite casually, that he was going to Switzerland on Saturday. I guess it's going to take a while for it to settle in for me, because it felt so ridiculous surreal hearing your son say something like that to you. Here is his latest blog post, which is the place to keep up with his YWAM adventures, if you'd like.

Meanwhile, we are all missing him like crazy. Here's Amanda's blog post about taking Mikey to the airport. I made a Mikey shrine of sorts this past weekend. I hung two black clocks (one is set one for his time and one for ours) and a collage frame (of pics of him I have been collecting off Facebook as his new friends post them) in a cozy corner of our living room.
Matt had an orientation day at UC yesterday, and he and Amanda started classes today. Matt thought I was ridiculous, but of course I had to take a picture of him before he drove off to college today.

It was, after all, my yellow bus moment.
And after that moment, came the next one, and I found myself all alone with a whole day in front of me and no lesson plans. No plans at all, really.


But kinda fun, not gonna lie.

Mama Bird is very happy to see her baby birds flying about and so very happy. Homeschooling them was a very fun chapter, but methinks I'm going to like this next one too.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August Rush

This August has been like pink cotton candy. It has been on the tip of my blog's tongue many times. But then it melts, seeps into my bloodstream giving me that sugar buzz, leaving little traces of itself in the sweet aftertaste.

Yesterday was my D-day. Two years ago my breast surgeon said the C-word to me. I've heard that sometimes one's life flashes before their eyes when they face death. That wasn't my experience. Not with the cancer, the chemo, or the "Vespa Incident". (I'm not sure which was the closer call, but the latter one sure felt like it.) My Redheads were huddled around the phone with me when we got "the call" and that effing C-word practically broke their hearts. They all fell to the ground in three separate piles under the weight of that word. I didn't have time to watch a movie of my life. All I could think about was that I desperately needed 3 laps and 6 arms. This was my life, live and in real time, right before my very eyes.

I know that last paragraph about the C-word appears to be a non sequitur to the cotton candy appetizer but that is just an optical illusion. Call me crazy, but don't both cotton and candy begin with C? So really, it is quite the brilliant segue if you don't try to think about it too hard but just let it melt and go sub-cranial.

And anyway, hearing the C-word may sound like a good time to start counting down one's days but for me it was more of a reset. It was my inciting incident. Yeah, I practically died when I heard that word. It did almost literally try and kill me. And I'm told I could have died, if I hadn't found the damn spots when I did. (Let this be my little PSA to everyone reading this: I don't mean to get all pornographic or anything, but to all my sistahs out there, you know what to do. And husbands, go to second base with your wives. 'Nuff said.)
When the C-word messed with my kids I said F the C-word.

When the C-word threatened their Mum with "Game Over" my Redheads, who know a thing or two about video games, pressed Reset. You know how when you're playing Chutes and Ladders, and someone lands on a slide and they groan? To me this game is counter-intuitive and just plain backwards. Slides are way more fun than ladders. I personally think the blue ribbon belongs on square 1.

And that's where I landed when my kids pressed Reset. I started over, and started counting up.

Today is #731.

The first year of cancer and chemo was a bitch, not gonna lie. Two weeks after my mastectomy I did the Cincy Race for the Cure and picked up a pink survivor bracelet at one of the booths. I wore that bracelet out by my one-year anniversary of being cancer free. At which point I panicked. What did it mean if you broke your survivor bracelet?! At which point a friend gave me another one and I went "Whew."

The second year of my remaining chemo was more like a pain in the ass. It definitely channeled the whole terrible two's vibe. I wore out my second survivor bracelet by July 27th. At which point I decided, "This is a fun game!"
I am currently minus a pink bracelet, but the 2010 Cincinnati Race for the Cure is just around the corner, so I hope to pick another one up there. It's September 25th. If you'd like to come walk with me, here's the link to my page to sign up for my team, Shaken Not Stirred.

We used to be Team Evanshire, but we changed the name to the title of my book.
The amazingly talented London Glover gets the credit for turning me into a cartoon. She's got mad skills.

Recently, we did a live trailer of the book at my favorite little coffee shop. We decided that since Mikey won't be here when I finish the book and start trying to get it published, that we would go ahead and do a bookreading bash before he leaves for his Germany and Beyond YWAM Mission Trip. (Which is in 11 days, but don't get me started on that rabbit trail of my tears. You can follow his adventures by following his blog which is under my blogspring sidebar.)

It was one of the best nights of my life. Sweeter than cotton candy.

Amanda Michele Freaking Evans and her newly formed band (of her brothers), The Kicked in Fence, debuted and released their first EP, The Cheesin' Moon.
The Kicked in Fence knocked their debut performance out of the park.

Then Amanda and Mikey did a mini-set, and Mikey spoke a bit about his mission trip.

We had about 65-75 friends who came to share the amazing evening with us. It always humbles us that we have the coolest circle of friends in the whole world. I don't care if it's cheesy but it makes our world go around.

I stood up and spoke about how I had found the lump in my breast 2 years ago that night and asked all my fellow survivors to stand up. I told them about an organization that's close to my heart. It's called Stand Up To Cancer. It's goal is simple: the end of cancer. SU2C funds cutting edge cancer research toward that goal. This kind of research saved my life. The kind of cancer I had used to be fatal, period. Until Dr. Dennis Slamon developed Herceptin. There are many researchers like Dr. Slamon out there, closing in on a cure for cancer. SU2C helps fund them so they can put an end to cancer.

SU2C has a tv special coming up on September 10th. I remember watching the 2008 special a month after I got diagnosed. I've been understandably attached to them ever since.

For this year's special, they issued a video challenge. Dave Stewart wrote a song called "Up To You" and invited people to remake the song and upload it to the SU2C YouTube site for a contest. The winning video will be shown on the Sept. 10th SU2C special.

So Amanda invited all our friends to write SU2C on their hands and stand up to cancer with us for her video entry. All I can say is that I am so glad I was filming because I was nearly undone by the sight of all my friends standing up, waving their high five with SU2C written on their palms.

Then The Kicked in Fence and I interwove songs that inspired my book with readings from my book.

They wrapped things up with "The Chemo Cocktail" or more famously known as, "The Cancer is a Bitch" song. If you haven't caught that one yet, you can find an old version she did at my one-year-cancer-free anniversary here.

It was a ridiculous crazy fun night.

Tonight's going to be another one. The Kicked in Fence will be playing at Book Bums in West Chester at 7 p.m. Feel free to come crash the party. The door will be open, so you don't have to kick it in.

It will be sweet. August isn't over yet!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not a Chemo Cocktail Bookreading Bash/Benefit for my Mikey's Mission Trip

No, my book isn't finished yet. But I'm at a point where I would love a few guinea pigs... I mean, some of my fav peeps to come have a sneak preview. A booktrailer, of sorts, if you will.

My Mikey is leaving for his YWAM Mission Trip to Germany and Beyond Sept. 1st, and we thought we'd have a little benefit evening for him. The bookreading bash does not cost anything. Mikey will briefly share about his upcoming mission trip. He will not be asking for money. We will simply have his Germany or Bust coffee can out which will happily and quietly accept any donations. Mikey and his friend Malcolm will also have their M&M bracelets available for anyone who would like to wear one to remember to pray for them while they are on their mission trip.

Amanda Michele Freaking Evans will be performing a couple of sets-bookends, to the evening. Yes, she will be singing "The Chemo Cocktail" or "Cancer is a Bitch" song. She will have CDs for sale, and is donating part of the proceeds to Mikey's mission trip.

Book Bums brews up a de-lish cuppa Highlander Grog, which pairs well with my book. Especially since it's fueled quite a few chapters. They also serve other coffee drinks and such.

Check out their web site at You'll want to make it your official hang out too.

If you're on Facebook, feel free to crash the event page and R.S.V.P. here. And while you're at it you should totally befriend me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Vertigo Verdict

Previously, in my post entitled "My Brain is, and I quote, 'OK'" I reported that my recent MRI came back without finding any "bad" causes for my recent diagnosis of dizziness and, ahem... giddiness.

While that was definitely good news, it didn't really solve the Vertigo. So my oncologist sent me to my ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat Dr.) to have him do some inner ear/balance testing. Some of you may wonder why we didn't think of "imbalance" sooner. But that's not very nice of you, and it's a good thing I'm freaking giddy, is all I'm going to say about that.

Anyway, so I went to my ENT. I asked him if I could blame it on the chemo. He said, "Probably not." Drat. I asked him if I could blame it on "the Vespa incident". He said, "Probably not." Double drat.

He sent me to an audiologist to do further testing.

First we tested my hearing and I passed that. Which made me really happy. It's funny how I get test anxiety over tests you really can't prepare for. Then she put a weird helmet on my head that tracked my eye movements and made me follow a bouncing ball for awhile. I saw what she was seeing on the computer screen and it sort of looked like this:
Again, the following of the bouncing ball made me sweat because I was worried I might not do it right. Also, there was no music for the ball to bounce along to and no words for me to sing along with. It felt rather pointless on top of the nerve-racking.

Then she pulled down blinders over the helmet and basically tried to make me dizzy. First she had me move my head in different positions. No biggie. No real test anxiety. Then she opened the flap for a second so I could rest my eyes, and I saw her pull out what looked to me to be a miniature Ryobi. Then she closed the flap and with the "torch" attachment, blasted 32 seconds of cold air into each ear. This was followed by 32 seconds of hot air into each ear, which was obviously achieved with "snow blowing" attachment. This did not produce test anxiety. It was not a test. If it had been a real test there would have been a beep or a bouncing ball. This was
more like a nightmare with my eyes open.

I don't think I passed it, but at least I didn't have to throw up in her wastebasket.

So apparently, the verdict on my vertigo, is that it's something called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

Here's what the Mayo Clinic says about BPPV:

Inside your ear is a tiny organ called the vestibular labyrinth. It includes three loop-shaped structures (semicircular canals) that contain fluid and fine, hair-like sensors that monitor the rotation of your head. Other structures (otolith organs) in your ear monitor movements of your head — up and down, right and left, back and forth — and your head's position related to gravity. These otolith organs — the utricle and saccule — contain crystals that make you sensitive to movement and gravity.

For a variety of reasons, these crystals can become dislodged. When they become dislodged, they can move into one of the semicircular canals — especially while you're lying down. This causes the semicircular canal to become sensitive to head position changes it would normally not respond to. As a result, you feel dizzy.

Here is what I surmise from all this is:
  1. Inside my head it is amazing, I mean, there is a maze, or labyrinth.
  2. A vestibular labyrinth, which is very alliterate of the amazing labyrinth in my head.
  3. My mind is a minefield, with pretty crystals in it.
  4. These shiny things make me sensitive to movement and gravity. (Which makes me wonder if my superpower of flying is the culprit in all this Vertigo madness.)
  5. It seems as if I have dislodged my crystals.
  6. Note that I did not say I've lost my crystals! I've lost my crystals! I'm no Tootles. They are merely dislodged.
  7. This makes me think of an avalanche.
  8. An avalanche makes me think of rocks.
  9. So basically, according to the Mayo Clinic I have rocks in my head?
  10. In other words, Rolling Stones. (Which makes me wonder where I put my iPhone? Where's my iPhone?)
And so we go from there. My ENT is sending me to an inner ear physical therapist to see if we can finally get me some Satisfaction in this Vertigo saga.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Found, on Folly

I flew to Folly this past weekend.

My sister lives there. Her name is Jennie. She is eight years younger than me. I have always thought she was mine. Have practically "raised" her as one of my own. (No offense to our Mum.)

We don't see each other nearly enough, but when we finally catch up, we make up for lost time.

She has the sweetest little boy, that I call "Charlie Brown". He used to have one little tuft of hair when he was littler, and it just sort of stuck in my head.

He calls me "Snoopy".

I love it.

Last time I was in Folly was during my boys' spring break.

Jennie was planning Charlie Brown's 4th birthday party. It was like a hurricane of activity. I was having my last spring break of homeschooling my kids. We both were worn out, on opposite ends of the spectrum.

We met somewhere in the middle, out on her back deck, with our elbows on the table, sipping on a couple of bottles of wine between us. Every now and then she lit a cigarette, which did a little waltz with the fireflies, as she punctuated syllables and such.

We talked as deep as the red wine. We always do. That's one of the lovely things about red wine. And my sister.

She dove deeper and came up for air, asking me to baptize her.

I'm not even kidding that when she asked me to baptize her this song wafted up from the basement, where the boys were watching, O Brother, Where Art Thou:
"As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way !

O sisters let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters let's go down,
Down in the river to pray.

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way !"
Our elbows never made it off the table to pray in the river that night. Sometime around 3 a.m. our eyelids grew heavy like the sleepy South Carolina sky and we decided we better cork the bottle for the night and go to bed. A little too much communion followed by a 3 a.m. baptism is probably not the best liturgy.

Anyway, you know what they say about time flying. Well, it did. And before we knew it, spring was broken in, and it was time for the road trip home.

Jennie and I left things that we'd try and coordinate her summer visit with the summer student conference we do at my church where they have a beautiful baptismal service at the end of the week, when my Redheads and I could baptize her.

Before we knew it, it was the week of the conference was at hand. It didn't look like it was going to work out this time either. I figured it would work out when and the way it was supposed to work out. Jennie has always lived by this easy-going philosophy. That's one of her many charms. And if there's anything I've learned from my sister, not to mention, cancer and chemo, it is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. It's a lot more fun than trying to run the ride. And a lot less pressure, since I'd probably wreck the world if I was in control.

So it was the Sunday before the conference, and I was sitting in church, listening to our pastor, Dave Workman, talking about "going and making disciples, baptizing them...." He told a story about a guy who had recently emailed him about baptizing a couple of friends, in the pond behind our church. Do I even have to tell you that it was a middle of the night baptism? 3 a.m. to be more specific?

I got the message and sent my sister a text message asking her if there was any way she could come to Cincy on Friday for the baptism.

She called me back as I was walking out of church and told me she was just going to ask me to come to Charleston because the church she has been attending was going to do ocean baptisms on the following Sunday.

"Aha," thought I... Dave Workman did say "Go." So I flew to Folly Beach the following weekend to see my sister get baptized.

It was to be an early evening baptism service off Folly Beach. The church had gathered. They sang a few worship songs. The pastor read some passages on baptism. He introduced those about to be baptized. Then he pointed out the storm brewing behind us, and said we better get about "the Father's business" in a hurry because the sky was about to let loose. He headed off into the water. Here is a picture of my sister heading toward the water:
The MINUTE she stepped into the water, here is what happened:
My brother-in-law, Eric, and his live action coverage:
The life guards and the oncoming storm had us all scurrying in separate directions, toward shelter. When we found everyone, we found out they were going to have to reschedule the baptism for 2 weeks later.

I was seriously bummed.

Jennie asked me to baptize her. Again.

"Aha," thought I... Dave Workman did say "Go... baptizing them."

My hub, who had been following the whole thing through my text messages, called me. I think I had left him somewhere with Jennie walking down to the water, so he was understandably anxious to hear that she came up out of the water at some point. Anyway, he said if anybody has been a pastor to my sister, it's been me, so I should dunk her.

I also liked how Eric summed it all up, by saying that it couldn't be any more obvious that this was the way it was supposed to happen.

So we walked along the beach toward clearer skies, past the life guards' boundaries, and headed back into the water. Jennie's baptism, take II:
And here is the video of the baptism:
Did I mention that, in the end, the storm was all bark and no bite? It did look seriously ominous, I'm not gonna lie. But all we got hit with, was a wee bit of drizzle.

Here we are, my recently dunked sister, Charlie Brown, and me:

Eric, Charlie Brown, and my sister (also note the tiny speck of sunshine getting ready to burst through the clouds and make a clean slate of the sky):

After the dunking it was time to drip dry, so we went, soaking wet to a little beach bistro to celebrate. We had them uncork a bottle of red wine, which we thought paired well with irony.

And we all signed the cork, as a token of remembrance (Luke 15):

I'm so glad I flew to Folly this past weekend. What a crazy blessing that I got to go and baptize my own sister!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gazuntite, Germany... Here Comes Mikey!

God willing, our Mikey will be going on a YWAM mission trip this coming school year. The first leg of the trip is a 3 1/2 month discipleship/filmmaking training school in Germany. The second leg is a 10 week filmmaking outreach in a third world country, TBD. The final leg is a week of editing back in Germany.

For more info and to follow his adventures, check out his blog here.

If you happen to be in or around the Cincy area tonight, please come join us for a German wine tasting benefit at Little Sonoma Fine Wines from 7-10pm, officially kicking off Mikey's summer of gearing up for Germany.

Little Sonoma has graciously offered to host this event. They are located at 6078 West Chester Rd., in West Chester, OH 45069.They will be offering 2 flights of German wines: 3 Rieslings or 3 Reds, for $10 per flight. A round trip ticket (both flights) is $20. They will also feature a Riesling and a Red for purchase by the glass. Little Sonoma is graciously pouring at cost and are donating the profit from tickets sold to to benefit Mikey's mission trip. Also if you feel like doing some wine shopping that night, they will donate 10% per case sold to benefit Mikey's mission trip.

For those who don't feel like wining ;) Corner Bloc Coffee Shop of Cleves will be offering flights of 3 coffees for $5, as well as pouring cups, for $1 per cup. They are also graciously donating the profits to Mikey's mission trip.

There will be no cover charge, so feel free to come hang out and talk to Mikey about his trip, even if you don't feel like buying or flying. We will have some desserts/apps available for those who like to dine while they wine or caffeinate.

Mikey will be performing a few songs with Amanda and Matt. Yes, they will be singing the "Chemo Cocktail" or "Cancer is a Bitch" song they wrote for me.

Also performing will be special guests Amanda Evans, Logan Sand and Jenn Silver.

It will be an open house sort of thing so feel free to come and go as you please. The musical guests will each play 2 sets, which we will spread out over the evening so there will be 2 times to catch their acts. They will also have CDs available for sale at the event.

Auf wiedersehen and Gazuntite,
Dave and Julie Evans

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Brain is, and I quote, "OK"

This post comes to you from a place I've been recently: a place called Vertigo. (Cue U2)
Uno, dos, tres, 14? Well, yeah, that's how we count there. Anyway, cuatro would have been way to predictable. But I digress. And that's one of the things about Vertigo. They say your mind can wander there. It's true. Been there, done that. Bought the t-shirt. It looks like this:

If you print out this blog... then carefully cut around the preceding octagon... then fashion it into a top by taking a pencil (which, if you're anything like me, there is probably one conveniently stashed right behind your ear) and poking a hole in the middle of the well, for lack of a better term, spirally thing... then spin your top and just stare at it for hours on end... then you will have a glimpse of this place called Vertigo.

So I woke up a few weeks ago and the second I opened my eyes and I wondered if I wasn't in Kansas anymore. But then I remembered that I don't even have a dog named Toto. Still, the room was spinning around me and I couldn't make it stop for a minute or two. I felt like I was falling through the bed and I just braced myself to keep afloat in the waves of the blankets. It was actually quite scary. While I was in the Vortex of the Vertigo I could not get up to get out of bed to go find Dave eating his bowl of Kashi or one of the boys, still fast asleep. I don't usually talk to myself, but after the minute or two I tried once more to get ahold of myself and said quite firmly, "Steady!" And things did slow down a bit. I was eventually able to get off the merry-go-round I like to call my bed. I did rise. I did try to shine. But the dizzying light was not me shining. I hate to admit this, but I was then, and still have been having episodes, of feeling... DIZZY. And I'm not even blonde anymore! Go figure.

So I called my oncologist's office and had a chat with one of my fave nurses in the world, Brenda. And she told me Dr. Lower thought we oughta go ahead and do an MRI because of those "Damn Spots", not to mention, the "Vespa Incident". I thought that sounded reasonable and that I hadn't had any really serious photo shoots of my brain since Rome, so why not?

Then they send me the script for the MRI and I note the diagnosis:
I have to admit, the giddiness part was a wee bit offensive. I am GLEEful on a weekly basis. But seriously, GIDDY? Here is a pic I took showing just how shocked I was to see it it in writing, that I, yours truly, am for all medical intents and purposes, diagnosed, IN WRITING, as giddy:
Then I thought, why not embrace this giddiness. Now, as you know I have been doing fashion shows these days. So I thought, why not? Right here, right now. In my dressing room. And so here are the bootleg photos. Wardrobe provided by The Mary Jo Cropper Breast Cancer Center of Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati. And Adidas. Although I haven't received the royalty check for that product placement yet. I'm hoping the iPhone product placement will net me an iPad as soon as Apple reviews this photo shoot done entirely with just me and my iPhone. Imagine what I could've done with an iPad. It boggles the imagination. Anyway, no word on that yet, either. So without further ado, here is my "ta-da" pose:
I know the bared calf was risque, but you know how high fashion is these days. What's a supermodel to do, but flex it?

And here's the cord you pull when you get bored in the dressing room. Or if the nurses aren't paying enough attention to you.
I didn't really pull it because I didn't really get bored at my own fashion show. It has actually kinda revolutionized the fashion world and I really wish you could've been there.

Anyway, so you're probably wondering what was all the buzz about my brain? Well, the oncologist's office called back after all the publicity from my fashion show antics died down ever so slightly, and the nurse said that my MRI results were back and that my brain was, and I quote, "OK."

I said, OK, as in good?

She said, OK as in OK. No evidences of masses or hemorrhages.

The word I was looking for, and I don't know if she was avoiding the word, dodging the topic, or just withholding helpful information, was NORMAL. But I didn't press her any further.

I'm OK with OK. Normal was probably pushing it anyway. And really, it's overrated if you ask me.

So after the oncology nurse called to tell me my brain was OK, a dear old Texas bud called, and I told her the good, I mean, OK report. She's an emergency room nurse, so I try to sound all smart and medical when I talk to her, speak her language and such. Well, apparently this doesn't work so well for me when I have Vertigo. Either my tongue got tied, or that oncology nurse wasn't telling me something, but I told her that the MRI showed that I had no evidence of masses or hemmorhoids on my brain. Well that's a relief.

And on that note, the note of H, as in preparation, I must sign off and bid you adieu. The world of high fashion continues to call. Ciao dah-lings!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Beautiful Letdown

I've been finishing a lot of chapters lately. Literal ones, and beautiful metaphoric ones. I've had to be a quite the speedreader (a latent superpower leftover from all those Mugascans?) to keep up, as life has been coming at me like the Orient Express. But I think I've finally stared down that train, which also turned out to be, coincidentally, the light at the end of the tunnel that I've been chasing for quite a while. If you're thinking "Veni, Vidi, Vici", I think it's cool if that train of thought led you to Rome and you couldn't resist that oncoming phrase. I just didn't want to say it myself and sound all boastful. And anyway, I can't really pronounce the Latin V without cracking myself up, so I think it really is for the best that I didn't let that train of thought derail this blog in the first paragraph.

Today I slept in. M&M are still catching z's as I begin tapping these keys. But I have shifted from the horizontal to a bit of an obtuse angle so I can get my caffeine on without actually spilling it on.

Basically I'm sitting here with a bunch of really pretty metaphorical books (and one literal) in a heap before me, that I'd like to review as I put them on the shelf for display.

The literal book has a working title of Shaken, not Stirred... a chemo cocktale. It is obviously the story of the cancer chapter of my life. Which, thank God, at press time is a closed book. In other words, it is in remission and the current work in progress is just a rewrite for re-syndication. I have written a preface and four chapters so far. That book is not quite ready for the shelf yet but as of this week, I go full-time into writing it. Chapter five (the lumpectomy) is at bat and six (the phone call and the C-word) is on deck.

On Saturday, I put away my teacher planning book, my grade book, and also retired all my red pens, as my boys, M&M, graduated from Grace Academy, our homeschool.

Matt is 17, and wrapped up his high school career with a pretty bow of a 3.85 GPA. He is Bearcat bound this fall as he has been accepted to the University of Cincinnati. Congrads my Mateo! Mum is so very proud of you!

I snapped this photo on stage at the grad ceremony!

Here is the text of Dave's grad speech he delivered in honor of our Matt:
Matt, you have always loved superheroes, and like me, Spiderman is your favorite. It's not uncommon for boys and men to admire superheroes, and to dream of being one. "Save the cheerleader; save the world."

But what is uncommon is to already be a hero in so many ways before you've even graduated from high school.

Whether it's rescuing your Mum or sister from spiders, taking off your shirt to wipe off a wet bleacher for your Mum, or defending your Mum, sister, brother, friends, or strangers from bullies and evildoers.

Whether its taking care of you Mum through her cancer and chemo, taking me to the ER in the middle of the night when you had just gotten your license, or just last week when Mum fell and cut her foot, whoosh, you flew out the door and drove to her rescue in an instant.

Whatever the need, whether it's noticing the unnoticed, loving the unloved, encouraging people, including me, at just the right time, Matt, you know how to save a life.

Maybe you're no Superman, and you can't do it all on your own, but you draw your strength from your one true here, Jesus. And I am as proud of you as a father can be!

Mikey is our resident Doogie Howser meet Barney Stinson, earning his high school diploma at warp speed and with excellence (3.87 GPA), just in time to turn 16 and get his license. He is not heading straight to college this fall. Instead, God willing, he will be spending his first year out of high school abroad, on a mission trip. He has been accepted to Youth With a Mission's Marriage of the Arts School in Germany, where he will spend three months being trained in filmmaking (which is exactly what he wants to do with his life). The film school is followed up with a 10-week filmmaking outreach in a third world county, TBD, which is followed up by a week of editing, back in Germany. God willing he should be back HOME just in time for April Fool's Day;) Congrads, my Meekah! Mum is so very proud of you!

Align Center
Also snapped this one on the grad stage. It's a bit blurry, but that's what it's felt like keeping up with teaching Doogie Howser!

Here is the text of Dave's grad speech he delivered in honor of our Mikey:

One of my company's slogans is "Leaders in time travel since 2023." Well, this news article from 2094 appeared on my desk the other day.

"Michael J. Evans, or Mikey, to his friends, went home to be with Jesus today at the age of 100. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Revered by his family and friends as a loving husband and father and Christ-follower, Michael is perhaps best known and loved throughout the world for his movie making. Whether acting, filming, writing, directing or producing, Michael spent his life pouring himself, his gifts and talents, his love for Jesus, and his heart for the lost, into his movies.

Michael began his mission-minded movie making career at an early age. Having been homeschooled, he graduated early and promptly answered the call to the mission field. At only 16 years of age he left family and country, and spent 7 months overseas working to spread the gospel through the art of filmmaking. Though there were difficulties along the way, never one to quit, Michael pressed on and completed the mission, setting the direction for the the rest of his life.

Michael leaves a legacy of gospel influence throughout the world, and is largely credited with the rapid growth and spread of Christianity in the 21st century. From the Evanshire, to Germany, to Africa and Asia, to Hollywood, to the world. Infinity and beyond."

Mikey, I don't know all the plans God has for you, but He does. And you are so brave as you trust Jesus and go where he leads. And I am so proud of you! Godspeed, Son.

So yeah, after 16 years of homeschooling, I'm officially retired. It's been the best job in the world. But I'm not going to lie... it is good to be at the finish line with my retirement plaque and feel like I finished well. And that book was closed happily ever after:)

But seriously, I got a plaque:

It says, "After climbing the mountain you can appreciate the beauty of the view."

Not exactly a mountain, but a hill I had to climb this year was on the unlikely terrain of the tennis court. After I had my port removed in January and while going through the stressful time of having my post cancer/chemo scans (all of which came back with no signs of cancer, thank God, in case you are just tuning in) I had a little slump in the stats. By little, I mean I started out the season with a 1-6 record. As in I won ONE and lost SIX. It was a bummer of a hill. But I ended up the season with a 9-6 record. And my team won our division, to boot! Go Cincy Five Seasons Green!

Now that club tennis is taking a break for the summer, so am I. No, I'm not retiring my orange tennis racket. But I have decided not to play USTA and I am just going to play in my neighborhood league for the summer. With Mikey going off to Germany, and Amanda and Matt both at UC, I don't want to miss a minute I can spend with them before life at the Evanshire is just Dave and me.

This is going to be the best summer EVER! I can just feel it! Even if it's trying to start out all gloomy and gray outside today, on my first real day of retirement. I just don't feel like letting things rain on my parade. If necessary, I will totally kick off my shoes (they bother my soggy feet anyway) and splash around barefoot in the puddles. Maybe even channel a little Gene Kelly and sing in the rain.

I don't count yesterday as the first day since I had my "maintenance" visit with my oncologist. Nothing against her, because she sort of saved my life and I sort of love her, but it's not my idea of the way I want to spend my first day of retirement, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, it was a pretty good day still, even at the chemo cocktail lounge. Hung out with my chemo sister, Shelly, while she downed her chemo cocktail, number 7UP, which means she has only 6 more until she joins the "maintenance crew" with me! Go Shelly!

And got to hear lovely news from my chemo bud, Jean, who has been battling breast cancer since 1984. That's when I graduated high school a quarter of a century ago. And if that's not perspective, I don't know what is. Anyway, Jean's breast cancer, effing cancer, had come back and gone metastatic, in her bones. She had a tumor in her lung and another one, a 2 cm. tumor in her spine that was causing her pain to a ridiculous degree. She has been downing Tax-ALL in her chemo cocktail mix for two years, and she told me she will be on it for the rest of her life. Which made my soggy feet feel ashamed of themselves for complaining so much about the neuropathy the nasty Tax-ALL left me. It also helped kick cancer's ass in me, so I thought I oughta give it a little tax-credit. And especially after talking with Jean yesterday, since it is part of her chemo cocktail which has made both tumors, including the 2cm tumor in her spine DISAPPEAR on her most recent scans! Woot and Yay God! So happy with you, Jean. And so honored to lounge around the chemo cocktail lounge with you. You are like a superhero to me.

After cocktails with the girls, I went downstairs to the lab to play the part of a pin cushion due to my veins rocking and rolling all over the place. It took 3 or 4 sticks but in the end the nurse won the battle of my veins. My blood counts came out groovy, I "passed" my check-up, and don't have to go back for THREE MONTHS! So I guess I'm on the quarter system now.

I still have to stay on the super duper 50,000 mega dose of Vitamin D once a week until further notice. Someday soon hopefully, my body will learn to absorb enough that it will sing in the key of D without backup singers.

I am waiting to hear the latest results of my tumor markers. Should get a phone call in the next few days. Last time was the first time I got that info. Mine was 19. I didn't really research it because I didn't feel like getting all paranoid about some scary number. But I did talk with Dr. Lower about it yesterday, who told me my number was good, and I feel like she saved my life so I don't mind listening to what she has to say. Anyway, she told me that a normal range is 40 and below, and that nobody really has a zero. I'm just praying my number stays low enough so I can keep doing the limbo, and leaving it at that. She also told me that breast cancer tumor markers (CA 2729) are not really very good tests. Mostly they are just another gauge to keep an eye on at my "maintenance" check-ups. Definitely nothing to get all paranoid over. So I feel like following that advice. Paranoia stresses me out anyway. And I really don't need more stress. I'm retired now, and I just feel like kicking my soggy feet up and relaxing a bit.

And writing my book!