Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Typical Tuesday

"What does your typical Tuesday look like?"
It is one of the topics of conversation mothers are likely to talk about when they are together, and this is a question I'll be asking all of my MOMs.  Why?  Well, I think it's interesting and helpful to see what a typical day looks like for other mothers.  Whether you are missing your children while you are away all day at a stressful job, or are feeling overwhelmed at home all day with your kids, it is one way we can empathize with one another and find comfort in the fact that you are not alone...whatever your struggle may be.
So, what does my Typical Tuesday look like?

6:00 Wake up and get ready for work.  I shower at night, so this saves me time in the morning.  I used to drink my coffee while I pumped, but I just weaned Lucy so I no longer have to do that.  Get food together, and I'm out the door by 7:00.

7:00-7:30ish Drive to work

7:30-5:30ish Work

5:30-6:00 Drive home, sometimes stopping to run an errand or two on the way. 

6:00 Home.  I like to have dinner going in the crock pot on the days I work so it's ready when I get home.  Sweetie Pie has usually already had dinner, so I keep her entertained while I try to cook dinner for us or while we try to eat. 

7:00 We start Sweetie Pie's bedtime routine.  Bath, lotion, reading and cuddle time, etc...

7:30 Sweetie Pie is usually down for the night between 7:30 - 8:00. Usually :)

7:30 - 9:00 Eat dinner if we haven't already and clean up kitchen.  Get my lunch ready for the next day.  Sometimes I also prep dinner for the following night.

9:00 - 10:00 Shower, get clothes out for the next morning.  I wake up an hour earlier, at 5:00 a.m., for work on Wednesdays, so I put my clothes in the bathroom the night before as to not disrupt hubby as much.  Try to relax on the couch with hubby and maybe watch an episode of Fringe, our latest addiction, on Netflix.  Maybe switch a load of laundry.

10:00-10:30 This is the time I usually go to bed.  The day starts over again at 5:00 the next morning. 

My Typical Tuesday is much different from the days I don't work and, although adult time is nice, I miss my baby girl every minute I'm away.  It's really difficult sometimes to "get things done" when I get home, like make dinner, when I only get one hour with Sweetie Pie before bedtime starts. I SO admire those of you who work full-time and have children (and the single moms are SUPERSTARS!)!  I have a hard enough time, physically and emotionally, working three days a week with one child.

Friday, May 24, 2013

10 Things That Have Changed Since I Became a Mom

10 fuzzy toes!  Can you spot the carpet fuzz?
1.  I drink a LOT more coffee!
2.  I shower, and generally get ready, much faster.  Although, I also spend a lot more time in "naked-face" and yoga pants.
3.  Sadly, the 3 of us rarely eat dinner together.  Between the time I get home from work, make dinner, feed Sweetie Pie, hubby at the gym (and myself, if I'm lucky).  It just rarely works out right now.  I'm confident we'll get it.
4.  I've learned to let things go...well, I'm trying.  So the floors are a mess, oh well.  Sweetie Pie is awake and I'm never going to get these moments with her again, so the floors can wait to be cleaned when she's sleeping. Or tomorrow.
5.  I wake up in a panic if it's 8:00 a.m. and she's still asleep (on the days I don't work).  I have never been a morning person, and still don't think that I am.  Now I just don't have a choice.  Hence, the drinking more coffee. 
6.  I have come to terms with the fact that I have no more freedom, in a sense.  I have had a Macy's gift card since Christmas, and have not yet had the opportunity to get to Macy's to use it.  Since Christmas!  I work close to the mall, so I could have made it happen at some point.  Honestly though, I just want to rush home after work, or I stop and pick up snacks and diapers for Sweetie Pie at Target instead.
7.  The last time I took a bath was when I was recovering from giving birth. 
8.  I sing a lot more!  Lucy finds life much more entertaining when I sing.  I turn just about everything we do into a song, and I know I'm not the only mom who does this.  I'm afraid she'll start school and realize that life is not a musical, like the movie Enchanted.
9.  Although getting to church (and on time) is much more difficult, it now feels like a date with free childcare!  We drop off Lucy at Kidtown to play, grab a mocha, and relax and chat with friends.  Let us know if you'd like to join us at church.  We'll make it a "double date"!
10.  My reading material has changed from The Hunger Games and Call the Midwife, to Parenting Magazine and Wholesomebabyfood.com
Although life has become more overwhelming and I'm still trying to figure out how to juggle it all, life is also so much more precious.  Our family has grown by ten toes, I am so grateful for the sweet little life we've been given to guide and nurture, and life's little (and big) changes are so worth her.
What has changed for you since becoming a mom?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thank you Dr. Bilchik

A couple nights ago I decided to reach out to Dr. Anton Bilchik, the doctor who performed my mother's mastectomy, to thank him for being willing to operate on my mom when so many other doctors would not.  Here is what I wrote to him:
"Dr. Bilchik, You do not know me, but you performed my mom, Linda's mastectomy in 2004 (I believe). She does not know I'm writing, but I want to say "Thank you". She is alive and well, 13 years after her Stage 4 cancer diagnosis and her doctors continue to be stunned. You were such an integral part of her survival story and I thank you for operating on her when so many other doctors brushed her aside and told her to go home and die. I was a senior in high school when she was diagnosed in 2000. I have now been married for 4 years and our daughter, Lucy, will be turning one next month. I can't imagine not having my mom with me through so many important moments in life. I recently shared her story on my blog, if you would like to read it: http://www.momster-mash.com/2013/05/momster-of-month-story-of-survival-part.html Thank you again for your great work, and hope in healing. I'm sure there are many people so grateful for what you have done for them or their loved ones."
I was shocked to receive a reply from Dr. Bilchik just 10 minutes later!:
"Hi Amanda. You made my night. Of course I remember your mom. Please send her my
best wishes. This is so inspirational. Will she mind if I share it with others.
Best Wishes"
Well, share he did.  Today, Saint John's Health Center shared my blog and my mom's Story of Survival on their Facebook page along with the following:
"'Celebrity' or not, the battle against breast cancer has many warriors. Linda is a HERO among them. Our Dr. Anton Bilchik recently received a letter from Linda's daughter about her mom's journey of COURAGE and HOPE. We thought it touching, inspiring and important to share with all of you:"
Thank you, Dr. Bilchik, for not only your dedication to saving lives but also for sharing my mom's story in order to bring hope and inspiration to others.   

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Story of Suvival, Part 3: The Victory!

This is the 3rd, and final, part of my mom's Story of Survival.
If you have not yet read the first two parts, or you'd just like to catch up, click the following links:

Linda and Bill left on a Monday morning in October 2005, flew to Santa Monica, and saw Dr. Bilchik the nextTuesday .
"We saw his colleague first, and he just about passed out when he saw the condition on the hole in the side of my breast.  You could actually sit a tennis ball right down in it.  When Dr. Bilchik came in, he said that he could just bring tissue over from one area to help close up the gap...We went into surgery on Wednesday.  I was up and about on Thursday.  While there, they took tissue and had it analyzed at the Weisenthal Institute to see what chemo drug would work at killing the cancer cells.  I found out the chemo drug they were giving me at CCNW did absolutely nothing to kill any of the cells.  They were just using the drug that statistics said would work without even finding out which actually did.  Makes you wonder how many other medical treatments are utilized using the same method...guesswork?  I had a visit from the physical therapist on Thursday and she was amazed at how well I was and that there was nothing she could offer me.  She told me that in all her years she has never seen anyone doing as well as me following this kind of surgery.  They had to release me from the hospital on Friday because I was doing too well!  We flew home on Sunday and I was back to work on Monday."
Linda flew back to Santa Monica one month later and had the stitches taken out.  Dr. Bilchik told her he had never seen anyone in the condition she was in, end up recovering as fast as she did.  She was one for the record books!
Linda recalls a very memorable appointment on March 31, 2011:
"I was sitting in the doctor's office at CCNW as he was looking over my foot-high files on his desk.  He closed the files, turned to me, and said 'The only reason you are still alive is because you never did anything we told you to do!'  I couldn't believe what I was hearing...but with a lot of prayer, love and stubbornness, I survived an ordeal of a lifetime!"
I asked my mom how she is changed by surviving such an ordeal.  I think there might be many people who could benefit from reading her response:
"People think I'm crazy when I say that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I had held so much bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart and it was actually poisoning me to death.  I put on a happy face sometimes, but most of the time I was a very bitter person.  Cancer made me take a deep look inside and make decisions on what was really important to me and my life.  Not a single sleepless night hating people who had treated me so badly growing up, and all the "why me's", could take away the pain. I'm sure the person/people who did me wrong never lost a night of sleep over what they did to me. 
The one thing I've learned over these past years is I'm stronger than I think I am.  I dug  in with every ounce of strength I could muster.  As I was listening to worship music one morning sitting in my dad's chair I inherited after he passed away, I just started crying and I couldn't stop.  It was like a faucet was turned on fully and I cried.  I asked God to take the pain of my past away and help me to forgive and forget.  I fell asleep, and when I woke up, it was as if I was a new person from the inside out.  From that moment on, even if I tried to think about bad people and events from my past, it just doesn't have the sting anymore.  It was taken away that day and has never returned to me.   
My heart is so full of joy now and because of this and I don't regret or feel bad about the journey I've been on.  It brought me to this place, where I can honestly say I am now a happy person.  I always said I couldn't die yet, as I had graduations, weddings, and grandbabies' births to be around for.  I had so much life yet to live.  I can honestly say I was given a second chance at life and I don't take one single day for granted! I love my life and my family which now includes son-in-laws, grandbabies, and new hobbies."
Is there a quote or scripture than helped you through those years?
"Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe." - St. Augustine. The more I was told how bad I was and how little hope there was of me surviving this disease, the more I would focus on this quote. 
What advice do you have for people who also may have been given that dreaded cancer diagnosis?
"People going through similar situations ask me all the time to help them after being diagnosed; they want to know what I did.  As you can tell from my story, what I did wasn't as black and white as most people would think.  Even with as much as I do remember, I'm sure there are little detours I took that I just don't remember anymore.   
My advice is to never give up.  As long as there is breath, there is always hope!  Try everything and anything as long as you are doing what you feel is what you should be doing.  If you feel uncomfortable, maybe try something else.  Being a mom has been the greatest joy of my life, and knowing the possibility of not being around for those special moments yet to happen kept my love, faith and hope alive." 
*          *          *          *          *  
Thank you for taking the time to read my mom Linda's Story of Survival.  I am thankful for her honesty and bravery, but thankful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about the fact that she is alive to share.  Since March 31, 2011, one test after another has revealed that my mom is not only alive, but well!  I am well aware that this story came scarily close to ending differently, and I extend my deepest sympathies to those of you who have had to say goodbye to loved ones much too soon for whatever the reason.  Please take heart, and know that something good can be found after the storm of any situation or circumstance that sweeps us off our feet. 
Our lives are a precious, fragile gift.  Please don't take one moment for granted. 
Boldly say "I love you", when you feel like hesitating.
Embrace with a hug. 
Extend a smile.
Release that beautiful laugh, and don't let anyone or anything stop you from
enjoying this life we've been given!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Story of Survival, Part 2: The Battle

This is a continuation of my mother's story.
The Battle
Linda starting looking through a book of alternative doctors in Washington State and the first doctor she could get an appointment with was located near Green Lake.  After her first visit with this doctor, it was recommended that Linda see a doctor in Vancouver BC, Dr. Chan, who was doing some "incredible work and seeing success in alternative cancer treatment".  Linda, along with her husband Bill, would drive to Vancouver every Wednesday-Saturday for treatment and this ended up costing them about $2500-3000 each week with gas, hotel, treatment costs, supplements, etc.  Linda and Bill used up all of the money they had in their savings, used all of their vacation days through work, and drained their 401k retirement savings.
After about 3 months of weekly trips to Canada, Dr. Chan told Linda that the tumor was "encapsulated" and that meant she needed to have a mastectomy and he couldn't do anything else for her.  Linda returned home and continued alternative treatment.
In 2002, Linda decided to go to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to see what the next step of treatment should be.  She left with differing opinions from six different doctors, all with varying degrees of optimism.  "It came across to me as, 'We could try this and if that doesn't work we can try that...and on and on the guesswork continued", states Linda. 
In 2003 Linda went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America and saw Dr. Chen.  She had blood work and tests done, visited a nutritionist, and met with a counselor.  This visit did not end with good news.  Linda was told that the cancer had spread to her liver, chest wall and lymph nodes, and she needed to start chemotherapy the very next day.  Even then, she was told she only had about 20% chance of survival.  "I told them I didn't like their odds and that I was going home!"  You have to love my mother's tenacity :)
February 2004 she started the Kelly/Gonzales treatment with included the use of Bloodroot and lots of enzymes, but got to the point where she was tired of all of it and the pain the Bloodroot was causing her, so she dropped this regimen altogether and tried to figure out what her next move should be.  (Although there are many sources of information out there you can check out, Click here to learn a little more about bloodroot)  At this point, the lesion that the Bloodroot created became infected and a friend referred Linda to her doctor at Cancer Care Northwest.  Linda's infection was treated with maggots (yes, maggots!) and antibiotics and it cleared right up.
February 2005, after much pleading and negotiating with others, Linda agreed to weekly chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Tri-cities Cancer Center.  She would drive one hour for treatment, then one hour back to work, and this continued for 14 weeks until Linda said, "I'm not doing this anymore.  I wasn't a very good patient.  I would go for a couple days and then not go for a week or so, and then go for a couple days, and then not go.  As I was sitting in a room with a bunch of other people in our thin little hospital gowns, it occurred to me that it seemed like we were being treated like cattle being hurdled into a cattle truck.  I finished up that day, put my gown in the little locker and never went back.  I got a letter from the doctor informing me that the treatments won't work like it's supposed to if I don't continue on the schedule prescribed.  I told him that I just couldn't go there anymore.  And another doctor crossed me off their list."
March 2005 Linda was referred to a doctor who was "one of the best cancer surgeons in Washington", but that appointment did not go well.  This doctor asked Linda why she was there to see her, and continued to tell her that not one single surgeon in the state would take her case.  That Linda had Stage 4 cancer and that at this point she wouldn't make until the end of the week. That Linda needed to go home, get her affairs in order and say her good-byes.  This doctor also told my mom that she brought herself to this stage by not listening to the recommendations of many medical doctors, and that wasting her time and money on alternative routes is was brought her to this day.  Linda was numb as she was trying to wrap her head around what that doctor was telling her.  "Finally, after what I thought was forever, I looked her straight in the eye and said 'Well, it looks like I'm wasting your time and you are certainly wasting my time!  I'm going home.  I reached down, picked up my purse, and walked out.  As I started walking down the hallway I heard Bill behind me say, 'Well, I better go too'."
During this time, Linda continued to do what she was doing from the very beginning as far as homeopathic treatment at home.  She was working two jobs and was very busy with work and was also going through a lot of family and personal issues and was wearing many stressful hats.  "The hardest issues to deal with at this time were the family ones.  It got so bad that I ended up not taking care of the lesion [caused by the tumor] and it got so infected that I could hardly use my left arm due to the pain.  It was so bad!"
Linda recalls a day which she describes as the most significant to her 'Survival Story'..."I remember the day when your dad left for work and I was in so much pain and agony. The thought came over me so heavy that all I had to do was just close my eyes and release my spirit to the Lord.  It was so real, and for a brief moment as I was contemplating this decision, which all happened in a blink of an eye,  I remember seeing your dad, and both of your (my sister and I) faces before me and with the future so bright and sunny that an overwhelming sensation hit me like a wave of heat and light and an overwhelming adjustment in my thought process of digging deep and fighting with everything I had within me took over.  I cried out to God to help me.  I want so badly to see my girls get married and have babies of their own and want to grow old with my husband. I told the Lord I have so much life yet to live and that I didn't want to just give up and leave everything that was good in my life.  I fell asleep and when I woke up, the pain was gone and I never experienced that feeling ever again!  And the rest of the story? Well, you know how that ends."
The Turning Point
Through a friend of mine, my mom saw a naturopath, Dr. Matthew Brignall, in Tacoma.  Dr. Brignall referred my mom to Dr. McKee and Dr. Craddick in Ashland, Oregon as he felt her condition was more than he could treat.  Dr. Craddick referred her to Dr. Anton Bilchik at John Wayne Cancer Center in Santa Monica, California.  If anyone could help Linda at this point, Dr. Bilchik was her man.
Click here to read Part 3: The Victory to hear how my mom's battle
with breast cancer came to a happy ending. 
You can"Join This Site" on blogger, and you can also get updates by email. 
(See the right side of my blog.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

EFF Cancer

Meet Haley!
I met Haley through my sister-in-law.  Haley is a college student studying Social Work, she loves God, she is a gifted writer, she is passionate about serving others. 

She is also battling cancer. 

Stage 1 non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Stage 2b colon cancer, to be exact.  Along with the stress that comes along with rigorous college life, Haley has endured five surgeries in just over one year, as well as treatments that leave her nauseous, exhausted, and in tearful pain. 

A friend of Haley's started making these "Eff Cancer #suckitcancer #seriously"  t-shirts.  This is as foul as my mouth gets, but seriously cancer, enough already.  They are $20, plus $5 for shipping, and the proceeds are going towards Haley's escalating medical bills, treatments, gas to appointments, etc.

If you are interested in joining the EFF Cancer Movement, and would like to purchase a shirt as a tangible to help Haley, here's what you do:

1.  Like EFF Cancer Movement on Facebook
2.  Purchase your EFF Cancer t-shirt on Etsy
3.  Wear your shirt as a reminder to pray for Haley!

I am inspired by Haley's spirit in the midst of such a painful struggle. 
You can get to know Haley and learn about her story on her blog From the Inside Out.
I just received my shirt!
EFF Cancer #suckitcancer #seriously

"Because cancer is expensive and these shirts are funny"
Join the movement and spread the word!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Drop the Blogspot: New Domain Name!

Hey Momsters, guess what?! I am the proud new owner of the domain name www.momster-mash.com!  So drop the "blogspot" and update your browser. 
Stay updated on my latest blog posts by becoming a subscriber. 
Just click the "Join This Site" button on the right side under "Momsters" and follow the prompts. 
You also have the option of staying updated on my latest posts by subscribing by email

Join the sisterhood!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Momster of the Month - A Story of Survival: Part 1

I am thrilled to highlight my first MOM (Momster of the Month) just in time for Mother's Day, and not just because it is my momma Linda.  I am blessed beyond measure to be able to share her inspiring story; a story of survival.  I am blessed to be able to celebrate her and what a wonderful mom she is this Mother's Day, as well as every other day of the year.  If what the doctors had told her came to fruition, we would have had to say goodbye thirteen years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and given three months to live.
The Diagnosis
In January 2000, while at work, my mom ran into the corner of a metal file cabinet so hard she thought she was going to pass out.  Two months later, while performing a self-exam, she detected a lump exactly where she had injured herself on the file cabinet.  The official diagnosis came from a specialist on March 13, 2000 and when she told the doctor she wanted to get a second opinion he told her he understood but she had better not take too long to make a decision regarding his treatment recommendations of having both breasts removed and 36 weeks of daily chemotherapy and radiation..."time is not on your side".
My mom sought a second opinion from a highly recommended doctor and was told basically the same thing, but with a slightly different approach of taking treatment one step at a time with breast removal being the last step.  My mom felt numb.  She prayed a lot.  She hesitated to make a treatment decision because I was graduating high school that summer and she didn't know what treatment would do to her physically and she wanted to be fully present until after I graduated.  She also felt she wanted to look into alternative treatment options. 
Then came a shocker...the second doctor sent my mom a "letter of rejection" from her services.  She told my mom that there were no other alternative approaches possible to staying alive but hers, and if my mom continued down the path of "waiting to find an alternative" the only thing the doctor could guarantee was that my mom was going to die.
My mom's friend gave her a book by Dr. George Malkmus called God's Way to Ultimate Health: A Common Sense Guide  for Eliminating Sickness through Nutrition.  My mom starting following the recommendations of that book.  Juicing, juicing, and more juicing!  She lived on carrot, apple and barley green juice.
"So the journey of trying to bring health back to my body began.  I started juicing, eating only raw food, acupuncture, music therapy, chiropractic, energy balancing, homeopathy, reflexology, massage therapy and most importantly reading God's Word and praying.  Every time a door would open, I would walk through, and as fast as it opened it closed just like that and another door opened."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Guilty Momma

Guilt.  It has somehow become a new accessory in my life now that I'm a mom. 
I feel guilty when I'm at work. 
I should be at home with my Sweetie Pie.
I feel guilty when I'm at home with Sweetie Pie. 
I really could be working. 
I feel guilty when I'm slacking on "chores" in order to play outside with Sweetie Pie on a nice day. 
But these moments are fleeting and I will miss them some day. 
I feel guilty when I put Sweetie Pie in her activity saucer with Dora and some snacks so I can do some chores.  The house is a disaster and things need to get done...and maybe some dinner needs to be made. 
I feel guilty when I take time for myself with a massage or a night out with a girlfriend. 
But momma needs some down time to avoid burnout.
I feel guilty when I go to the gym. 
I should be cleaning the floors.
I feel guilty when I stay home to get things done rather than go to the gym. 
I should be taking care of my health...and I long to see my abs again someday. 
I feel guilty when I spend money on something for myself. 
I should be putting that money away in Sweetie Pies college fund.
I feel guilty when I feed Sweetie Pie food from a jar. 
She will survive, and I think I'm too paranoid.
I feel guilty letting her "cry it out" for 10 minutes at 3:00 a.m. in the hope she will go back to sleep.  I don't want to deprive her of cuddle time...cuddle time I'm going to ache for when she's grown and away at college.  Oh wait, I don't want to think about this yet!
Life is no longer as I once knew it to be, yet this did not come as a surprise.  I was fully prepared for how drastic life would change once I became a momma.  Life is more tiring, more overwhelming, and yet it's SO MUCH BETTER when I get to see that adorable, six-tooth grin in the morning.  My mommy guilt feels like a little monkey on my back, a permanent distraction poking and pulling on my ears and testing my patience.  I am trying my best to find a balance and ignore the mommy guilt. 
If you are experiencing The Guilty Momma Syndrome, know that you are perfectly normal and not alone in your struggle.
I would love for you to please share what you do to keep a healthy balance in your life,
and I'm sure there are many other mommas reading this who could also use some advice and encouragement from someone who understands. 
Now, go take a glass of wine and a good book into the bath tub! 
Just don't fall asleep...I know how tired you are :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

E-cloth Mop Winner!

Using Raffleking.com to generate a random winner, the new owner of an E-cloth mop is...

Lorie Butler
(send your mailing address to amanda_bricknell@yahoo.com)

Congratulations Lorie, I hope you enjoy E-cloth as much as I do, it will be in the mail shortly. 

More giveaways to come, so stay tuned!