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Monday, December 30, 2013

Bone scan update

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

Hi friends. Just wanted to update you on the latest. I also want to thank Jen K. for reminding me of this beautiful verse earlier this weekend. Another friend shared this passage with me this summer and highlighted the beautiful promise of seeing His goodness "in the land of the living." I'm clinging to that, and goodness I needed this passage this weekend (more on that later - back to the update).

I received a call from Dr. Keefer's nurse this afternoon, and the initial reviews of my bone scan revealed nothing remarkable concerning metastatic disease. It noted some osteo-arthritic activity but all looks well. Dr. Keefer is out until Thursday so he hasn't seen it, but we'll take that news for now :) I'll call Friday to see what he thinks. I'm so thankful for your faithful prayers as I truly believe when my army of prayer warriors is interceding in boldness on my behalf, God has done some incredible things. At the very least I experience a peace that rarely happens on a day-to-day basis, but almost always, something incredible happens with His fingerprints all over it.

I can say I experienced that peace in this situation. On Saturday and Sunday, the Lord washed over me with His peace. I am very thankful for that as Christmas Day and the two days following were dark. I was melancholy most of Christmas Day. I cried at my appointment and let Dr. Keefer know, with tears rolling down my cheeks, that I didn't want to be there that day. I was angry and sad at my bone scan (poor techs taking my images. I was cooperative, just not my joking self). I realize all of this is grief, frustration, and oftentimes, bitterness that this is my lot. I feel like I am always working through these emotions, especially when I am hurting or I look around and don't see anyone my age walking through this. I have told the Lord I am weary of this character-building but I know He doesn't need a consultant in this matter because, goodness knows, I'd be doing a lot of things differently (like never allowing cancer in my body). No doubt . . . I know as well as He does that I have a long way to go before I resemble Him.

Anyway, I was grateful when I felt the Lord's presence, hope and peace in a more tangible way on Saturday. I needed to "feel" He cared even though I knew it in my head. I'm grateful His grace was sufficient in my weakness. Even the pain I experienced was minimal in comparison to what it has been over the past two weeks. I was able to do some activities I wouldn't have dreamed of attempting even a week ago, and I even sat through a movie without any Celebrex! Regardless of pain or no pain, the Lord gave me a sense of His presence and peace, and I had a feeling very similar to the feeling I had going into surgery the day Dr. Lin removed the tumor from my arm. I wasn't fearful, and I didn't have the usual "what's next in this hellish journey" worry. I felt hope and confidence in Him. And I repeat, I felt His peace. I realize this peace doesn't guarantee a cancer-free report, but I definitely did not have this peace awaiting the MRI results of my left hip/pelvis in early November.

And so, I praise Him for the provision of an initial good report, and I thank you for your prayers that press me into Him - allowing me to see Him more clearly and believe He is my God of the impossible. And, of course, thank you for asking and believing boldly for my healing. I will keep you updated on Dr. Keefer's thoughts post-New Years, but for now, I am so grateful for a more promising beginning to 2014. We will have more reasons to celebrate tomorrow, that's for sure.

- Pray for wisdom as Dr. Keefer evaluates my bone scan. I would love to hear my body is clean but I don't want him to miss anything and provide me false hope. Lord, please heal these areas of concern.

- Regardless of the initial great news, the pain in my right hip/pelvis and right shoulder blade/chest are still there and still a concern. I truly want to believe this is healing pain. Dr. Keefer thinks some of the skin pain could be neuropathy from the radiation, and when he re-evaluated my right hip x-ray, he said my right femur/joint looked beautiful. I'll take that. I told him, "If this pain isn't cancer, I know the pain will feel better immediately." It is crazy how our mental psyche plays into all of this. Regardless, it would be good to know why I'm having pain (w/o cancer in the equation). It could definitely be radiation-related. And, I'm always open to God just removing it. :)

- HUGE praise is that my bloodwork looked good and my nurse was very pleased with my liver enzymes (which were a concern last time). So, I was released to take the full dose of Votrient (my chemo pill). I was ecstatic and thankful to hear my liver is taking this medication well! I now take four pills every morning, and thus far, the only side effects have been nausea, decreased appetite, headaches and a rumbly tummy. My hair continues to lighten so it will be an adventure to see how things change. Above all, the prayer is for this chemo pill to destroy any chance of cancer spreading with minimal short-term or long-term side effects.

- I return to MDA the week of January 26. I will have MRIs of my full spine, hip/pelvis and right leg. I will also have a CT scan of my chest. I will meet with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Brown, and my sarcoma doc, Dr. Benjamin. Continued prayers for all of these areas to be in the process of healing and cancer-free forever.

- It's still a waiting game - something I am getting used to but will never like. Please pray for my heart to continue to trust Him for big things. That I might experience the same peace, hope and confidence in Him that I did that last couple of days. A dear sister, Kari, reminded me of this command in Romans.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

This is where I am folks. I pray you will join me as we enter 2014 to rejoice in the hope Christ brings, to be patient as we continue down the road to healing, and persevere boldly in prayer. Love to you all!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Welcome to our world

“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!”  Luke 2:11


He’s the reason we celebrate today. He’s the reason we experience forgiveness. He’s the reason we can have hope in the midst of darkness and confusion. And goodness, I live on hope these days. Even with the unusual pain I’ve been experiencing, even with longing to be healthy and cancer-free, even with the yearning to have many more years with my family, I can reflect on Christmas, what Jesus did and find comfort. I’ll be honest, being cancer-free would provide even more comfort but that’s not my reality – at least not today. I’m so sad I can’t say that right now but – I can’t. (Although, we’re praying boldly that “cancer-free” will be my reality in 2014.)

So, I look to the babe who gave up everything to give me everything. He knows what it means to count the cost. He knows what it means to hear His Father’s voice and submit, even when it was infinitely hard, even when it didn’t make a lick of sense. Bottom line - He knows . . . and the beautiful thing is He knows me, my heart, my desires, my fears. He knows because this little babe was fully God wrapped in humanity. And for that, I am thankful. Although I love so many of the Christmas carols and hymns we sing during this season, I can’t help but look at the little baby Jesus who chose to come to man by the humblest of means and sing . . .

Jesus loves me. This I know.
For the Bible (manger) tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible (manger) tells me so.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us when we needed you most – when I needed you most. Thank you for the promise you will never leave us. Thank you for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The most wonderful time of the year!


It is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year!! I love transforming our home into the spirit of Christmas with festive decorations, candles burning, Christmas dishes and the sounds of Christmas (which means I play music all day long). All of the tradition takes me back to Christmases growing up – when there was typically snow on the ground, Christmas records playing in the background, and the guarantee there would be a smorgasbord of delicious food at Nonie & Paka’s.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this season, and the love of Christmas is spreading to Alexa as well. She loves snuffing out the Advent candles, unwrapping an ornament each day to hang on her Advent tree, reading Christmas stories in the candlelight, memorizing scriptures about Jesus’ birth, singing Christmas carols, going to sleep staring at her little Christmas tree, and I can’t tell you how excited she is to open the gifts under the tree. But most of all, I pray she loves the story behind the celebration – baby Jesus. I will elaborate more on this perfect gift in tomorrow’s post. But for now, I wanted to update you a bit on our lives (since we haven’t provided one since leaving for Disney).

I apologize for the delay. When we got home from Disney, besides being very tired and recovering from a sinus infection, our world flurried into Christmas prep – wrapping gifts, making Christmas goodies and sending cards. As the celebration is almost here, our life slows a bit and I can sit down to write and reflect (more reflection tomorrow). For now, I’ve included a few images from our little home and some images from our recent ice storm. Finally, there are a few prayer requests on the status of my ongoing battle with cancer. By the way, Disney World was wonderful, and I will post a blog with plenty of pics in an effort to share what a special time we had at the most magical place on earth.






Alexa’s little tree in her room. It even lights up – so much fun!!





Our poor Crepe Myrtles may not spring back – so sad.


These were the icicles hanging over the back-up camera on our mini-van.


I think most of you simply wanted an update on how I‘ve been doing. I can’t tell you what a gift it was to have your prayers while we were at Disney World. I felt really good and had a “divine” amount of energy. My pain level was minimal during the day, and the only time I hurt pretty bad was in bed at night. Surprisingly, I had great endurance and normally hit the sack around 1am.

Getting home was another story. I did get sick at Disney World but the pain worsened at home. I battled a very painful cough (painful in my back) among other disgusting allergy issues. I am currently on an antibiotic to finish this illness off as well as a prescription cough medicine to halt those painful coughs.

- The biggest concern, though, has been an increased pain in my right hip/pelvis and upper right femur. It feels eerily like the pain I had in my left hip prior to discovering cancer there. It is a pretty constant pain.

- I have also had a troubling pain in my right shoulder blade spreading around to my chest. Some feels like bone pain and some feels like skin pain (it is very tender to the touch) – weird and hard to describe but troubling nonetheless.

- I feel like my back pain is decreasing but I move like an old lady to prevent the pain. Sudden movements send chills up my spine – literally. My back is incredibly tight, and I am unsure when I’ll be released to stretch it more. We simply continue pleading with the Lord that the stereotactic radiation destroys all of the cancer in my body – forever.

- I meet with my OKC oncologist, Dr. Keefer, this Thursday, Dec. 26 for my bi-monthly bloodwork and blood pressure check as well as my monthly bone-strengthening shot. Please pray my levels – especially my liver enzymes – are strong enough for me to increase my chemo pill dosage to the full dose of four pills a day. I am currently on three. Please pray, that regardless, this chemo pill WILL work and prevent the spread of more cancer. Pray for no harmful side effects.

- I am going to ask Keefer for an order to do MRIs on the areas of concern. Pray he would have the wisdom to know what to do concerning my pain and please ask the Lord to prevent this from being cancer.

- We ask the Lord daily (multiple times a day) for His miraculous healing on my body. I battle constant discouragement and worry with the constant pain. Then, I have to bring my thoughts back to Him and trust in what I can’t see or feel. It’s a nasty cycle I deal with moment-by-moment-by-moment. Oh Lord, please make 2014 a year of encouragement and healing! Do the impossible.

- My hand’s range-of-motion continues to increase with my hand therapy (currently going three times a week). My strength is still a concern. At my last assessment, my therapist considers a functioning hand at 25lbs of grip strength. Mine is currently 5 lbs. On the other hand (literally), my left hand has 55 lbs of grip strength. So you can see, I have a long ways to go to get my strength back. Please pray my flexibility and strength will continue to improve.

I’m sure there’s more to share and I’ll probably remember more lying in bed tonight, but I’ll retire for now and meditate on the beauty of Christ’s descent to man. Thank you, Lord, for being Emmanuel – God with us!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Do you believe in magic?

You’ll find this hard to believe (mainly because I’ve kept it under wraps for so long – even Alexa doesn’t know), but by the time you read this, we’ll be boarding an airplane to spend the week at Disney World with my family!! This was definitely not on our December agenda, but my Mom’s sales representatives, senior management and several of her co-workers joined together to “sponsor” a trip to Disney World for my family.

Thank you Balfour!! I mean, isn’t that a kick!? We were totally humbled by their generosity . . . blown away, overwhelmed, stunned. There truly aren’t words for a gift as generous as this. I think we all cried when we heard the news. I still can’t wrap my mind around such a gift. We are so, so grateful.

You see, one of the vacations we planned and booked this summer was to take Alexa Hope to Disney World. She went when she was 18 months old, but we knew she would enjoy it much more now. How disheartening when we had to cancel due to my chemo schedule and the uncertainty of my treatments. To be able to surprise her with this trip will be magical. We can’t wait to see her face when she finds out she is going to Disney World and her Mimi, Pop, Aunt Hol, Ry-Ry and Layton will be there too!!
We thought we would give her her very own pair of glass slippers for her magical time at Walt Disney World.

Snow Day & PR Update


It was a fun extended (and snowy) weekend as Daddy got to spend Friday with us since OU’s campus was closed. Alexa was delighted to see snow on the ground and enjoyed trudging around in the frigid temperatures. (Mommy wasn’t as big of a fan, but I goose bump at 80 degrees.)

We also enjoyed taking in the spectacular Christmas lights at Chesapeake Energy in OKC. Again, I much preferred viewing them from my heated seat in the car but Alexa’s enthusiasm warmed my thoughts while we walked around outside.


I also had the privilege of hanging out with some very salty ladies and learning the art of sugar cookie icing. My cookies definitely aren’t perfect, but they don’t look awful, especially for having a one finger, one thumb handicap. I look forward to trying my skills out again next year. To see what real sugar cookie art looks like, check-out Shannon’s Christmas tree and snowman below! Unbelievable!!

sugar cookies2

Christmas tree cookie

Snowman cookie

I LOVE this time of year. The house is all decorated and smells of hollyberry candles. We are in full swing with Advent, and we listen to Christmas music all day long. It truly can’t get any better than that . . . unless it includes snuggling with your lil’ girl while gazing at the Christmas tree and sipping a cup of Williams Sonoma hot chocolate with melty marshmallows. Now, it truly can’t get any better than that!

Now that I’ve pondered the best of this season, let me get to the nitty gritty of my life (sigh). I had an appointment with my oncologist this morning to check my bloodwork and liver enzymes. Here’s the latest on my journey to healing and how you can be lifting me up. Sorry I’m so needy these days.


- My blood work and blood pressure looked good minus a modest increase in one of the four liver enzymes they check, so the doc has increased my Votrient dosage (the chemo pill) from 2 pills/day to 3 pills/day. The end goal is 4 pills/day (which would be most effective). I will go back in two weeks to see how everything looks and hopefully I’ll be released for the full dose.

- Please pray the Votrient would be effective in eliminating the spread of this nasty cancer. We are praying it stops dead in its tracks – forever.

- Please continue praying for minimal side effects from the Votrient, the ones they’ve emphasized are – high blood pressure, liver damage, fatigue, decreased platelets & white blood cells and loss of hair pigment. At the moment, it seems my liver and my hair are the greatest concern. I have noticed the roots of my hair lightening. I am not ready to be white-headed but Chris reminded me I had hair, so that’s a bonus. Regardless, I’m still sad about it. It makes me look more sick and is just another reminder of loss. Other side effects I’ve been experiencing are headaches and decreased appetite. I weighed 122 lbs today with clothing, boots and a coat, so I need to put weight on, not lose anymore.

- My lower back and hip/pelvis pain has decreased but it is definitely still a concern and something I deal with on a daily basis. I control it mainly with heat, narcotics, Celebrex and prayer. I would love to experience the disappearance of this pain because it would convince me the radiation is working and would allow me to work-out again (which means I would gain more stamina). Just walking is a chore. Bending over is unheard of, and coughing or sneezing brings me to tears.

- I have been experiencing tightness in my lungs and pain in my right femur. Of course, my mind goes directly to cancer. They x-rayed both areas of concern today and did not see anything. However, we are going to keep a close eye on it and may have to do more imaging if the pain continues. Would you please ask the Lord to remove this pain and that it is only referred pain, not more bad stuff. I get very discouraged just thinking about it. Worry is a constant battle.

- Continue praying the stereotactic radiation is killing the heck out of the cancer in my T2 & L2 vertebrae and hip/pelvis.

- I have enjoyed my hand therapy and have seen progress in the functionality of my right hand (I can use scissors. I can turn a doorknob & car keys. I can put A’s hair in a ponytail, etc.). Please pray this would continue and I would stay disciplined in doing my daily exercises.

- I return to MDA at the end of January for follow-up scans and appts. I have been thankful for the escape from “Cancer Central” but I am always waiting for another ball to drop when I go back. Please pray I could rest in Him during this time away and put my confidence in Him and His healing hand. That I would anticipate good news not bad.

- You can pray for my heart. I’ve been more discouraged than usual. The reality of my condition can be so weighty, so frightening, so uncontrollable. The pain never helps with my attitude. There have been many days in the past month I’ve desperately wanted my old life back – to feel good again, to not have to wake-up early every morning to take a chemo pill, to just be a Mommy & wife. It’s still hard to accept “my reality.” Tears come more often than I would like.

In light of this, here’s is a passage I’ve been trying to live out. It was given to me by a cancer survivor and hangs on my fighting wall. I love this translation. (Ty Miss Margaret!)

“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! . . . Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:4-7 (The Message)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Never alone

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”   Hebrews 13:5-6

I have said more than once along this journey there are times I haven’t “felt” the Lord’s presence. I know the passage in Hebrews (and so many others) promises He is with us – always – but it sure doesn't always feel like it.

And yet, it is often when I feel most alone, a dear friend (or quite honestly a person I don’t even know) will encourage me with a timely scripture, a hand-written note or a simple text letting me know I am not forgotten. It is then I realize Christ’s presence is often “felt” most strongly through His body of believers. It’s as if He’s whispering to me, “You see, daughter, I do love you. I know you don’t think so, but I’m pouring out my extravagant love on you through others. They know and I know what is going on. We ache with you. You are not alone.”

Time and time again, I have been overwhelmed to tears by the sacrificial love shown to me and my family (and that’s just the tangible stuff I am privileged to experience). I can’t fathom what is happening in the heavenlies when my precious army of prayer warriors lifts me and my family up to the Father. I am confident He hears each request, and I believe He can heal me if He wants (and that is our continual heart’s cry). With your petitions comes peace, so please don’t stop. BIG things happen when we plead to the Lord. (For example, I never wouldve dreamed I’d be able to make a heart shape with both of my hands again & look at what prayer, hand therapy and a big God did – see pic above.)

Although there are so many more reasons for which I’m thankful, I’m going to end my “thankful” posts with one dedicated to – YOU!! There are no words to adequately express what you’ve meant to me . . . no words. Like the paralytic man in Matthew 9, you have carried me to the foot of Jesus when I couldn’t come to Him myself. Like Aaron and Hur lifting Moses’ hands to defeat the Amalekites, you have held me up in prayer when I was too weak – physically or spiritually – to proclaim victory over the Enemy and believe big.

Although, I continually ask the Lord to remove this painful thorn from my life, I am grateful for the ways He manifests His presence to me (through you) in the midst of great darkness. I know I never would have experienced His presence in this way otherwise. Truly, truly – we are never alone.

We pray the Lord blesses you in abundance for the many, many ways you’ve blessed ours!! Here’s a small (and I mean small) sampling of the thoughtful ways you have loved on me and my family. I included the song by Matt Redman (below) for you to listen to as you read through this post. Even though the song is about the Lord’s presence with us, it always comes to mind when I think of my precious support system – for those I’ve met and for those I don’t know personally. Thank you for never leaving me or my family abandoned on this often desolate road. It would be quite desolate, indeed, without you.

Here’s a pic of the fighting wall in my room. The wall displays cards, artwork, quotations and poems from my supporters. It will soon have a verse from my sis-in-law above the boxing gloves. Our postman, Mr. V (see him below), said he’s never seen an individual receive as many cards & deliveries as I have in his tenure with the postal service. Now – that is saying something! Needless to say, I need a larger wall for all “the love” that comes my way.

Our precious postman (yes, I said postman), Mr. V has followed my story since the beginning. He has such a caring (and generous) heart. We could chat all day if he didn’t have more deliveries to make. After he found out we’d be going to MD Anderson for treatment, he dropped by our home one day after his work and gifted Alexa with her very own iPad Mini. He said it would give her something to do on the long road trips. It was all ready to go with her name on the wallpaper. She was elated! We didn’t even know what to say. It blew us away.

My dear friend, Candelon, took the reigns as my juicing guru when we began the enormous task of altering my nutrition. (Just so you know, organic juicing takes a tremendous amount of time and money.) She sacrificially gave of her time to grocery shop, clean and juice numerous jars of fresh produce for me – even delivering them fresh to my front doorstep. Then, she educated me and my mom on how it’s all done. You’re a gem, sweet Candelon!

Emily, the redhead on the right, has organized numerous “cleaning parties” at our home, where gals from our church bless my Type A, OCD heart with a wonderfully clean and anti-bacterialized home. Ty for cleaning our toilets, sweet sisters!! I don’t know if it’s more humbling for me or for you.

You’ve met Miss Carol in our Fall blog. She is a beautiful, selfless sister who took it upon herself to adopt Alexa (and Mommy) during my chemo treatments this summer. Alexa continues to visit Miss Carol each week (while I go to hand therapy) because she loves her and has so much fun. From swimming to making cookies, Miss Carol has given Alexa something to smile about each week.

My hairstylist of twelve years, Marcie, surprised me with her generosity when I had gone to her for a simple bang trim before our photo shoot in Galveston. She not only reshaped my locks but also gave me completely fresh highlights. Viola! I looked like a new woman. I posed for this pic right after the style to send my family. We love you Marcie!

One of my besties, Shannon, offered to photograph our family in Galveston before chemo claimed my hair. I will always treasure these images because I don’t when I’ll look like that again. It was a special time with Shannon’s family as well as we hung out on the beach. Shannon, you know how much I love the way you’ve captured our story from the very beginning. And, you know how much I love you. Thank you for such a meaningful gift!!

These are all handmade prayer quilts made by various friends or friends of friends. I feel quite loved when I wrap up in a quilt symbolizing the prayers of so many. Aren’t they beautiful!?

Another prayer quilt I recently received from my cousin. Ty and love you Judy!!


Another blanket and two handmade prayer shawls that are used religiously for surgeries and to keep warm in the morning when I read. Alexa sleeps with the pink blankie every night. For some reason, she thinks it is hers. This is what the label stitched on it says (my favorite verse through this season).

I love this leather wrap bracelet given to me by another sister who is fighting her own cancer battle. Ty Andrea!! She also gave me a turquoise one when I feel more funky. The bracelet also has my fave verse for this season on it – Isaiah 41:10.

On occasion, I receive gifts like the one above from an anonymous supporter. Ty to this thoughtful individual who has been faithfully praying for me for several months.

Chris’ co-workers at OU recently gave us this “blessing” tree loaded with gift cards to our favorite places. I cried when he texted me this picture – I just cried. For me, it was another indication of how deeply Chris is loved by those with whom he works. And of course, I feel deeply loved too.

This was another evening, I broke down in tears. Another body of believers (Norman Community Church) gathered together in a home to spend an evening praying over us. It was so beautiful to hear the saints cry out to God for my total healing and then sing praises to His name. Your faith deeply blessed my heart.

Robin, you know I love these socks. I wish this sentiment were true all the time but it’s a good reminder nontheless – especially when I go in for scans.

Other inspirational plaques I see every day as a reminder not to give up.

Had to include these beauties picked by Alexa Hope early on in my diagnosis.

The pink banner says “flourish.”

As I said, these are only a sampling of the love that’s been shown to us over the past eight months. There has been lawn mowing (ty Jonathan & Bo), meal providing (ty TBC ladies and BSF friends), Alexa watching (too many to thank) and so, so, so much more. We truly feel so blessed by your partnership with us to pray for healing and encourage us in big ways and small. We love you!!

In a post coming soon, I’ll share about a gift given to us of such magnitude & generosity, it will blow your socks off. Let me just say, it includes plane tickets!

Friday, December 6, 2013

New York! New York!


I distinctly remember a Sunday evening in January when Chris and I sat down at Panera to discuss and pray through our new year’s goals, dreams, budget and areas of much-needed-improvement. One thing we agreed about was the plan to travel in 2013. Chris had just graduated from grad school and we needed to celebrate. Alexa wasn’t in school yet, and we had been stashing money away for such adventures. As we dreamed about where we wanted to go, we tossed around the idea of NYC in early spring. I have been to NYC three times and instantly fell in love with the megalopolis. In fact, I pursued living there after college graduation. (I had an impressive black wardrobe to prove it.) Chris had never been but he was open to the idea, albeit mountains and fresh air are much more his style.

We eventually decided on two other “for sure” destinations and left NYC up in the air. As spring drew closer, we were yet undecided on what to do about NYC. My parents were going in March for my mom’s work. My sis’ family agreed to watch Alexa, and it just seemed like the perfect time for a rendezvous to the Big Apple. However, as we began searching for flights (and this after already booking two other vacations), we decided to nix the trip due to exorbitant flight costs along with the additional costs that come with the expensive bustling city. It just didn’t seem to make sense with our budget.

I have to admit, I was heartbroken. I had been itching to get back. I could smell the street side vendors selling hot dogs and pretzels. I could hear obsessive honking and could envision sitting on a faded red upholstered chair in a narrow Broadway theater. Even the somewhat repulsive smell of the subway enticed me. It was like not getting the puppy you really wanted for Christmas, but I truly felt it was the right thing to do. However, all of that changed when Chris surprised me with a message in my inbox saying, “Happy anniversary!” The message included our flight itinerary to NYC!! I was elated. I couldn’t believe he would do something so crazy (and spendy), but then again, I totally could. His decision for us to “bite the bullet” and go was an insightful decision.

You see, it was the last vacation we’d have as a couple before facing life-altering news. Just three days after we landed, doctors started investigating a mass in my forearm, and it didn’t look good. We eventually cancelled the two “already planned” vacations and substituted them for numerous trips to OKC and Houston for surgeries, doctor’s appointments and cancer treatments.

Indeed 2013 has proven to be the year we “traveled” but never in the way we imagined (and most definitely not as fun but ironically far more expensive). Instead of flights, we purchased a new mini van. Instead of wearing sunscreen, my body has been covered with markings for radiation. Instead of a swimsuit, I wore a surgical gown. Instead of natural sun-kissed highlights, I shaved my head. And, I never leave home without a bag of prescriptions. This is our life now.

Therefore, I’m so thankful for this very special, spur-of-the-moment trip. Honey, I love you and thank you for looking beyond mere dollar signs (quite often actually) to the value of making memories. For obvious reasons, the memories made in NYC were particularly sweet.


It’s hard to tell in this underexposed image but the restaurant in our hotel overlooked Times Square. It was a delight to eat breakfast each morning and watch the hustle & bustle of the city unfold.



Although we didn’t have time to visit all of my favorite museums. We enjoyed a day at the Met. (It’s the one I thought Chris would enjoy most.) I’m with one of my favorite artists – Chuck Close. This painting is composed of hundreds of individual squares – ah-mazing.


Cuddling at the top of Belvedere Castle in Central Park.

Where they place, in my estimation, the most famous Christmas tree in the world. If you know me at all, you know I LOVE Christmas. We’ll have to return for a visit in December next time.

The Flatiron Building from the Empire State Building.

I took a shot of the city from the same perspective with B&W film when I was a senior in college. I wanted to compare the two images and see what had changed.

If you look closely between the white and green buildings, you can see Times Square. Our hotel was across the street from the Hershey’s store. You can see the sign if you zoom in.

Seriously pigeon! How’d you get up here!? First of all, it’s freezing and we didn’t bring any bread.

Having fun with our reflection atop the ESB.

The four-faced clock at Grand Central.

Freedom Tower – almost finished.

The 9/11 Memorial

Ain’t no bull. We’re getting close to Wall Street. By the way, don’t sit on this bull, you’ll get kicked out of the park. We saw it happen.


Chris and the New York Stock Exchange.

No NYC trip is complete without evenings at the theater. We enjoyed seeing Cinderella (in its Broadway debut), Wicked & Newsies. Chris knows when Les Miserables returns to Broadway this spring, we are going back. It’s my all-time favorite.






We asked a local the best place to get pizza and she mentioned Rubirosa, a little hole in the wall just outside of Little Italy. We are so glad we made the trek. It was hands-down the best pizza I’ve ever had. The sweet local below ended up sharing his pizza with me because I made a comment about paying him for a few slices. He was a precious New Yorker who talked with us for over an hour. It was one of the highlights from our trip. We took my parents back to Rubirosa’s one evening for dinner. They weren’t disappointed either. And, there was a delightful local children’s boutique just across the street. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s definitely worth a visit as well.


Chris getting his sushi fix at Ruby Foo’s.

We can’t believe we didn’t get more pics with my parents. This is proof we were here at the same time they were. We snapped a few photos before catching a taxi to the airport. Thanks for the memories, Mom & Dad! Let’s plan on a return celebration when this cancer is gone F-O-R-E-V-E-R!