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reflection


day in the life

Highlighting the everyday life of a couple living well with a slow-growing cancer, and now a cancer widow living well on her own. There have been sorrows and losses along the way. But being alive is good. It is very good.


Saturday, May 21, 2015

Blessing the bereaved - what to do

It was the news of yet another cancer death this week that made me think of the incredibly kind people who reached out to me and my family when Hubby was dying.

So, what to do for the bereaved, or for those who are standing vigilant as a loved one is dying?

Here are some ideas from all the thoughtful, helping-us-fight-cancer, creative, would-do-anything-for-us people in our lives:

1. Deliver food. Homemade or otherwise. We received full and fabulous meals. Homemade soups. Restaurant carry-out. Breakfast breads. Gift baskets overflowing with fresh fruit and snacks. Beautifully-decorated cupcakes. Dark chocolate (chocolate is a food, you know).

If you’re thinking of providing food for the family, find out how many they’re expecting for meals and maybe provide a tad bit more for lunch leftovers.

2. Be a Porch Fairy. We were blessed with the most amazing Porch Fairy (defined as someone who randomly leaves gifts on your front porch without knocking). In addition to food and flowers and a variety of gifts, there were daily hot beverages. Chai tea for me and Americano coffee for Summer. When the Porch Fairy was out of town one week, she left a Starbux gift card in advance to make sure we were covered.

I can’t tell you how much a daily 7:30am Chai tea—one of those luxury items—meant to me at a time when Hubby’s life was slipping away.

   
 

3. Unclog a toilet and other practical stuff. People placed our garbage can on the curb and returned it to the garage. Shoveled our snowy walks. Unclogged our toilet. Re-planted the birdfeeder so Hubby could watch the activity from his hospital bed in the living room. Took our vehicle to have a slow-leaking tire replaced. Cleaned our home and set up a Christmas tree while I was in Hospice House with Hubby. Helped clear out the garage. Hauled things away.

Several of these chores were done without my asking. But a couple times I sent out an e-mail and always had ready responses. People want to feel as if they’ve made a contribution during a hard time in someone’s life. If you’re on the receiving end, let others help. If you’re on the giving end, consider blessing someone with your time and effort.

4. Write a thoughtful note. Mail it. Lovely cards started pouring in when Hubby died. I re-read all of them after things settled down again. Each kind message represented one more person in my life who cared, and the abundance made me feel so very rich.

5. Contribute toward expenses. There are added expenses with the passing of a loved one. I was not expecting checks to come tumbling out of cards as I opened them, but there were enough funds to cover funeral home expenses. And that meant a great deal to a brand-new widow wondering how she was going to survive going forward on just her income.

6. Send cinnamon candles or mismatched socks. And chocolate. Because Hubby started slipping away from us in the onset of fall and the winter holidays, people sent seasonal gifts. Fleece blankets and fleece pillow cases. Pumpkin themed-gifts. Poinsettias. A beautiful Christmas wreath for our front door.

Packages arrived with fleecy pajamas, the smell of yuletide cinnamon candles. This wooden box sign that read, “It is well with my soul.”

   
 

There were flowers and books and dark chocolate. Yarn and knitting needles. Puffy eye gel. And dark chocolate.

A friend loaned her diffuser with several fragrances of essential oils.

Another friend delivered mismatched socks. Because life is too short to wear matching socks.

   
 

A friend created a photo book with a collection of hiking and snow-shoe photos. Priceless treasure – this remembrance of outdoor activity with our cancer hiking posse.

   

 

There was this unique wall art. To be decorated year-round, depending on the season. A gift from a friend who asked how he could help. I forwarded a photo and this is what he and his wife came up with.

   
 

 

We received gift cards to Whole Foods and Target. And after Hubby passed, beautifully crafted jewelry. Half my heart is in heaven.

   
 

At a time when we didn’t realize how much we needed it, we were surrounded and overwhelmed with love, and it showed up in so many creative ways.

What are some unique and thoughtful gifts you’ve received in time of loss? Please share them on my Facebook page.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

What’s the big deal about gratitude?

I’m exhausted. Head-achy exhausted. And it’s not just because I’m up at 5:30am to get The Boy to school for an all-day field trip.

It’s not because of the thought of his baseball game tonight from 8-10:00.

It’s because we’re into Week Four of single parenting. These three precious grandchildren. I want to be their grandma and not their parent.

“Who left this dried-up bowl of oatmeal here? Do I look like the maid?”

“What are you still doing up?

“What are you still doing in bed?

“Find a shovel and clean up this dog poop.”

“Get back here and finish your homework.”

“If I have to stop this van, I’m going to knock a couple of heads together.” (Not that I would really do that, but I like to keep them wondering.)

   

Sisterly love ... or the beginnings of a choke hold?

I’ve sent various children to their various rooms. Taken away privileges. And confiscated electronic devices. None of which makes me the Most Popular Adult in their lives.

I want to go back to being their grandma. I want The Parents to be the bad guys. Wah.

And then I read this from Melody Beattie. About gratitude:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”

This is something cancer taught us. To intentionally focus on the things for which we were grateful. 

I need this fresh reminder. Here. Today. In the middle of this physical and mental exhaustion.

Right off the bat, I can think of 5 really great reasons to immerse ourselves in gratitude:

1. A change of focus. Instead of centering on the things we don’t have or focusing on the hard stuff, gratitude reminds us of all the good we have going on in our lives.

2. Contentment. Once we bring our focus back to the positive, the natural by-product is contentment – that state of being happy and satisfied. Not that we don’t continue working toward our life’s dreams, but we find the balance of being content and grateful until more unfolds.

3. Better health. A growing body of research concludes that giving thanks is good for your psychological, emotional and physical well-being. According to a 2010 Wall Street Journal article, adults who frequently feel grateful “have more energy, more optimism ... and more happiness than those who do not.”

4. Deeper compassion. We tend to compare what we have with those who have more. Rarely do we compare our lives with, say, someone in a war-torn country. Or with the woman who can’t keep her children because she can’t feed them. Or someone living in a wheelchair. When we’re making the correct comparisons, it can lead us toward more compassion for those who truly struggle.

5. Better social connections. If we’re completely honest, most of us don’t enjoy hanging around whiny, discontent people. If this describes you, then how far do you think your negative attitude will take you in your career? With family relationships? In building friendships? Think about it.

I would encourage you to keep a gratitude list. Not just in your head, but on paper or computer. 

Add to it regularly. Pay attention. Dig deep. Be specific.

From my list this morning:

5:30am clouds tinged with pink

At least four different bird sounds coming in through open windows

This comforting cup of homemade Chai tea

My view from the dining table – ancient green trees towering over lovely older homes with inviting front porches

And really, the most important item on the list:

Making irreplaceable memories with these grandkidlets.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Conversations every couple should have

A year ago this month, we met with Dr. Maunder, a palliative care physician. One of his jobs was to help Hubby complete a POLST form (Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment).

In the course of the conversation, Dr. Maunder asked him this: “What most concerns you?”

Hubby pointed at me and said, “Leaving her.”

And so that next Saturday, Hubby announced that he was going to spend the day teaching me how to survive.

I learned how to do our banking online, including how to deposit a check using my phone camera. Hubby taught me how to use my phone’s GPS system. And he pulled out a large pipe wrench for lessons on unclogging the bathroom sink.

I gave him my best raised-eyebrow look whereupon he put the pipe wrench away.

We also discussed some of the issues Dr. Maunder’s questions raised. Funny how we lived with the knowledge that Hubby would die of cancer but we hadn’t really talked much about death and dying.

Here are five things every couple should discuss sooner than later:

1. Medical wishes. I knew Hubby wanted no heroic efforts taken should he stop breathing, but it removed a load off my mind to have this in writing and on file with the medical professionals. For most people, an Advance Directive is sufficient as it appoints a legal health care representative and provides instructions for future life-sustaining treatments. In Hubby’s case, the POLST form served as a summary of the patient’s wishes for end-of-life care.

2. Financial matters. Both Hubby and I were on top of our finances, but when he retired, he took over the paying of the bills and the balancing of the bank account. There were some tech tools he used that were new to me, and I needed to be brought up to speed. (Love online banking, by the way.) We utilized a small, portable fire-proof safe with a simple filing system to keep all important documents organized and in one location.

3. Tech stuff. I was married to a computer geek. We had four websites and Hubby was the genius behind it all. He once mentioned locating a company that was hosting our non-profit website for free. But I had no clue who that was, or who hosted the other three sites. Or from whom we had purchased our domain names. Trust me. These people all wanted to be paid. Annually.

Does your spouse have an interest or small business that you assume will die right along with him/her? This is what I thought would happen with Cancer Adventures. But don’t assume anything; instead, learn what’s going on.

4. Updated will. The last update on our will was when our children were younger than our grandchildren currently are. Tells you how often we thought of death and dying. Most assets are not distributed by will, i.e., life insurance and invested funds. These are passed on to the named beneficiaries. For owned property where no beneficiary is named, each state has its own set of laws that parcels out properties to nearest relatives. It would be wise to have a plan in place long before it’s needed.

5. Future plans. I once said to Hubby that I would miss his wisdom. “Who would I call for advice on major decision making?” I whined. And so it was helpful that we discussed a few different scenarios, after which he said I was going to have to look for a rich next husband. While I don’t plan to remarry, it’s kind of nice to know I have Hubby’s blessings. (Does that even make sense?)

Speaking of remarriage, this advice from the Just-Turned-Seven-Year-Old –

Lydia: Are you going to always live alone?

Me: Probably.

Lydia: Are you never going to get married?

Me: Do you think I should?

Lydia: Yeessss!

   

Me: Why?

Lydia: Because what if someone breaks into your house and you need someone to show you how to get out?

Hadn’t thought of that. Wanted: One capable and way-finding male who can guide me out of my own house during a break-in.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What are your gifts, and why should you use them?

The Boy wanted pancakes for breakfast. You know the thing about teach a boy to fish? Well, it seems that teaching a boy to make pancakes works the same way.

   
 

He mixed the batter, made the cakes—including enough for his two sisters—and cleaned up afterward (this last step with encouraging nagging on my part).

A newly-discovered gift. And in fact, The Boy had so much fun that he’s decided to become a chef. Well, at least for this week.

Hubby had a gift of being able to incorporate his dry sense of humor into our tag-team presentations. And really, the gift was the message of hope to audiences of cancer survivors and those caring for them.

Here’s the irony: Hubby would have paid to not have to get up in front of people and speak.

Jon Acuff, in his book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job, wrote: “If you admit that there is a chance that you are good, perhaps even great at something, you should feel a little uncomfortable. Because if your gift is not nothing, that means it is something. And a gift that is something is always a little terrifying.”

Doing nothing—putting your feet up on the coffee table and watching other people lead extraordinary lives—is so much more comfortable than using your gifts.

Here are 3 reasons why using your gifts is critical:

1. It provides meaning. In our case, being able to speak what we were doing to live well with metastatic disease brought purpose to a senseless diagnosis. Our traveling and sharing of hope and encouragement was yet another example of cancer not being able to dictate what Hubby could or could not do.

2. It helps face down fear and grow confidence. Stepping outside your comfort zone to discover that you’re pretty good at something is empowering. Speaking in front of crowds became easier and easier as Hubby’s confidence grew.

3. The world benefits when you put your gifts to good use. Open a pancake restaurant. Teach a class. Build a bridge. Produce a movie. Go to med school. Write a song, a book, a poem. Using your gifts can create a better life for others – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

What are you passionate about? What life experiences make you knowledgeable about something? What energizes you? Take your skills and interests and create a better world for yourself and others.

As for The Boy Chef mastering the Mickey Mouse on his first attempt at making pancakes – impressive, yes?

   
 

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Widowhood for Dummies: 5 tips for dealing with credit card companies

You’d think I’d be finished with all the business matters of becoming a widow, right? You’d be wrong.

Hubby and I had three credit cards. Paid off monthly as used. I made the mistake of calling Barclay to find out how to get my refund from a purchase made on one of the cards.

The Customer Service Rep could only speak with the primary account holder. Of course.

When she learned why the primary couldn’t come to the phone—could never ever come to the phone ever again—she cancelled two of the cards. Immediately.

“But you can’t cancel. You still have my money.”

Turns out, they can cancel. And turns out, they get to keep my money for two invoice cycles—interest-free, although had it been the other way around, I wouldn’t have been able to get away with interest-free money—before returning it.

   

Perturbed

I learned this yesterday while being transferred four times, with long waits and obnoxious music in between. I’ll eventually get my refund, but the airline miles on the card are lost forever.

Here are 5 tips for dealing with credit card companies:

1. Use a phone with speaker function. This will allow for hands-free time to wash your windows, rotate the tires on your car and give your dog a pedicure.

2. Keep good notes. Record the date of each call and the outcome of the call. If you were transferred to someone who could actually sort-of help, ask for that department’s toll-free number in case you need to call back. Because more than likely you’ll need to call back.

3. Be nice. Express your frustration in a pleasant tone of voice. It can be done, and it gives you more mileage. (Not airline miles, but Customer Service Rep miles.) Try to come up with something you can thank them for. And “Thanks for nothing” doesn’t count.

4. Use the *widow card* if necessary. I’m ashamed to say I’ve done this a couple times. And in a whiny voice. But it was extremely necessary.

5. Vent. Call a friend who will absolutely still be your friend at the end of the phone call. Or better yet, write a blog.

   
 

This is usually more productive than banging your head against the wall.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

3 ways to give cancer a black eye

Still in Jersey, caring for the three grands with The Parents having flown back to Africa. It’s always so much fun sad when The Parents leave and the grandma has the grandkidlets all to herself.

It’s also a little dangerous. For example, yesterday the 6-year-old decided the grandma needed a make-over. 

The 14-year-old warned me: “You might want her to go easy on the eye shadow. Otherwise you’ll look like you have two black eyes.”

She speaks from experience.

   
 

This reminded me that Hubby used to talk about giving cancer a black eye. Which is defined as getting off the couch and doing something you don’t necessarily feel like doing.

Here are three suggestions (I’m pretty sure you can come up with several more):

1. Get outdoors. A side effect of Hubby’s treatments was exhaustion. There were times when all we did was a short and slow walk through the neighborhood.

But there were many, many determined days of lacing up hiking boots and strapping on snowshoes. And going for miles and miles.

Take that, cancer.

2. Make connections. So maybe you’re physically incapable of doing anything that remotely resembles physical activity.

What about attending that support group or that class for cancer patients and caregivers? You know, the one about eating better? Or that water color class or knitting group for cancer survivors?  

So, maybe you tend toward being on your own. Maybe you like animals better than people. But there are others who understand what you’re going through. Who have already walked the trail while you’re still puzzling over the map at the trailhead. People who can encourage you and offer some hiking tips. How smart would it be to connect with others within the cancer community?

Take that, cancer. You bully.

3. Develop your determination muscle. Whether you’re dealing with cancer or any other hard thing, do something you don’t feel like doing. Something you can and should do.

Tackle small goals until you can set and accomplish larger goals. Begin with determination. Because checking things off lists provides a sense of accomplishment. And who among us couldn’t use the boost that comes with having accomplished something?

Hubby was one determined man. And even though he died of this disease, he blackened cancer’s eyes many times during the living-longer-than-expected years.

As for the 6-year-old’s black-eye sk ... um, make-over skills ...

 
 

... what do you think? An improvement?

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Sunday, April 25, 2015

Helping children deal with the loss of a grandparent

They loved their grandpa despite that fact that he teased them mercilessly. Or maybe because of it.

   
 

So how do you explain cancer to grandchildren? And how do you help them through their loss? Here are three ways:

1. Communicate honestly. Our oldest grandchild, Lilly, was four years old when Hubby was diagnosed. Her parents told her what she needed to know at the time, explaining that even though Grandpa looked well, he was sick and trying to eat more healthfully. Lilly loved baking cookies with me, and her grandpa loved stealing spoonfuls of cookie dough. The 4-year-old kept a close eye on him and tattled when necessary. (It was frequently necessary.)

Being honest is always best. Information should be given in doses based on the child’s age and ability to understand, including information about the grandparent’s death as the time draws near.

Equally, it’s important to prepare children for funerals. According to an article entitled “The Toughest Talk You’ll Ever Have” at www.grandparents.com, kids benefit from attending funerals and other celebrations of life. “Some will want to speak about the lost grandparent at a funeral, or pay tribute by singing or playing an instrument, and, if at all possible, those wishes should be accommodated.”

2. Provide an outlet for saying good-by. Daughter Summer was with us in Oregon as Hubby was dying while SIL Josh held down the fort with the three kids in Jersey. Summer and Josh asked the kids to each write a letter to their grandpa, which were read to him:

“You played a big role in my life and I have really looked up to you,” penned the 14-year-old. “No matter how annoying your jokes are and how much you like the Broncos ... you have always made me smile.”

The 12-year-old boy, a tease just like his grandfather, wrote, “We were always teasing each other who would win the Super Bowl (the Seahawks won, by the way). ... I love you and remember all the fun times I had with you.”

“I hope you feel good soon,” wrote the 6-year-old. “Jesus will take good care of you, really good care of you. I miss you.”

The letters were a good outlet for the grandchildren to say good-by. And the 12-year-old ended up reading his letter at his grandfather’s Celebration of Life service.

3. Keep memories alive. After Hubby died, I flew east to spend Christmas with the munchkins. I didn’t want my kids or grandkids to feel uncomfortable talking about their dad and grandfather in front of me. So I brought him up in conversation several times.

“Grandpa would have thought that was funny.”

“Remember when you were four and you called Grandpa ’George’ before he got a chance to call you ’George’?!”

While tucking in the 6-year-old: “Grandpa would say, ’Good-night, sleep tight, don’t bite the bed bugs!’”

   
 

I suspect children are more resilient than we think. All three of our grandchildren have done well with their grandfather’s death, even though they’ve expressed how much they miss him.

   
 

And I suspect for the rest of their lives, the three munchkins will remember their fun, cookie-dough-stealing, take-you-to-Barnes&Noble, baseball-playing, corny-joke-telling grandpa.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

8 strategies for fighting cancer smarter

Lilly, the petite but strong fourteen-year-old, tested for her mixed martial arts black belt on Sunday. In front of a panel of stern-looking judges. All wearing black.

   

Lilly goes in for a take-down

So why would you want your daughter to learn to fight?

Simple. Because you never know when she might face a formidable opponent. Because you would want her to respond with skill and good judgment.

Cancer was our formidable opponent. And over time, Hubby and I learned how to fight smarter, stronger and better disciplined using these eight strategies:

1. Recruit a stellar medical team. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion, if need be. Hubby’s medical team all talked to each other, which gave us a sense of being well-covered.

2. Incorporate physical activity. We took up hiking and snow-shoeing. First consult with your doctor; then find something you enjoy doing and add more movement to your lifestyle.

3. Eat better. Talk with a registered dietician about what is best for your type and stage of cancer. Hubby and I added more fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains to our diet; we eliminated unhealthy fats and sugars; and we used meat in small amounts for flavoring.

4. Manage the stress. A cancer diagnosis brings overwhelming stress. We managed the stress by lacing up hiking boots and getting outdoors, and practicing living gratefully in the present. 

5. Cultivate a positive attitude. Instead of counting setbacks, count all the positive things going on in your life. Our list was quite long.

6. Don’t go it alone. Connect with and draw strength from those who can offer support – family, friends, people within the cancer community, from your faith community.

7. Look for purpose. Finding meaning and purpose can be a powerful thing. It was for us as we traveled the country sharing what we were doing to live well with metastatic disease. When you’re feeling better, look for a way to give back.

8. Be faith-ful. This isn’t something tacked on as an afterthought. Our faith was and is the entire undergirding of our lives. Hubby and I believed that things didn’t happen randomly, that God could bring good out of the hard. And He did.

This is a glimpse of our cancer team. There’s so much more to say about each of these disciplines. But for now, consider your team. Do you need to recruit more players?

And what would victory look like? For some, victory could mean beating cancer. For others, it could represent living longer and better than expected.

Hubby fell into that second category. He lived much longer with metastatic disease than originally predicted. And it was the best ten years of our married life as we created more adventure and lived more intentionally.

You may be in a battle for your life or that of your loved one. How wise would it be to fight as a disciplined and strong warrior? Be proactive; recruit a powerful team to help you face down cancer.

Oh, and the petite fourteen-year-old granddaughter? She was awarded her black belt in a ceremony last evening.

 

 

This girl’s grandpa didn’t stop fighting cancer when he was tired. He stopped when he was done.

Grandpa would be so very proud of you, Lilly.

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Saturday, April 17, 2015

What if we had a choice in how we suffered?

“What if Grandpa was holding my other hand and you guys could swing me again,” commented the six-year-old as we walked to the park.

She remembers the grandpa who teased the grandkids. The grandpa who interacted with them; who thought their names were all George for some reason.

   
 

I miss this good man. Every day. But what if, when you face hard things, you could come out on the other side wiser, kinder, stronger? Would it be worth it? I’m thinking yes, not that I go looking for hard things.

A year ago this month – after Hubby’s metastatic prostate cancer lay quiet for nearly nine years – it began making noise. Exhausting all treatment options, Hubby was accepted into a clinical trial that sounded promising.

Two Wednesdays out of every three, he hopped on a plane that took a left turn past Mt. Hood on its way to Seattle.

   
 

We made a couple trips to the ER this month a year ago. Fevers and kidney infections, which were common with the nephrostomy tubes that bypassed the cancerous mass in his bladder.

Hubby would be dropped from the clinical trial as cancer continued its ravenous march. But we had learned some lessons along the way.

When things didn’t go as hoped, we regrouped. We talked; we recruited friends and family to pray; we drafted thanksgiving lists:

1. This day – one more day together

2. Our love story

3. Kids, grands, extended families

4. A warm and welcoming place called home

5. Friends who check in on us frequently

6. That Hubby could still make me laugh

The lists were actually quite long. Even in setbacks, still much to be grateful for.

Not that we did this perfectly every time. Because there were certainly some ugly days of self-pity and hopelessness.

But what if gratitude helped us see the good while struggling with the hard? What if we had a choice in how we suffered? What if this hard thing could make us more compassionate, and therefore more beautiful? (It does. We do. It can.)

Would we embrace the hard instead of kicking against it?

Yes. Yes, we would.

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April 2015

3 ways to give cancer a black eye

Loss of a grandparent

Fighting cancer smarter

A choice in how we suffer

We are family

Back country roads

Wearing out the grandchildren

Homecoming

March 2015

Day one and loving it

Early arrival

Absolutely brilliant

Runyan Canyon

Eating our way through LA

Surviving in the city

Stadium to Sea

Changing the world

Enjoy the ride

At the beach. Again

Nicole and Edward

Horticulture & history lessons

Apocalypse now

February 2015

Sharing the beauty

Memorial quilt

Forgetfulness

Finding the positive

Accumulate experiences

Happy Sweetheart's Day

Venice canals

Another day at the beach

Foreign country

All kinds of advice

Welcome to SoCal

January 2015

Pedicures, cowgirl style

Photo ops

Powerfully profound

A mixed-emotions day

Embracing change

Unearthing treasures

Cancer-kicking community

In my defense

Doing good

Surrounded by love

Heading into the sun

Retirement

Be

Starting the year off right

December 2014

Revving up for the chase

Welcome home

Most excellent NYC adventure

Christmas gifts

Jersey horn-blowing

Sleeping well

It’s not the Pacific Northwest

Pass it on

Cold beauty on the Deschutes

Top Ten Game

How to quit your day job

Unexpected. Lovely. Inspiring.

Angels of mercy, male version

Gifting creatively

Hubby may have been right

Christmas trees

Something patch-worked

Instructions for widowhood

Waiting to see what unfolds

November 2014

Celebrating a life well lived

What if

Starbux Fairy

List-making

Homegoing

Heated tile floors

Bottom line D

Life’s too short

Something to teach us

Everything most important

Trade-off

Wearing gloves

Leaving nothing unsaid

Breaking out

October 2014

Randomness

Hospice House

The cake and the frosting

Reflections on a rainy day

Slow leaks

Counting blessings. Still.

Amazing

Feeding us

Looking for the perfect beverage

Thirsty, anyone?

Feeling loved

A wild life

SunRiver all over again

Photo shoot

September 2014

Ready for some football

Kid in a candy store

Actual birthday

German Chocolate Cake

Celebrating milestones

New recipes

More pep

One of my mothers

Thoughts from a hospital

August 2014

Down a lazy river

Em-barrassing

Siblings retreat

Creamed tuna on toast? Really?

Creating the life you want

Johnson women unite

Every sandwich

Cancer camp

Frequent flyer

Tenacious

July 2014

Short, but sweet

Walking Hubby

This cancer community

Return to the real world

Rah-rahs in town

Counting gifts

Differences

June 2014

Japanese daughter

Who’s counting

Overwhelming evidence

Guest blogger: Lilly

True love’s kiss

Father’s Day fun

Stuffed shells

About town

Dinner guests

Minutes ticking away

Move over, Walter Mitty

Heaven Can Wait for sure

May 2014

 Survival classes

Slinging ink

Theory on hospital stays

Baseball and BBQ

This is my job

Thoughts on this date night

Cranberry peonies

This Mother’s Day

We will remember

Unwanted news

Celebrating Matt

Me without you

April 2014

One sick puppy

Quern

Invisible well wishes

Easter color

Walking 4 Wellness - part 6

For the birds

Wilderness therapy

And we believed her

Clinical trial round three

The home crowd

Beautiful tree

Best Bran Muffin recipe

Best April Fool's joke

March 2014

 That’s just swell

Welcome back celebration

Succinct conversational skills

Walking for Wellness

First clinical trial treatment

Popcorn Lovers Day

Pacific Ocean ambience

Clinical trial prep

In the eyes of the beholder

February 2014

Green scrubs

Hometown tourists

Not exactly as planned

Lost and found

Get outdoors

Early Valentine’s Day gift

Popcorn stitch

January 2014

Three-part date

Weekend forecast

Winter’s art

Spa Chemo day

Seeing beauty

Pilot Butte challenge

Award rescinded

Ambition restored

Annual award

Meet the team

Must be present to win

December 2013

New Year’s Eve news

Thoughts on gift receiving

Secret cure-all

Guest blog by Hubby

Non-compliant patient

Caught. Red-handed.

Tree-hugging

November 2013

A little trim

Giving thanks

A few of my favorite things

First in a series

Focus

The years are short

Travel

Cabin in the woods

October 2013

Leaving on a jet plane

Color

Knitting season

Pumpkin season

Things that matter

Fallin' and flying'

September 2013

Return to civilization

Another day in paradise

Happy birthday and anniversary

Love of barns

Leaving Wyoming

The Tour Guide

This nice big thing

Celebrating a lot of stuff

Fishing expedition

August 2013

Worst fears multiplied

This Friday night date

Mountains to climb

Hiking & oncology news

Out on the range

Cancer camp

Instead

July 2013

The boy who asks questions

Ten-year-old in tow

Tourists

A happy birthday

Music by the river

Mondays off

June 2013

Splash for Pink

Kids at Disney World

Male designed

Happy Father's Day

Pacific Coast thoughts

On track

May 2013

Aware. Appreciative.

MS Office 2010

Family get-togethers

It's just a number

Last trek, part two

Hardy gardeners

Mother's Day

Crunchy, sweet and savory

That time of year

April 2013

Swimming lessons

Getting off the ground

Chunk of asphalt

Stress-free zone

Two Portlands - part 2

This Boston Marathon

Earlier than the TSA

Shopping woes

March 2013

Half birthday ... again

Last trek

With each passing year

Keep the old

Tech nerd

Not the hardest thing

How hard can it be?

Just what the doc ordered

Two Portlands

Mini family reunion

February 2013

Shout out

Marvelous

There is today

Doing it up right

Happy Valentine's Day

Speaking of beans

Snow angel

Simple winter fare

Moving west

January 2013

Flat Stanley on snow-shoes

Water colors

Happy chatter

Flat Stanley visits again

Extended hope

Take that, cancer

Compromise

The commonplace

Bringing in the New Year

December 2012

Making investments

Winter wonderland

Random acts of kindness

Gift giving

The good, the bad and the ugly

Peace on earth

Cancer Club

Mission accomplished

Culture

Fantasy football

November 2012

Those darn numbers

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Back to reality

Favorite things, part IV

Complaint department

Even more favorite things

More favorite things

Favorite things

October 2012

Happy Halloween

Baking weather

Graduation day

First snow

Swans in pairs

A great fall

Date night(s)

DEFEAT Cancer

Country girl

’Tis the season

September 2012

Back in the groove

Last hurrah

Teton hiking

Wow, Yellowstone

Reconnaissance in Jackson

Barn sightings

The power of tenacity

Winnie the Pooh wisdom

Long-time survivor

Perfect marriage

August 2012

Five dollar bill

Out in public

Guest blogger, Steffany

Think outside

Survivor camp

Camp this weekend

Living in a wonderland

Sacred space

High country

July 2012

High country

Simple cooking

Locks of Love

Attitude

Average, ordinary weekend

Close of birthday week

Day before

Get outdoors

Human beans

Mission: Accomplished

Night sky display

Journey with a mission

June 2012

Ain’t no sunshine

Favorite thing

In our possession

Over the hills

Camp Sherman on Father’s Day

In search of wildflowers

Building a cancer center

Southwestern surprises

Irrational fears

Reason to celebrate

Intention

The Space Noodle

May 2012

Reunions

Hiking posse

Powered by optimism

Mother’s Day weekend

Heart tug moment

Vermont hospitality

Happiest place on earth

Supermoon

Unlikely source

Baby geese season

April 2012

Not found out west

The rules

Guess what state we’re in

New Englanders

Jersey weekend

Beantown

Easter blessings

Milestones

Bean soup day

March 2012

Fashion statement

Sharing the experience

Second day of spring

Half-broke horses

Simple pleasures are the best

Best to live your own life

Words With Friends

February 2012

Got your back

The entire snow-shoe team

Grand Canyon

Perfect day

Arizona in February

Springtime?

Super Bowl Sunday

Favorite audience

January 2012

Something in common

Some system

In such a community

Coming home

Headed for OHSU

Checklist for the coast

Welcoming Twenty-Twelve

December 2011

Snow in town

Filling Christmas weekend

Socks

Coolest date night ever

Dressed in pink

Butternut squash day

Making connections

Painted hills

November 2011

Beauty from junk

Taking nothing for granted

Grateful for - part 4

Grateful for - part 3

The child in all of us

Shepherd's House

Grateful for - part 2

Marathon epidemic

Unconquered

Grateful for - part 1

October 2011

My orthidontical twin

Last wilderness hike?

The view from 7,800 feet

Colonoscopies and fall colors

Welcome back

To make a life count

On our way to the Poconos

The Parents

Autumn day in the city

A few numbers

September 2011

Country girl signing off

Off the grid

What are sisters for?!

Try something new

For a limited time only

On the NCI web site

August 2011

I don’t make this stuff up

Brothers

Addictions

A lifetime

Club membership

Detours

Date night can’t get much better

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008