Houston, We Have a Pile Up

Pile up is the only way to describe the time since my last update, and as a result, I’m headed to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston next week.  Lemme start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, I was out for a bike ride with Jeremiah. It was a perfect late summer / early autumn evening and I was glad to be out. While we we’re riding, ‘Miah dared me to race him and to use the extra gears on my bike to see if it would make me go faster. Long story short, the asphalt won.

The bike handle bar also won, as it dug up into my abdomen when I fell. It hurt, but I survived. I started to feel pretty uncomfortable in my abdomen and thought that maybe I had a bruised or broken a rib. I went to bed that night a little tender all over, but with nothing majorly wrong. That was a Thursday night.

I woke up to paramedics in my bedroom on Friday afternoon.

Brandon told me later that I had slept in on Friday morning. It was midday Friday when he checked in on me and realized I was nearly unconscious and unresponsive. A call to 911 and a couple tests by the paramedics showed my blood sugar was dangerously low. I managed to eat some sweets to prop up my blood sugar and bounced back fairly quickly, which was good, because Saturday was going to be busy. I had Briton’s golf tournament in T or C, Jeremiah’s football game and NMSU’s Stuff the Stadium game.

Due to the busy day planned Saturday, my fuzzin’ Nicole came to stay with me Friday night and help me get ready for the day.  Again, woke up with paramedics around me. This time, I went to the hospital.

After a few days of rest in the hospital, a CT scan and closely-monitored blood sugar, my doctors saw new tumor growth and think they’re now producing extra insulin. That insulin was driving my blood glucose levels dangerously low. Monitoring my blood sugar every two to three hours became really important.

Fortunately, my Gomez Gems sprung into action. I’ve had a constant stream of visitors and helpers these past couple weeks at the house, morning, noon, night and midnight. They help check my sugar, try to make sure I’m eating enough, rub my back when I’m feeling achy, and keep my spirits up. Thank you all.

So, where am I today?  My docs have found a new medication to regulate my insulin, so my glucose is a lot more stable. But because I seem to have every known side effect to this medication, I’m not feeling so great. Think bloating like I swallowed a watermelon, swollen joints like I ate a tablespoon of salt, burping like I drank a 2 liter of Coke, gas like I ate a pound of pinto beans, and nausea worse than morning sickness, all at once. Seriously.

Come Monday, I have an appointment with a team of doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. They’ll be reviewing my case with a completely fresh set of eyes to see if there are any options we haven’t thought of.

So, Houston, we’re on our way. Let’s try to avoid a pile up in Texas traffic. We’re already leaving one back in Las Cruces.

The Summer In Numbers

Howdy, blog friends…I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and I figure it’s time to give y’all an update.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m nowhere near being an athlete but I am a sports enthusiast, particularly when it comes to baseball and football.  Two things that sports and cancer share is numbers, and being the daughter of a math teacher – as well as having a love for numbers myself – I’ve decided to breakdown the last few months through the love of numerals:

35: Years in age I turned this month.

25:  Years Nicole (my Fuzzin) turns today!

70: Guests who partied their asses off in our shared celebration.  We were all decked out in our finest black and white attire and celebrated being fabulous.

60:  Bottles of wine that we guzzled that night.

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864:  The number of baseballs I watched the Cruces Cobras swing at, catch or throw.  My little tiny baby really came into his own this year in baseball.  It was the teams’ first year in kids pitch and for the first time felt like they were playing real ball.  His mind and coordination came together and he made a home for himself at first base.  For all of the baseball enthusiasts out there, he’s left-handed which makes him ideal for first base. (Mommy confession: Every single time a ball went his way my stomach tied up in knots.  I’ll never forget the mother of a quarterback at Mayfield told me that game day = diarrhea.  Now I can see where she was coming from.)

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4: The number of baseball tournaments this summer, and I only killed ONE mother. Just kidding…I didn’t.  I’m really kidding, because I not only fell in love with baseball all over again, I fell in love with so many of the baseball moms, dads and grandparents of our lil Cobras.  Their support for me is awe inspiring and truly touching.  Every single time my baby took the field I wondered if he would continue playing this sport in high school and if I would be around to watch.  When I scanned the cheering section I felt some comfort because I’m fairly certain some of this group will stick together and they will keep an eye on my baby if I’m not here to do it myself.

62:  The number of Friday Night Lights episodes that our family binge-watched on Netflix in preparation for football season.

28: The number of 2nd and 3rd graders that have suited up in full pads to start practicing for Gator football.

9:  The age my lil baby (not so little and not so much a baby) turns tomorrow.

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33:  My level of Chromogranin A.  As I’ve explained before, a tumor marker is a blood test that measures this level in my specific type of cancer.  When I got diagnosed it was around 600.  After my IV chemo it went to 400.  After I started the regimen out of Dana Farber in Boston it was 60 and once my body stopped responding it quickly went back to 300.  After my first two “rounds” it dropped down to 33.  Hooray!!

17:  The “round” of chemo that I started today.

39,990: Dollars per month.  The check my insurance cuts to the specialty pharmacy for my current medication regimen.  #ThisIsCriminal

4,284: Dollars worth of chemo Bubba ate last week.

469: Dollars it cost to take him to the vet and pump his stomach.

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225:  The section where my family sat at the Georgiadome where we watched Valerian play his very first NFL game (pre-season). When the camera panned the team during the national anthem, I lost my shit and cried until the end of the song. I almost thought I would cry when I saw him after the game, but his bright smile on his 300-pound frame wouldn’t let me.  It was an awesome moment, and I consider my family lucky to be part of.

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7,855: The number of tickets that are left to “Stuff the Stadium” for the first NMSU Aggie home football game on September 12, 2015. The tickets are going for $5, $10 and $15 tickets.  If you live here, please, please, PLEASE (with a cancer cherry on top) go.  If you don’t, but you are interested in making me happy (hint, hint), buy a block of tickets – no matter how large or small – and donate them to Jeremiah’s elementary school.  Alameda Elementary is in such a poverty-stricken area that all kids receive free breakfast and lunch.  Most of the parents have to make hard decisions on basic needs and don’t have the financial means to take their family to games.  Contact me at lorijopaulson@yahoo.com and I will assist you in getting those tickets.

102:  The number of Aggie football players on the active roster.  I’ve been to summer practices, weight lifting, and I’ve spoken to the freshmen class when they arrived.  102 x 1,000,000 = 102,000,000 which is how much my heart loves them. And I can attest that this is a scientific fact.  #AggieLove

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Valerian Ume-Ezeoke

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It was almost exactly four years ago that a chubby boy from Dallas walked into my home along with a few of his teammates. It seems so long ago I don’t even recall how long it took him to warm up to me, my son, my husband and most importantly, my 120 lb. black Labrador retriever, Bubba.

From the beginning, it was apparent to me that he was different. He had a dream to be the starting center for the NMSU Aggies. He came to college to work. He came to focus on his studies. He wasn’t here to party or meet ladies. And eventually, way down the road, he would pursue the NFL. But first, he would try to make a difference with the Aggies. He would rarely complain, but over the years the I could tell team’s losing record would dishearten him. Still, with a grin he would say, “I’m just here to do my job.”

His role with the Aggies quickly accelerated to that of a team leader. Coach Martin nicknamed him “The Governor,” as team events would not start until he was ready. Often times I worried that NMSU was wasting this sweet kid’s talent. Being part of his journey has been a highlight of my life and of my family’s. Ultimately, we wanted the best for him and I worried for his future.

In the beginning he was terrified of Bubba. But over time they came to an understanding: Valerian would feed Bubba from the dinner table, and Bubba would shadow him. Now, there aren’t many “rules” in my house, but not feeding the animals from the table is one of them! If you’ve spent much time around a Labrador, you’d know that their gas is terrible and human food just makes it worse. Ewwww!!! I would keep an eye out and then catch the two of them red handed. I would usually yell, and the three hundred pound man (with a 120 pound dog at his feet) would instantly turn into a ten year old boy. His eyes would get big, he would sit up straight in his chair and I knew, he knew he was busted.

So many of my relationships in my life changed once I got diagnosed. Most of the players that my family got to know over the years became sources of strength and protection. Their love of my food had slowly turned into a love for me. Valerian was no different. Our relationship grew and our love for each other did as well. Just minutes after I told him of my diagnosis (on his 21st birthday, even) he made me promise that I would beat this. In our most recent conversation I told him that I beat cancer every single day. He wears a Team Lori bracelet with pride (unless his incredibly large wrists break them). He might be on his fifth one. In case you aren’t getting the point, we loooovvvvvvve each other, like to the moon and stars and back again. He once told me that there was a reason he came NMSU which was sometimes unclear, but now it’s clear to him, it was to meet me and my sweet little family. My heart just swells with love for him.

This last spring semester he decided to take the minimum class requirements and spend his time training for the NFL. This often happens to talented young men with the NFL in their future. What makes Valerian special is that unlike many other NFL prospects, he took school seriously, and carried a 3.8 GPA in a public health and biology degree. I’ve seen his hard work first hand. I’ve had the opportunity to travel with the team, and while most players were sleeping, texting or watching YouTube videos, he was studying.

Although Valerian wasn’t drafted in the official NFL Draft, he was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons, just minutes after the draft closed. I knew I would have a range of emotions with this news. First, I was over the moon happy for him! But, also sad, because his bright face would no longer be a regular presence in my house. My little #21, Brandon, summed up Valerian’s signing best when he said, “The Falcons picked the right man for the job.” They did indeed. I hope they know what a special person they have. He’s the REAL deal. He is determined, a leader, talented, focused and now an Atlanta Falcon. But beyond the list of superlatives I’ve already listed, I have to tell you, his heart is kind, genuine, gentle and made of pure gold.

I know you’ve already been lauded by others, but here are a few more, direct from me to you, Valerian Ume-Ezeoke… Good for you sweetie pie! Congratulations on setting your mind to accomplish something and not giving up until you achieve it. Thank YOU for inspiring me. You’ve done nothing but improved our lives since the moment you entered it. All my blessings, love and gratitude sent from us to you.  I also understand that there are very few NFL rookies with any true guarantees.  Whether you snap 1 football or 1,000 my love for you will never change.

I hope one day soon, to turn on the TV on a Sunday and say, “Hey, we know that guy, but most importantly we love him!”

I’ve had a draft of this post pending for a long time because it never felt “good enough.” But in light of recent events in our country that show discrimination and racism still being all too real, I feel the need to add this last part. One of the many things that I cherish about my relationship with Valerian is that our skin color has never been a topic. It’s obvious his skin is black and mine is white, but mine could be green and his could be purple. Our culture is as different as our ages and religious beliefs. But, what’s most important is love–at least our love–sees no difference at all.

Over the last four years, we have A LOT of pictures together.  Uploading pictures to wordpress is so awesome and easy (enter sarcasm) therefore I put together a little slideshow instead.  Enjoy!

http://flipagram.com/f/Y0xWfwad1T

 

Fucking Fifteen

Yes, I know my potty mouth is getting the best of me but read on and you’ll see why.

Twenty eight days ago, I started my third – and what appears to be the only – option available to me. This time I get a hormone injection in my booty every 28 days and take oral chemotherapy everyday. The side effects are quite a bit different this time around. As a reminder, my last meds were 14 days on and 14 days off. The biggest side effects with those meds were vomiting and, towards the end of the 14 days, pretty extreme fatigue (remember the honey badger getting stung by the Cobra?). I was able to maintain a fairly normal lifestyle and I had a whole lot of help from cannabis… I rarely threw up and laughed a whole lot!

This time, it’s quite a bit different: my main side effects are a lowered immune system (low white blood counts) and the it’s taxing on my already-compromised liver (high liver functions). Doesn’t sound all that bad, BUT to me it’s frustrating because I don’t have any tools in my tool box to help me. I can’t combat either of those side effects with additional meds or (better yet) medicinal cannabis.

When I first started this regimen, I slept 40 out of 60 hours (fatigue being another side effect) and my blood work didn’t look so hot. I had an opportunity to go on a last-minute trip to Quebec City a week after I started and my oncologist told me to take a break and enjoy the trip. After 24 hours of being off my meds, I felt amazing and had an incredible trip (it might be a blog post one day). As soon as I got home, I started back on my meds. Somewhere in this craziness it was discovered I have mass on my left ovary. After having a panic attack and bona fide meltdown in the MRI machine at the hospital I rescheduled and recently got the scan on another machine.

It appears there is a mass “suspicious of neoplasm” (aka possible cancer) on my left ovary and a cyst on my right. Fuck. A week ago I started having some pain in my flank area and called my doc who then sent me to the ER – the first time since my diagnosis. Fuck. I got a full work up where we discovered that my blood work looks pretty ok; it appears my body is adjusting to the new chemo, which might I add is the highest possible dose. But, now I have this tumor that I have to deal with. So wait a damn second!?!? My body is actually handling it, but now we have to figure out what this asshole is?? If it’s another nueroendocrine tumor, no surgery. If it’s ovarian cancer, well it complicates shit. Therefore, I just can’t think of a better word than “fuck” to sum it all up.

For some silly reason I decided to drink a glass of champagne on the first day of every round. My girlfriend Nicole has helped me execute this very difficult task. Remember the Lucky 13 post? Funny thing is (not as in a ha ha, but rather an ironic kind of funny) that my body stopped responding to that regimen right around that time. Apparently 13 wasn’t at all lucky… Fucker 😉

I know, this post might come across like I’m ready to throw myself off the top of the Organ Mountains… I was indeed pretty blue last week. But, my son has two baseball tournaments in the next two weeks, it’s hot as hell in Las Cruces, and the swimming pool is calling my name. I have a long list of fun and exciting projects at work to do, places to travel, blog posts to write, and movies to watch with my two boys. Somewhere along the way I’m gonna figure out what to do (if anything) to my new fucken tumor friend. But, I’m still me. This “journey” feels like a series of races. In the last month, I lost some, but I also won a few. Cancer has no idea how fiercely competitive I am and I WILL WIN. Mother fucker.

 

Judging a Book By It’s Cover

One of my very favorite things in life is when the unexpected twist happens in human form.  It’s that tongue in cheek moment.  It’s when a predisposition you unknowingly have reaches out and smacks you in the face.

It’s the cholla with painted on eyebrows that’s crazy smart, loyal, patient and kind.

My favorite example has been getting to know the football players that come over for dinner. It’s when the biggest guy at the table has the largest heart, or when the soft spoken one has volumes of hardship but remains humble, gracious and when under a ton of pressure, surprisingly calm.

There are two of my co-workers who started off in entry level jobs ten years ago and have worked their way up.  All along the way, they did their jobs patiently and made their spokes in the wheel necessary to keep the company rolling.  I’m so proud of them because a) you would never know it by looking at them and b) all the odds were against them.  Bravo!

It’s sizing someone up wearing head to toe Burberry and driving a Porsche who, when I first met 17 years ago, worked as the night janitor at Wal-Mart. Yes, Robert, I’m talking about you.

It’s the gay male doctor that most female nurses had a crush on because he’s so sweet, nice and caring.  But he doesn’t fit the “stereotype” of being gay.  Not every gay man is gonna “hey girl” you and wear pink shirts with his collar flipped up.

It’s the homeless man that can quote Oscar Wilde.

It’s the 63 year old woman and her 73 year old boyfriend that ride their horses thousands of miles a year. Yes, you Mom.  Literally thousands of miles. People, this isn’t by no means an exaggeration.

It’s the muscular, Harley motorcycle dude who sits with his wife while getting chemo and is almost in tears over how strong his wife has to be.  He says, “I wish it was me rather than my beautiful wife,” who sits there bald, exhausted and slightly gray.  “I would take it on myself any day rather see her have to go through this.” Ernesto and Rosa. She’s now cancer free, by the way.

It’s the dyslexic hyper kid that no one believes will succeed who is now an electrical engineer with a 911 Porsche turbo in the garage.  How come my friends have such fancy cars?  I wanna poke fun at them, but they’ve both worked their asses off to get them so I have a hard time doing that. Pretty boys (still got in a zinger!).

Or the “cool guys” in their “cool trucks” that look at homeless man and say, “I feel so bad for that guy.  What happened in his life to put him in that situation?”

I just love that head snap reaction when you meet the single mom who is able to take care of herself, her children, be gainfully employed and is <gasp> happy.  Good for her!!

Nothing makes me more happy than when a prim and proper lady has the vocabulary of a sailor. Yes you, Vicki.

It’s the 6’10” dude that didn’t play high school basketball, but is an incredibly smart businessman and respected leader. (Wayne)

Or the beauty queen (Nicole) who’s witty, smart, sassy and has impeccable timing.  It doesn’t hurt that the bitch has a banging body and is one of sweetest people ever.Can we all just throw tomatoes at her already?

I am a fan of the underdog and underrated and the people that others passed over and make it.  Yessssss!!!  There are few things that tickle me so.

I noticed and appreciated “this type of person” before my diagnosis and now, ironically, I am one of “them”.  Random medical folks will notice my port scar, size me up and then tilt their head.  I know exactly what they are thinking.  A few brave ones will ask about it. Most of the time, I tell them the truth and then they stand there with their jaw hanging wide open.  I also get the random, “Lori, I heard of your diagnosis, but you look great so everything must be fine, right?”  A random stranger could size me up and NEVER know the fight I’m in; mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

I guess the old saying is true… Never ever judge a book by its cover!

Psst… I added the extra ever. 😉

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Buckle Up Baby. Welcome to My Roller Coaster.

About two months ago, I realized that I should probably post a medical update as I was getting a lot of questions as to “where I was” medically.  Valid question. I created this blog to quickly keep my buddies informed of my medical condition, but somehow I’ve to taken it in another direction.  A.D.D. at its finest.

It was about that time I wanted to tell you everything was great, but then I started getting pain.  And although I’ve successfully managed the pain itself (mostly thanks to medical cannabis) a side effect is fear.  Fear my tumors were growing. Fear of the unknown. Fear that one day I would start to throw up and then do nothing from that point on but manage it.  But, with a lot of help and a lot of love, I’ve coped and patiently waited.

At my monthly visit with my oncologist last week we discovered that my tumor markers (a blood test that measures the protein my tumor produces) had doubled.  My physician ordered another set of blood tests and scheduled a CT scan.  Unfortunately, the second round of blood work came back and my tumor marker have doubled again.  So it’s now clear that my body is no longer responding to my current chemo regimen.

We thought my only next option was to find a clinical trial in which I could participate.  As my luck would have it, there isn’t a single clinical trial in country for my type of cancer.

So I was confronted with another moment that time stood still.  Could I go to Ruidoso for the baseball tournament this weekend?  Can I go to Canada next month?  Am I out of options?  Do I run to Europe to see what options are there?  Liver transplant in Mexico City?  If I happen to find a clinical trial in South Carolina, who can come with me?

But the good news–and thank goodness there is good news–is that we found another treatment regimen that is an FDA approved chemo that I can get here.  I don’t understand the ins and outs of it yet, but I’ll let you know more of those details once I do.  This is what I do know: the average life expectancy is 20 months.

Now, that might sadden some of you, but it doesn’t sadden me. Not at all.  I’ve been diagnosed for 15 months.  By the time I got diagnosed, I was so sick I felt like I was knocking on Death’s door.  After my fourth round of IV chemo the Grim Reaper was standing behind me.  When I came back from Boston I had no idea how much time I was guaranteed, and I really only lived about six months at a time.  I was terrified that from that moment forward I may never feel “normal” again.  But since then, it’s been quite the contrary.  I’ve felt great!  Look at everything I’ve been able to accomplish, see and experience!

Twenty months buys me the most important gift of all… Time.  Time to research all of the stem cell, polio virus, proton therapy, CBD oil, sage burning, new medicine and old medicine. Time to wait for “options that aren’t even options today” time. Time to love and be loved.  Time to get back to my job which I love, value and appreciate more everyday.  Time to watch more baseball and football.  Time to travel, cook, taste and drink.  More time to kiss my baby and harass my husband.  This is MY time.  And, I will try my damnedest not to take it for granted.


The Exceptional & Then Everyone Else

I’ve almost always have two classifications of people in my life.  Those in the circle and those outside of it.  I’ve never really been able to name this class system so I would sometimes refer to it as the good and the bad, but that never felt right.  In a few heartfelt conversations with my husband and a friend I finally found the terms to describe my thoughts.

In my mind there are two types of people: the exceptional and then everyone else.

There are no set traits or skills that you have possess to be included in my exceptional circle.  It does not matter where you grew up, how much money is your pocket, you political opinions, religious views, the color of your skin or sexual orientation. All that crap really does not matter to me. What matters to me is, “Are you exceptional?”  Are you an exceptional artist, friend, humanitarian, business owner, coach, wife, dad, doctor or just an all-around exceptional person?

Now, judging people to be exceptional (or not) might be both my greatest strength AND my greatest weakness.  I hold high, “exceptional” standards for those around me, both professionally and personally.  It’s not the easiest thing to do, and I don’t always succeed, but being exceptional is important to me. I expect for those around me to be as exceptional as I try to be myself. To be candid, I think that drive to be exceptional is one of the reasons for my success in my profession.

But, when it comes to my personal relationships… well, I decide pretty quickly which circle you are in.  If I pull you into the exceptional circle then the bar gets set high.  Now, expecting my friends to be exceptional isn’t necessarily all about me, because ultimately, I want them to achieve only the best. But when expectations are set so high, it’s easy for me to be disappointed in those who don’t reach them.

My therapist–yes, I have one, and thank you for the recommendation Karin–told me about an AA saying,  “Today’s expectations are tomorrow’s disappointments.”  Because I have such high standards for people around me, it’s easy for me to become disappointed.  So her advice is to have no expectations.  Needless to say, it’s been difficult for me to adopt her advice (but I’m trying!).  So far, it’s been an interesting way to look at things.

At the end of the day, if the standards in my mind are set high it’s really because I want you to be your best self.  For you.  Not for me.

Now… go be exceptional.  Dammit.

Honey Badger

“I wrote this post quite a long time ago but couldn’t find the right time to post it.  Today is the last day of my 13th round and I resemble that of a bug that has recently hit a wind shield.  Splat!  I re-read this post and it reminded me to be tough because that is what honey badgers do.”

A while back a friend of mine called me a honey badger. I laughed it off not knowing what it actually meant until I mentioned it to another friend. He pulled out his phone and showed me the video below.

Now, let me be crystal clear this will offend you if you’re easily offended.  It’s inappropriate, and politically so incorrect that it should not be shown to anyone under the age of 15.  But, hopefully you can loosen up a little and laugh about it as much I have.

After being entertained for hours on end, I started learning a little more about honey badgers and in some silly way, found parallels between us.

The biggest parallel I found is around chemo. I like to think when I take a round of chemo it’s like the honey badger getting stung by the venomous snake and passing out for a few minutes.  After each round I look and kinda feel like the honey badger does, but each time I stagger around and eventually find my way back.

Other interesting commonalities:

  • A honey badger has long nails. So do I. I bought mine, but nonetheless, we rock them..
  • The honey badger is black and white.  Those are my two favorite colors.  And combined… helllllooo!!
  • The honey badger can scare a lion, not because she can actually win, but because she’s just crazy enough to think she can.

As the guy who narrates the video so ‘eloquently’ says, “Honey badgers don’t care. Honey badgers don’t give a shit!”  Indeed I do care and I give a shit.  BUT, part of being fierce is sometimes not giving a shit.

This year, I will be a self-proclaimed honey badger. If 2014 was the year of the cranes, 2015 is the year of the honey badger. I’m gonna have enough fierceness to eat larva while being stung by bees. I’ll growl like a honey badger.  And I’ll keep my nails long like a honey badger.  Careful, because at times, I will scratch. I hope my nails don’t cut too deep or I growl too loud and if I do hopefully my team will understand why.

Thank you Jacob for planting the HB seed.

This tough bitch is also a honey badger.

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The Big One THREE in the LCee

If I haven’t been clear professing my love to the City of Las Cruces then this post should depict my sentiment.  Since today marks the first day of my 13th round of chemo… I thought why not add some humor and do 13 “lucky” things on this special day?  My dear friend, Nicole aka Fuzzin (faux cousin) made it possible.  Thank you my little fuzzy wuzzy… I love you (it was perfectly imperfect day)!

Enjoy…

#1 The “plan” was that we would drive up to the top of A mountain and drink the ceremonial glass of champagne.  Being the avid hiker that I am <insert sarcasm)… didn’t get the memo that you can’t do that no mo… Who would have known that “A” stands for “Almost Mountain”?
This is what put a STOP to that plan… But in true #TeamLori spirit Nicole said, “Just like cancer isn’t gonna stop us… This sign isn’t gonna stop our day of fun.” #NotGonnaLetCancerStopMe

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#2 My partner in crime threw out the crazy idea of getting tattoos when I got diagnosed and I think my response was “No Way Jose”.  Well, after thinking about what lucky things we were going to do… I decided a “tat-two” was the way to go.  The horseshoe not only represents this lucky day, but my upbringing on a horse farm and Nicole’s love for animals.

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So while eating cream puffs (more on that later) these TWO wild and crazy girls got TWO horseshoe tattoos. Then we brought our horseshoes to” the horseshoe” at NMSYou – (I’m a poet and didn’t know it).

PS. Our tattoo artist Drew just so happened to have a “Lucky 13” tattooed on his wrist. It was a sign from the tattoo Gods that this was meant to be! #SorryDad

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#3 Las Cruces is the city of the crosses… THREE of them.  Taking a picture here wasn’t so easy, but we left some of #TeamLori behind… #ILoveYouLC

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#4 Doing something with a FOUR leaf clover was the natural fit for my lucky day.  We went to good ‘ole St Clair Winery & Bistro in Mesilla and left behind this little lovely…  I owe the St Clair/Lescombes family so much more than a garden embellishment.  They make my un-lucky situation tolerable.  #ThankYouFlo

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#5 A few friends have brought back “Holy Dirt” from Chimayo , NM so I decided to take it to Aggie Memorial Stadium (or one of my secret hiding happy places – not so secret now).  Legend has it this sand is blessed and will bring healing powers.   Anyway, I made FIVE little piles right on the field in some #TeamLori bracelets.  Figure a little blessed sand can’t hurt the turf or the Aggies 😉

[PS – The football team started spring practice a few weeks ago. I try to make at least one practice a week and when I arrive all the worries of my ridiculous world simply go away.  It’s awesome and a privilege to be these guys captain.  Back to my adventure…] #ALittleDirtNeverHurtNoBody
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#6 Did you know that the Farmers Market isn’t just on Saturday, but Wednesday too?  I never knew that… probably because I had things like “a job” to worry about before!  Fuzzy and I drew a rainbow which has SIX colors in it and had SIX balloons ready to be released.  Anyone else find it ironic that two deflated en route?  #Lucky13MyAss #PerfectlyImperfect #ShoutOutToMyGays #LoveYou

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#7 At lucky number 7:00 pm my boys and I bought SEVEN lottery tickets. #WeWonAWholeTwoDollars #AgainLuckyMyAss

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#8 Honoring grandparents on both sides of my family; the Paulson love of horses and the Garcia Native America spirit.  This dream catcher with eight words of inspiration (and a little sas) is for them.  #LetPositiveDreamsCome

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#9 I just HAD to figure out a way to incorporate Mayfield.  The school I know and love (once a Trojan always a Trojan).  After telling the security guard my story he let us tie NINE silver ribbons of hope on a tree in the commons.  Just so happens to be where my class of 1998 has a mosaic honoring the late Mr. Scroggs.  #CeaseNotToLearnUntilThouCeaseToLive

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#10 Turns out you can’t just buy TEN ladybugs.  But, you can indeed by 1500 at Color Your World Nursery.  After releasing 1490 of them we captured a few pictures with the lucky TEN at the Fabian-Garcia Botanical Gardens at NMSU. #1500LadyBugsReally

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#11  I took 11 pennies and threw them into the fountain at 11:11 at Si Señor restaurant where we ate chips and salsa (my all-time favorite snack – thanks to the Gomez’s). PS – We were “lucky” Happy Hour was all day due to tax season closing so enjoyed a Margarita.  #Hiccup

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#12 Naturally, my mind went straight to food when I thought of 12 so we picked up TWELVE (or a dozen) cream puffs at Si Italian Bistro and then enjoyed them while getting tatted up. #OnceAFoodieAlwaysAFoodie #StillAFatGirlAtHeart

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#13 To end the list is how I started the day… with a bowl of Lucky Charms with THIRTEEN marshmallows charms all counted out. #FigureItCan’tHurt?

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My fuzzin was a warrior and trooper for the last 24 hours.  There were moments that I laughed so hard I cried and then one special moment we both cried because the day was so moving.  Whether or not this round of chemo is “lucky”, more than 13 memories were made and will last forever.  #ThanksNicole #TeamLori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Just Never Know – #ItsNeverBad

A few of ‘my’ football players recently attended NMSU football’s “Pro Day.”  Since I wasn’t familiar with such events let me fill you in!  This is where colleges host NFL scouts to assess players and their individual talent.  This is separate from the NFL combine.  The combine is where a select group of college football players get invited to “perform” in front of various NFL teams in Indianapolis.  They run the 40 yard dash, measure vertical jumps, standing jumps, run passes, etc.  It’s all a numbers game; how fast, how many reps, their height and weight.  Most of the time players that attend the combine get drafted. But, you just never know.

Last year Pro Day was the day after I had my port a cath inserted.  I was drugged and tired but needed something else to focus on that day. So, I pulled my son out of school, threw my dad and husband in the car and announced our family was attending.  This year I made the same plan until I woke up with what I think was the flu.  I missed most of the morning due to getting IV hydration but got there just in time to give my sweaty guys a hug.   Now that we have watched it for two years in a row it seems to be obvious who the favorites are.  Most seniors participate, giving them what might be the last shot at achieving their dream.

During the 2013 season I got to know many of the players’ families.  Let’s get real about NMSU football: there aren’t a lot of fans in the stands and even fewer on the road.  I’ve made many great friendships with some of the mommies.  One of the moms is named LaJuana and her son’s name is Cameron.  Cameron played cornerback for the Aggies but got hurt his senior year and spent more time in sweats on the sidelines rather than suited up.  I remember LaJuana looking at me in the stands and rolling her eyes at certain plays. When she wasn’t at game she would text me for updates.  Cam was at Pro Day but it was obvious he wasn’t one of the “favorites” of the scouts that day.  Since Cameron wasn’t from Las Cruces, once he graduated, he left town. I assumed he was back home and that I’d never see  LaJuana or Cameron again.

Because of social media, I kept up with Cam from a distance.  His face literally lights up the room and his smile is just about picture perfect. He gets that from LaJuana.  I’d see his posts from time to time where he would be working out with a smile and “grinding.”  I would think to myself, “Bless his little football heart,” and scroll to the next pic.  His hashtag is #ItsNeverBad. I’m really not sure of the details, but towards the end of the 2014 football season Cameron got picked up by the San Francisco 49ers!  He suited up a few games and then after the season was over was officially signed.  You can literally buy this kid’s jersey.  You just never know.

So let’s sum this up. Cam played for one of the worst college football programs in the nation (sorry but true), was injured most of his senior year, didn’t get to attend the combine, got snubbed at NMSU’s Pro Day, didn’t get picked up as an undrafted free agent at the beginning of the season and by some miracle is now playing for the San Francisco 49ers.  It gets better… After the season was over he signed a three year, $1.3 million dollar contract.  Wait, what???  I mean come on.  It goes to show, you just never know.

I’m not gonna pretend that I have an awesome relationship with Cam because I don’t.  He’s never been to my house, he’s never eaten one of my tasty meals.  He’s just someone that put his head down and never gave up.  He had all of the odds stacked against him and he still believed (kinda like me).  This is why I love this sport.  This is why I love my Aggies.  This is why you simply just never know.  You. Just. Never. Know.

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From one Aggie to another, I wish you nothing but love, luck and continued determination sweet Cameron.  Thank YOU for motivating ME.  Thank you for reminding me #ItsNeverBad.