Late Sept blood test results: Cancer levels jumped, positivity levels remain unchanged

My late Sept blood test results show my cancer levels jumped to 21 from 16. Based on my current progress, I expect to begin chemo in late 2019 or early 2020.

It will be challenging on my body and mind, but I remain hopeful for low stable levels for a long time.

Although I’m easily fatigued and mentally weak, I feel fortunate I can appreciate the changing Autumn colours in my city.

Have a great day!

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
Late Sept = 21
Early Sept = 16
Aug = 13
July = 6
June = 5
May = between 3 and 4
Apr = 3
Mar = between 1 and 2
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (started chemo)
Early Oct = 48

Self-portrait:
Early morning in Quilchena Park, Vancouver
Late Sept blood test results: Cancer levels jumped, positivity levels remain unchanged

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

From mid-October to late-May, I was treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Sixth and WillowJune 2014: Sixth and Willow

The post Late Sept blood test results: Cancer levels jumped, positivity levels remain unchanged appeared first on Fade to Play.

Head Up and Get on

It’s been just over two months since I started on phase 2 of my treatment journey….i.e treatment since I relapsed. I felt so bouyant when I started it, and really ready to just get on with it, have a few months of treatment and go on to my transplant. Of course I knew what to expect so surely it was going to be a relatively easy walk in the park …. the house and the family would be fine, and work wouldn’t get in the way until I got to the time I went into hospital for my transplant.

Nope…..

I’m struggling. Really struggling emotionally. And actually finding it quite hard to admit it to most people. I’m trying really hard to keep life normal and I know that’s good and mentally in some ways, will keep me stronger than if I allow myself to totally collapse. But it doesn’t take much when I take some downtime, for me to have the time to totally break down in tears and struggle to get my head around this current treatment regime and how it is making me feel, behave and act. I think that’s why I’m keeping so busy because I don’t want to be a wreck whenever I’m not! Poor Nick and the kids don’t know when I’m going to be strong and when I’m struggling and they have been amazing at trying to keep up

Anyway, Nick and I had a small breakthrough this week where I acknowledged for the first time that the side effects from the drugs, largely the exhaustion, but other smaller ones too, were impacting on my ability to cope. I have so many ‘big rocks’ in my life (as Nick likes to call them!), that I’m struggling to manage them all. The family, friends, my father (now with worsening dementia & moved to a home), work, the house, the garden, netball. All of them that have been majorly important to me, and that I haven’t wanted to compromise on any of them.

For the first time, I admitted that something had to be put to one side, and after a long discussion, I have agreed that the something that I’m going to cut right back on is my businesses. It’s been a really hard choice but I’m finding it harder to do it well, and I don’t want to let clients down, In addition, being social media, it is something that stays in mind almost 24-7, and I often find myself working when I should be resting – not good for anyone! I’ve worked so hard to build it up and frustratingly, I was so close to feeling like I was getting where I wanted to be, but I’ve made the decision now to take away the social media management aspect of the business and just focus on LinkedIn training as and when it comes up. At least then I can fit it around when I feel capable of doing it, and it only takes up a couple of sessions of headspace! I don’t quite feel better for having made the decision, but I think I will once I stop at the end of the month. Hopefully it’ll only be temporary until I’m back on my feet next summer, but we’ll just have to see. And hopefully I won’t regret it.

The other thing I’ve found really hard, and I’m only just starting to admit this to Nick, is my relationships with other people. It’s been strange to see the change in how people handle what’s been happening this time round. I’ve got some amazing friends. Some new ones up here in the Midlands, who are always checking in on me even with their own issues. And some amazing friends from my school days who I know are there at every corner too and, despite us now living what feels like a million miles away, I know that they are always there if I could only pick up the phone more often and tell them I need them! And a number of other great friends who really care and keep in touch.

But despite all of this, and despite having the best family in the world, who support me every day with love, cuddles and understanding, I feel very alone sometimes. Maybe my fundraising hasn’t helped as people are so bored of the whole story, that they have switched off what is going on now. Or maybe people I thought cared, just didn’t. Or wrong place, wrong time. I think it’s quite a common thing to happen with cancer (finding that friends drop off) but I didn’t experience it first time round. Or maybe I just didn’t acknowledge it that time, because the people who ignored my diagnosis weren’t that important to me. This time, they have been and whilst I try to understand it, it can hurt sometimes.

I’m very aware that when we made the choice to move to the Midlands, we made this aspect of our life more difficult. We knew that we were taking ourselves away from a support network that was easy, and we did it in the brave and optimistic hope that I would stay in remission. But with the knowledge that I may not. So, this isn’t meant to be about me guilting anyone particularly although I understand that there’ll be people out there that will think I am, or will say what I’m saying is unfair and puts pressure on. But as I’ve always reminded people….this blog is for me first and foremost and I needed to get this off my chest in the way that works for ME. Let me be 100% clear….I don’t want support from people who don’t care because that’s not genuine and I’m not up for fake friends/ relationships. It’s just hard if you realise that perhaps some people you thought would care, haven’t found the time to even ask the question if you are ok.

Anyway, it is what it is and I have decided again that I also need to get some counselling to try and help me make sure I’m handling things better and addressing the bits that are more difficult. It’ll take some time for that to happen though but hopefully the feeling that I’m taking things in hand will help me a bit.

Still Lifes

“In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting

to stride out of a cloud and lift its wings.”

Mary Oliver from The Kookaburras

Still Life With Wildflowers

In late August of this year, of the summer when my wildflower garden flourished and yielded a wealth of colorful bouquets, crickets sang each evening their mindful refrain. “Soon,” they said, “the season will tip into autumn.”

In the garden, cosmos plants stretch beyond my height, seven feet or more. The flags of their flower petals flutter with the benediction of a breeze. Coreopsis and zinnias; daisies and coneflowers; bachelor buttons and black eyed Susans spill across the borders of the rocky path.

Poppies

Gardening focuses a too busy mind. Often, I am knuckle deep in soil and its mix of bugs, worms, and microbes. I breathe the earthy fragrance of organic material and enjoy common cause with other creatures.

Birds visit during the day. They pluck seeds from the same blossoms where bees nuzzled pollen. Beetles, spiders, and winged insects are drawn to the abundance of plants as they make their way through the territory of their brief lives.

Early Summer Wildflowers

Me too … I reap the peace of communing with wildlife and harvesting flowers that pose as still lifes in the kitchen and bedroom.

The late American poet, Mary Oliver, created still lifes with words rather than paint or photography. Her poetry arose from wandering in the hills and fields of New England. She developed a knack for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Wildflower Bouquet

In her later years, she moved to Florida. She continued to write until the end of her life, taking inspiration from nature in the estuaries, ponds, and dunes of her new surroundings. At the age of 83, she died from lymphoma, a kissing cousin to my blood cancer, multiple myeloma.

My disease paints a picture similar to a still life: it doesn’t move, yet there is a fascination with the details. I have ups and downs but, basically, things are about the same this year as they were last summer when the season began to turn. I persist in a plateau phase with a lengthy history. The relevant blood markers remain stable, the treatments have not changed, and my quality of life is decent.

Still Life with Ukulele

Metaphorically, though, I am under house arrest. I don’t travel well due to the side effects of a busy treatment plan and Mr. Fatigue visits on a regular basis. Nonetheless, I approach 12 years since diagnosis. Cautious management and lots of luck has forestalled the incurability associated with MM.

There is much to be grateful for. Lately, it’s wildflowers, still lifes, and Mary Oliver. That’s plenty … until I write again.

 

Who Made The World

 

Happy endings to come?

So I’m starting this post on Monday 16th September – but not posting it quite yet as I’m hoping that it’ll have a happy ending!

It was my weekly daratumumab injection today – week 8 of the 10 weekly ones and then I’m meant to be going to 3 weekly for that and weekly for velcade and dexamethasone. I’m a bit fed up of it being weekly but was quite chilled on the basis I’m due to see my consultant on Thursday and was hoping to be told we could book a holiday abroad and that my Dex dose might be able to be brought down so I am less vile to everyone (myself included!)

Slightly frustratingly, although not totally out of the blue, there’s been a slight hiccup. They have changed where my bloods are measured and they will now be measured at Heartlands in Birmingham, and not the QE like they have been till now. That would be fine apart from there are often discrepancies between sites which, when you’re trying to assess whether a drug is doing its job, and how well it is doing its job, make it tricky.

I had been told they’d try to measure at both hospitals the first time, given their knowledge of the possible blips, but unfortunately it didn’t happen and I was faced with the news today that my paraprotein had gone up from 12.2 to 16. Quite a big jump for me! And whilst I knew that it may not be a ‘real’ increase, it still made Nick and I quite nervous. Luckily my consultant is superb and is already on it, trying to get repeat bloods done, ASAP, at both hospitals so we can see where I genuinely am. He has had other results do the same thing so is very optimistic that it’s all (or mainly) about the change in testing site.

So, in the meantime, and as hard as it is when it’s playing with my mind, we’ve decided not to share the news with anyone so we don’t worry family and friends. Hopefully within a week (and when you actually read this!) we’ll know what the actual situation is.

It’s amazing how hard it is to not worry ourselves though. Nick is better than me but I’m already worrying we won’t be able to go away or more importantly that he might not let me lower my dose of Dex until we know what we’re playing with. More so, I’ve been worrying that this last two months of treatment has been pointless and that I might have to start a new and more intensive drug regime…what will that mean? Does that mean my relapse this time is more aggressive? Will I be much more ill on a different treatment? Is it just that I don’t respond that well to dara? So many questions coursing through me! And probably all pointless if it is just a blip. But I can’t stop….and not helped as I lie here at 2am on a Dex night 😱. But I’ll stop here and add to my update on Thursday once I’ve see the consultant and know more.

Monday 30th September: So it seems to be good news which is great! After two weeks of waiting, we’ve finally got the results in from Heartlands which suggest that whilst the numbers are higher, they are still going down. We’re still waiting for the QE results which will show us a bit better how well I’m doing, but the main thing is that my numbers AREN’T going up, and that the drugs are seemingly doing the right job still. Again….worrying for nothing!

My consultant was very confident last Thursday when I saw him, that the changes would be due to the change of equipment at the new centre. I just couldn’t bring myself to believe it, and was super worried that the drugs had stopped working and that the past month of horribleness had been for nothing. I couldn’t believe his confidence or Nick’s. I think the idea that it might not have worked was just a bit too much to get my head around. That and my feeling that if I can just get through treatment successfully for the next 12 months, I’ll be in a great place to benefit from the next generation of myeloma drugs which are likely to come through over the next two years. I was so scared about needing alternative treatment already.

I was certainly on edge for those weeks, not helped by the decision not to tell most people what was going on. Living with it almost on your own is quite hard, but it did feel like the right thing to do…born out by the fact that there wasn’t a reason to worry! However, what I’m discovering, is that the fallout the day or two after I’ve gone through one of these ‘waiting games’, is quite obvious. It’s like it takes all my energy to stay positive, and then, even when I get good news, I collapse a little for a day or so once the results are in. Mad really. At a time I should be celebrating, it’s like a train hits me and I get all tetchy!

Anyway, I’m hoping that this week should be a good one without that to worry about now 🙂 What is also good is that last week, they reduced my dex too and almost straightaway, I could tell a difference! Not only did I sleep for a great total of 6 hours on the first night (rather than the usual 2 hours), I also didn’t get close to killing the children, or Nick. I felt so much more in control of myself again and so much more able to deal with the daily things that life throws at all of us. Here’s hoping this week is the same!

Still waiting to book a holiday but hoping to look at it this week – fingers crossed the Thomas Cook collapse doesn’t make it all too expensive, but we’ve got ideas for what we can do if that is the case.

Early Sept blood test results: Cancer levels increased, planning for early 2020 chemo

My September blood test results show my cancer levels have risen to 16 from 13. Although this is only a small increase, I’m trending in the wrong direction as my cancer continues to affect my physical and mental abilities. So, I’m expecting early 2020 chemo, and focused on being mentally prepared, when the time comes.

Conversations are problematic as simple sentences can come out wrong. I’m also very clumsy and find that I will knock things over or run into walls. This is expected though as my cancer levels rise and I get closer to chemo treatment, easy things become more difficult and difficult things are super challenging.

Instead, I’m really focused on remaining calm, finding inner peace, and experiencing happiness within. I’m conserving my energy and prepare my body and mind for the long journey ahead through healthy eating, reading, and quiet time.

My next treatment will be pretty intense, as I’ll be on IV and oral chemo indefinitely. However, I remain optimistic that I will be able to handle any adverse side effects and that treatment will keep my cancer levels low and stable.

Staying positive – Happy Autumn!

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
Early Sept = 16
Aug = 13
July = 6
June = 5
May = between 3 and 4
Apr = 3
Mar = between 1 and 2
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (started chemo)
Early Oct = 48

Self-portrait:
Afternoon wanderings in Queen Elizabeth Park

Early Sept blood test results: Cancer levels increased, expecting chemo before Spring

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

From mid-October to late-May, I was treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

Lynn Creek @ Varley Trail - Lynn Headwaters Regional ParkLynn Headwaters Regional Park

The post Early Sept blood test results: Cancer levels increased, planning for early 2020 chemo appeared first on Fade to Play.

Dexamethasone – The Devil Drug

My last post started to discuss the fact that life is pretty rough at the moment for me. It’ s been very different to when I went through treatment 9 years ago when other than periods of exhaustion, I didn’t seem to have any side effects from the early drugs. This time the devil drug, Dexamethasone (DEX) seems to have really hit me hard.

So what is dex? Well I’m no expert, but basically, it is a steroid that is meant to help to prevent the release of substances that might cause inflammation in the body. It also suppresses the immune system and can help with chemo-induced fatigue. The idea for me, is that it really supports the work of velcade, the chemo drug, and is thought to speed up the impact that it has, i.e bring my myeloma into check quicker, and my paraproteins down.

So that’s the good stuff that it helps with in cancer treatment. Unfortunately it also has a huge number of negatives attached with it, both physically and emotionally, that can cause a huge impact in patients….as I’m finding to my detriment. It can cause the following, just to name a few:

  • Mania – this can be a good sign in that you can end up with increased energy and due to not being able to sleep, can get lots done. The downside is that you often lose sight of reality when you’re going through this period, meaning you might make inappropriate decisions, say the wrong things, or even suffer delusions or take actions that you wouldn’t normally (apparently shop lifting is common – not me thank god!)
  • Depression – it speaks for itself, but even the days when you’re not on dex can be an issue as you’ve no longer got that mania, have spent hours (if not days) awake and then get the come down. Not pleasant for the patient or those surrounding them!
  • Impulses – lots of people talk about going on spending sprees when they’re on dex! I’ve managed to keep it in check thank god, but there have definitely been times where I’ve thought perhaps I can’t wait for that Breville toasted sandwich maker (after all who doesn’t need removable plates for the dishwasher – Cath I blame you!), or that after 20 years of making decisions with Nick about artwork, I can choose something without him!
  • Weight Gain – I swore this wasn’t going to affect me this time. WRONG!!!! OMG. Somehow I need to get back on track with it as it makes me miserable that I’ve put on soooo much weight in such a short time. Partially, it’s just increased water retention, but partly it is that no matter how much I say that bag of crisps is a bad idea, I still eat it…and then eat another pack! And top it off with a few other bits from the cupboard.
  • And then the general side effects: Aggression, agitation, anxiety, blurred vision,
    dizziness, fast, slow, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse, headache, nervousness, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, pounding in the ears, shortness of breath, swelling of the fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs, trouble thinking, speaking, or walking, troubled breathing at rest

I’m on a couple of Facebook pages where patients and carers can discuss and share information and Dex really is known as the most awful drug around. Even the consultants know it is the devil drug. Everyone who has seen it in action, knows how it can almost destroy some relationships. It is rare patients aren’t impacted (like me first time round). It is rare that families don’t see a different person in their loved ones. It’s rare that spare rooms don’t come into their own!!! It really is awful – no exaggeration if you’re thinking I’m over egging this!

Those of you that have been following my blog will know that I found my first week horrendously hard. It seemed to ease a bit after that and whilst I definitely had my ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ moments, they were pretty short and not too horrendous. But I’m definitely feeling that it is building now. I’m not sure whether it is that I have a ridiculous amount of stuff going on in my life at the moment (….I don’t really have time to have flipping cancer, let along a bad temper!). Or whether the drugs are solely to blame. Or whether I’m just turning into a miserable old cow in mid-life. But it’s not a particularly pleasant time and I seem to spend about 2/3 of my life not in a massively smiley place. I hear myself talk to friends and for once, can’t really put the positive spin on things while I’m on this drug. And I don’t like that much.

Living with being miserable is really horrid. I feel like a terrible wife and mother, despite Nick and the kids being amazing about it all – they couldn’t have been more supportive of me. I never take Nick for granted with this – he really is outstanding and no-one around us will ever know how amazing he is in holding the whole family together. But the way that the kids are coping really shows what amazing young people they are growing into. They support me, they love me, they cuddle me, and most importantly, they forgive me when I am just the most awful mother to them. And in return, all I can do is apologise and keep trying to keep myself in control.

I write all this though, with other thoughts in my mind. This is not an excuse for me. I don’t want to allow myself to behave badly because i have the drugs as an get out clause. I will fight really hard to be reasonable and thoughtful to the people around me. But in the same vein, if people who don’t know what is truly going on, start saying the only reason I get cross, or grumpy is because of the drugs and that my opinions aren’t valid, or true, or allowed, that will drive me round the bend. The drugs don’t impact me 100% of the time, and especially with longer term values and morale issues, my views are still valid!

I hadn’t realised that when I go to daratumumab three weekly, I still had to keep having the velcade and the dex every week! Gutted doesn’t begin to explain how that made me feel when I’d been counting down the days to a more normal existence. So, I’ve decided that I am going to speak to my consultant when I go in next week. I’m going to see if we can reduce the dexamethasone slightly if my numbers are still looking positive. Just a bit. Just to ease the impact and hopefully allow us a slightly more pleasant run into the time of my transplant. My paraproteins are currently down at 12 so I’m hoping they might have dropped under 10 by next week and he’ll be happy about doing that.

OK, so I’ve finally finished this post because it’s a Dex day…..I started it 5 days ago! So the two manic days or in process now…might sleep a couple of hours tonight, might not. But at least I’ve finished this and can move on to a bit of my work….massively behind at the moment while I’ve tried to fit in other stuff like house, family and friends. But Monday’s at least are my catch up night…there’s a positive to end on!

Mortality

I feel if more of us thought about our mortality beyond, ‘Am I going to heaven or hell?’ Maybe folks would put down picket signs *metaphorically. What if the world took a hard look at the direction hate is going and stood up at the same time to stop it where they saw it? What if we looked at life as more of a Challenge”, to Life Itself, what if we chose to Exist and to Matter Positively, regardless of whether we belong to a fundamentalist group of some kind or not? Just a thought. Living life for me since myeloma, has been more of a Dare that I intend on beating the odds.

If we looked at death as a finish line in some life race, we would spend all of our time looking forward or trying to elbow or outpace the people next to us, racing exactly the same direction. There is no time to hesitate once the gun sounds and you are running, you just go… What if we lagged behind to make sure the end of the road is in the same direction your heart intends to go… not just the direction of the road paved before you. Anyway, my brain tangents.

I finished a book recently, Conversations With God, by Neil Walsh. The book was written during the same year as my spiritual awakening or revival in 1994. This book reads like my personal journals, so I thought it would be easy to read, and it was. Anyway, if you have an open mind and heart, you can glean much knowledge from reading books by philosophers and spiritual leaders, but you ultimately have to trust your heart and your mind and your faith in something *in my experience – without faith in something greater – life is possible, but significantly more hellish in nature*

I have never been able to quantify the God that I know, or that has guided me my entire life. These types of books are encouraging to people like me that feel they have had these conversations for years, but thought it was merely chemo or mental illness.

Back to death, I have been in the room with at least 30 dead people at one time, and with humans on their way out, or had ‘just left’. It is my personal experience that a body with a soul and a body without a soul are completely different, therefore, I find some strange peace in knowing that at the time of departure, a soul is no longer connected to the body. When a body leaves the earth, it endures much trauma, and is sometimes like the trauma of a childbirth. The knowledge that I will not be connected to my body gives me peace, but I also have peace in the knowledge that whomever we Love that we lose, never truly leaves us. I believe they are connected to every thing and person they have ever touched and they will remain as present as your mind allows them to be.

There is something comforting in the neuroscience of the brain, as it relates to memory… When we clear out the old, we make room for the best memories of those we love, so when we lose them, we do not feel the loss as deeply because – if you are open to it, there is comfort in allowing faith in something to wrap their loving arms around you to remind you that you are never alone.

August blood test results: Cancer levels doubled, feeling a bit nervous

I’d been feeling more fatigued than usual leading up to my blood test – chronic fatigue is one of the symptoms of multiple myeloma and I wondered whether my cancer levels were still reasonably stable. Unfortunately, my August blood test results earlier this month showed my cancer levels doubled from 6 in July to 13.

Goodbye single digits, thanks for the memories.

I remain hopeful that my September results won’t spike again, but I’m also mentally prepared if I need to restart chemo again in the near future. I really am happy to have a break from chemo, the last chemo really affected my mental and physical abilities.

I’m not letting cancer get me down. No time for stress. Remaining positive about life.

M protein (g/L) (if 0, then no cancer detected)
Aug = 13
July = 6
June = 5
May = between 3 and 4
Apr = 3
Mar = between 1 and 2
Feb = 3
Jan = between 5 and 6
Dec = between 5 and 6
Nov = 11
Late Oct = 27 (started chemo)
Early Oct = 48

Self-portrait:
Sunday morning, I went to Queen Elizabeth Park for some quiet time.

August blood test results: Cancer levels doubled, feeling a bit nervous

I have multiple myeloma and anemia, a rare cancer of the immune system. Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells, a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. These plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. As a blood cancer, it is incurable, but treatable.

From mid-October to late-May, I was treated with Kyprolis (carfilzomib), an IV chemo, Cyclophosphamide, and dexamethasone.

End of the day on Granville IslandMay 2014: Granville Island

The post August blood test results: Cancer levels doubled, feeling a bit nervous appeared first on Fade to Play.

Midweek musings

I had a good doctor visit. As I mentioned my numbers are going up (kappa light chains) but as he said it is slowly going up and I’m a long way to where I started out 3 1/2 years ago at 1010 mg/L kappa light chains. So I’m not ok and not panicking. I went up 6 points to 31.7 so an increase. Lambda is in the normal range and looking back at my numbers, Lambda was always in the normal range. The ratio also increased to 2.66 from 2.33 so increase there too. When I went back to when I started Velcade my ratio at it’s highest was 68.25 mg/L so that says something about where I started.

All in all, I’m ok with for now. It’s always weird to think cancer cells are in your body but one must be positive and philosophical at the same time.

We’re in for cooler temperatures which will be most welcome.

My daughter is drying some cherry tomatoes since we have so many and I really don’t want them to waste. Sundried tomatoes in the winter are nice additions to pasta.

Our last appt is Friday till next week. Driving to Sacramento has been awful with the traffic. Driving home has been a lot easier. I’m guessing with school starting and work there are more people on the freeway.

After next week, we are on the every 2-week clinic schedule and that will be very nice.

 

Gratitude

Do you ever notice how I seem to be chasing the sun? I mean, I spend a lot of time documenting the rise and the fall to the earth of the sun and I am fascinated by all the colors painted each and every time? We realize it is a ball of fire and it could destroy the earth someday right? Do I ever think of it that way? No, I think…. oooohhh it is sooooo pretty, let me get closer. I am seriously fascinated with the view from my back window, it feels like a living painting and I do not have to pay for the luxury, it just came with the house that the government helps me pay for. I mention this statement because, up until maybe two months ago, I did not properly appreciate my old, drafty home or the view. I think my intention with the photography idealization is to visualize what my life would look like if I lived in the large homes that are bordering my neighborhood. I neglected the appreciation of my own house and did not daily remind myself as I should have, of how fortunate I am to live on such a quiet street, with such great neighbors. I never thought to appreciate the proximity of small town community kindness and the bigger city experience close enough, how it is just perfect for me and my family. This is something I now remember every day that I live, until such a day that I am granted a larger living space that matches my dreams.

I am grateful for every hardship or every darkness experienced which make me appreciate the moments of light more. I am grateful for still being alive, and for learning the lessons I have learned through learning to love myself. I appreciate the clarity of mind to be able to look back on past life choices and see the reasons, or learn the lessons, and possess the ability to make changes necessary to move forward without regret. I am grateful for the health of my children, and for the fact that Cancer listens to me when I tell it that it is not welcome in my body or my mind. I am grateful for the ability to see the answers to whatever questions I have and not to have the fear and doubt cloud my judgement. I am thankful to God for removing Fear from my entire being.

This earth is so small in comparison to the rest of the universe, and sometimes I am especially grateful for recognizing how insignificant I am, yet how amazing it feels to have the ability to get up every morning and try something new again and feel limitless in my potential to change each day anyway. Not everyone has the rights or abilities I have; it would be a shame if I wasted my chances to keep chasing that sun.