Fight like a girl

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Attention Unschoolers, advice needed!

This post is a little different than what my readers are used to.  In the past if I wasn't writing about homeschooling, I was writing about cancer.  So this blog post is more of an advice request.

This year has not been easy for our family.  With my husband having a stroke in Jan., me being diagnosed with breast cancer in April and cancer treatment taking over my summer and fall, this year has not been organized to say the least.  I've been thinking a lot about unschooling.  This is my 12'th year of homeschooling and I've researched unschooling, but thought it was crazy idea.... until now.  

After all my experience, I've learned some things over the years.

#1.  Why do middle schoolers need to learn Algebra?

#2.  Why do we teach spelling when spell check is on every electronic device offered to man?

#3.  Why do we put so much time into teaching cursive?

#4.  Why do we have such strict schedules on our homeschool routine and bedtimes?

#5.  Why do we need to teach our children things that they will never use or apply to their lives?

So I will address each question with MY opinion.  #1., I have never used Algebra.  The highest math I took in high school was Algebra 1, never used it.  I understand that certain careers have certain requirements.  But one thing I know as a homeschool mom, is my kids.  I know my kids.  So unless they are going to college, Algebra is over rated.   #2. I do teach spelling, but again, over rated.  I attended to public school.  I had weekly spelling tests and I am probably in the top ten worst spellings ever.  Hmmmmm.  #3.  Cursive.  I've read that it helps with Dyslexia but we don't dwell on it.  When my boys were younger, I taught cursive.  It's not mandatory to write cursive, so why spend so much time on it?  I do agree that you definitely need to know how to read it and sign your name of course.  #4.  My youngest doesn't really have a strict bedtime. He gets about 9-10 hours of sleep per night.  Except for my husband, we go to bed between 11 and 12 every night.  We use no alarms.  I usually get up around 8:30am and my son around 9:30am.  We start school around 10:30 and school until about 2 with a short 30 minute break for lunch.  I want my son to get the sleep that his body needs. That is why I don't use an alarm.  I know what you are thinking.  Why let him stay up so late?  I am a night owl and my son and I spend our 'quality' TV time at night.  We watch sitcoms, laugh, and spend time together.  He is 12.5 yrs old and wants to watch TV with me every night.  What teenager wants to spend time with their mom anymore with Ipods, cell phones, Ipads, etc in the mix?  Sorry, taking advantage of our 'TV time'.  As far as daily routines, we try to keep one but lets face it.  Life gets in the way.  Radiation treatments, hospitalization, etc.  #5. Why do I need to teach my son how to find the square root of 81 or where to find the predicate nominative in the sentence?   I would rather teach him to measure the square foot of a room for hardwood flooring.  Now that is worth learning and will be applied to his life.  Why does he need to know about chemical reactions?  There is a thing called common sense and we do teach that.  ;)

So, I don't expect answers to these questions but would like to hear from unschoolers.  I don't want to be the unschooler who lets their children play video games all day or whatever they want to do.  But I do want to be the unschooler who "teaches" outside the box and teaches what they will apply to their lives and what they do need to know.  I don't want to fill my son's head with all of this useless information when I only have a precious five years left to teach him.  My goal as a homeschool parent is to teach my sons how to be good Godly men, who are helpful to others and can support themselves and their families.  For those of you who don't usually read my blog, my oldest is 19 and graduated in 2013.  My middle son, just tuned 17, and is a freshman in college.  So my youngest, who is 12, is my last homeschool son at home.  My oldest 2 are very book smart.  We're talking 3.5 or higher gpa's.  But my youngest is different.  He is smart too, but he is more hands on, high energy, and challenging.  He doesn't like to read (and Dyslexic), and hates to write.  Yes, I do teach writing; we use Excellent in Writing.  He likes to think outside the box and figure out other ways of doing things.  Make sense?

So attention UNSCHOOLERS, what advice, tips or info. can you share?  :)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My letter to the patient with the "C" word.

Dear Cancer Patient,

   Don't let this news that you've received crush your hope.  You need hope.  I was asked to write a letter to encourage you.  My breast cancer story may not be like yours, but I do know what you are feeling and going through.

   I was diagnosed with breast cancer (stage IIa) at age of 41.  I have no BC in my family.  I wear non-aluminum deodorant and eat fairly healthy (very little processed food) and live a pretty healthy, active lifestyle.  No rhyme or reason for this BC.  I am the 1 and 8 statistic.  I had a lumpectomy, 31 treatments of radiation and I will be taking Tomoxifin for the next five years.  I chose not to do chemo. due to the chemo. treatment would only decrease my recurrence of BC by 4 %.  My Oncotype score was a 22; which is a higher number and with the research I've done, it was recommended to do chemo. But again, with the percentage that low, I declined.  It's been one month since my last radiation treatment and my skin is still healing, but very well and looks healthy.  My energy is increasing but not completely back up to wear it was before my radiation treatments.

   The doctors and nurses were wonderful.  They are ready to give you tons of information that you should know about your cancer.  At least they did me.  But I will tell you what the doctors DON'T tell you.  They don't tell you that it is ok to cry and be upset.  When I was going through my radiation treatments, the nurses/techs every day would ask me how my day was going, ask how I was feeling or ask me how my radiation site was.  I always gave a positive answer because I was feeling positive.  Well, about 4 weeks into my treatments I started feeling pain, discomfort, itchiness, tenderness and my positive attitude had left.  Now, I don't want you to confuse this with faith.  I still had my faith in God and my hope that he would see me through this.  I just lost that positive exterior that I was holding onto.  Again, the nurse/tech ask me how I was doing.  I told her that I can't complain because there is someone out there worse than I am.  There was someone who is throwing up from the chemo or crying because her hair was falling out.  I cannot complain.  She looked at me and told me that just because there is someone else going through worse, doesn't mean I can't have my time to complain or feel bad.  It was ok.  I am so thankful that she told me that.  I was starting to feel like I was living a fake life so to speak.  On the outside I was smiling and not complaining.  But in the inside, I was torn, tired and just wanted to crawl into bed and be alone.  Another incident was in church one morning I had a very special friend of mine come up to me during prayer time and ask me how I was.  I broke.  I cried on her shoulder and told her that I just couldn't put on the fake smile and say I was ok, because sometimes I'm not.  I was just tired of being positive.  She hugged me, prayed for me and told me that I didn't need to be positive all the time. That not being positive has nothing to do with my faith.  I can still have faith in God and not be positive.  I held onto that.  I needed to hear that.  Everyone around me was watching how the "Christian, spirit filled woman", was handling the 'c' word.  

Well guess what?  I beat it.  It's gone.  I am cancer free.  I am positive again.  I lost it for a short time, but I'm back!  :)  Amen!

So my advice to you is:

Don't compare your cancer treatment to others.

Everyone's treatment is different.  Everyone's body is different. Keep focused on getting through it and being healthy again.

Don't give up hope or faith in the Lord!

Never give up!  You are here for a reason.  The Lord has a purpose for your life.  You can't have a testimony without a test.  Keep in the Word.  Look up healing scriptures and hang onto them.  Write them on note cards and hang them everywhere you go in the house to remind you to fight!  

It's ok to have a pity party, cry, and complain!

You have every right to complain!  You go right ahead!  Don't let people that have never experienced cancer tell you how to feel. When your done, wipe the tears and press on!

Don't listen to all the advice you get.  

People will tell you not to do this, or that.  Do natural, don't use those drugs.  Let me tell you, I was the person who said that I would never do chemo or radiation; all natural only.  Well, my advice is to pray about it and do what you need to do.  People WILL send you emails about 'this' kills cancer and 'that' kills cancer.  It's your body.  You have to do what you think is best.  So weed out that advice and focus on what your doctor advises.  Those who aren't in the situation, have NO idea what they would do until they are sitting across from the Oncologist and he/she tells them they have cancer!

Listen to your GUT not your HEART.

I can't stand that saying "Follow your heart".  The Bible says that your heart will deceive you.  You follow the holy spirit.  It's that little voice (or what I call my gut instinct) inside you.  Follow it.  

Do your research.

Get on the web and read.  I went to youtube and followed some strong women who have put their cancer story online for all to see. I'm glad they did.  It really prepared me for the treatment.  Look up your treatment and read the side effects, the risks, and the benefits. Be smart.

I hope this helped.  I also encourage you to write your own letter to a cancer patient or blog and tell your cancer story.  It does help others.   Feel free to visit my blog at
I am also a homeschool mother who is raising animals on a small farm.  My cancer story begins on June 14'th, 2015.  If it inspires you, leave a comment.  Also, please visit Cure Forward for more information on clinical trials for cancer patients.

Your Friend and Cancer Survivor,

Tina R.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I made it!

My calendar is full of X's.

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I finally made it through the 31 radiation treatments.  Honestly, the 6 or so weeks of treatment felt like forever.  I felt the lump in my breast back in Jan. / Feb. and this whole 2015 year has been a total blur.  Needless to say that this 2015 year has totally sucked! Starting out the year with Tim (my husband) having a stroke, at the age of 40, on January 27'th wasn't a great 'bring in the new year' event I expected.  So finding the lump was just a aggrivating find. I finally went into the gyn and had it checked out in April, then in May had testing.  Finally, here it is October 5'th and I can say that I did it!  I am now in remission!  I start Tamoxifen next week for five years.  I am claiming healing and don't intent for this to return.  I will not give any time to the thought!  

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 My youngest son rang the bell for me today.  He was so excited! We celebrated by eating out Mexican food.  

Thank you to all my friends and family for helping, supporting and praying for me during this journey!  I couldn't have done it without your prayers and support!  A new chapter of my life is opening, WITHOUT CANCER in it, and I'm ready!

The paper I am holding in the pic is a scripture, Romans 8:11 that says,  

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead 

dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the 

dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through 

his Spirit who dwells in you."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Radiation Update

Only 2 more to go!  I'm so happy that I am almost done, however I am physically in pain at this point.  My breast is constantly itching, sore, inflamed, red, swollen and in pain.  I am continuing with the lotions, ointments, ect.  I even started using ice packs on it to cool it down.  The ice packs are the ones with gel in them.  The hospital gave me one after my diagnostic mammogram months ago.  I'm so glad I kept it!

I wanted to show you all what the machine looks like.  So here it is.

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There is a white sheet over the mold that they made for me to lie in for treatments.  This will put me in the same position every time. The mold it self is like a bean bag material and blue.  They place a clean white sheet down each time and then a clean white towel over my chest so only the area for radiation is exposed.  

The huge round thing overhead moves around the body.  It gets extremely close without touching me.  The white square area on the right on the machine and the screen looking square on the left get extremely close as well, but again, do not touch me.  The bed moves closer to the machine, then the technician puts me in place using controls. She is very precise on making sure everything is exact.  This makes me feel very safe.  ;)  The tech then leaves the room and lets me know when it will start using an intercom.  I have to be very still but allowed to breath normal.  The radiation itself doesn't last long.  Then the tech returns and moves the bed and machine back into this position so I can get up.  

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you.  The machine itself looks a bit scary, but once you get in there and settled, I just don't think about anything but getting it over with.  I just listen to the KLOVE radio station they play for me and when that BEAM ON light comes on, I say my prayer of protection and then it's over.  

My skin is starting to get deep red and peel already where they are doing the last 5 treatments (target area where my scar is).  The duration of the radiation seems to be double the length.  I'm not sure if this is correct, this is just how it seems.  The radiation beam is on for a much longer duration during these last treatments.  Long as in, 20 seconds instead of 10?  I would count, but I am concentrating on praying during that time.  My nipple area is still red, swollen and inflamed and the underarm area is starting to heal. Slowly but surely I am healing.

Only 2 more left!  Amen!  God is good ............. all the time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

8 Days of Radiation left ......

I only have 8 days left of Radiation therapy and I have to say that what I am going through was NOT expected.  This past week has really been hard..... a my testimony.  Although I still have STRONG faith, I have lost something.  I have lost my positive attitude.

Sunday in church I had a wonderful friend come back and pray with me (she is also our pastors wife).  She knew I was hurting. Although I couldn't hear her words during that prayer with all going on in church, I felt the holy spirit in her.  I poured my heart out to her telling her that I am just so tired of being positive all the time.  I told her how everyone was watching me and watching to see how I react to this cancer.  She assured me that they were watching, but they were watching to see my faithfullness, which I have never lost. She told me that it was ok to not be positive and it was ok to feel this way.  Just because I was not positive, didn't mean that I lost my faith.  She was (and is) so right!  I do have faith, more than anyone could ever know!  Honestly, at this point, my positive attitude has been trampled to death.

Before you read on, I want to apologize for the picture below.  It is graphic.  There is nothing wrong or sinful with showing this picture, I am covered.  I want you to know that I am not posting this for any other reason than to tell my cancer story.  So if you are offended, I do apologize.

So, I mentioned that I lost my positive attitude.  This is why.  

This is my 23'rd radiation treatment.

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I cannot express the pain, soreness, itchiness and discomfort of wearing clothes at this point.  The word 'sunburn' has a whole new meaning.  But unlike a sunburn, which feels better each day, a radiation burn gets worse after each treatment.  Not just because of the obvious - the getting burned over the current burn...... daily - but because of the powerful radiation rays that continue to burn you weeks after (so I'm told).  So even though I have only 8 treatments to go, I am told I will continue to have these symptoms and burns for a few extra weeks.  If it wasn't for my youngest son still living at home, I'd be topless all day in the house.  A nudist colony never looked so good!  Haha, only kidding!  If I don't make jokes and laugh, I will burst into tears.

The good news is that I only have 3 more treatments to the area that is pealing and raw (under the arm) and around the nipple (not shown of course).  The last 5 treatments will be to the scar area where the cancer was removed.  Those last 5 treatments are more directed to that area so I will have some relief.  I hope.  The dark spots in the picture is where the skin is drying out and dying, and will peal.  Underneath my breast (where the skin touches skin) is raw.  I try to place the 100% cotton T-shirt in there so there is no skin on top of skin.  That helps.  All day I am constantly (every few hours) putting some kind of ointment, aloe gel or lotion on the entire area.  This whole situation makes leaving the house just not worth it.  Just in case some of you are wondering why I've been a hermit.  ;)

For those just starting this radiation process, you MUST get the following things and have them.  

You will need:
Eucerin lotion (moist)
Aloe vera 100% (NO other additives like alcohol, etc.)
Triple Anti-biotic cream with pain reliever

All of these can be found without a prescription at the local store or pharmacy.

Everyone reacts differently and not everyone may have the same amount of treatments.  I had 31 treatments ordered due to my Oncotype score which was 22 and may have to do with the fact I declined chemo.  Your Radiology Oncologist will discuss the number of treatments with you.  You have every right to discuss this number (and ask why) with them.  Please don't feel like you cannot ask questions.  Even the WHY question.  You have every right to know all you can about what kind of treatments and how many.

Yesterday I spoke with my Radiology Oncologist and told her what was going on with my skin.  She told me that if I started experiencing any oozing, she would let me have a few days rest from the treatments.  They do add these on at the end, so you don't get out of them, just postpone them.  I only have one small / tiny blister forming so I am pressing on.

I am not looking for sympathy.  Like I mentioned above, a testimony must have a test and boy, am I being tested!  I could not have gone through all this without my prayer warriors!  You know who they are.  ;)  I have some amazing family and friends who really pray for me daily.  Thank you!  I needed them and STILL need them!

I do still have my strong faith.  My God has blessed me!  I did not have to go through chemo. and this cancer was caught early.  I am very blessed.  I have almost beat this cancer!   Next Friday (if all goes as planned) I will be ringing that bell and I will be that OVERCOMER that God claimed me to be!

Friday, September 18, 2015

21 Radiation treatments down, 10 more to go.

So I only have 10 more radiation treatments to go.  I wanted to keep you updated on what is going on and how I'm feeling.

I am exhausted.  One of the side effects is being tired.  Well, week three came and I felt it.  I can come home after radiation and take a nap and still feel like I haven't slept in days.  Mentally, I'm not tired.  It's my body.  I am also experiencing radiation burn.  It's like a bad sunburn.  

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(I'm going to be graphic here for a minute because this blog is for information and connection for those who are going through this or know someone who is so they can understand what they are going through.)  The area having radiation is itchy, very sore, red and swollen.  Of course this is over then entire breast and a small portion below the breast.  My nipple is VERY sensitive, sore, swollen, red and getting to the point where wearing a bra is very uncomfortable.   Thank God for stretchy tanks and cotton T-shirts. This picture actually looks really good than it does in person.  It seems to get worse as the day progresses.  Since today is Friday, I have 2 days of rest from radiation before Monday comes again.  By Monday, it'll be feeling a little better, then I get to start all over.  :(   Nothing I can't handle though.  But some days it does take it's toll on me; like today. Today was the first day I was extremely tired while driving. I have one hour drive to the radiation treatment center daily.  So I'm in the car 2 + hours, when the radiation only takes 10 minutes.  I've had several people offer to take me, I may take them up on that offer.  My hubby is off on Monday & Tuesdays right now so he takes me on those days, which is nice. 

Ok, back to the radiation experience.....every time that radiation beam starts and that red light comes on, I pray...  

"Lord, please place your hand between my lung, heart, skin and the radiation beams.  Protect my organs and skin.  Please don't allow blistering or breaking open.  Thank you Lord Jesus for healing me and protecting me".

My daily routine is as follows: 
When I get up, after my coffee of course, I shower to get all the lotions off my breast for radiation.  (I use a natural / pure soap with no dyes or scents.)  I cannot put deodorant or anything on before my radiation.  I eat a light breakfast.  I don't drink much due to the drive I have.  I don't want to have to stop to go pee.  ;)  Then after radiation is finished, while still in the dressing room, I put deodorant on and put a thick layer of Eucerin lotion over the radiation area.  (For the radiation, I must wear a top, kind of like a scrub top, so I have to undress from the waist up.)  When I get home I make a plant based protein shake (meal replacement) called PHOOD.  It has gluten free, soy free, no animal products, no dairy, etc.  It has 18 grams of protein in it with < 1 gram of sugar.  I add almond milk, a banana or fruit to it.  I also add a teaspoon of local raw honey with 2 teaspoons of flax seeds and some ice to get it cold.  

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I buy this on Amazon.  (Note:  I am not getting paid for advertising this.  I am just sharing what I am taking during my breast cancer treatment and experience.)  I also take 4000 iu of VD3, 500 ml of VitC & 5000 mcg of Biotin, all orally.

It is important that you do let your Radiology Oncologist know what you are taking, if anything.  Some medications effect radiation.

After I drink that, I try to rest for a few hours.  I also try to drink lots of water in the afternoon and evening since I don't get much down in the mornings.  I know my body, and I will start getting headaches if I get dehydrated.  I usually drink a water bottle on my way home from my treatment.

When people ask me how I am holding up or how I am doing, I don't like to complain.  There are so many people with ports in their chests going through chemo. right now, those who have a later stage of cancer than I, and some that are in worse shape.  So I feel guilty about complaining really.  I am blessed.  God has blessed me by healing my body.  He is still healing and he is still my protector. 

I hope this blog has helped you or someone else in some way.  I am getting closer to the end of my journey. 

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Only 10 more treatments to go!  Amen!  

God is good, yes, all the time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Radiation has started

It's been a little while since I blogged.  But all this treatment takes time.  Hurry up for this appt., then wait.  Hurry up for the next appt., then wait.  But I have finally started Radiation.  I will be taking on 31 treatments.  I have finished 5 treatments, only 26 to go!

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For those who have never had radiation, I wanted to share.  So here is a little about my radiation experience so far.  (I am not an expert, this is just MY experience through my breast cancer journey.)
I have about a one hour driving time. I am only in the cancer center for about 15 minutes. That includes dressing and undressing.  The radiation treatment itself only takes a few minutes. 

Once I get there, I have a dressing room I go to and get into a homemade (and donated) gown; top half only.  (It looks like a medical scrub top.)  I then place my things in a locker and go into this large room with the radiation machine.  I lie on the table in a special 'mold' that was made to fit the shape and size of my body.  I lie in this every time I go.  There is a triangle pillow placed under my knees, and I lift my arms up over my head.  The left side of my gown (the breast that had cancer removed) is pulled up and the technician makes sure that all my tattoos are lined up and the machine is lined perfectly.  I can't remember if I mentioned the tattoos in my earlier post.  They placed several dots (tattoos) around and on my breast to use as guides for the machine.  Anyway, they take x-rays while I am in position as well, almost every day.  There is no feeling during radiation.  I just see a little red light and I hear a sound.  Every time this happens, I pray, "Lord, please place your hand between my lung, heart and the radiation rays.  Please protect my body from the harm in these rays and let the radiation help the cancer that could be left behind."  Once the radiation is complete, the technician comes in and helps me up and I go back to the dressing room and get dressed.  I am then free to go home.  These ladies in the office are so nice.  They really make sure that I feel comfortable.  Every time I walk in the radiation room, they have KLOVE playing on the radio, they greet me by asking about my son who just started college or they ask about my other sons.  They are very personal and friendly.  They really give you a warm welcome.  They make the whole experience calming.

As far as the side effects go, I am only experiencing some sensitivity.  There is no discoloration as of yet.  I bought some Eucerin lotion and apply that after every treatment (when I get home).  Sometimes I apply it a few times during the afternoon.  So far, so good.  :0)

As some may have noticed, I got my hair cut.  When I thought I was going to have to do chemo., I started looking at pixie cuts.  When I found out I wasn't going to need chemo., I decided to go ahead and get the pixie cut anyway.  So I went for it and I love it!
 photo 11902314_10207106628254844_6414623995518869472_n.jpgSo if you are facing Radiation or any cancer treatment, find a positive blog and start reading.  I have researched and followed some cancer stories before I started my treatment, even before surgery, and they have really helped!   Hope my blog has inspired someone out there to keep fighting the fight!  

I'll be blogging more about radiation soon.   Have a great day and be blessed!

God is good ........... all the time!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oncotype test results in!

My results are in and my percentages weren't as low as I was hoping for but they are good!  Amen!  

The percentage of the cancer coming back is 12-14% without chemo.   Some may think that is low, but I will explain.  That is 1.5 out of 10 chance of it coming back.  I already made my mind up that if my score came back over 10 that I would do chemo. to make sure it is gone and lower chances of recurrence.  However, my Oncologist also told me that if I do the chemo., my chances of recurrence would go down to 9-10%.  So the benefit of chemo. would only gain me 4%.  

To put it in another perspective, I have an 86% of no recurrence. That's a high number!  Woo Hoo!  With chemo., it's 90%. Not much difference.  So I have decided to pass on the chemo. and go forward with the Radiation therapy, then hormone therapy for five years.  I had a wise friend tell me that if this test comes back intermediate, which it did, that the Lord would guide me and give me peace with the right decision.  She is correct.  I am at peace without the chemo.  Putting that toxic med in my body with gaining only 4% benefit, is not worth all the side effects I would put my body through.  

Our minds are a powerful tool.  And if you want a tool to work and be sharp, it must be cared for.  I have been pretty positive through this whole process......because of the Lord, no doubt.  I have to keep that positive mind set to move on.  I can't go through my life wondering if  2018 will be the return of this dreadful disease.  Or will it be 2020?  Nope.  I can't go there.   I won't go there.  

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God told me that day on the swing that he had my back and I was going to be fine.  That's enough for me.

My 2015 - 2016 curriculum choices for 7'th grade are...............

drum roll please...................

Language Arts -  Word Roots, Easy Grammar & EIW (Excellence in Writing)

The Easy Grammar can be found on this link below.  Christian Book Distributors is a great place to find new homeschool curriculum at a great low price! 

History -  History of the World (aBeka)

Science -  Order & Reality (aBeka)

Math -  Life of Fred - Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology

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I haven't decided on an elective yet.  I am thinking sign language. Not sure how much we'll get done with soccer, and possibly karate.

This year was not easy for picking curriculum.  I'm happy with my choice for History and Language Arts however, Science was not easy because with my other two sons (who have graduated) I used Apologia. They were both good readers and like the independent work.  My youngest not so much.  He hates to read and if he had to read a lesson in one of those books, it would take him all day, fighting, kicking and screaming. ;)  But in his defense, he struggles with reading.  So just because Apologia is my favorite science and the best (in my opinion), why make his struggle knowing he will?  I used aBeka years ago and it was ok for the younger years.  So I thought I'd give the science a go at this age (7'th grade).  I can always change right?  ABeka does have reading, but it's an easier read and I can read with him.  

Math wasn't easy either.  We love MUS (MathUSee), however I wanted to try something a bit more fun for him.  I've read about Life of Fred and it had really good reviews.  I personally think it looks corny and immature, but let's face it, I'm not doing it.  My son is 12 and he may like it.  If not, we can go back to MUS knowing it works.  So I may do a review of Life of Fred this fall.  ;)

This is the first year of Word Roots.  I thought this would help with his reading.  Great reviews and looks very easy to understand so he can do it independently.  I wasn't sure where to start so I started from Book 1.  (If you ever question yourself about where to start and they don't offer help with this issue, start from the beginning..... good rule of thumb.) Easy Grammar I have used before.  Love this!  He can do a worksheet or two everyday and get what he needs.  I did see that there isn't any diagramming sentence lessons or practice though.  But I don't think this is an issue because we did cover some of that if younger grades.

So that is where I am at this point.  I do however change up in the middle of the year if needed.  One lesson I have learned is "don't make a child continue using something if it isn't working"!!!  Why torture the child?  If he/she isn't getting the concepts or learning anything, or you are just fighting with them too much during the lessons, it's not worth it so, ditch it (resell or give away).  We changed our math program three times in one year with my other son.  It paid off, we found one that worked and stuck with it from then on.  And just a hint, the more expensive doesn't mean the best!  Every child is different.  Sometimes the free online math programs work just fine. One online FREE math is Khan Academy.  

So good luck in choosing your curricula this year!  Don't sweat it, it's a trial and error.  There are so many choices out there one can get overwhelmed very easily!  What works for one family may not work for another.  Don't compare your children to other children in their grade or age group.  Children in the public school fall behind all the time because they don't get the one on one help they need.  (This isn't the teachers fault necessarily.)  So take a breath, involve your children in the curriculum picks and have fun!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Top 5 must have homeschool items

With this school year creeping up really fast I though I would start blogging about homeschooling again.   So here it goes.......

My Top 5 MUST HAVE homeschool items:
(they are not what you think)

#5   Storage (baskets, drawers, canister, etc.)

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You can never have too much storage.  If I have extra bins/baskets left over, I store them.  Through out the school year we accumulate things and I need a place for them.

#4   Flashcards

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Yep.  Flashcards.  Anything they need to memorize, put it on a flashcard.  I use index cards.  You can buy them in several different colors.  They are great on the go!

#3   Interactive Games

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My son has an HP and there are so many great learning games on there like Sudoku, hangman, etc.  Even the race car games, crossy roads game or the parking games are pretty cool.  I'm not a fan of 'busy work' for the kids.  This is a great alternative.  It helps with eye and hand coordination and great exercise for the brain.

#2   Internet

Internet is a must in my home when it comes to homeschool.  There are so many FREE printable worksheets and helps, it's unreal.  I also use a web site called
to put together my own homeschool planner.

#1   Sleep
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Yep, I said it....sleep.  
My children and I must have a good amount of sleep for a successful homeschool day!  The saying is true in our home that 'if Momma 'aint happy, no body's happy'.  I need my sleep and so do my children.  We are late sleepers compared to many. We don't get up until 8:30am, sometimes 9:00am.  We stay up later as well, but this works for our family.  Whether you are an early riser family or late sleeper, you need to make sure your family gets the correct amount of sleep even if it means taking a nap during the day!

Feel free to leave any comments on what your top 5 homeschool items are!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Oncologist visit post op surgery

So I made it!  Back to the Oncologist after surgery visit.  Things went well and learned something new.  I'm not out of the chemo. woods yet.  
I was cheery, and positive in my thinking that no chemo. would be needed but apparently cancerous tumors create genes while inside our bodies.  I say this next part half jokingly- Please don't judge me.  I knew nothing about cancer until I was diagnosed and I am FAR from any expert for sure!  But I really would like to know where in the world I was when this information was first told to me.  ????   Seriously.  Was I in lala land?  For those that have been in this situation (with cancer), there is so much information given to you at these appointments that it is nearly impossible to remember all of it. So somewhere along the line, my husband and myself, missed that memo about tumors creating genes.  

Anyway, as you know my BRCA1 & BRCA2 tests both came back negative.  So when the Oncologist was talking about 'genes', I associated that with the BRCA's.  After correcting me and explaining this to me, he goes on further to tell me that "we only get one chance at beating this cancer".  Um, ok.  I thought I was beating it.  But apparently these genes stay inside my body after the cancer is removed.  So here I am again, thinking I am out of the chemo. woods on my way to the radiation trail to open fields.  No, I'm not......not yet.

So he ordered something called an Oncotype test.  This test will determine how much the risk of recurrence of this breast cancer.  I read a brochure about this and I was very impressed that our technology has come this far.  (Again, please don't judge.  I really haven't lived on a deserted island somewhere.)  For more info. on this test, click the link below.

The Oncotype test will result in a score.  A low number would mean that chemo. wouldn't benefit due to a low recurrence.  A high number would mean that chemo. would benefit due to high recurrence percentage.  An intermediate would mean the doctor and I must decide if the side effects from the chemo. would out weigh the benefits.  Sigh.  

I am glad that my doctor ordered this test.  He wouldn't have ordered if I said NO chemo. for sure, but what good is going to a doctor if you don't take his advice or take advantage of this research and testing/technology?  I know sometimes doctors don't know what is best.  Trust me, I am one of those who don't go to a doctor or take medicine unless I absolutely need to!  I don't even like taking Tylenol for a headache for goodness sake. However, I DO believe that God gives these men and women wisdom to fight and help cancer patients.  I DO trust God in giving me a clear number from this test.  I DO trust that God will give me a clear treatment plan.  I DO believe that I will know EXACTLY how to go about fighting this terrible diagnosis and I DO trust that God will give MY doctor the wisdom he needs to suggest a treatment plan.  

One other thing is that due to my larger than calculated tumor size, I am now Stage IIa.  Go figure.

Though out this cancer process, I have heard several things such as:  'do natural things, not chemo.' or 'people get cancer because they have sinned'.  Yes, it's true..... I've heard it.  Some people are trying to help with suggestions of natural remedies while others are just spreading the lies from satan himself.  So take the good and throw away the bad.

I hope that blogging this information helps others who are going through this or those who are walking with a loved one through this.  I'm not fond of my cancer story being an open book but I feel the need to share. I have some pretty special ladies in my life who have shared with me and if it wasn't for them I would have never been prepared for all these steps and trials.  I believe God plants 'angels' in our lives to keep our spirits up, give us help, give us hope and to remember to trust in him.  

My next blog will probably be my treatment plan but I would really like to get back into my homeschool blogging with this new homeschool year creeping up so fast.  My middle son has now graduated homeschool and will be off to OVU in one month!  I only have one son (7'th grade) this next school year.  I am looking forward to our time together.

God Bless!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pathology report is in .....

My nurse called today and the good news is ................... NO cancer found in ANY of the lymph nodes that they removed!  Also, NO cancer found in the margin where they removed the tumor!  That means no more surgery and possibly no chemo.! The not-so great news is that the tumor size was thought to be a 1.5 cm, but it was actually 2.1 cm.  That shoots me up to a T2 grade.  The T grades are:  T1 = 0.1 - 2.0   T2= 2.1 - 5cm.  So I am just a smidge into the T2 grade, in my opinion.  

I am really praying that the Oncologist, whom I see next week, doesn't leave the Chemo. decision up to me.  Who chooses to do Chemo right?  Well, I have been told by a very wise woman who has been through this that I need to do what they recommend.  I don't want that decision up to me.  Is that wrong?  I am not a good one to make decisions anyway.  I have a hard time and often second guess myself.  I am going to pray, of course, for wisdom from the Lord to help me in the decision making part.  Honestly, I don't think chemo. would be recommended with the BRCA 1 & BRCA 2 being negative, no cancer in the lymph nodes and no cancer in the margin or found anywhere else.   But the Oncologist takes all kinds of things into consideration such as: my age, % of recurrence, tumor grade, cancer stage, my health, etc.  So I'll know more next week but for now I will REJOICE!

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Surgery Day!

Surgery day is here and as you can see I'm all pumped up ready for surgery.  Ready for my 'on-hold life' to get back on track and this all behind me.  

My mom came with and of course my hubby.  Had our dear friends (pastor and his wife) come up to see me and another dear friend whom I've known for about 21 years.  I've had a lot of prayers on social media.......I am very blessed.

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Surgery went just fine.  The Lumpectomy (partial Mastectomy / breast conservation) & the Lymph Node removal (Axillary Lymph Node Dissection) went really good.  The hospital staff were awesome!  

Something that was a little different than the other surgeries (different hospitals) I've had was that they gave you the 'knock out' med in your IV before they wheeled me back to the OR.  If the past, I have been wheeled into the OR first, then given the med. The med worked very fast and I was out before I even made it into the hallway to the OR.  I like it that way.  I didn't have a chance to get worked up.  :)

Here I am back at home, same day.  Surprisingly a little sore but very little pain.  I was given some pain meds in my IV before I left the hospital and of course got the prescription pain med filled before coming home.   

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But one thing about me is that I HATE to take pain killers.  I was in an auto accident about 5 years ago and was on a popular pain med for 2 weeks.  I had extreme withdraw symptoms for 2 full days after cutting this med out.  I had the jerking, restless legs and arms, shaking, etc.  It was awful! So I don't take them unless I cannot bear the pain.  So even after the IV pain meds wore off, I just had to use Ibuprofen (occasional Tylenol) for the pain just for a few days.  AMEN!  Also, ice packs are my friend.  

The only main issue I have had since the surgery is constipation.  I've tried all kinds of over the counter things, but I found that the combination of Mira-lax, suppositories, and then one Correctol (female laxative) before bed finally got my system moving 3 days after surgery.

I have 2 different incision sites.  One where the doctor removed the cancerous tumor, the other where she removed the lymph nodes. Both are sore, but look very good!  They are clean, healthy with mild bruising around the sites.  

The hospital put me into a surgical bra to come home in. I left this on until I took a shower the 2'nd day home.  I also removed the bandage the 2'nd day after surgery when I took a shower (doctors instructions).  I have been wearing a stretchy bra called the 'genie bra'.  The pads can be removed for a very comfortable, relaxed fit.  For those that have to have this kind of surgery, this bra is very inexpensive at Dollar General.  They also have one that is not named the genie bra, but it is the same bra.  

So all in all the surgery went great.  I should know by the end of this week what pathology found from the tissue taken at surgery.  If more than 2 lymph nodes have cancer, then I'll have to have another surgery to remove the remaining lymph nodes, then have chemo.  If less than 2 (a few) have cancer, then I'll just have to have chemo. and radiation.  If NO cancer is found, then just radiation. No matter what the outcome is, I will be ready.  God still has my back.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pre-op & surgery consult day

Met with the surgeon her.  Discussed the risks of Lumpectomy (Partial Mastectomy) & Lymph Node removal (1-4 of them).  

Before today, I was under the impression that the risk of Lymphedema was only if they all were removed.  My surgeon explained that from surgery on I will have to be careful with my left arm due to a few (1-4) nodes are being removed.  Which means, no blood pressure taken from that arm, no blood draws or pricks, no insect bites, cuts, scraps, etc.  I guess I am still stuck in that "it will never happen to me" place.  

Pre-op went well.  I'm ready for sx.  All I need is to get rid of this stupid sinus, cough thing and I'll be good to go.  ;)  I am ready for this sx to be over and I'll be one step closer to beating this.

Back to the lymph nodes.  If any cancer is found in these lymph nodes that are removed, the Oncologist is going to recommend chemo.  The surgeon explained that if she finds that a few (2 or more) had cancer in them, then she will need to go in and remove the rest.  So I am definitely praying that the cancer didn't spread.  But again, I am being realistic.  There is a difference in being realistic and negative. Being negative, to me, is confessing the outcome on myself.  I am not doing that.  I am preparing myself for a chemo. battle just in case.  I am preparing my mind, body and soul for this poison that may have to enter my body.  I do however, trust God in this whole entire process.  I won't forgot the promise he made to me on the swing that day.  He said,  "I am going to allow you to go through something. You're going to be fine; I got your back".  I am praying, along with friends and family, that I won't have to go through chemo. of course.  I do know that God is in control and he has given me PEACE.  

I thought about that last night lying in bed.  How amazing is he, that he can anoint a total PEACE over someone with something so terrifying?  Without him, I would be a total basket case right now.  I would be filled with worry and doubt.  So I thank him every day for that PEACE that I know comes from him.

I don't claim to be any kind of expert on cancer.  In fact, I knew hardly anything about the 'c' word until I was diagnosed.  I researched, spoke with friends that went through it, and still don't really understand a lot.  But I hoping that my blog might help someone that was just diagnosed or one who may have a loved one going through this ordeal.  I do know that reading blogs and watching video diaries of women who have gone through this has helped me a lot.

(below)  My hubby, being supportive and trying to get me to smile, made me take a 'selfie' with him while waiting for the surgeon.  I wasn't in a bad mood, just not feeling well that day.  I had a lot to take in.  But I am so glad he is supportive and there for me every step of the way.

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So, I feel that I am all ready for the big day next week.  
Say a prayer for me!

PS Thank you for all my family and friends who are praying and following me!  I love you!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My beginning of my breast cancer story...............

I wanted to tell people so they could pray for me without the questions, advice, comments and opinions but I didn't know how to do that without seeming rude.  I'm still not completely sure this is the correct way to tell everyone, but it is the way I've chosen.  I decided to use my blog to tell my breast cancer story.  I'm only at the beginning and I have a HUGE mountain ahead of me.  But I WILL get through this.

So, here it is.  

This is my beginning of my breast cancer story...........

I found a lump after my husband had his stroke at age 40.  I decided to wait for a bit to make sure it was a lump and not just something that would go away after a month and besides, my husband needed me more and I was going to be there for him.  I keep checking the lump daily for a while........yep, still there.  It was starting to get a bit sore.  Ok, it's been 3 months, it's time to go see my gyn.  

Of course, the gyn wants a diagnostic mammogram with ultrasound.  Really?  I have NO breast cancer (blood relatives) in my family line.  This is ridiculous.  Ok.  Fine. They scheduled it.

3 weeks, day of the mammogram and ultrasound, my husband, still being home from his stroke recovery, insisted on taking me.  I kept telling him, it's not a big deal.  I had my baseline (first) mammogram when I was 40 so I wasn't scared or anything.  It didn't even hurt last time, no big deal. Nope, he insisted.

During the diagnostic mammo. the radiologist kept wanting more pics.  Like my breast wasn't already feeling like it was being put through the wringer.....seriously?  Then the ultrasound was done.  The tech left the room and came back with the radiologist.  The look on his face was PRICELESS.  My heart sank.  He looked at me with concern and said, "Tell me your family history again."  I was getting aggravated at this point.  How many times do I have to tell these people that this is nothing and I have NO breast cancer in my family! He then showed me on the screen the lump in question (there were a few cysts as well).  This one in particular was a hard solid mass.  After the explanation, he informed me that he was going to order a biopsy.  I had to ask.  I had to hear him say exactly what he was looking for and what I was thinking!  "What is it that you are checking for with this biopsy?" I asked him.  He then said....... "cancer".

I walked out of that room, into the waiting room where my husband waited.  I had to face him.  (God made sure my hubby was there that day because I couldn't have driven home.  God is good like that you know?  Always looking over me.)  My heart was heavy, I felt myself going to bust at any moment.  I wouldn't look him in the eye until we got into the elevator where we were alone.  I looked up at him, opened my mouth to tell him, but nothing came out.  Tears started and all I could do was nod when he said, "Is it cancer?"  He then said, "We are going to get through this and you are going to be ok."

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That afternoon I sat on our porch swing in the breeze by myself and was in shock.  God clearly spoke to me at that time and he said, "I am going to allow you to go through something.  You are going to be fine.  I have your back."  At that point I felt this overwhelming sensation of peace even though I knew right then and there what the Lord was going to 'allow me to go through'.  The Lord, my father, just told me that all is going to be ok.  I can do this.............with him by my side.  

Four days after the biopsy, the phone rang.  My heart sank....again. It was the breast cancer center on the caller ID.  (I requested that they call me so I didn't have to travel 1.5 hours to hear the news that I already knew.)  Even though I knew what the results were, hearing those words was going to change my life forever. The doctor was very nice and positive.  I hung up the phone, put my face in my hands and let it all out.  The anxiety I was holding in for weeks.  (Now please know that there is a difference between anxiety and worry.  Anxiety means to me being nervous of the unknown or about something I can't control.  I wasn't worried.  My God still had my back remember?)  My husband held me.  I wiped my face and told him that we need to tell the boys.  We sat them down and told them that I had BC, and I was going to go through some surgery and treatment, but I was going to be fine.  

It's been almost 2 weeks since that phone call.  I met my Oncologist, breast surgeon and plastic surgeon.  My next step is surgery, radiation and possibly chemo.  But I have been in a good place......still have this overwhelming sensation of peace.  However, I have a new name tag on my chest.  

My name tags read:  

I am 41. 
I am a wife.
I am a mother of 3 boys.  

and my newest name tag........

I ---- HAVE ---- BREAST ---- CANCER.

I have a journey in front of me.  I will not let this keep me down.  A dear friend told me once that I am an overcomer. So I will get through this. Not because I am strong, but because my GOD is strong and he is with me ......................... all the way.

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I was one of those people who thought, 'I'll never do chemotherapy.  I'll never put that toxic junk in my body.  I will find a way naturally."  Well, I want you to know that you DON'T know what you would do until you are in that situation. I have researched natural cures for cancer.  I've read article after article and again, until you are in that doctors office hearing those words, YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WOULD DO.   (Please don't take offense by this.)

If you believe in the power of prayer, than please pray for me. I'm not trying to be rude or cold hearted.  But please don't overwhelm me with advice, natural remedies (I already know, thank you), questions, or tell me about your relative that died from cancer.  Instead, overwhelm me with how much you are praying for me and my family!   Thank you and I love you!

I will be blogging throughout this journey hoping to help someone with worry of the unknown.  I hope to be a good witness for someone who needs God in their journey.  Can you do it without him?  Maybe.  But I choose to do it with him. Why?  Because he's got my back and I completely trust in the one who created me in his image and without him.......I can't do this.

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I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to a few special ladies who are an inspiration to me!  You know who you are. ;)
You ROCK!  You ladies are the overcomers!  I thank you for all your advice and testimonies!

Psalm 145:18 says:
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Philippians 4:6 says:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says:
Pray without ceasing.

James 5:16 says:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Matthew 7:7 says:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Luke 11:9 says:
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 17:20 says:
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Bump in the Road

It's been quite a while since I blogged.  The New Year came and went.  Then, January 27'th, we hit a bump in the road.  My husband, age 40,  had a stroke.  That day will not be forgotten.  

This is how it went:

I woke up hearing the shower running at 5:30am thinking to myself, "He sure is taking a long shower this morning before work. He must be really tired and trying to wake up or his neck is bothering him again."  (He is usually out the door by this time in the morning.)  Then I heard him dry heaving.  I jumped out of bed, knowing in my mind that something is wrong.  Opening the bathroom door, I see him half hanging out of the shower with his head trying to get over the toilet.  I asked if he was ok, and what was going on.  He said he got dizzy and the room was spinning.  I helped him up and helped him onto the toilet.  He was in a daze.  He wasn't responding right.  "Something is off" I thought to myself.  I helped him up, got him dressed and helped him to the couch.  I asked him a few questions to see if he was ok and he was sluggish.  I told him, "Something isn't right.  I'm taking you to the ER."

He was transferred from our local hospital to a large hospital in Columbus, OH that specializes in strokes.  He had a stroke.  

I will never forget these next words after we found out he had a stroke:  "He has an artery dissection."  What?  

Guilt came over me.  I told my husband that if he didn't quit smoking and didn't start eating better, he was going to have a stroke.  How I wish I could take those thoughts and words back.  I know in my right mind that I wasn't the cause, but guilt is what I felt along with panic.  I didn't let my husband see my panic.  I held it together.  I was strong.  I told him that it was going to be ok and he would be back to normal soon and we would get over this.  God has always taken care of us and watched over us and I believe he is still in control.  

But when I got in the car to come home,..................... I fell apart. Every time I left his side at the hospital, I fell apart.  I KNEW God was in control, but I felt so helpless, worrisome and scared.  I prayed all the way home.  When I walked into the house to my children, I kept it together.  I was strong, positive and level headed. When I felt myself falling to that point of loosing control of emotion, I went to my bedroom and the damn opened.  But soon after, I wiped my tears, took a deep breath and opened my bedroom door back to reality.  My kids, my husband needed me.  They needed me to be strong, level headed, positive, on track, and present.  My boys are older so they didn't need someone to be here to cook for them or keep an eye on them.  They pulled together and kept things at bay.  But I came home every few days to make sure all was well and to re assure them that all will be ok.

My husband came home after a week in Columbus.  There was only one day (a few days after the stroke) that he experienced deficiencies from the stroke.  His left hand wouldn't work like he wanted and he had very slurred speech.  He would say things that were 'off', that he normally wouldn't say.  But PRAISE GOD, he was healed and now back to normal!  

I thank God for all my MIRACLE BELIEVING, PRAYING friends and family!  When the doctors follow up with my husband, they cannot believe that he walked away with no deficiencies, but I can.  I have an awesome and powerful GOD who still heals today. We need to believe, pray and keep faith when we hit these bumps in the road of life.  God is the same today as he was thousands of years ago and will be forever.

I am going to try and get back to blogging soon.  We have 5 new female additions to our family ......... SHEEP!  So much to blog about, so little time.  ;)