Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas to me

What is Christmas to me......

When I was a little girl growing up living over the family restauraunt, I can remember my Grandfather - Paw Paw Barney inviting so many people to have Christmas dinner with us. At one point I can remember setting tables up for more than 40 people. It was our family and then all the single, widowed shrimpers and friends/customers of my Grandfathers. My Mom and Mi MI would start cooking as eary as 4 am, 2 sometimes 3 huge turkeys, oyster dressing, baked macaroni and cheese, rice and gravy, veggies and bread and desserts. My sister and I would play waitress and serve drinks. It was so much fun. I asked my Mom one time why Paw Paw invited so many people and she told me that it was Paw Paw's way of giving back. He didn't come from money, he had worked for it. Many of the men he invited to dinner were hard workers and were like him. The difference was he had his wife and family around and was able to work with them. He was still lucky and blessed and they weren't anymore so he didn't want them alone on Christmas if they didn't have to be. Thru the years that list dwindled for one reason or another. But it was something I never forgot growing up. 

Always appreciate what you have. Always remember where you came from. And always respect where you end up.

I had cancer at 15. maybe that's why  I looked at things more maturely. But after 27 years of remission I got a slap in the face. The cancer came back and came back with a bang, spreading quickly through out my body within 18 months. Just in time for Christmas. Over the past 18 years, since having my children I think I lost sight in what Christmas was. Honestly, Christmas became commercial. I am ashamed to admit it. Since having my children all I was worried about was making sure I had enough toys for them and as they got older making sure I had the toys they asked for. It didn't matter what it took to get it or how much I spent, Chistmas meant everyone getting what they asked for and being spoiled.

This Christmas is so different. I sat the kids down and expalined that there was no extra money for spoiling anyone since I was not working. Each said they understood and I really hope they do. They are all older now and I hope after seeing me go throough this a bit more mature. Of course they will get a little something from us, but I want them to see the true gift that we are receiving this year. The gift of me being here with them and able to enjoy them 100%. I want them to see how lucky we are to have this time together as a family. And to love one another. God gave me 3 beautiful gifts. Adele, Alexis and Joe Joe. God gave them ME. I hope they learn to:

Always appreciate what you have. Always remember where you came from. And always respect where you end up.

I will not be here forever so I hope they can see that Christmas is just one day of the year to share their blessings with their friends and family. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have 364 other days in the year to share, to love and to bring  others into our world and teach them the lessons that out parents and grandparents have taught us aboout sharing blessings.......

Sr Dulce of Baton Rouge

Sr Dulce of Baton Rouge

Meet her  here:

I was told about Sister by Mr Joe Delio a man we met at the Fr Seelos Shrine when we stopped to pray on our way to MDA. Mr Joe a Lung Cancer Survivor prayed with us and then told us about Sr Dulce and her heeling's. I was mesmerized and so stunned to hear about a healer that was so close and someone I may be able to see in person. As Mr Joe was calling his wife and asking for Sisters contact info, a woman walked into the Shrine and overheard him. She pulled out a card and handed it to me to copy - I mean what are the chances? This was absolutely God's Work! As we left the Shrine I felt so good and as we hit the I10 I called to get an appt to see her in person and to our surprise we got one the following week on the day we would be driving back from TX. Again God's Work!

Meeting her was incredible and I can't explain what it's like to be with her. She is just a nun in a wheelchair but when she hugs you and touches you she is illuminating. She will tell you, she does not heal, Papa does. (Papa is her nickname for God) According to her bio, she has the invisible stigmata of Christ and is able to heal. All I know is that she has laid her hands on me in person and told me exactly what I am feeling and I can physically feel the pain lift from my body. On Tuesday nights cancer and terminal patients can call her between 6-8 and thru the phone I have felt the pain leave me and she has described things over that phone that only I would know. Two special messages I carry with me, especially on my lowest of days are: "Papa says you have many more years left on this miserable earth." and "Papa says you have less cancer than you think you have". I will always be grateful to Mr Joe for sending me to Sister. His message came at a time that was so important to me. He is a sweet man and he was just rediagnosed and is fighting his cancer again. I keep him in my prayers and hope that he and his family have a good Christmas. As for Sister, please say a lil prayer for her, she had surgery the same day as me 10/10, was doing well and now has the flu. I want her well again so I can stop to see her on Jan 3rd. on the way to do my radiation. Make sure you read about her too.......

December - the month of Holiness and Faith

MDA Merry Christmas and test results

Had to go back to MDA to do MRIS and CT Scan on chest and Abdomen last week (12/15 & 12/16)  and see docs and get results. We got good news and not so good news. The good news was the tumor in my next that was treated with 10 radiation treatments had shrunk and that's why I wasn't haven't as much pain there. The even better news was that the radiation to the brain, 5 treatments, had also worked and the lesions were dead. This was music to my ears cause I was so afraid that if it didn't work I would become blind because of where the tumor was and unable to see my children and nieces and nephews continue to grow up, go to prom, or be married. I felt so blessed and that my prayers had been answered and then the bad news. I had 2 new tumors on my spine. 1 on my T10 and another 1 on my L4. The one on the T10 is in between the vertebra's that were taken out and redone in cement and rods so it cant grow up or down and is the least of our problems. The L4 is the one that is the most dangerous and will cause me to be paralyzed quite quickly. I had known for the past week and a half or so that something wasn't right. I could tell that my right leg (the bad leg) had gotten weaker and was harder to move and lift when in a standing position. BUT what really had me worried was the left leg (also known as the Good Leg) had become so much weaker. It was becoming harder to put all my weight onto it and it was harder to lift of the bed. I just knew in my gut something wasn't right and that I would find out it was another tumor and I hate that I was right. As of today (12/21) I am much weaker and can't use the walker at all cause I just can't stand. Wayne does a great job transferring me to and from the chair to the bed and the chair to the car. Thank God for him and his patience that's for sure. I spoke to Dr Rao and he felt that radiation could be done and wanted to speak to my radiation oncologist Dr Settle and see what could be done (this was on Friday). First thing Monday morning, Dr Settle called to say I was able to do 10 treatments on my spine and he felt that the risk of becoming paralyzed in the next 12 months with radiation was 10% and without is 100%, and it's already happening. So Wayne and I will be leaving for MDA again on Jan 3 to start radiation. Between chemo and radiation and travel and everything in between I feel as though I am in a dream. I can't believe how much my life has changed and how fast. It's as if God has just taken over and I have no say so anymore. I am so blessed to be here and so blessed that all my prayers have been heard. But, they are being answered in God's Time. The one thing I can tell you is that HIS TIME is  bit different that MINE lol. Hopefully I will get good results on the liver CT and chest scan. I don't know why its taking so long to see those reports, but when I get them I will post them. I can only pray now that December gets better and that everyone's Christmas is healthy, and blessed and so special. I hope my friends look at their own families and truly thank God for everything they have this Christmas, but more over that they look at their family year round and be thankful for what they have. We are so lucky for so much and that thankfulness should come year round not once a year. I am Blessed to have my parents, I don't know where we would be right now without my Mom and Pop. And I have such an awesome Husband that has chosen to stay with me through sickness and in health. He could have easily walked away or chosen to have me go live with my parents but, he didn't, instead he couldn't wait to get me home and take care of me. My kids have surprisingly been willing to learn how to help me and they make sure I take my meds and my legs get rubbed and they come and lay down by me. They have been great. My sister really surprised me by even learning how to give me a shot. This was huge I tell ya. I would have never thought she would do anything like this. She really has come through for me and I love her. my friends have made sure that my family is fed and my kids get where they need to be since I cant drive. I couldn't do it without Jina, Alicia, Gwyn, Andrea, Kelly, Danielle, Donna. You girls are my Angels and I love you so much. You all have made my December just a little bit merrier and I wont ever forget it. And last but not least my home health team, Christy, Claire and Rachel. I appreciate your patience, your kindness and hard work. You have each put up with me and I am very happy to have each of you helping me. May you all have a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have lots more to write about under separate headings so stay tuned, the next topic will be Sr Dulce of Baton Rouge, a story for believers and non believers to be transformed to a believer.......

Saturday, December 10, 2011

August - December


Since August so much has happened so fast. Its like the speed of light. I felt as if I were in fast forward. My life went from being in pain and using a walker to suddenly having to move in with my Mom and Pop so Mom could take care of me - this would have been sometime in early Sept. - to being admitted into MD Anderson hospital because the pain was so severe I couldn't walk or speak on October 7th. On October 10th I was in surgery for almost 10 hours - my Neurosurgeon removed my T, 11 and 12 and replaced them. I will come back to this later. Between October 10th and Nov. 25th I had back surgery, rec'd radiation to the tumor in my C3 (neck) and found (accidentally) found out that I had 3 lesions on my skull as well as 1 small lesion on the brain which was also treated with radiation. During all of this I also rec'd daily rehab of exercise and walking. On Nov. 22nd I was finally transferred to Slidell Memorial Hospital. There I rec'd additional rehab and my first chemo treatment (11/30) and on Friday December 2nd I was finally driven home by Mom for the first time in over 90 days. Below are some pics that were taken over the past 90 days. Everything from radiation to wonderful surprise visits :) and then just some pics of the people I have loved for so long as well as my newer friends that I have started to love and hope to love for many years to come.......
Mom - just another day of appointments

NECK radiation

the mask is made to fit my face so i dont move

when radiation is complete you ring the bell

So the recap is in 90 days I moved in with Mom and Pop, went to MD Anderson and was admitted for back surgery, was treated for the tumor in the neck and lesions on the brain with radiation, was put in rehab to learn to walk again, sent to SMH after 48 days in Houston, rec'd my first chemo and then sent home to MS on Dec. 2nd.

  • Emotions and Fears were beyond anything explainable
I felt as though everything was a movie I guess. It was as if it weren't happening to me but I was watching it happening to me. Alot of what I write here may not even make sense to you but try and ride along, I promise it was not boring. After arriving at MD Anderson for a scheduled MRI I was in so much pain. It was a pain like you just couldn't imagine and couldn't fake. It was to the point that I was literally so worn out from the pain I was delirious. After seeing the "Pain Management" doctor, and he only wanting to change my medicine again, MOM had enough. We went to see my new Oncologist, Dr Byers. We had no appt but when the receptionist saw the amount of pain  was in and how I had been treated, and probably the agony in moms face she sent us right in. Upon seeing me she said there was no option other than admitting me to get the pain under control first and to do an MRI to see why the pain was so bad. I was admitted and the MRI showed the cancer had become very aggressive on one side. It was rather unusual cause the chemo actually worked on one side of the spine but not the other. The way it was growing it was causing excruciating pain but it had not gone into the spinal canal and this was so important. Dr Rao the neurosurgeon was called in and surgery was scheduled. To be honest I don't remember any of the preparation for the surgery. I don't even remember going in to the surgery. All I remember is waking up after surgery...................

  • 10-10-2011 Rotisserie and burning up
I opened my eyes and for some reason there was a film covering them. I felt as though something was covering my entire face and body and squeezing me. As I tried to peer through whatever the substance was I could see changes in the light in the room and I felt as though I were in a rotisserie, going up and down and round and round and I was on fire. Every part of me was on fire. It was so hot I start screaming for the nurses to help me. I was crying and begging fir help thinking I was on fire or had died. I wasn't sure but it was so real, I was waiting for someone to come in and tell me that I was in line for either heaven or hell. At this point a nurse started asking  me to stop screaming and calm down that I was disturbing the other patients. She kept telling me I was not on fire, surgery was over and that they were getting me to my room to please be patient and calm. Finally I felt some relief and couldn't wait to see Mom and Wayne and Pop. They must have given me some awesome pain meds cause next thing I know I was in my room, I was not afraid, I was not in pain, and my family was kissing me. I don't remember much after that, well that night anyway.
  • 10-11-2011 a miracle vs a nightmare
The day after my surgery I woke up in ICU to a miracle and a nightmare. My miracle was that I had absolutely NO PAIN. Not any. I kept waiting for my back to start hurting at some point, after all I had MAJOR back surgery replacing 3 major vertebrae. I was cut from the top of my spine to almost my waist. A special plastic surgeon was even part of the surgical team. This was because I had radiation as a teenager and then the Stereotactic Radiosurgery and they were afraid that my incisions wouldn't heal. So they wanted the plastic surgeon to make sure that everything would come together and heal properly. He sewed muscles to muscles and gave me a beautiful incision on  my back. I had a pain pump and could hit it anytime I needed something. The thing was I didn't cause I had NONE! My nightmare was that I had some damage to my nerves/muscles. I had no real feeling in my right leg. I didn't know what to  do . I noticed immediately that something was not right. My legs at first both, felt as though they had been asleep. You know that crazy, tingling feeling like pins and needles. Then I noticed my left leg had more feeling than the right, although it felt different. The right was definitely not the way it was when I went into surgery. From my waist down felt a numbness to it. On the right from my thigh to knee I have no feeling at all. From the knee to toes its that crazy tingling, numb, off and on kinda feeling. I have no control of my knee.  On the left leg I do have feeling but from the knee to toes it feels like it is asleep. At this stage the docs can't tell me if I will walk or not. My neurosurgeon can't make me any promises. He knows I am a positive person but he just can't tell me if walking is a possibility. I tell him it has to be. I am 42 with 3 beautiful kids and I didn't go through so much pain and then this surgery to not walk out of MD Anderson. I made him a promise right then and there that I would walk out of that hospital if it was the last thing I did. (I had no idea that would be 48 days later).
Physical Therapy became my way out - I wanted to walk but never thought it could happen

Melanie with me on the tilt table

John a PT Asst. and me teasing him

Me standing for he first time in over a month!

Tears of joy


2 peas in a pod - happy Halloween LOL

Me in my wheelchair giving thumbs up

The PT Crew

Me on the Bike

When I met my Physical Therapist the first thought I had was wow she is so young. It was that same moment that I realized, damn I am just old lol. 42 isn't really old but I still felt like it, and I knew I had to let her know from the start that I was there to learn to WALK and I meant it. My Physical Therapist, Melanie knew I meant it. Mel and I are very good friends now and I feel blessed to have her in my life. She has a strange way of getting you to do things you know you would never do and makes it such a special thing. I just adore being with her. I also had an Occupational Therapist named Shelby who also knows what she is doing. She is very good with making you feel comfortable and positive. Her smile could light up NYC in a blackout. These girls along with some others took very good care of me. Remember for almost 3 weeks all I could do was roll side to side like a heart patient. I couldn't use my arms. These girls got me up on a tilt table and then on the side the bed. From there we learned how to transfer from the bed to a wheelchair, brush my teeth, put on makeup, change my clothes and put on my shoes. Once I learned and mastered transferring myself to the chair  it became time to try and walk with a walker. I will tell you I was so nervous. I had no idea how I would do it but for some reason between my Mom encouraging me and Mel assuring me she wouldn't let me fall I just said lets go for it. (I kinda wish someone was in my other ear to remind me that I hadn't been on my feet in quite some time and that I now had some serious hardware in my back) Everyday these girls came in and they never let up. They knew exactly what I had to do to get better and they were determined to help me reach my goal. After all I shared my plans with them about renewing our vows next June for our 20th anniversary. I didn't want to wear a decorated walker, I want to just walk up the aisle with my son. After about 10 days I believe I walked my record of 125 feet =5 times on the parallel bars and then the rest with the walker right behind that, I was so excited and happy you just don't get it unless you are in my shoes.

I have always loved surprises, I guess cause I don't get many of them. Well when I was in Houston I got quite a few. My husband was able to come in and spend a few days here and there and when he did he slept at the hospital with me cause he missed me so much. Then Pop was able to come and this was awesome, I love my Pop dearly, if it wasn't for his generous heart I don't know what we would do. I am so blessed that you are in my life Pop. Al was in town for an appt. so he was able to surprise me and we were able to catch up. Tammy!!!!! To see my sister Tammy come through the door was just the best feeling. Tam and I have truly gotten so much closer over the past 3 years. I love her and seeing her made me feel a little bit closer to home.  Danny Craigie came to see me. We met when we were 5 years old in kindergarten at SJM. How do I remember that? Well he was a tall and lanky and talked alot. I had a little crush but over the years we became true friends. Midway thru grammar school we lost touch. Around 8th grade we were hanging in the same social circle once again and he had a crush on one of my girlfriends. If I am correct they began dating dating through High School and Danny and I remained friends thru graduation and their breakup. Danny was there for me when I was a Sophomore and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. He would come to the hospital and visit and make me laugh Danny is now married to a wonderful woman named Susan whom I just adore. It was strange cause we met and its like we knew each other our whole lives. I am so lucky and once again Blessed to be able to continue a friendship like ours. And even more Blessed to get to know her and develop a new relationship with her. Susan is probably someone I would nominate for woman of the year. We met this year, her father was diagnosed with cancer but is now fine. I was able to introduce him  Ft Seelos' Shrine and refer him to Dr McKelveen. She is beautiful and I adore her. They got married and instead of going straight on their honeymoon they drove to Houston to surprise me. They stayed with us for 2 days. When Danny walked in I just busted out crying. I was so happy and surprised. What kind of woman gives up 2 days of her honeymoon to go see her husbands "pookie" in Houston cause she has Cancer? A  DAMN GOOD WOMAN THATS WHO!

me and MOM the best nurse ever

I was shocked when I saw Danny come thry the door!

Me and Al

Danny and Susan brought me a tiara and I wore it all over the hospital

Slidell Memorial here I come

After 48 days in MDA (OZ) it was finally time to go to Slidell Memorial Hospital (the wicked forest). I would spend 10 days there doing rehab as well as getting my first chemo treatment of Taxotere. It was a bittersweet moment when they started getting me ready to go. All of my nurses and caregivers and therapsist at MDA became family to me. I hate to start naming names cause my memory is so bad I may forget someone, so MOM please add names in your comments if you think of anyone. BINU (both of them), Fatima, Ms B and her husband, David, Andrew, Melanie, Shelby,John. All of my doctors as well esp. Doctor Roa. I felt like VIP while I was there and couldnt ask for better care. I made great friendships and wont ever forget that. When the ambulance guys pulled the stretcher into my room I waned to cry. It was so small and if Shelby hadnt brought the egg crate that morning at 7 am for us I dont know what I would have done. It helped somewhat to ease the pain in my back, after all  did have major back surgery! I will not lie, the ride home in that ambulance on that skinny stretcher was the worse ride in my life, I was in so much pain when I got there but when they flung open the back doors of the ambulance I was full of joy seeing my family and especially my kids standing there!!!!!!! It's probably one of the most emotional nights in my life, I had just missed them so much. Wayne, my mother in law, my nephews and shane and tammy and i dont know who lol, it was so much love and laughter and tears lol. Then I had to get settled in...... My 10 days in Slidell actually went quite fast. It included some good PT/OT with Patti and Fran (both really sweet and kind) Chemo treatment 1 was done and the next day I was kinda fatigued and the day after that a bit nauseated. Thanksgiving day my mother in law cooked us dinner and the kids brought it up to Wayne and I. The nurses were nice enough to let us use their lounge so we could eat together at a table. It was so good and we enjoyed it. I had special visitors while there, Shane and his girlfriend, my nephews Austin and Andre', Butsie, Linz (and TY for the yummy stuff and bath stuff) Karen. Ashley, David and Victoria, Wade and Michelle, Grandma Glo, MY ANGLES:Alicia, Kelly,Gwyn,Danielle this visit was one that filled my heart with so much love. Ms Mel and Ms Cheryl came and the next morning Ms Cheryl came back to give me a "flat painted ceramic body" of Fr Seelos. She got it years ago when her Mom, Ms Pat was sick and she is giving it now to me. I told her I would give it to back when I was well or done, and she says for me to pass it on. This is a precious gift. The other special visit I had was Mr Joe Delio. I met him at the Seelos Shrine where he prayed with us before the Oct. visit. He has become a great friend and mentor and I am so Blessed that God/Fr Seelos chose to lead me to him. I won't write about his medical condition or personal life because of privacy but I will tell you he is just a kind man who loves God and Fr Seelos as much as I do. He is amazing. As much as I loved the visits it was time to go home and when that moring came I was sooooo ready. It was now time and I dont know who was more ready, me, Mom, Wayne or the kids lol. The ride home was fine, but I admit that the first few days at home were not so easy. In fact I will write about them in a seperate story up next.

There's no place like home, theres no place like home, there no place like MDA!

As much as I was ready to get home to my house when I arrived it was just overwhelming. I was so thankful to my sister and friends that went in and built a ramp for my wheelchair and powerwashed and decorated for Christmas. I was shocked to see how beautiful everything looked. BUT then I had to go up the ramp and into the front door and that was quite scary just not knowing if I could fit with the chair. I barely do by the way. In fact the whole homecoming situation became quite gloomy to me. I dont want to sound ungrateful cause I am so blessed to be able to be home, but the fact of the matter is that my house is just not handicap acesible at all. The doorways are barely wide enough and I have the bruises on my hands to prove it. My hospital bed is in the back room off of the kitchen and my room. I have had to sleep in the seperate room cause the bed helps me to sit up by pressing a button. In fact last night (12/20) was the first night I got to sleep in my own bed with Wayne and I cant decide what bed is more comfy. I need help sitting up in my bed where as the hospital bed all it takes is a button. The shower is a whole nother story that I dont even want to discuss right now. I was so sad at first just to watch my Mom and Sister and Kids cook in my kitchen and wash dishes and clean up. They were doing all the things that I used to do and that I shoudl be able to do now. I never thought in a million years that I would be dpressed coming home, but I was. I could finally see that my life had really changed and I was not the same person I was when I went to surgery on 10/10. I went to bed those first few nights wishing I ws back at MDA. I just wanted to focus on walking and getting back to my "normal" self. I didnt want to be reminded what I couldnt do every day. I missed MDA, the nurses, my Melanie and Shelby, my doctors. I just wanted to be up in the walker and in the gym. Instead I had to look at my small space and every time my foot gets stuck on the floor just cry cause it wont move the way I am telling it to. I say my floors are uneven and I dont have the space to walk and at MDA there are none of these problems. I guess I have to suck it up and just deal with what I have in front of me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back to the drawing board

Well the Stereotactic radiosurgery did not do what we wanted it to do . I am so grateful that I had the chance to try it and yes I am disappointed by it. So its back to the drawing board and it looks like surgery is the best treatment for me. On this last visit to MDA I had the worse time. I am not complaining, but I want those reading this blog to understand that even though I try and remain positive I do have bad days and sometimes those days really run me down. I returned to MDA early (6 weeks post stereotactic) because I was having severe pain in my back, worse than before and I was having some trouble walking. After doing tests and seeing that it didn't work I was told that surgery would be the next step. So with surgery comes lots of tests. In two days I had a ct of chest, an xray of chest, blood work, an mri of the brain, a bone scan and a regular mri. since I was in so much pain and having trouble walking I spent the majority of my time in a wheelchair with Mom pushing me from one end of the hospital to another. Because I had so much back pain I am not able to sit up by myself. I kinda have to get on my side and roll and pull myself up. This is like someone cutting into my back above my hips and tearing me in two. It is so painful I cry. I would never wish my pain on anyone and asked God to take it as a penance for others pain. Anyone who has experienced constant pain knows that this can lead to depression as well. A part of me felt like I was going down that path but I refused to let myself do it. I can't get depressed because that just means I give up. Like my Mom said they could have sent me home saying there is nothing left to do. I am one of the lucky ones. So, now I have to wait for the neurosurgeon to call and schedule the surgery. The first time we met he mentioned taking the tumor out and then removing 2 of my vertebrae to rebuild them and put them back. He said the surgery is pretty intense. Well that's when we decided to try the non invasive stereotactic procedure first. Since then the MRI shows that the tumor did get just a little bit bigger, not much. But I now also have a compressed vertebrae that will need to be fixed. The blessing is that all the tests I had done show no cancer anywhere else, not even any suspicious areas. AND the tumor in the lung has shrunk even more since May. They don't even think I will need any further chemo after surgery unless something pops up or the lung gives me any trouble. Father Seelos, Saint Pio and Jesus and his Mother Mary are hearing our prayers and even though I couldn't see it, I was being healed. So I am home now and waiting for that call. Should be next week I guess. Am I scared - of course I am. It's natural to be scared of surgery. I am even more scared of the recovery because I know it will involve pain and discomfort. The past week has been really tough. Even though they doubled up on my pain patch I am now having muscle spasms in my back which make it difficult to walk. I had to borrow a wheelchair and Wayne had to buy me one of the walkers with a seat and wheels just so I can get around the house. When the spasm hits me it is so painful like a massive charllie horse and I draw up my right hip causing me to almost fall if I am standing. Its not only painful it is scary. I have been so patient and know everything is in God's time. whatever I am experiencing is for a reason I just don't know what reason. I am ready to get on with it and feel better. My doctor said that once the surgery is over I should be great. I wish it were tomorrow.

I want to thank all of you who have not stopped praying for me and for my family. My poor Mom had to take care of me in Houston and push that wheelchair around. I know she didn't care, she loves taking care of me, but at the same time I know it broke her heart to see me in so much pain and so helpless. I try to explain how I feel physically and can't so I get frustrated. I can't hide it from her, she knows when I am having a bad day. I love her and don't know what I would do without her. And my poor husband. He is trying to be here for me, work, take care of the kids (I can't do anything for them) and run this campaign. He was going to give up the campaign and I wont let him. There is no way I could let him give up his dream because of me. I would never forgive myself if he did that. I am so proud of him. I know he and I have not had a perfect marriage, no one does. But , I have never been more proud of him than I am now. He puts me first and I know it kills him to see me cry or ask for help. He knows how I am the one who takes care of everyone else. It's funny, just laying close to him as I fall asleep helps me feel better. Knowing he is there for me. I am so blessed. I am praying that this surgery is  success, that recovery goes fast, and that I am able to stand with him in November when he is elected Coroner. Nothing would make me happier. The rest of my family has been affected too. My kids, my Pop and my dad and my sister and brother, even my ex brother in law and nephews, my in laws. To be surrounded by so many people who love me and want me well. It means so much. I feel for people who have no one in their lives to turn to. I feel for those who don't know what love is. If you love someone and care for them please make sure they know it. Make sure you show them and tell them. It can make the difference in the way they heal. Love makes you want to fight and to live. Without love you don't have anything. And I am blessed to have so much love in my life, and that's what makes me fight everyday.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Time and existence

So sorry I haven't blogged in so long. It's been a crazy 2 months. If you follow my FB then you know the following:
  • Since my last entry in May, my daughter Adele graduated high school
  • I was  able to spend a week in Destin with my husband and kids and some of their friends.
  • I was put on medical leave from work.
  • I found out that the tumor in my lung had shrunk but the tumor on my spine was growing.
  • I was referred to MD Anderson and accepted to participate in a clinical trial and rec'd Spinal Stereotactic Radiosurgery on June 15th.
  • I have been in severe pain (as expected) since that treatment, but am starting to feel somewhat better.
  • I wont know if the treatment actually worked until Sept.
  • While in Houston I had an amazing experience meeting John and Barbara Manousso and this is the story I most want to tell....
While at MD Anderson for my initial testing Mom and I were walking around the Main building and came to the Chapel. We went in and immediately I was drawn to a photo on the wall. As I was walking to it I called over to MOM, "Mom this is St Peter's Basilica, come see!" Now this may not be an unusual statement except I had never seen St Peter's and don't know how I would recognize it. I was drawn to the photo and immediately knew it was the confirmation I had been praying for. (I will include links to this website that discusses the photo). You see I was so afraid going to MD Anderson. I knew that if they could not remove the tumor that was twisting around my spine, that it would only be a matter of months before I became paralyzed from the waist down. The oncologist, Dr Zinner confirmed this at our first meeting. I prayed and prayed for a sign that I would not end up in a wheel chair at 42, just when I should be really starting to enjoy my life. The photo taken at the Basilica showed some people standing around and a man in a wheel chair. There was some ugly looking thing behind the man and behind him was a glowing white yet transparent figure of Jesus with a lamb across his shoulders. I recognized it instantly. I also knew in my heart that this was confirmation that I would not be like this man and that Jesus was with me. I began to fill with emotion as I pointed this out to my Mom. As we studied the photo we noticed some transparent angels as well were kneeling in the midst of the people. We both just thought it was a beautiful picture. My Mom then noticed next to it on the wall was a framed document explaining that it was donated by The Manousso's and was taken by John Manousso while in Italy. It hit me like a ton of bricks that it was an actual photograph. I used my phone to take a picture of his name so I could google more about him and see what I could learn. I was so excited, I just can't explain it.

Later that night I did google him and found a website that explained how the photo had been taken and how when it was developed looked totally different, showing the Angels, and Jesus and rays of light coming from the windows - all only visible in the photo and were not visible to the naked eye. I was then floored to learn that John was diagnosed with a rare incurable cancer exactly a year and a day after taking this photo. His life expectancy was only 3-5 years, and he is still here 17 years +. I was so taken by his story and so convinced that for whatever reason this photo was speaking to me I searched all over the website for a contact. I found an address and wanted to write to them just to say thank you for sharing. So when Mom went to bed, I sat by the light of the tv in our hotel room and at 1 am wrote a 6 page thank you letter to complete strangers. I felt so much better afterwards that I could not wait to mail it. The next morning I brought it up to the hotel front desk and said a prayer that it would get where it needed to be. I had included in the letter my face book info and cell number. The day after mailing it I rec'd a FB friend request from Barbara Manousso and was so thrilled. I told Mom and she was shocked. She asked what I had said in a 6 page letter to strangers. LOL, to be honest I am not sure. I probably rambled on and on. I know I told them how the photo touched me and how I had cancer as a teen and again now and what I was going through. I know I thanked them for sharing this beautiful photo with so many and how it made such a difference in my life. What else was in there, I really am not sure, but whatever it was, it was from the heart and clearly had to be said. I accepted Mrs. Barbara's friend request and to my surprise she asked if they could possibly meet me and Mom. I was so happy. I couldn't believe they would take time out of their busy schedule to meet us. The next evening they came and met us in the lobby of our hotel. I can't explain it, but for me it was like seeing family you haven't seen in years. So familiar and warm. My heart was full of love. As we sat and talked and they told us out loud of their story they presented me with a copy of the photo to frame along with the story, and gave me and Mom each a wallet size photo as well. Mr John then went on to tell me about his Uncle who was best friends with Padre Pio, who is now known as Saint Pio. He gave me a prayer card of Saint Pio with a piece of his robe's cloth attached. Again a sign for me, as I first learned of Padre Pio in school and prayed to him when I had cancer as a teen. Now I was speaking to someone who's family knew him and was close to him. If you don't know of Saint Pio you will find his story one of the most intriguing in Catholic history (  ). I felt as though I was certainly meant to meet this beautiful and blessed couple. I wish we could have spent more time together. As they were leaving I hugged Mr John and some of what he told me I will keep to myself, but one thing he reminded me of is that "God hears our prayers before the thoughts are fully formed, he knows our needs and hears everything. Stay strong and think positive always and he will never abandon you." I can't explain the peace and joy that meeting brought to me and Mom. I have only one regret - we both forgot with the camera in hand to get a photo with them! I will always cherish that moment with them, and know that I can see them whenever I am in Houston if they have the time. You can go to this website and use the links at the top of the page to read the actual story of the photo and of John's illness. You can also order your own copy of the photo, which some say have healed them and was designated by the Vatican as a Miraculous photo of Jesus Christ. Copies of the photo are only $10 I believe 

From my heart I tell you this - everything is for a reason. I recognized that photo which I had never seen before for a reason. I googled the name of the photographer even though I had read the story, for a reason. I wrote to them for a reason. They responded and came to meet me for a reason. GOD is that reason, and I can't think of a better one, can you?  Listen to the little whispers in your mind and act on them - I know it is God speaking.

With love always,



On our second trip back to Houston to have my procedure done we had a free day. We traveled about 30 minutes north to visit the National Funeral Museum. After all this is what Wayne does for a living and because it held the Pope's funeral car and past President's funeral cars and history I thought it would be interesting to see. In the gift shop they had some religious bracelets. As I picked one up I couldn't believe who was on it....Saint Pio! Now I haven't seen one bracelet with his photo in all these months. And I have seen many religious bracelets. I couldn't believe that he was the only Saint in the store. All the other photos on the bracelet are of our Holy Mother and Jesus with 2 separate photos of Saint Pio. Naturally, I bought one for me and for MOM, after all I found them for a reason.....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Mother

The other night at Relay I was asked to speak during the Fight Back ceremony. During that speech I made the comment that when I hear the term cancer victim, I think of death. When I hear cancer patient, I think of someone who is sick and weak. I prefer to be called a Cancer Warrior and choose to fight like one because it's the only way to win this battle. I acknowledged that when I was diagnosed at age 15 with Hodgkin's it wasn't really my diagnosis. It was my Mom's. She was more affected by the cancer than I was. I know that seems strange to some people, but it's true. I hardly remember the experience of it, but she can tell you things in such great detail and with tears in her eyes still to  this day 25 years later. It would have been fine with me to miss school and stay home, but Mom never allowed it. Once I was physically healed from the surgeries, it was back to school for me. I remember the countless hours she spent on the phone researching doctors, trying to find out as much as possible about treatment (you have to remember we didn't have computers yet and google wasn't even a name). mom never allowed me to feel sorry for myself. She treated me like a 15 year old, not a 15 year old with cancer. It wasn't becausee she didn't love me, or didn't feel sorry for me. In fact that's exactly why she treated me the way she did. She knew that by keeping me active, in school, and with my friends that I wouldn't have time to be depressed or miss out on things. She knew if I stayed in the bed that I would eventually begin to think like I was sick and would fill with worry. Mom made me a cancer warrior and she promised me then that I was going to be just fine. She was so right. Now that I am a grown woman with my own kids. I finally 'get it". Back then I didn't have any responsibilities. No bills, no job. Now, I can see how much of a burden financially and emotionally this cancer can be. I try and protect my children from all of the negative stuff. They don't need to know everything. I even try and protect Mom as much as possible, but she usually sees right through me. She is still there for me and encouraging me to get up and walk around when I've been in bed for 3 days. Before my first treatment she insisted that she get me a recliner so I wouldn't be in bed all the time. She gives me pep talks and tells me that she just knows that I am being healed. Once again showing me that to fight is to win. I honestly don't know what I would do without her right now. She is such an incredible force in my life. I have never respected anyone more. No matter what I do in my own life, I try to make her proud. I am proud of her and I know that it's hard this time around for her because she has to share me with Wayne and the kids and sometimes even my friends. If it were possible she would be with me 24/7 and I appreciate that so much. She knows I am not her little girl anymore and I can't crawl up in her lap so she can rock me back and forth and tell me it's gonna be alright. But, a few weeks ago she came over because she knew I was not feeling well and my back was hurting. She and Pop surprised me, and as soon as she walked in I made her sit on the sofa and I laid across her lap so she could rub my back. Her hands immediately went to where I was in pain and she began to ease it with just her touch. I know she was so happy at that moment because it was a confirmation that I still need her and I do. Mother's Day is this coming Sunday and we will have the families over to cook and hang out. She loves when we can all be together, even though it sometimes drives me crazy. But I do it for her, to see her smile and enjoy her day means the world to me.

Those who are lucky enough to have their Mom still with them should really take a long look atyour relationship. So many of my friends don't share th esame type of relationship with their Mother's and I am saddened by this. We should talk to our Mom everyday, and we should say I love you. But mostly thank them, not just on Mother's Day but always thank them for loving us. Those of us who are Mother's know, there is no love greater than the love of a Mother for her child. I know that if she were able to she would gladly trade places with me instantly. I know that the moment Doc said cancer, she asked God to take it our of my body and put it in hers. That is true love. I would do the same for my child, just like you would, but to know I am loved that much by her just makes me feel so blessed. I am who I am today because of her love, and I am fighting every daybecasue she wouldn't have it any other way. MOM - I love you and thank you for being there for me. Always your little girl - Ellen

A recap before the PET Scan May 4th

Well once again I had to make myself log in and catch up on this blog. I am sorry-I just get so busy and sometimes forget to slow down a bit. I am not going to try and fill you in on every little thing that's happened since I last wrote, but I will let everyone know that I finished my last treatment and although we had a few problems it's now in the past. I will be seeing Doctor Hottie tomorrow afternoon and on Thursday I have my Pet Scan. I am nervous and excited and just ready to start the next chapter of this story. As soon as I have results I will post them on FB, until then I know everyone is praying, and I so appreciate it!

It's funy how life takes turns when you least expect them, just like with being diagnosed. I never imagined going to the doctor for what I thought was a pulled back or kidney stone would have ended up being lung cancer. Talk about a sharp curve huh?! Well the ride thus far has been pretty uneventful. I guess I almost sounded disappointed just now didn't I? I don't mean to that's for sure. I have had my moments, I just choose not to whine about them and pull everyone down with me and I usually get over it quickly. I would have to say that 95% of my time doing the chemo and running back and forth for shots and blood work has been pretty good. I tolerated the chemo better than anyone ever expected. For that I am really grateful. I have to say my medical team is amazing. Any questions I had my chemo nurses would answer honestly and in great detail. They have alwasy mad eme feel special and truly care about me and what is going on. I think that makes so much difference. I never felt like I was just another cancer patient. We have all laughed and even shed a few tears. I think what they do is extremely difficult, not every patient is as good as I am or is doing as well as I am. I am just thankful that God led me to their care. And now the BIG STUFF is over and we do the test this week that will determine our next route. I have no idea what type of maintenance treatment I will be on, but whatever it is the side effects shuldn't even bother me, or at least that is what I am praying for.

So as I sit and wait for direction on my health - I have kept very busy not even thinking of my health lol. Adele is graduating in just a week or so, Wayne is starting to campaign for Coroner, I am still working (also thankful for that). And I have had some things fall into my lap in th epast 2 weeks that I am hoping will pan out. One is Elliot Bowser a friend of mine has offered to partner up with me to design my own line of metal sculptures (see my FB for details). I have fallen creatively in love with this project and we are hoping to do really well with it. The other I can't mention yet, but it will involve some Public Speaking, something I have always dreamed of doing. I am constantly being told that I carry to muchon my plate. And I know that I sometimes do. But, when you ask God to give you what you can handle and stuff just keeps popping up, you kinda have to trust that he knows what he is doing. I said the road was crazy and the curves were sharp, I never said I was the one driving!

So with that being said - I ask eveyone to keep me in their prayers this week and always. I need to get great results from this scan, be assigned the best maintenance program that I can handle. I will keep you all posted!

Love - Ellen

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My personal assistant - GOD

I have so much going on I sometimes feel a little lost in it all. I like to stay busy, always have, but, it seems like Gods plan for me is really starting to take over now. I don't mind, really I don't, but it amazes me how GOD has intentionally brought me one person after the other in perfect timing, almost as if they each had a scheduled appointment. I was talking to a friend the other day and she made a comment about me going and going and going non stop. She said, "Ellen how do you do it? How on earth do you deal with everything you are going through and still have time to work and on top of that do all the stuff you do?" I automatically answered her without even thinking about it, "Since January, God has kept me so busy praying and worrying about so many people -I don't have time to worry about me, but that's the thing, I'm not supposed to. I gave all of my illness and worry and fear to God when I got diagnosed. It's his place to take care of me. He obviously would rather me help others and since he seems to be my personal assistant he is keeping me busy as he sees fit." It's funny because as fast as I spit out those words, I busted out laughing - GOD my personal assistant! I could picture for a moment me in this great big beautiful office with a corner view of course, great big desk and all. And my personal assistant seated at a table, white robe and all going over my day planner. Can you imagine? LOL....

The best part of everything is that just when you least expect another great surprise there it is. We all know the old saying, "God works in mysterious ways", well lately he has really been focused on me. Everything that God schedules to take place in my life seems to involve Fr Seelos. Every time I turn around, he "God" has another gift for me. For example, if you go back to the first or second post I ever wrote here I tell the story of my first treatment. On the way I got a text from Mom. she was not happy she couldn't be with me for the treatment and t comfort me she sent a text that read something along the lines of , don't worry, i love you - I am with you, Fr Seelos is holding your right hand and I am holding your left. well when I arrived for treatment and went to sit down at a seat i didn't want to sit in, there on the table to my right was a prayer card of Fr Seelos. Well my chemo nurse SUSAN was there. I remember showing her the text and i remember how emotional i was. I don't remember really what her reaction was though. Anyway, Susan is amazing. She and I clicked the moment we met. I never knew what it was, but i knew I liked being with her. I feel safe I guess when she is there for my treatments. So back to "mysterious ways". Susan has been with me since the beginning of my diagnosis. She is a great support system and I have emailed her on several occasions with questions late at night. Well after all these months, 6 full treatments and all the visits, this week she and I had a chance to talk when I went in for one of my shots. She asked about my staph infection and I showed her it was all clear. Then I showed her two rashes that I have. I explained that I thought it may be a chemical reaction to metal. One rash is where the safety pin is for my Fr Seelos scapular (pinned to my bra) and the other is on my stomach by my belly button where my button for my jeans rubs. She agreed and said it sounded like it made sense, and then grabbed my arm and asked who was on my bracelet. (I have worn this black bracelet since January, it never comes off) I said, "oh that is my Fr Seelos" and before I could say anything else she began to tell me how much she loved Fr Seeolos and how she came to know of him and she went on and on. Well, my mouth just kinda flopped open in awe. here I was again, experiencing someone that I absolutely adored, and admired, talk about Fr Seelos. I interrupted her and said, "are you kidding me? all this time, all these months and now you mention him? I can't believe as much as I talk about him here, you never told me you knew who he was or that you loved him so much?" Susan looked right back at me and said, "I had no idea you did." My response back - "well I am so happy, this is just amazing cause I knew there was a reason I felt so close to you and I think it may be because of him." We hugged and laughed about it and by the end of our conversation I invited her along and we had made plans on attending the upcoming Fr Seelos healing mass in May. I could not wait to share other things with her about my healing. And I did. We visited for at least 45 minutes and i loved every minute of it. Susan is a special woman, and the day I met her I knew that. I am so blessed to have her in my life, not only as a nurse and caregiver, but as  friend and now a sister who shares with me a love for Fr Seelos.

Also, this past week a new friend came into my life. She sent me a friend request on FB and I accepted not really paying much mind to if I knew her or not. Then she sent me a private message saying that she didn't know me, but had heard my story (gee now I had a "story") I was almost afraid to ask about that, then she told me her own story and our friendship began. I wont go onto great detail right now, its not time yet. But I will say this, thru writing each other back and forth (she was just diagnosed with cancer in January) I felt that the only thing that could possibly turn her away from me would be how much I talk about my faith. From some of her writings, I had a feeling that we were at different places in our lives when it came to faith, God and other spiritual things. I didn't mind at all, but I was afraid of 'offending her".  Over two or three nights we sent each other notes and got to know each others stories and come to find out share a few friends - even from childhood. I was glad to see this because I was trying to find something that would make her a little more open to me and what I wanted her to start doing. This past week much of her writings were not pleasant. To be extremely honest, she was just down right pissed off about her whole situation. Last night I prayed for her because it really bothered me that she was 4 months into her cancer and was still 'pissed". I Prayed that God and fr Seelos would soften her heart so that it would be open to the love all around her. I prayed she would be able to let go of the anger and just 'let God" do what he had to do for her. I actually told her something along that line in a private message. I think what i said was - at least we have the option of receiving chemo. As evil "she had referred to chemo as being evil" as the chemo is - it's part of her healing and bottom line is not everyone with Cancer gets that option to be healed. Well tonight when I signed on, I saw her status and when I read it, I cried. I knew my prayers from last night were answered. There is no more pity party cancer victim - I dont know what changed her mind, what she saw, heard or felt to change it. But I know that the girl who posted tonight is not the person who posted the night before. she is strong and beautiful and loved. And I also know this. God is keeping me busy, Fr Seelos has had his own workload increase because of me referring people to him everyday. I am glad to be doing this. I am blessed to have been chosen to do it. If God and Fr Seelos want me to share whats in my heart and share my experiences with others in order for them to to do better with their own illnesses and experiences, then his will be done. As far as I am concerned, I hope and pray that I have this job for the rest of my life and that as long as I do - God is my personal assistant never leaving my side.

Before I go for the night I need to share this as well:
  • Janell is done with chemo and is cancer free - her benefit is tomorrow night and I cant wait to have a great time with her as we celebrate her life!
  • My friend Merri Lee, she is half way through her treatments now and doc told her that by the time she does her last one in JUNE she will be cancer free! Amen
  • My friend Gwyn is doing well with her treatments. She is a great woman that I just adore. she still has a long road with treatment, but after seeing doctors at MD Anderson who agreed that the treatments are what they would have done, they also told her that after running all the tests, she is cancer free. Another AMEN
  • Austin Fath - the young man who suffered the brain injury and walked out of the hospital in 6 weeks astounding all of us needs you to keep him in your prayers once more. He is scheduled for surgery to repair the part of the skull that was removed to stop the swelling of his brain. Surgery is April 5th.
  • Katie Branson - the little girl who has been in the hospital for months after a sudden collapse a home  is still in need of our prayers. She has made some improvement but also has had some setbacks. Her mother Michelle is one of the most special people that I have ever met. Well we haven't met except for face book, but reading her posts and notes everyday just makes me want to be a better Mother and a better Christian. She is phenomenal. Please pray for her continued strength.
Love Ellen

Monday, March 21, 2011

some NYC moments

March 14-19th Whirlwind of a week

Click this video - it is a tribute to m from my friend Sabrina's son, I have only met him once 4 yeras ago and he did this for me. They live in Canada.

This was the worse and best week of my life all at once. I do have staph, in fact its the worse kind MRSA. When people who are undergoing chemo and have low immune systems get this type of staph it takes so much longer to heal, and can be life threatening.  Of course I had it lanced and taken care of on that Monday 3/14 but we now have to put off the final chemo treatment until I am healed. At the time we were thinking 2 weeks. Now since we know it's MRSA it could be more like 4-6 weeks of healing. Where its located on my arm is not the easiest place for me to reach so I have had to ask JOE JOE, WAYNE AND EVEN MALLORY (WHO WORKS WITH ME) TO HELP CLEAN THE OPEN WOUND. I know its not fun and was pretty gross in the beginning, but not one of them hesitated to help me, not one of them complained, not one of them made gross sounds or gagged or made me feel bad because of it. I love them for that!  Then after being out work for a week of course I had to play catch up and wouldn't you know Alexis would end up sick too with a UTI. What else could possibly happen this week to shake u my world? I was just happy to know that on Friday 3/18 I was going with Tammy right after work to Moms so that her friend Danicka could pray over me and pray with us for my healing. I was looking forward to the clock hitting 5 pm.

So Friday finally arrived and Tammy and I pulled out of my office as soon as Wayne dropped her off. I think it took 25 minutes to get to Moms. We go upstairs and I am expecting to be greeted by this pretty girl who prays for people and instead Mom comes to the door alone. I ask where she is and am told she was in the restroom. So I begin to say something to my Mom and I used a small curse word. Immediately My Mom gets on me for that when Danicka is there about to pray with me. As I am being fussed at (yes I am over 40 and still get in trouble with my Mom) I walkover to my Mom's picture window which overlooks the canal in her back yard and her neighbors yard. I was staring at her neighbors house and realized I heard the bathroom door in the hall open and as I turned around expecting to see Danicka - I couldn't believe who was there - SABRINA! to write this experience does it no justice whatsoever. If she has uploaded the video I will post it here. I was in complete shock!!! I cried, I laughed, I cried some more. We hugged and hugged and I still could not believe it. Here was one of my very best girlfriends from high school, standing in my moms living room. The last time Bri and I were together was after katrina when her family came down to NOLA to visit some family. I was so happy she came and saw me - it had been since we graduated the last time before that. And now here she was, here for me when I need her most. She told her husband she really wanted to come down and he told her to go. She is braver than I am. She flew from toronto all by herself and rented a car and drove all around NOLA and the westbank lol.... she is amazing. My Mom and sister and another high school friend, Jennifer helped Sabrina pull it off and believe me I am not easy to fool or surprise. they got me for sure! Although i had a brief premonition that Jennifer was going to come to the fundraiser dance on Saturday with Mark and Sabrina in tow, I mentioned it once and then forgot all about it.
We were able to spend a few hours together that night and it was so strange. It was as though we had just spent the past 25 years seeing each other every day! Time stood still for a moment and we were 17 again and BFF's (BTW - those of you in your teens - it was our generation who invented the term BFF lol). I just cant say enough about Bri - she is a huge part of my heart and we will always be sisters no matter how far apart and for how long we may be. I love her so much! So that night she hits me with another surprise, her son Brandon who is a phenomenal drum player and just a great kid made me a surprise. So we go pull up you tube (see attached) and of course we all cried again! I had to lose 5 lbs that night between losing water from the tears and snot from my nose---I tell ya! I just cant get over it - truly the most surprised I have ever been in my life.

Then the next night we had a funraiser dance at the Elks Lodge in Slidell. My In Laws hosted it along with the lodge and we had an incredible band Bobby Cure and the Summertime Blues in which my cousin just so happens to sing with. Bobby Cure has been friends with my parents for years and Robyn and I are just getting to know each other as cousins. She even let me sing with her and that was fun - I could be on stage every night! NOT____ She is a great woman, beautiful, caring, giving, voice of an angel, and just very beautiful inside and out. It was great seeing lots of friends and family there. y cousin George (I call him Uncle George - my moms first cousin) and his wife Aunt Celie were there and it was awesome to see and be with them. Aunt Ceilie believes in the power of prayer and angels and her and I know that God has me in his arms. All of wayne's Uncles and aunts were here, many I hadn't seen in10 or 15 years it seems. Lots of my parents friends and my zoo krewe club came as well. Of course Sabrina and Jennifer came and then as if I couldn't be any more surprised, who shows up???? 2 of the most dearest people in the world - Stephanie and Chris Kain. We all grew up together in Venetian Isles. Chris and his brother Darren were my age and they were like my big brothers. Stephanie was older by a few years and dated my uncle for a while. They all worked at one time or another at my grandparents rest., Barney's. We went to SJM elementary together and car pooled until we started driving ourselves.We shared some great childhood days together. Stephanie and I were so close that I asked her to be my sponsor for my Confirmation. I hadn't seen either of them in probably 18 or 19 years. They come from an amazing family and I was so touched that they came out to see me and my family, especially when they have their own stuff going on.

Bri about 30 minustes after the big surprise!

Tam, Bri and Mom - dirty dogs

Kelly (one of my Ellen's Angels, me and Bri - def one of my Angels

Chris kain, me and Stephanie

Sabrina went to the Fr Seelos Shrine Saturday morning. She bought a bracelet just like mine and will never take it off. So happy she did that and experienced that church.
When I tell you its been a crazy crazy week and weekend. I have been up and down  crazy roller coaster of emotions. Like I aid I cant even make it sound good on paper - you really had to be with me to see how happy and loved I felt....
Here are the pictures snapped by Mom when the surprise unfolded!
Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!

Oh My God - thats all I could say!

If this face doesn't say I LOVE YOU MY DEAR FRIEND! Then a picture doent exist that says it!