A little to share here and there….

First of all, Joe and Michelle came up to Omaha for 24 hours this past weekend. Lily was off at a sleepover, but the four of us (Joe, Michelle, Rich, and I) spent a good chunk of Saturday at a family friend’s wedding and reception. We sat with our long time military friends from Norway, Ed & Wanda, and their son, Zac (Joe’s best friend), and his girlfriend, Megan. It was so nice for the 8 of us spending time together as adults. I had such a wonderful time. Tanner and Megan made a beautiful couple, and I wish them all the very best in their lifetime together. Tanner graduated with Joe and Zac and the three of them are good friends. It is hard to believe two of them are now married, two are firefighters, and Tanner will be a doctor (he is a physical therapist) in the next month or so. I love that Joe surrounded himself with really good people and has kept those good people in his life. I was not only blessed to know Zac and Tanner had Joe’s back, but I also got to love them as if they were my own…along with a few other men in Joe’s life. I am doubly blessed because I got to know their wonderful parents and got good friends in return. I got to see them and got lots of wonderful, tight hugs from these young men and their parents, whom I have really missed spending time with! I can’t even count how many times we either froze or fried watching Bellevue West High School football games! Good times! Now our boys are men….and I am so proud of each of them!

Zac, Tanner, and Joe

Zac & Megan and Michelle & Joe – the best of friends…they all live in the Kansas City area….Zac and Joe are fightfighters and first met when they were in the 7th grade in Stavanger, Norway. They have been best friends ever since!

How is my treatment going? Pretty good. I am staying active….I have been working 2-4 hours each morning in the store doing manual labor…moving stuff. Tallinn goes along with me as we are not open until 10, so from 8-10, he can roam the store and just follow me as I go from the store room to the floor, putting out inventory. Once the store opens, he settles himself under RIch’s desk in his office and is happy to take his morning nap there. I have been trying to get walks in as well. I am really feeling a lot of stiffness and joint/muscle pain from the anastrozole that I take daily. It is to be expected. I have talked to some people taking the same type of aromatase inhibitors and started taking Claritan yesterday morning. It worked really well with joint pain with neulasta shots I took last year. Tonight I will also start taking tart cherry chewies. Sounds weird, right? Well, it really works for a lot of people, so I figure why not give it a try? I have already noticed a bit of a difference with the Claritan, especially in the mornings. By afternoon, I am stiff and sore again though. I took some Tylenol this evening before going for a walk with Rich and that really helped too. So hopefully this will help. I went back to Mass starting two weeks ago and the Catholic Calisthenics had me moving pretty slow. Hopefully this will help.

I am still taking an advanced photography class online and loving it. However, it has been somewhat stressful being so busy and traveling recently trying to get my assignments posted. Bonus is I have had some gorgeous views to take photos of. If you saw a person in a winter jacket standing under a flowering tree in the Walgreen’s parking lot this morning in between snow flurries taking photos, that was me. I also got a great photo of Lily tonight….made it black and white and absolutely love it. So here are a few photos from my assignments on light this past week.

Happy Birthday Michelle!

Today is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. She has been my daughter officially less than a year, but has been a part of our family for over 7 years. This young lady is funny, so so smart, compassionate, athletic, and is just a beautiful person inside and out. I am so lucky that my son, Joe, managed to catch her interest and keep it! I am so very proud of the woman she has grown to be over the last several years. She comes from a wonderful family in Missouri and she has a large base of good, dependable friends in her life. Having her in my son’s life…and now our whole family’s lives, sets me at ease with my terminal disease. I know that with her by Joe’s side, he will be fine. She is everything in a wife I would want for him and everything I would want for my future grandchildren’s mom. (no she isn’t pregnant….she wants to wait a bit) She also sets my heart at ease knowing that she will be there for Lily when I am gone…a woman in her life that will also laugh with her and give her a shoulder to cry on if needed. Happy birthday Michelle! God certainly blessed us with you in our lives!

A Secret Trip to Houston

I told you I had been busy! less than 36 hours after my sister left from Omaha, I got on a plane in Omaha and my son, Joe, got on a plane in Kansas City, and we both flew to Houston to surprise my mom for her 75th birthday, which was Tuesday, April 13th. We arrived pretty early in the morning on Monday. My brother, Craig, picked us up and we went over to his house for a little while before he dropped us off at my parents’ house. My mom volunteers at the church on Monday mornings, so Joe and I were able to spend some time with my dad. My dad’s mind has been failing him over the last decade and it was hard to know he would have never known who we were if my brother hadn’t yelled out the truck window that he had “Joe, his grandson, and Cyndi, his daughter” in the truck with him. His eyesight is really going (although for some reason he always gets a clean bill of health from his eye doctor). He is typically pretty quiet, willing to just sit and listen to conversations. However, when he is out walking the loop of his neighborhood, which he does 3-4 times a day, he is pretty chatty….although he has a hard time finding his words now. I know how that is…chemo has done a number on my brain and some days are harder than others. He now wears an ID bracelet with his name and my mom’s name and phone number on it so if he finds himself lost, he can show it to someone. It was very hard to watch him be so lost…even in his own home surroundings this time. I was thankful that Joe was there to also spend some time with him. We definitely surprised my mom and had a great couple of days with her. We flew in on Monday morning and left Wednesday afternoon. It was quick but fun. I always enjoy spending time with Craig and his wife and son as well. I had not flown in over 2 years. The planes I was on were completely full. I double masked for the planes and tried not to touch much…just read my kindle for the 90 minute or so flights. It was a great trip and I am so glad we went!

My Sister Comes for a Visit

I have a younger sister named Pam, and she and her three kids and husband live in Goshen, Indiana. It had been 8 years since she had come to Nebraska to visit, so she took a few days off and came to visit a few days after we got back from our Montana/Wyoming trip. She brought 2 of her 5 dogs with her, so Tallinn was busy during those few days she visited as well. Unfortunately it rained quite a bit whilst she was here, but we managed to get a tour of the store in, a good walk with all three dogs (went way better than I expected), and we also went out so I could show her the Holy Family Shrine. It was pretty windy, even though the sun was out and we both got a bit disoriented when looking up at the big crucifix with the clouds moving fast behind it. It gave the illusion that Christ was coming down off the cross. I saw it first and was wondering if my chemo brain fog was doing me in, but was relieved when she looked up, she almost fell over backwards as well. It was great to have Pam visit!

Sandhill Cranes for Easter

We drove our last leg home on Easter Sunday. We were able to catch a few photos of the sandhills cranes whilst driving through North Platte. We were able to have dinner in Cheyenne, Wyoming the night before and our youngest son, Tim (who lives in Fort Collins, CO), was able to make the 45 minute drive to meet us. That ended our wonderful trip on a very good note. When we got home to Omaha in the late afternoon, it was 88 degrees here! We were still in hiking boots, jeans and long sleeved shirts. Summer had come while we were gone!

Grand Tetons National Park

Our next stop on the way back towards home was Grand Tetons National Park in Jackson, Wyoming. It is just another gorgeous mountain place. Can you tell I am a mountain girl? I just love them. We were there for a day and a half and were able to see a couple of fox, over a dozen moose, a coyote, some elk, and some big horn sheep. One of the afternoons we went on a wagon ride out onto an Elk Refuge. The elk were just about to start heading out of the valley and into the mountains to have their young and live in their own areas until winter next year, when they come back to graze in this big valley again. Our guide was a girl from Idaho, who was also a vet tech. We were her last wagon ride crowd ever, as she would be moving on to work as a vet tech next winter. She was so knowledgeable. I was really impressed by her. Although there was still FEET of snow, it was warm (high 50’s and low 60’s) so we walked without jackets and even got a little sun on our faces as the sun was pretty bright reflecting off the snow. If you have never been to the Grand Tetons….put it on your bucket list!

Treatment Today

I know I have been playing catch up and blogging from things that happened three weeks ago. However, I wanted to end this night (as I need to get to bed and plus I swear I am getting mouse clicker’s forearm) with something that happened TODAY. I spent all morning at the Cancer Center at Bergan Mercy seeing the oncology nurse practitioner (love her!), getting labs drawn, my port flushed, a zometa infusion via the port, and then a shot of Lupron. So I have a bandaid on my left buttock (really hip) and right boob (really chest) from the needle sticks today (I am on blood thinners so they don’t take a chance and always bandage me up). All went well. I have never taken zometa without chemo and all the drugs that go with it, like the massive amounts of steroids, so we’ll see how I feel in the morning. So far so good. Even had 3 zoom meetings today and two of them were Tai Chi classes for cancer patients. So below is a selfie from treatment today and then the other two are where Tallinn plants himself when I am doing Zoom Tai Chi. (right in front of me or right under my feet). Good thing we move slow, because I was stepping around him the whole time. :o)

Glacier at Sunrise

On our last full day in Montana, the day was clear and so Rich and I went out early to get some pictures from Lake MacDonald in Glacier National Park. Once again, it was deserted, so we spent a couple of hours just taking in the view….which was phenomenal.

Random Shots Around Whitefish

We took lots of long walks to keep the dog tired each night. There were lots of bodies of water nearby, including Whitefish Lake. The stillness of the water made for awesome views. We found some areas on a beach with frozen waves. Very cool! Of course there were also the ski slopes, where Rich hopes to live his retired life as a ski bump in the winter.

Horseback Riding in the Snowy Mountains in Montana

Not many horse places are open during the winter….but this one in rural Kalispell was! The three of us spent 2 hours on the trails in the mountains on horseback. It was a lot of fun and we all enjoyed it. My horse, Caramel, was in the back and decided to do a lot of plodding…..so kept falling behind. So we had to do a fair bit of trotting to keep up. It was a blast. The other family was from Chicago and when one of the little kids asked why the young man riding in the rear was wearing a gun in his holster, he said, “Just in case of mountain lions.” I think the dad of the kids, wearing square-toed leather dress shoes (sigh) blanched a bit. There were a lot of deer and turkey in the barnyard waiting for us to leave on the trail ride so they could eat the leftover feed dropped on the ground by the horses. Lily said it was her favorite part of the trip. (bonus!) It is hard to please a 16 year old year on a vacation with her parents and her dog that was breathing on her in the car the whole trip. :o)