Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye to 2014!!!!

We're screaming, "GOODBYE 2014!!"
I feel like with today being New Year's Eve, I had to write something.  The problem is though that I have given this a lot of thought and really couldn't decide what to write.  2014 has been a year of the highest highs and the lowest lows and I'm not too anxious to relive any of it to be honest.  If you've ever had a child with a serious illness, you can understand the stress that brings and 2014 started out scary for us as a family.  Lainey was about to enter into the hardest phase of her treatment and we didn't know what to expect.  I was training for my first half marathon and finding strength I never knew I had.  Just as Lainey was entering the maintenance phase of her treatment and we were exhaling a little, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.  It was the ultimate sucker punch that I never saw coming. I finished my half marathon (Go Team Lainey 9:16 and many thanks to Tricia, KP, Cindy, Sarah and Emily), then started chemo, followed by double mastectomy and radiation.  Somewhere in the middle of the biggest fight of my life, I decided starting a non-profit to help others was a GREAT idea! (Must have been the meds, ha!) Couldn't have done it without Dianna Bacon being my partner in crime.  Over and over again though, God showed up and gave us all everything we needed at just the right time.  Suffice it to say, it's been a LOOOOONNNNNGGG year!  I am not gonna lie, it's been a LOT and at times I was exhausted and past exhausted.  My husband and family will tell you that I heard over and over again, "Stop doing so much, you have to take care of yourself first, everything else can wait."  But I just felt like God had given me this opportunity to share my story and I needed to do it.  I have no regrets, but boy am I READY to put 2014 behind us and move into 2015 with a bang!  We still have almost another year of Lainey getting chemo and lots of surgeries for me but that's ok because by God's grace we're both HERE! I will be starting some contract work again to finally make money again, along with focusing on building the Foundation, but most important of all, focusing on my family.  Loving on these beautiful babies God chose me to be the mother of and spending time with my husband, who unfortunately through all of this really got the short end of the stick but has been incredibly supportive.  I don't just love this guy, I LIKE him, like really, really LIKE him.  He's my favorite person to hang out with in the whole wide world, seriously. I'm not a fan of New Year resolutions, but I am of new beginnings.  This is a new beginning for us ALL, not just my family, but yours too!  Take stock of your life, learn new things, break out of your comfort zone and make a new friend, go back to church, just shake things up, listen to some new music, it feeds the soul!  I love the old saying, "If you keep doing what you did, you'll keep getting what you've got."  It's really that easy, we make life so much more complicated than what it really is.  Start a bucket list because you want to, not because you NEED to.

Every night after I say prayers over each of the girls, Lainey always insists on saying her own prayers too.  It goes the same every night, she's very dramatic about it, throws her head back, closes her eyes tight and says, "Dearw Gawd....." she inserts the most random things in there, sometimes it's Cheetos, a dog she met at the park, but she always says a couple things, then stops abruptly and says loudly, "WHAT ELSE?"  Then I'll say something she might have forgotten, and again she says, "WHAT ELSE?" This will go on forever if I let her, she's a great bedtime staller :-).  So today I say to all of you, "WHAT ELSE?"  What else in your life do you want to do or learn, what relationships do you want to fix?  Find out what your "WHAT ELSE?" is and just like Lainey, don't stop asking yourself that question until somebody cuts you off with "Enough already!" and then just like her, you can say, "I'M NOT DONE YET!!"  Oh, the lessons I learn from these kids.  Thank you all for following us, praying for us and believing in us.  My prayer for all of you is that 2015 is full of excitement and most of all, LOVE.  Love for yourself, for others and most of all, for God!  AMEN!
We're all looking straight AHEAD to 2015 (Sorry, I couldn't resist, AHEAD :-)

Monday, December 29, 2014

From have to HAD

Today I moved from a have to a HAD. I've  gotten so used to saying I have breast cancer that it feels weird to say I HAD breast cancer. Weird for sure but FANTASTIC at the same time! I had my last follow up apptmt with my Radiologist at UTSW since my radiation therapy is complete and she said, "Congratulations, things look good, I'll see you in a year for routine follow up." I also met a woman in the waiting room who was just starting radiation today. She complimented me on my hairstyle. I actually have enough hair to start having one of those again too! I was telling her how many rounds of chemo, surgery, radiation and then I said, "I had Stage 3  breast cancer." HAD, that single word echoed in my head right as I said it. I HAD breast cancer, wow, as in past tense! I walked away from that conversation with a different perspective, I'm now officially a HAD instead of a have. At the same time, any survivor will tell you that cancer is always in their review mirror, every day they glance up, knowing it's there and hoping it stays right where it's supposed to be, BEHIND them. I'm sitting here now at the cancer clinic getting my Herceptin drip, which I will continue to get every 3 weeks through May. I also start the long process of reconstruction soon with multiple surgeries scheduled in 2015 to become my new normal. All of this AHEAD of me though, new and exciting things on the horizon for me, Lainey and this wonderful Foundation God has given us the opportunity to help others through. So today, when I look in my review mirror and see cancer back there, I just put the pedal to the metal, and give this life all I've got, moving full steam ahead. If it catches me again one day, so be it, but I've got odds on me and the one riding shotgun with me. He's brought me this far, so I'll keep trusting in HIM and know that "it is well with my soul!"  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Introducing the fabulous Ms. Eliza

I have had the incredible pleasure of spending a few minutes of every Monday through Friday for the past six weeks at radiation with Ms. Eliza.  It's amazing what happens when you talk to people and hear their story.  First of all, she takes public transportation to get to radiation and is never late, which was astonishing to me since I drive myself and end up late :-).  When I first met her, she walked in with a bright smile and I said, "How are you today?" she answered with a simple, "Blessed to see another day Honey, God is good!" and for the past 28 days I've seen her after that, always the same answer.  When you start your day off that way, it makes the rest of the day so much easier, doesn't it?  I think many of us are guilty of checking Facebook or grabbing coffee before we take a moment to say a prayer over the day that is before us, but not Ms. Eliza.

Over the course of radiation, I've met several strong women who I've traded stories with but hers is a very special one.  Ms. Eliza at the age of 69, has survived more tragedy in her life than most of us could comprehend.  She's lost her mother to breast cancer, lost two grown children suddenly, and currently has three remaining children, one of which is in the hospital with heart issues.  Through all of this though, she has a STRONG faith in God and continues to help others in her community.  She told me they call her 'Soup Kitchen' because if you're hungry, you come to her house and somehow she'll find a way to feed you.  She said, "They call me Annie, Granny, Momma, you name it, I answer to it."

I'm not sure why God brings everyone into your life, but I do know that each person you meet is meant to teach you something.  When I gave Ms. Eliza her Wallet of Love this week, I also gave her a note with it, explaining how much of an inspiration she is to me and how blessed I am to have met her.  Women like her are few and far between, when you hear the term 'it takes a village', Ms. Eliza is definitely a part of that village that steps up to raise those that 'need some raisin'.   She doesn't have a computer, doesn't know about social media, but when I explained to her that I wanted to share her story, she looked me in the eye and said, "Please Baby, please do."  She's battling breast cancer with courage and grace of the best kind, straight from God.

This wallet was given in honor of the very special father of one of my best friends who we lost this week to cancer, we'll miss you Dad aka Bill Tweeden. Thank you Ms. Eliza for being who you are and inspiring so many of us with your faith.   She is, quite literally, Love Personified.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Our Avery bird

THIS kid, my shining star, Avery. Y'all hear so much about her little sissy but never enough about her. It's hard for me as a mom at times knowing that Lainey and I share something that I hope and pray that Avery never, EVER has to share. I can only imagine how hard it is for her though, watching her baby sister go through all of this only to have it happen a few months later to Mommy too. As parents, you try to do everything in your power to protect your kids and there are days I struggle, knowing I couldn't do that for these sweet babies. I know it's not my fault, but still, it's hard. She is smart, kind, FUNNY, curious, loves to sing and has a beautiful voice. She's a SURVIVOR too though, not many 5 year olds have weathered the storm she has. We have challenging days sometimes explaining why Lainey is getting away with a little more than she should since she's on her "bad medicine" (steroids). Does she fully understand that, no, but one day she will and my prayer is that like us, she'll become stronger because of all of this. She's our "Bird", that's been her nickname since she was a newborn. She's also my little nurse when I'm having a hard day she'll bring me a blanket, crackers or just want to hold my hand as I walk down the stairs. For every moment I curse her defiant spirit of 'I can do IT!!', it makes me a little sad, knowing she's right. I want to savor every moment with them because time sure does pass fast. I don't care what my kids grow up to be or how much money they make. The only thing I want them to be is kind, respectful and good human beings. If they become millionaires but are arrogant and rude, I have failed as a parent. But THIS precious bird, I just know is going to SOAR one day and I'm so lucky to have a front row seat!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wallet of Love Recipient - Ms. Betty is Shaping Little Minds

Ms. Betty & Dianna, Board President, LILTC

It takes a BIG HEART TO SHAPE LITTLE MINDS and that is what Ms. Betty does on a daily basis!

She is a teacher of children ages 18-24 months (that's the age Lainey was when she was diagnosed with Leukemia).  I've personally known Ms. Betty for 7 years and when I learned she had breast cancer this year my heart broke!  Ms. Betty helped me raise both my babies years ago just like she does for so many other families.

I was personally able to deliver her Wallet of Love and visit with her briefly.  She is looking strong and back at work full-time.  During radiation she was only able to do half days most of the time...she said she knew exactly how Kelly must be feeling these days..."it can make you exhausted." But she said her energy is starting to come back as well as her hair : ) You wouldn't know it but Ms. Betty is in her 70s...can you believe she spends her days running around after toddlers?!  Bless her!

The look of surprise on her face when I delivered her Wallet of Love was of absolute gratitude and beauty.  It is the very reason that I know God led me to meet Kelly and be on this path with her and this Foundation.

-Dianna, Board President

"Let all you do be done in Love."

Friday, December 5, 2014

Meet brave Jaxon

Jaxon is another recipient of a Wallet of Love. In the words of his mother, "2 year old Jaxon went in to the doctor for a normal visit to get his iron levels checked, and the outcome was something very unexpected. His platelets were low, as well as his white blood cell count being irregular and he was immediately sent to Dallas childrens hospital for more testing. Early morning, September 9th, 2014, he was Diagnosed with 'Pre-B ALL' Leukemia. He has weekly visits for chemo, with the occasional stays in the hospital from the toll therapy. He has an older sister who is 7 and she misses him when he is gone weeks on end. Please pray these next 3 years go smoothly and everything turns out okay."

We are all praying for this family and know that Jaxon will be just fine!  Fighting this battle involves the entire family just like Lainey's 5 year old sister Avery, his 7 year old sissy needs to be shown lots of love too.  Send it up today friends, love grows when we join together!  Please continue to share our Foundation with friends, you can donate here by clicking at the top of the page on Donate AND on our Facebook page by clicking on Give.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I can't EXPLAIN how excited I am to make this announcement, OUR VIDEO IS DONE!!!!!
I am issuing my disclaimer now though, have your tissues ready, this one will get you, but in a fantastic good way by the end!  Thank you to the wonderful folks at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of North Texas for sharing the raw video footage so I could use it to help tell our story and the AMAZING team at Capture the Market led by Kimberly Scott who did a ROCKSTAR job of editing!  Please, PLEASE share this with your friends!!  We need to continue to raise funds to help all of these families and the more we share this video, the more exposure we'll get and we will be able to continue to SPREAD THE LOVE!!!  JUST CLICK BELOW.....

Wallet of Love Recipient: Meet Imogene

Meet Imogene...a sweet, wonderful woman battling squamous carcinoma of the jaw for the 2nd time. Her first battle began in 2009 but cancer reared its ugly head again this year.  Ms. Imogene is a mother and grandmother and when she is healthy enough continues to substitute at a district daycare...loved by many of the kids there!

Her Wallet of Love was sponsored by the loving Kennedy family of Frisco, TX who wanted to pay a special tribute to their father & grandfather, Rick Kennedy, who lost his battle to cancer this fall.

We ask for prayers this week as Ms. Imogene fell in rehab and had to have 8 stitches in her head and was placed back in the hospital.  They also had to stop treatment for the time being. Due to the treatment for the jaw cancer she has only been able to have liquids (no solid food or chewing).

We ask for prayers that her strength is regained and she is able to get back on track with her chemotherapy and other treatments soon.

Thank you to the Kennedy family for helping Love Is Louder Than Cancer show Ms. Imogene that LOVE IS LOUDER.

"Let all you do be done in Love."