Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mesothelioma - Heather Von St James

When Heather Von St. James reached out to me, in support of November being National Lung Cancer Month, I just knew I had to share her story, and help raise awareness. There are so many diseases and types of cancers that we might think would never effect us, but they can.

First of all, let me tell you something about Heather, she's beautiful.
Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma just three months after her daughter was born. As someone who just watched their sister have a baby, and as I am finishing up my doula training and am surrounded by pregnant women I just can't imagine what she was feeling when she was told she had 15 months to live; and she had a three month old.

Heather contracted pleural mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which affects the lining of the lungs; from wearing her dad's work jacket to do chores outside when she was young. Her dad worked around asbestos, and it was on his jacket. You can read all about the causes of Mesothelioma here. Can you believe that asbestos still isn't banned in the US today?!
I was really surprised to learn that mesothelioma has a latency period that is generally 30-40 years from when exposure happened to point of diagnosis. Which then means that often the cancer progresses to the later stages before a diagnosis is made.

Symptoms of mesothelioma are widespread, the most common being lower back pain and/or side chest pain. I thought it was interesting that early signs and symptoms are often ignored and dismissed by people are every day problems, or they just get used to having them in their lives. My doctor said the same thing about Lyme Disease patients; which really makes me think that we all need to start paying more attention to the changes happening in our bodies, and to take them seriously.

Not only is Heather beautiful, but her family is so beautiful. I am so glad that she's still here, to be a mother to her little Lilly, and to help raise awareness for this rare form of cancer. She has such a positive attitude about life and it's infectious. Watch her video about her experience here, and catch some of her infectious positive attitude, and keep your lungs safe!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Meet Lillian

Guys, you're about to receive an overload of cuteness. My sister had a baby. Not just any baby, the first baby on my side of the family in almost 7 years. Growing up, almost every year a sister or sister in law had a baby. Then 7 years a drought.

Well, October 28th, the drought ended.
I flew to Portland to visit my sister in an attempt to be her doula. Things didn't quite go according to plan and Lillian Elaine came early. Instead I got to be a digital doula through text messages; and I got to spend my entire trip with this little beauty.

I arrived just in time for Halloween, which is the best holiday ever, so this happened.
 If you can't tell, her shirt says Wickedly Cute, like auntie. So then this happened
Matching Halloween shirts. That's how we roll.

It was so fun to be there for all of the first my sister and her husband were having and to help them capture the moments. First night home with her, first bath at home, first trip outside the house with a baby. And now you're going to be overloaded with baby cuteness, and you're gonna like it.
She's such a little squirmier, and does the funniest things with her hands, and she gets the hiccups all the time, just like me. Glad to pass on something.

And we went to Voodoo Donught, because when in Portland. We maybe went more than once while I was there. And you're welcome Marianne for posting this photo. It accurately portrays how I felt about that fresh still warm maple bar.
My other sister came into town the day before I left. It was so fun to be with two of my sisters at the same time. My sister took the most beautiful newborn photos while she was there. The first photo in this post was one, and here is one to make you instantly go "awwww" So go check out her company's facebook page. Hal and I are her cover photo too, so holla.

Monday, November 10, 2014

This Guy Turned 28

Saturday was Hal's 28th birthday. You'd think he was turning 40 with the way he talks about turning 28. He's deep in the throes of studying for his first CPA exam and only took time away from his study materials to play in three ultimate frisbee games in his league's tournament.
Happy birthday Mr. I love you.

I love that you highly enjoyed playing frisbee on your birthday even though you guys lost, and that you said you'd do it on your birthday again; because that sounds like death to me.

I love your unique sense of humor, where I can buy you this birthday card and you love it.

I love that you push me to be better and to go outside of my comfort zone, and that you tell me it's ok if it didn't work out, and that it's me making the effort and trying that matters.

I love that you love to vacuum.

I love that you have the best grumpy cat frown I've ever seen.
But most of all, I love that you are forever my partner in adventure.
Happy birthday, ya old man.

Friday, November 7, 2014

50 Best Day Hikes: Bulls Run Mountains Natural Area

Hal and I have more hikes from our book that we haven't posted about yet. Looking at these photos makes me antsy to go on one last hike before it gets too cold. This hike we did after some friends suggested it and we found it in our book as well.

Bulls Run Mountain Conservancy is actually a hike we did around our anniversary. It's listed as Moderate in our book, 3.5 miles and should take 2-2.5 hours to hike. We actually ended up hiking 4.5 miles, and did it all in about 3  hours.
The information in the book doesn't include hiking to the overlook, and I'm not suggesting you add the overlook to the hike, I'm demanding. It's the most amazing part of the hike and is wonderful after you've been hiking on a rather steep incline for a while. 

We also somehow missed the turn off to see the battlefield trench, which I also promise is worth backtracking for. They have signs on each side, where the confederates were, and where the union soldiers were, with a quote from a solider on that side about the battle that took place there. This is one of the things that drew us to this hike. Out west we don't have the history like there is out East. It's very cool to see these sites that are so important to our country's history.
 I also maybe almost stepped on this baby copperhead snake that was just chilling in the middle of the path. It started moving right as I was about to step over it. I jumped as high as I could and almost crapped my pants. Luckily it just slithered over into the side of the path instead of biting me.
I would highly recommend this hike. It is a bit of a drive out to Manassas, but it's really worth it. At the start of the hike I didn't understand why it was rated moderate, and thought I was just getting so amazing at hiking. Then reality hit when we started a pretty steep ascent uphill. The book is pretty easy to follow on this hike, except for it's exclusion of the overlook part. Sometimes the numbers on the trails were a little hard to follow, but having the map in the book made it a bit easier. 

I definitely think we'll come back to the area to do more Civil War hikes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween 2014

I'm thinking I need a happy post to lighten the mood around here after my last post about Lyme Disease.

And what's more happy than Halloween, my favorite holiday?

I'm not gonna lie, I was pretty stoked about my costume, even though it was totally last minute and totally janky, it was awesome blossom in my book. What's better than a Hamburgler costume?
The evening before our church's trunk or treat, I spent about an hour perfectly placing the white duck tape to mimic the stripes since I didn't have any black and white striped clothes; only to put the dress on and not be able to move. So 20 minutes later all the strips of tape were added to a new dress and the show was on the road.

I took off my cape to make for a scary trunk for the kids to come truck or treating at (trunk or treat is a tradition in my church, where people decorate their trunks, and the kids come trick or treating to the trunks of everyone's cars.) Some of them were a little weary of my head poking out of a hole, but once they saw the candy they lost all fear of me. I'm thinking I'm going to have to make this a trunk or treat tradition.
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