living again

Dec 17, 2011 by

I am cleaning my room today. It is my Christmas present to myself. I am getting rid of piles and piles of clothing that no longer fit, are no longer in style, or are no longer in good enough shape to wear in public. It is not easy for me to get rid of clothing…for some reason I want to hang on to it forever. I don’t know where that comes from.

While I was cleaning, I saw, for the gazillionth time, the enormous front-clasping bra I was sent home from my lumpectomy in. Its purpose was to hold the surgical dressings and ice pack in place for the first 24 hours. This bra has sat on the side of my tub since July. Sometimes I look at it and think about the months I carried the lump inside of me. Sometimes I think about the fear. Sometimes I think about the blessings. Sometimes I think about the lessons I learned. Sometimes I let those emotions come back. Sometimes I think I should hang on to it so I can use it again if I ever need to have another surgery on my breasts.

Mostly I just look at it and am sad. Sad because I have not been myself since that long ago day in April when I knew something was growing inside of me. Sad because I let hopelessness beat me down. Sad because I let fear in. Sad because I haven’t known what to do post-surgery…there is no place for those of us whose results come back benign, but are at a huge risk of getting beast cancer. No one knows what to do with people like me. There is no support group, no treatment options given, no real understanding by friends who are so happy the lump was not malignant, but can’t comprehend that my fear is still in high gear. I have felt almost paralyzed for the last several months because choosing to love is scary for some reason. In some convoluted way I think I have convinced myself that holding back a part of my heart will somehow protect me from pain if I do get breast cancer and do have to say goodbye. I can’t even talk about it really…whenever someone asks me about it, I go into business voice mode and answer their questions in a detached clinical way. It is SO not me, but I haven’t known how to change it…to change me into one whole person instead of having one person that is on the inside of me dealing with all of this and another person I show to the world.

Today I decided I was ready to let the bra go to the burn pile. I decided I was ready to say goodbye to the pain and fear and suffering and tears and incapacitating despair that the lump represented in my life. I decided I was ready to live more fully present in each moment.

I don’t know what is in store. I don’t know if I will ever need an extra-large surgical bra again. All I know is I am going to live and love and savor and appreciate both the blessings and the lessons of my life. I am going to tear down the walls I have let build up in my heart the last few months…the fear of being too close to people, the fear of hurting too much, the fear of being too vulnerable. These fears are not me. They are not who I truly am. I am ready to be me again…perhaps a wiser me, but me nonetheless.

I hope bra burning is the first step.

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back handsprings

Sep 23, 2011 by

Today I did four back handsprings.

I cannot tell you how much joy it brought to my heart to do them…to prove to myself I could still do them.

I don’t always (or perhaps even often) show just how much this whole breast lump experience has rocked my world and made me question my body and its abilities. I was in a lot of pain for several months and at times was completely unable to lift my arm at all. I was in pain while sleeping. I was in pain while driving. I felt weak and tired and completely not myself.

I feel like I am coming back. Almost like being born again. As each day goes on I feel more and more myself. As I do things, the old things that were once easy and regular for me, I feel like I am returning to the me I know.

Perhaps it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. No one else was in my heart and head for the past many months. No one else knew how absolutely terrified I was of dying…or even of living WITH breast cancer.

I still may have to make that journey with cancer. I am full of questions about my breast and the general health of my body…I don’t know what is going on and I don’t know what I need to do. One thing I do know is today’s back handsprings will help me on that path.

For they reminded me of just how strong I am and that I can do hard things.

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a note full of love

Aug 27, 2011 by

So, I am cleaning my room…trying to at least…and keep finding things I want to remember forever and the only way to do that is to write them down in my commonplace book or type them on here. Since I type faster than I write, I’ll add them here!

On the day of my lumpectomy, two friends from my church brought over dinner and their love. I was completely out of it that night, but later in the week, I read their words and bawled my eyes out at the kindness they had shown my family. Their words strengthened me then and rereading them today they continue to sink deep into my heart.

Dear Tracy,

You are thought of, loved, and prayed for, especially at this time of trial in your life! We are all in this together, to strengthen each other and serve each other and love each other. We hope you feel of our love and concern and our absolute faith in our Heavenly Father’s timing and will! Everything will work out and will be for your good and your precious family’s good.

Isn’t that lovely? I cannot tell you how much the cards, emails, smiles and hugs have meant to me this summer. I have put on a pretty good face most of the time, but I often fall apart late at night and have been full of fear, full of despair, full of hopelessness. The love I have felt from my friends and family has made a huge difference in my being able to feel the peace and love of God. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with your heart…I have truly needed it.

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go away anesthesia

Jul 29, 2011 by

I keep thinking I am improving and then my head starts spinning again. The nausea today is awful. I feel like I am on the high seas with no land in sight.

I have spent far too much time typing the last two days, but I desperately needed to get information out about my homeschool gymnastics classes and I had to work on the website for our homeschool group. Life doesn’t stop just because I had surgery.

Richard asked me to marry him eighteen years ago this week and he is taking me to a Passover Seder tonight at BYU-I to celebrate. I am not at all sure I will be able to enjoy it, but he knows I have been wanting us to attend it together for years, so he got us tickets. I think I will take a long bath this afternoon and try to rest all day long to prepare for it.

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Jul 27, 2011 by

I have my pathology report on the tissue removed from my breast.


I know I should be feeling relieved…ecstatic even…but I am not.

I am feeling grateful for this wake-up call. Grateful for the cleanse I did because the pain in my breast greatly subsided throughout the cleanse. Grateful for the support of my mom and my circle of friends. Grateful for all I have learned about myself, my health, breast cancer, breast health, and liver issues. Grateful for the perspective this has given me. Grateful for the personal examination I have been able to do. Grateful for the prayers that have been called out to the heavens. Grateful for the profound blessing I was given. Grateful for the meals I have received this week. Grateful for the unfailing love of my husband. Grateful to Dr. Jones’ for listening to me. Grateful to the hospital staff for taking excellent care of me. Grateful for my children putting up with a ton of chaos and fear in their little worlds. Grateful for the green smoothies. Grateful for the raw foods. Grateful for the tender mercies of my Father in Heaven. Grateful for the long hours I have pondered my mission on this earth. Grateful for the hugs, smiles, and tears that have been shared with me.

I’m full to the brim with gratitude.

But I don’t really feel relieved. I feel like perhaps I have dodged a bullet. Perhaps I was given an early warning to turn things around.

I don’t know what this all means for sure, but to me it isn’t over. It is just the beginning of a life of vigilance against breast cancer. A life I never thought I would lead until one day it hit me square in the face that something was wrong with my breast. I am on a quest to get all this estrogen out of my body, to rid myself completely of the unsettled feelings, and to continue coming to Christ with my full heart instead of trying to solve my problems all by my lonesome.

This was a lesson I needed.

Thank you everyone…I have needed you more than you know…more than I have shown. There have been many times these last few months that I have felt like this was too big for me and the things that have kept me going are your hugs and cards and kind words and smiles and phone calls. I have the most wonderful people in my life and I will always be so grateful to have been surrounded by your love through this whole ordeal.

Thank you God…for helping me learn just how much you love me. As I have immersed myself in your words, I have felt a peace and a power that is indescribable. I need to learn the lesson of submission and through this experience I have started that process.

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bedsores on their way

Jul 26, 2011 by

I had a chunk of my breast removed yesterday and I am pretty sore…and dizzy…and shocked at the swollenness of my right side. I showed my mom last night on FaceTime and we laughed so hard about it, it hurt my incision and I learned my laughing lesson real quick.

The bad thing about being in bed for hours on end is that the parts of my body that weren’t sore yesterday are sore today. My bed is horribly uncomfortable, sags in the middle, contorts my vertebrae, and jostles me severely each time one of my children so much as breathes on it.

Results of the lump’s make-up should be in on Thursday. I’m not spending too much energy thinking about that…most of my brain cells are working on the problem of how to get comfortable, keep the ice pack on my breast in the right position, and how to sleep with the puppies barking outside my window.

Speaking of puppies, Keziah sold two of them yesterday at Broulim’s. Yippee! We have four more waiting to find their families!

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no, I have not died

Jul 23, 2011 by

In case you have been wondering if I died on day twenty of the cleanse…I didn’t. I am alive and well and gone on a trip to MAT Camp (Music, Art, & Technology). We have been up a dawn and and getting to bed around eleven every day this week and I have not had a moment to sit down and write. I am tuckered right out! Getting five children to and from their classes each day, volunteering at the camp myself to pay for their tuition, feeding everyone, driving eighty miles each day, and not sleeping in my own bed wrapped in Richard’s arms is just plain exhausting.

But worth it.

My four children and our friend, Alanna, have thoroughly enjoyed their classes. They have had flute and violin lessons, puppetry, choir, dance, flashmob, stage combat, science explosions, painting, composers at the zoo, silly songs, quilt making, musical theatre, mosaic art, and more. They have had the opportunity to be in many performances, receive expert mentoring, make tons of friends, and be surrounded by musicians and artists from all over the country. It is one of our favorite things to do each summer.

Today I am enjoying the Pioneer Day activities in my hometown and have seen so many of my dear friends. I love this place. Speaking of which, when does the grown-up place you live become home? We have lived in our current town for twelve years and even though we have lots of wonderful friends and a fabulous homeschool network, it still doesn’t feel like home to me. It feels like this-is-where-we-live-but-don’t-have-any-roots. Maybe this feeling stems from the depth of the roots I have in my hometown. My great-great grandfather and his sister, along with their spouses, settled this land 120 years ago. I was raised about a mile away from their original homestead and nearly everyone I grew up with was related to me one way or another. My family ran our town’s only grocery store and I practically lived at the store, talking to all the customers in between bagging groceries, facing shelves, and wrapping lettuce. My small town had this feeling of connectedness that I have never felt anywhere else. I don’t know if it’s because I have changed or if it’s because my new town doesn’t have that same feeling.

I could just sit at the town BBQ and watch these people all day. I love them and I am so grateful for the roots they gave me. Being here makes me want to marinade my children in that feeling of groundedness, interdependency, and however sappy it sounds, family. That feeling…and the actions that surrounded it, are what saved me as a child. I had an entire town that cared about me and taught me what it meant to be a good and decent person. They filled me with stories of my ancestors that inspired me to live up to my family name. They loved me…and they still do.

We have already been to the Pioneer Day Parade, the Quilt Show (where we saw sheep wool carding, beautiful quilts, a bear skin coat worn by a stage coach driver in the 1800’s that still has bullet holes in it, and irons from the first western settlers), and the BBQ. Tonight we are taking Alanna to her first rodeo!

Tomorrow we will return home and then I am having a lumpectomy on Monday morning, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again. I’m hoping to be back on my feet on Tuesday, but who knows? I’ve never done this before, so I don’t have a clue on recovery time.

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the cleanse: day nineteen

Jul 16, 2011 by

I am SO proud of myself. I have not cheated even one little iota. I have eaten pounds and pounds of vegetable matter, a little bit of fruit in my smoothies, no grains, no beans, no sugar, no meats, no dairy, no dressings, no ANYTHING except veggies and fruits and a little bit of olive oil and apple cider vinegar for the past nineteen days. This is a huge accomplishment for me and demonstrated to me I have far more will power than I thought. My whole purpose for doing this cleanse was to get my internal organs working at peak performance so that my liver can move the estrogen out of my body. I have no idea if that is happening or not. I really wish I had a liver performance monitor that could tell me how much its functioning has improved over the past three weeks!

A side benefit I was hoping for was to lose some pounds. I had read some stories online of people doing this cleanse losing twentyish pounds. Many lose around ten. So, yeah, I was hoping to lose some of the weight I have put on in the last year. Unfortunately, nothing is really showing up on the scale. How is it possible for me to be eating only veggies and fruit and not lose a single pound? I guess I don’t really know that for sure…my scale is not terribly accurate!

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the cleanse: braggs vinaigrette

Jul 13, 2011 by


This little product has been a lifesaver for me! Eating raw veggies by the plateful is nutritious and even delicious, but it has gotten a little old. I discovered this olive oil vinaigrette at Fred Meyer’s and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Last night I dipped jicama in it and it was so yummm. I couldn’t keep Annesley away from it…she just kept coming back for more and more and with those big blue eyes pleading with me for another, I finally let her have as much as she wanted. I also dipped cabbage in it and it made a world of difference for me. If any of you are thinking of doing the 21 Day Standard Process Purification Program, make sure you get this product. I would be going bonkers without it!

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thankful thursdays 7/7

Jul 7, 2011 by

* I’ve always believed the number seven was the most special number in the world (or in the heavens!) and today on the seventh day of the seventh month it has proved true once again! By the way, the number seven is said sheva in Hebrew and it means holy, complete, and covenant. I was born on the seventh at 7:00 after seven minutes of pushing and weighed seven pounds. Definitely a wonderful number in my life!

Anyway, today, I met with Dr. Jones, the breast surgeon, and she would like to do a remove the lump in my breast! Imagine that! After all this time and all these appointments, a physician finally said they would like to take the darn thing out!

I’m a little blown away by the whole thing…I had basically given up on that even being a possibility. Now I need to decide if I would like to do it in her office with just a local anesthetic or if I would like to do it at one of the surgical centers with IV anesthetic. The thought of less meds is appealing to me, but I don’t really know if that would be wise since I am fairly needle-phobic. She said since I have given birth unmedicated four times I should be able to handle just the local anesthetic, but what she doesn’t know is I was in a lot of pain during those births…it wasn’t a question of not being in pain, it was a philosophical and physiological opposition to having medication. She would like me to decide in the next 24 hours, so I need to come to a decision quickly.

I don’t know what to do…any thoughts?
* I am thankful to be doing this cleanse. I know it is helping my body get healthier! I’m on day ten and doing well. I am so thankful to my mom for getting me all the supplements – there is no way I could have afforded them on my own. She has been such a hero through this whole thing…listening to me when I am freaking out over this lump, helping me stay focused on truth, helping me have courage, loving me, buying groceries, and listening some more. I adore my mama!
* I am so thankful for my children. They have had to put up with a lot these last few months as I have been gone frequently to doctor’s appointments. They have really pitched in and made my life as easy as they can. During this cleanse, Keziah has made my green smoothies for me everyday and Blythe has been helping make dinner because it is really hard for me to be in the kitchen cooking stuff I can’t eat.
* America. I love my country. I love the Constitution. I love the founding generation and the countless sacrifices that were made. I have loved focusing our school time this week on freedom, liberty, courage, persistance, public virtue, and what it all means for us today.
I am thankful for so much more, but I have no more time to write today!

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the cleanse: the first week

Jul 5, 2011 by

I have completed the first week of the 21-Day Standard Process Purification Cleanse. I have not cheated with even one little crumb of non-vegetable or non-fruit matter – although it has been close a few times! I have found myself automatically picking up the children’s food and lifting it to my lips and then remembering right at the last moment and putting it back down. I have successfully downed thirty pills and two SP Complete shakes a day…I mix the powder with my green smoothies (confession: Keziah makes almost all my green smoothies for me…she is Wonder Girl).

For me to actually stick with something for eight straight days in a row is something of a miracle. I am pretty proud of myself. I have also felt surprisingly well. This weekend was kind of rough since we were out of the house so much at Independence Day activities and I didn’t have ready access to all my veggies and last night I had a wicked headache (I never get headaches, so I know this was either detoxification related or lack of food related), but other than that I have felt great.

I have realized just how much I think about food…how much I love it, really, really, love it. I SO enjoy a delicious egg sandwich, a bowl of popcorn, a hearty whole wheat pancake, chips & salsa, brown rice with apples & raisins, quinoa with spinach, and so many other yummy, whole foods. I also love some things not on the whole food list…like ice cream and lots of it. Even though my overall diet is pretty healthy, this new thing of eating ONLY vegetables and fruit is still an adjustment.

For those of you who have never done this cleanse, you are to eat twice as many vegetables as fruit and at least 50% of your intake should be raw. I am trying to do almost everything raw. I have had some veggies sauteed for less than four minutes a few times, but other than that everything I have eaten for the past eight days has been raw. Red peppers and sugar snap peas have been my favorites this week. I have also eaten a ton of broccoli and cabbage. I recently learned that cilantro is a powerful tool in blood chelation, so I need to figure out a way to get that in me by the handfuls.

Today we pulled out my old auger-style juicer and made “ice cream” with frozen fruit…can’t believe I forgot how delicious and easy it is! We fed some to Brother Ritchie when he came by to fix our windshield and he loved it as well.

I can tell my body is working hard. I feel like I need a lot of sleep, so I am taking things pretty easy…at least easy for me ! I am praying that this cleanse helps my liver get up to speed and kick starts all my other organs into a fine-tuned machine…and of course, I am visualizing estrogen flowing right out of me. I wish I had some sort of estrogen measuring device so I could quantitatively see the changes in my levels. Come to think of it, a liver measuring device would be super-handy as well!

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burns in me

Jun 28, 2011 by

I bought the Jenny Phillips – Every Breath CD for $2.99 back at Passover time when I was looking for an Afikomen gift and have been listening to it ever since. The first time I heard “Burns in Me” I was swept away. I listened to it again and again and AGAIN right then. I couldn’t get enough of it. At first, I focused on the cello music at the beginning of the song. Then I started focusing on the phrase “There is no time, it seems” because at the time I was right in the middle of Blythe’s Shakespeare play rehearsals and was worn right out with all the things I needed to get done on a daily basis. Then I started focusing on the phrase “How quickly I can fill my life with less important things” and since I was so concerned about breast cancer, I started really evaluating how I was spending my time and making a plan to make sure I spent my time on the essentials, not the superfluous. I recommitted myself to personal scripture study and to really nurturing my children’s souls. Then I started focusing on the part about thinking we are strong. That first part of May, I felt anything but strong. I felt powerless and I was literally barely hanging on. As my communion time with God became longer and longer each day, I began to feel peace again. I began to feel His great love for me. I have listened to this song over and over again for the last two months and loved it each time. On Saturday night, I listened to it again while driving home from the LDS Holistic Living Conference and it hit me with more power than it ever had before. I was thinking about this lump in my breast and what I need to do about it and what this whole journey is supposed to teach me. The answers came in these words…they might not mean anything to you, but they mean the world to me.

There is no time it seems
We’re rushing to meet everybody’s needs.
There is no time to breathe.
How quickly I can fill my life with less important things.

I’m hungry and I’m empty till your words reach deep inside.
I humbly drink from waters deep that fill me with life.
Your teachings have the power that I seek
and the Spirit of the things I read, burns in me.

Sometimes we think we’re strong.
Pushing on through days that seem so long.
I try to carry on, but without the daily bread of life
I’m barely hanging on.

I’m hungry and I’m empty till your words reach deep inside.
I humbly drink from waters deep that fill me with life
Your teachings have the power that I seek
and the Spirit of the things I read, burns in me.

I pray, I ponder, I’m thirsting.
I read and know that You hear me.
I pray, I ponder, I’m thirsting.
I read and know that You hear me.
I pray, I ponder, I’m thirsting.
I read and know that You hear me.

I’m hungry and I’m empty till your words reach deep inside.
I humbly drink from waters deep that fill me with life.
Your teachings have the power that I seek
and the Spirit of the things I read, burns in me.

They mean God knows. He knows me and my fears and my hopes and my needs and my family’s needs and I am safe in His hands. Not safe in terms of nothing being wrong or anything like that…just that I am really, really safe with my God…regardless of what His plan for me is, it IS what is best for me even if I can’t see how it will all work out.

They mean He has the power to save me. The power to heal my body, to eradicate this tissue from my life. More importantly, He has the power to heal my spirit and to teach me exactly who I am, what I am worth to Him, and how I can return to Him.

They mean the atonement is real. It’s real for me and it’s real for you. I’ve always known there was a way back to Him, but trusting that I could really make it back to Him has been so hard. I have no doubt that others can, its just me I have questions about.

They mean His words are what heal me. His words are what bring me peace. Nothing I do can give me the peace, the healing, the strength, the perspective, the love that I need. Only His and as I immerse myself in His word I will be filled with exactly what I need.

I wish you could hear the cello.

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catching up

Jun 20, 2011 by

After pouring my soul out a few days ago, I haven’t had anything left of me to share…so I haven’t written. I am not one of those “write on command” types that write just because another day is here. I have to have something to say, something of myself to impart to the world…and after Thursday’s post, I had nothing left in me.

I’ve also been busy, busy, busy. On Friday, Jodie Palmer came and stayed with me for the weekend and brought her three little munchkins…remember Miss Maggie of Make It For Maggie fame? On Saturday, I attended a class on Parliamentary Procedure and learned gobs of useful information. My head has been somewhat swimming since then with the little filing guy in my brain trying desperately to get all that info stored away into its proper folders and filing cabinets. Then, that night we had an extended family party to honor the fathers in our family and we didn’t get into bed till about midnight. Sunday was church, nap, planning, studying, pondering, and loving on my family.

Now we are to Monday and a new week of mothering, schooling, loving, learning, and becoming. What will I become this week? What will I improve upon. Whose life will be better because of me? Weighty questions that hit me hard each week.

The only things I know right now are:

1. I am starting my new scripture journal today.

2. I am starting my 21 Day Standard Process Purification Cleanse tomorrow after I go grocery shopping today for oodles of vegetables. I love vegetables…in fact, I was a vegetarian for about two years back when Blythe was a baby…but I cannot even imagine how I am going to live on only vegetables and a little fruit for the next 21 days. This is surely going to be an adventure in willpower and creativity.

3. I am going to focus on nurturing my children each day…filling their souls up with my love for them.

I should find out what Dr. Jones’ decision is in the next few days. Until then I feel like I am on pins and needles. I have been praying she will be guided in her decision and will be able to have an open mind about thermography. If you are the praying type, I would appreciate your prayers for her as well.

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the lesson of submission

Jun 16, 2011 by

I have been learning much.

Learning that I can’t solve my problems.

Learning that I can’t control my life.

Learning that I have been far too prideful.

Learning that I am much too reliant on my own pitiful attempts to rescue myself.

Learning that it doesn’t matter how smart I am, how good I am, how angry I am, how deserving I am, how anything I am…I am not in charge, I can’t change my husband’s job, and I can’t change this lump in my breast.

Now, I am not saying I am powerless…I AM saying relying on my own strength, tenacity, brains, or anything else of MY own won’t work.

I have had to give this all to God and let Him change things.

I have had to submit…in some ways it is the most frightening experience of my life.

It is also the most humbling.

Several weeks ago, I was told that because my mammogram results came back clear, I was no longer eligible to receive funding through the Early Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. Since then, I have made countless phone calls, had numerous appointments with specialists in a variety of fields, and been researching till the cows come home…actually far later into the night than when the cows come home. Through all this study, I have decided that the mammogram results are not accurate due to my dense breast tissue and that I need to pursue further testing.

The Screening Program said they would absolutely not pay for any other appointments and they would certainly not pay for the $5,000 biopsy. No way around it. I did not meet the guidelines to continue with further testing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I have pondered fundraising ideas. Bake sales, selling my beloved bike, my cello, some of my books, creating some sort of new business that could quickly raise the money needed. Ideas have poured through my head and all of it was completely overwhelming. I knew I wasn’t up to doing anything that large or that quickly. I am tired. Each day is a struggle to get through and there is just not enough of me to get it all done.

For years, I have thought if I just worked harder, stayed up later, smiled more, or involved more people, I could solve whatever problem is in front of me. For the last four years, I have been learning that I can’t solve our financial problems. I can’t magically give Richard a new job. I can’t give him more hours with us. I can’t go back in time. But, I have made myself miserable and exhausted by taking the weight of that burden on and trying to solve it and feeling the weight of guilt and torment that has gotten us here. I have beat myself up over and over and OVER. I have distanced myself from God because I have felt so absolutely unworthy of His love. I have sobbed into my pillow all night long more times than I can count because the pain is so unbearable. I have not allowed the atonement to work in my life…all because of debt and poor choices and guilt and not measuring up to my vision of a good steward.

Sometimes the reality of trying to get through the day feels like a boulder pressing down on my chest. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe. Sometimes I try to escape into a book, but at the end of the last page, the problems are still in front of me. Sometimes I look into the eyes of my children and start crying because I can’t solve this problem.

I know God does not want me to feel this way. Yes, He wants us to be good stewards, but He does not want me to hate myself and be unwilling to accept His atonement because of my self-imposed guilt. My priesthood blessing of a few weeks ago helped me to feel and know His great love for me. It helped me to let go of the guilt and bask in His peace. Since then, I have felt His love on a daily basis. I have felt wrapped in His arms.

Many times, I am able to be comforted by the fact that innumerable miracles have fed, clothed, and sheltered us in the past four years since our business closed. Many times, I am able to remember hope. Many times I am functioning in a state of shock as my family and friends give me clothes, make-up, gas, food, trips to Utah, warm meals, books, and all the other wonderful things people have provided for us. Many times I am so embarrassed by the help people give us that I am unable to communicate and perhaps they don’t know how grateful I am and how perfectly timely their gifts have been. Many times, I know, absolutely know, that I am in God’s hands and that I need to trust.

But mostly, I still think I can solve everything.

This lump has taught me that I can’t. I can’t get rid of it. I can’t find out what it is on my own.

I can eat healthy foods. I can cleanse. I can relax. I can trust. I can simplify. I can try to fix the hormone imbalance.

But I can’t solve it.

I don’t know if anything I am saying is making sense. I am typing a million miles a minute and pouring my heart out into my keyboard and probably not really communicating the feelings of my soul. I hope someone can sense what I am saying.

Last night when I got home from having a wonderful time with my friends, Jessica and Jessica, I had a message from the screening program.

By some miraculous turn of events (and by miraculous, I mean miraculous…I’m sure there had to be some angelic intervention), they have decided to pay for another surgical consult AND the biopsy if it is necessary AND follow-up appointments.

I’m speechless.

I cried and cried last night. I do not deserve this. I haven’t earned it. It doesn’t make any sense.

But that is exactly how God works. I need to stop trying to earn His love and just love Him, just trust Him, just submit my willful, prideful, selfish self to Him.

The next miracle happened this morning.

Dr. Jones’ (the best breast cancer surgeon in our area) office called and said they had a cancellation for this afternoon and it was mine if I wanted it.


Generally they are booking appointments 4 – 6 weeks out.

Miracles are everywhere.

I am learning to submit to God’s plan for my life. It is hard, but I am learning that His hands are best place for me to be.

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thankful thursdays 6/9

Jun 10, 2011 by

I have missed my last few Thankful Thursday posts and have regretted not taking the time to ponder the things I am grateful for. My heart is so full with the blessings of my life. I had a really grumpy day yesterday and was feeling so discouraged by the lump and the tests and the costs and the fear and the lack of control and the overwhelming weight of dealing with all of this. Yesterday it felt like too much. I felt like crying all day long. I felt like I could not go on. Then, Keziah convinced me to take her to the library to sign up for the summer reading program, Kat heard the despair in my voice and came and met us at the library, and then we all took a spur of the moment trip to see my old chiropractor and see if he could make sense of all of this. Last night, I held a colloquium at my home and was able to be surrounded by people pondering and searching for truth. It was lovely.

I woke up this morning feeling more myself…more hopeful, more committed, more me…and so, I need to write out my gratitude.

* Love…the power of love is huge in my life. I am surrounded by people who love me, who nurture me, who build me up, and feed my soul. I have known for a long time that I was greatly blessed to have such a vast army of friends and family, but this whole lump experience has made me appreciate the love from that army so much more.
* My lil’ sister, Mikelle was able to be sealed to her husband, Logan, and their son, Easton, two weeks ago. It was one of the most precious experiences of my life. I am so happy for them to be building an eternal family and to be growing closer to Christ.

Mikelle, Logan, and Easton


All the gang…we were looking into the sun…so excuse the squinty eyes and hands in front of faces.


Mikelle and her daddy


Logan and his buddies


Our family


Glory, glory, hallelujah!!!!
* Kat sewed me new camper cushions…she is the most fabulouso seamstress EVER! I am so, so, so grateful to have her in my life. I feed her yummy food and she sews for me…what a great deal!

I haven’t taken a picture of the old, hideous covers, but here is a picture of the new ones…aren’t they adorable!


They bring such a smile to my face each time I see them! The sad news is, one of the blue ones got gum stuck to it at swim camp, so now I have to figure how to get that off of it.
* Blythe is at a wonderful youth conference for homeschoolers today and tomorrow. It is such a blessing to be surrounded by youth who are dedicated to studying the great classics, finding out what God wants them to do, and serving their fellowman. I love these youth and am so grateful my daughter has a rich environment of friends who are on the same path as she is.
* My new scripture journal came! I am in love. I love the way it feels and the way it looks and can’t wait to fill it up with treasures!
* As frustrating as it is sometimes, I am grateful to have a body that communicates with me and is teaching me what I need to do to heal. I am grateful for the messages my breast is sending me. It is not letting me ignore it at all…which just may give me time to reverse this whole process.
* My new iPad. I have never owned an MP3, ipod, smartphone, or any of the other gadgets that are so popular these days, so this is a huge deal for our family. We are loving the books, the scriptures, the ease of email, the speed, and the learning apps. The whole thing is simply amazing. I don’t know why it was gifted to me, but I am so grateful to have it. Just this morning, Fisher and Annesley worked on phonics, Keziah did some geography and math, and I was able to look up oodles of info on the internet, all while being snuggled up in my bed together. Thanks mama!!!!!!!!!!!
* I love my little plot of land with the trees, wildflowers, sagebrush, dandelions, chicken poop, birds chirping, nine new puppies, morning sunshine, afternoon shade, and even my bumpy dirt road. It is so nice to have a place to call our own.
This may be the longest post in history, so I will stop now and let you get back to your regularly scheduled lives. Just know, that I know, I am blessed…richly blessed. Sometimes I have a hard day and forget about those blessings. Sometimes I lose my temper. Sometimes I get discouraged and overwhelmed. Sometimes I want to give up…and then I start thinking and start remembering all that God has done for me, all the blessings He has promised me, all the peace He gives me, all the love I am surrounded with, and my heart is buoyed up for another season.

Thank you for helping me remember.

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it’s all coming together

Jun 8, 2011 by

I am a researcher…I crave information…so when this lump showed up I, of course, started studying everything about breasts, lumps, tests, treatment, and outcomes.

I have felt for awhile that my estrogen levels were sky high…I haven’t felt right since my miscarriage last fall. I have known for years…since my post-partum days after Keziah…that my progesterone levels were low. Back then my luteal phase was 1-2 days!

I have known my liver struggles to metabolize toxins when I am pregnant and have wanted to do a liver cleanse for years, but since I have always either been pregnant or nursing for the past fifteen years, I have put it off.

With each of my ten miscarriages, I have slowly come to see that something is terribly amiss with my body. But, I have failed to see the big picture. I have failed to understand that all of this is connected.

What I am starting to understand now is that my estrogen levels have most likely been high for years…that in turn has worn my liver right out (proof: vomiting throughout all my pregnancies, inability of my body to metabolize medicines, exhaustion, strong aversion to smells, liver coming up on every health evaluation I’ve had in the past fifteen years, blood-sugar regulation issues, and passing out) and this has made it even more difficult for my liver to metabolize the excess estrogen.

With my hormones so out-of-kilter, I have had a very hard time staying pregnant and now that I am immersed in this research I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the four children I have been able to get here…and am in awe of the miracle of it all. The downside is that each pregnancy has further burdened my liver and my estrogen imbalance has grown.

Now my breasts are full of estrogen and estrogen has a special job of stimulating cell growth…multiplication of cells. Unfortunately, estrogen can’t tell the difference between healthy cells and abnormal cells, so it directs all the cells to multiply. Read this article to get a better understanding than I can give you.

Prepare yourself for this final analysis…it’s huge and it’s real and it scares the bejeebies out of me.

A Johns Hopkins study found that premenopausal women with estrogen dominance have a 540% increase in breast cancer than women without estrogen dominance.

Pretty big number, eh?

That is me. I now know I have had estrogen dominance and a weak liver for years. I see how all these seemingly unrelated symptoms are all very related and I am ready to heal my liver, balance the hormones, and get the excess estrogen out of my breasts.

It’s time.

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thermography results

Jun 7, 2011 by

Today I had an appointment to learn about my thermography results.

So many emotions were swirling through my soul as I drove the 75 miles all alone. I tried to prepare myself for all possibilities and I think I did a pretty good job of it, but I am so exhausted from the process.

I learned I have TH3 results – this means there is something abnormal going on, but they are not sure what it is. I have a lot of vascular development and enlarged blood vessels in both breasts and one hot spot in the right breast. The thermography practitioner feels the enlarged blood vessels are most likely due to excess estrogen being stored in my breasts, but it could also be a sign of malignancy. Even if is excess estrogen, she said that estrogen will eventually grow a tumor, so I need to get rid of the estrogen pronto.

She wants me to do a whole “bring balance, cleanse, and heal” protocol which is going to turn my life upside down. It is going to be an interesting process to experience such an intense focus on my health and I need prayers to stay on task and be diligent. I have a hard time sticking with any kind of routine for very long and this is going to be a big routine for the next several months.

I still wish someone would just stick a needle in this lump and tell me what is growing there, but until that happens I will down my pile of supplements, take my Epsom salt baths, meditate, study the words of my Savior, and focus on my family.

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the waiting game

May 18, 2011 by

I met with a surgeon today and she felt the lump…she called it a nodule…and she said she would like to wait and see what it does over the next two months before she makes any decisions.

Don’t know what to think.

I am feeling fairly calm and peaceful. I desperately want to know what this thing in my breast is, but I am willing to go on with life and put what I have learned through this process into practice.

Lessons learned:

1. Calmness is a choice.

2. Love is a choice.

3. My calling as a wife and mother are paramount in my heart and I need to make sure they are paramount in the ways I choose to spend my days.

4. I am loved by God above and many family and friends here on earth.

5. We are being watched over by our ancestors.

6. Communion with God needs to take priority in my life.

7. Life is precious…savor it, seize it, and live with zest.

8. Live in such a way that people know how much you care about them.

9. Look for beauty everyday.

10. God is love and I must learn to trust Him completely if I am to have true peace in my soul.

11. I am not alone.

12. I can do hard things.

13. Laughter is powerful.

14. Love, gratitude, and forgiveness heal the soul.

15. Looking into my children’s eyes is the most lovely part of any day.

16. My husband loves me deeply, passionately, and tenderly. He will do anything for me to make my journey here better. He will not abandon me…emotionally or physically…he is here for the long haul.

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potw: the little turtle

May 17, 2011 by

We have missed our poem of the week the last few weeks, but I am trying to get my children’s lives back to normal and have our normal school routine each day. With all the phone calls, doctor’s appointments, and I’m-a-nervous-wreck going on, I needed to regroup, refocus, and recommit to nurturing them. One of those nurturing habits is our poem of the week. It brings a rhythm to our lives and bonds us together as we learn the words of a poem each week. I am reminded of my recent thoughts on how I want my home to feel…in light of this lump, I am thinking ever more seriously about how I want my home to feel…how I want my children to remember me if I am taken home before my old age (and NO, I am not saying I am thinking I am going to die…not thinking that…it’s just that as this lump is staring me in the face, I am thinking more seriously about my mothering…really about my living…but especially about my mothering).

This week’s poem is an old favorite and I think even my littlest people will be able to memorize it completely. I love the quaintness, the cadence, and the delight it gives us to recite it. The excitement and suspense builds until the last line when we all shout out, “But he didn’t catch me!”

Snapping Turtle & Finger

The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay

There was a little turtle.
He lived in a box.
He swam in a puddle.
He climbed on the rocks.

He snapped at a mosquito.
He snapped at a flea.
He snapped at a minnow.
And he snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito.
He caught the flea.
He caught the minnow.
But he didn’t catch me.

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book bonanza: where the river ends

May 17, 2011 by

book bonanza: where the river ends

Where The River Ends

Awhile back, my mom recommended I read The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. I quickly put it on hold at our local library and when I came up on the list brought it home and devoured it in one late night sitting and one morning session. I was worried the whole time that I would hate it…but I loved it. It happened near my home town, was full of courage, loyalty, depth of feeling, adventure, and just plain goodness. Loved it.

Next, she recommended I read another of Martin’s books, Where The River Ends. This one finally became available at the library on Friday and I have been reading it since then. It is a great book to curl up in bed with and let the hours melt away.

Just finished.

Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it.

The recommendation came before the lump showed up…otherwise, I’m sure my mother would never have suggested I read a book about a woman dying of breast cancer…but nevertheless, it was a great read.

The husband in the book sacrifices everything for his wife. He loves and serves her till the end. He is committed to her and she to him. It is an amazing love story.

As I turned the last page, I thought to myself “My Richard would do the same thing.”

No doubt in my mind.

And that, my friends, is quite an enormous bolstering of my soul when I am just embarking on this journey of finding out what my own lump is.

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what is this lump – the journey continues

May 17, 2011 by

Through a variety of small miracles, I am going in tomorrow to have a surgical consultation about this lump. I am praying the doctor will be able to feel it and figure out what is going on. We will chat about my options regarding a biopsy and I am hoping some decisions will be made.

Yesterday the soonest I could be seen was June 14th…one month away. I was not at all comfortable with that plan of action and decided to call a surgeon down in Pocatello who did a lumpectomy for my friend, Tina, a few years ago. That office told me they were booking six weeks out, but when I shared my story, they decided to squeeze me in tomorrow morning!

My heart is so happy about this turn of events! Part of me is scared silly, but a huge part of me is SO relieved to be moving forward in the investigation.

I keep trying to convince myself that the lump is all a figment of my imagination, that I can’t really feel it at all and there are times of the day when I am not so sure about anything. There are other times when I reach down and feel it and there it is, firm as can be, and I know I am not crazy (at least where this lump is concerned!)

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers! Keep ’em coming!

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sacred sabbaths: blessing

May 16, 2011 by

Last night, my husband laid his hands on my head and gave me a blessing. For those of you not familiar with our faith, we believe the Priesthood of God has been restored and worthy men are ordained to hold the Priesthood and are instructed to use it to bless the lives of God’s children.

It is much too precious to share, but I wanted to write down my thoughts and feelings so I will always remember them.

What a glorious experience! I came away knowing God loves me and feeling an overwhelming gratitude for that love. I am so, so thankful for the atonement of my Savior. I am so grateful for the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. I am grateful for truth. I am grateful for guidance from a loving Father above. I am grateful for the words that were spoken and how they pierced my heart with their power. I am grateful for dear friends who loved me enough to come and be with me.

I want to bask in this feeling for the rest of my life…but I know it will dim and I will forget the tenderness of my feelings at this time. So I am sharing them here so I have a record to read again and again…to remember the love my God has for me.

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feeling bigger

May 15, 2011 by

The lump is growing. This morning it felt like it was about twice as big as it was when I first discovered it two weeks ago. I am hurting some today. Right where the lump is hurts and when Annesley lays her head on my chest it aches, but I keep letting her snuggle up with me because it feels so good to have her in my arms.

I woke up to another new sensation this morning. I have pain around the bottom of my breast, along the diaphragm ridge…it feels a little hard to breathe. As I was walking down the hall at church, I had a pain along that ridge and then it traveled up to my armpit and then shot down my arm. It only lasted about 10 seconds, but it hurt and it worried me.

I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know what this all means, I just know things are not right.

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May 11, 2011 by

Today has been a day to get clear, real clear on what exactly I want. I have come to some decisions.

1. I am determined to find out what this lump is. No matter the cost or time or anything else, I must know what is going on inside my breast.

2. I am determined to eat healthy, life-giving foods and get all these herbs down my throat each day.

3. I am determined to spend wonderful, soul-sustaining time with my children.

4. I am determined to connect with God and spend more time immersed in His word.

5. I am determined to feed my soul and the souls of those I love most each day. It may be a small thing or it may be big, but each day I must be fed and feed others.

6. I am determined to hold Richard close, to not push him away or try to stop him from loving me so much. Sometimes when I am scared I push away those I love most and this time I must not do that. I must open my heart all the way.

Pretty big decisions, eh?

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update…not sure what it means yet

May 10, 2011 by

Today I went in for a diagnostic mammogram and area-specific ultrasound. At this appointment, I was told I have extremely dense breast tissue, which is normal for a premenopausal woman and that they could not see a lump, mass, or any other type of growth. I don’t know if I should be jumping up and down with joy or if I should be concerned they missed something. I am fairly confused how I can feel the lump, Richard can feel the lump, and the nurse doing my clinical breast exam can feel the lump, but it not show up on the ultrasound or mammogram. I just don’t know what to think. The radiologist came and met with me and told me I need to continue monitoring the lump to see if it changes and if it does, come back for another ultrasound. He also said the success rate of catching breast cancer using combined mammography and ultrasound is 95% and they miss 5% of breast cancers….usually ductal carcinoma in situs.

I am so, so, so appreciative of all the prayers, fasts, hugs, letters, cards, and the great outpouring of love you have shown me. Last week I felt like I had been hit by a train and all of your love strengthened me much more than you can ever know.

I don’t believe I am out of the woods. I know what my breast feels like and I know that whatever is going on is not normal for me, but I am holding on to the hope that it is not a cancerous growth. I am baffled by my appointment today and was not at all prepared for them to tell me they couldn’t find anything. I REALLY don’t understand how nothing showed up! Jessica (who came with me for moral support) and I both looked at the mammogram and ultrasound results and we couldn’t see the lump either…very strange!

I love each of you and am so grateful for your presence in my life. Thank you for loving me and blessing me. I have the best friends on earth!

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its my party and i’ll, i’ll, i’ll, well, i don’t know know what i’ll do

May 8, 2011 by

What a week! I started out the week by finding a lump in my breast, freaking out, getting calm, freaking out, getting calm, crying my eyes out, making a bazillion phone calls, doing lots of internet research, making the decision to go in for a clinical breast exam and then convincing myself that whatever I was feeling was just a normal change for anyone’s breasts to make when they have been nursing for fourteen straight years and then stop.

Unfortunately that is not what was found at my clinical breast exam and I was informed that the lump is not normal and must be investigated further. I go in tomorrow for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound of the specific area where the lump is.

My emotions are all over the place. I have found myself crying all week long at the cute things my children say and the songs they sing. I have found myself looking at a friend and feeling the tears start rolling down my face. I am quiet and pensive and evaluating and trying to keep my head on straight. I feel like I am on a roller coaster of emotions from sad to happy to angry to grateful to worried to calm to scared out of my ever-lovin’ mind.

On top of all of this, Blythe’s performance of Twelfth Night has been each night this week. It has been so fun to see the final product of all their hard work. Their play was hilarious! It is an amazing thing to see youth discover the greatness within themselves. Each one of them has grown this year. I am grateful to be part of this homeschool group and to be so involved in the lives of these young people. Blythe and all the rest of the cast are worn right out and deserve to sleep all day today…as do their parents, the directors, and the producers.

My birthday was also this week…thirty seven big ones! Jessica’s birthday was a couple of days before mine, and Blythe’s good friend, Alanna, had a birthday this week as well, so ten of us (me, my mom, Mikelle, Kat, Jennifer, Jessica, Blythe, Alanna, Keziah, and Emma Lynn) went to a Mindy Gledhill concert and sang our little hearts out. We clapped and danced and were by far the rowdiest people at the concert, which isn’t saying much since most of the crowd behaved as if they were at a church meeting instead of a concert. Mindy’s song, Anchor, touches down deep in my soul. When I first heard it, I fell in love with Richard all over again. When he first heard it, he said “I had no idea there were two of you in the world.” I am a restless soul…a free spirit with crazy ideas and enough zest to actually think I can carry out those crazy ideas. All of them. My husband grounds me and keeps me sane and adores me. He actually adores me.

Here is Mindy’s music video of Anchor…I love it. Love, love, love it.

After the concert, we all went out to eat and had Asphalt Pie…a minty, chocolate hunk of deliciousness. I think we ate five or six of those tasty treats. We also laughed our heads off, talked about all sorts of embarrassing moments in our lives, and let the cares of the world disappear for a few hours. Such fun!

On my actual birthday, my mom and sister spoiled me rotten by getting me some new clothes at the big Kohl’s sale, took me out for a yummy lunch, bought me the fabric I have been drooling over for months (so I can make another quilt!), and bought me all new make-up. They called it a Make-Up Intervention because all the stuff I have is at least two years old and is their old stuff they didn’t want anymore because they didn’t like it when they had it. I have been wearing the same shade of eye shadow since the summer of 1996 when I was pregnant with Blythe. I haven’t had any foundation of my own since August and have been scrounging around in old empty bottles trying to dig another’s day of coverage out of the bottom. Now I have my mom’s favorite blush, Mikelle’s favorite concealer (for all the ridiculous pimples I keep getting!) and foundation, two kinds of mascara, face cleanser, two packages of eye shadow, exfoliant, lip gloss, and hair spray. I was more than a little mortified, but this morning as I got ready for church I was thrilled to have brand new stuff that actually worked well with my coloring.

Mikelle treated us all to new haircuts and I love mine to pieces! Maybe tomorrow I will work on getting my girls to take a picture of me so y’all can see my cuteness.

I have been surrounded by love, support, presents, cards, flowers, hugs, and fun all week long. I feel like I am living two lives. The one on the outside that is full and busy and such fun and the one on the inside that is scared and wondering and crying and questioning and breaking. I don’t know how to talk about it or what to say. The truth is, I don’t know anything yet. This could be nothing. But all the possibilities swirling around inside me are pretty overwhelming.

At least I will have something cute to wear to my appointment tomorrow.

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a lump

May 3, 2011 by

I have been feeling like something is wrong with my right breast for about two weeks. There has been a strange vibration coursing through it…lots of energy…a heaviness. Something I have never felt before.

I have been worried. I have wondered what is going on. A million thoughts running through my mind.

Late Sunday night I found a mass of tissue directly behind my nipple. I don’t know what it is. I know what I hope it is not. Monday was spent researching, crying, making phone calls, and trying to make sense of what exactly is going on.

Tomorrow I go in for a clinical breast exam and we will go forward from there. I have much to think about it…much to ponder.

Last night I had a face zone and released a lot of emotions. Emotions that are not healthy. Beliefs that are false. Fears that will not prove helpful. Today I feel at peace. Today I feel calm. The strangest thing? My breast feels normal for the first time in two weeks. I had almost forgotten what it used to feel like.

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