Sunday, September 25, 2022

Well, Expletive

My friend the amazing Joan B. sent me a batch of fabulous cards for Karen's Card Shop, and this one caught my attention. It was PERFECT for me but not so perfect for a church card shop, so I kept it for myself. I'm sure Joan won't mind.

Fabulous Card by Joan B.

Last Thursday, I had a bad day. 

I was supposed to teach the second half of Module 2 of the Stephen Minister (SM) Training Course through our Greater Dayton SM Network. My show time at Fairhaven Church was 9:00. 

I forgot all about it. At 9:15, I was in the English Department at my college in downtown Dayton trying to see my department chair about next semester so she'd know I was going to be healthy, fully recovered from radiation, and able to teach in January. 

Fortunately, my co-leader in SM, Zandra, sent me a text: "Where are you?"

The lightbulb came on. 

Expletive.

And yes, I recognize the irony of expletives spoken before going to teach Stephen Ministers. 

I rushed to Fairhaven, berating myself the whole time. How could I forget about my commitment to teach "Feelings: Yours, Mine, and Ours"? How could I leave my dear friend Zandra in a panic? Letting people down is a Myers-Briggs ENFJ's worst nightmare.

A part of that training module covers the importance of identifying feelings correctly. In the car, I identified my feelings: shame and embarrassment. Not good teacher ethos. 

I arrived about five minutes before Zandra finished the first half of the module. 

Y'all. One of the Fairhaven SM Leaders, Diana, who was running the slides for the class, opened her arms and gave me the biggest, longest, lovingest, most grace-filled hug. 

We had the scheduled break, and I began teaching the lesson. I LOVE teaching Stephen Ministry Training classes. The students want to be there, want to learn, are called by God to soak it up. It's teacher heaven! Afterwards, Zandra said I nailed it. So yay for being an experienced public speaker and having taught the material six times before. 

But three times during teaching, my Apple Watch buzzed with phone calls. No way was I going to let these students down by interrupting the lesson to look at my watch, especially when we were on a roll. When they were in small groups doing an activity, I checked my watch. The Cancer Care Center. Why three calls? What's going on? Never mind, Susan. You can call them back after 11:30. Focus on what you need to do right now. 

When the students left, I called the Cancer Care Center. Emily the infusion nurse said that Dr. B, the hematology oncologist, wanted to schedule an appointment with me as soon as possible.  

No no no no no no no....

Dr. B and I already had an appointment in late October to talk about the medication I will take after radiation treatment. Why would he need to see me now? Could it have to do with the OncoTest on the tumor?

Expletive. 

Emily checked with Dr. B, and he was available to talk. I've never felt sorrier for a doctor. You see, based on the biopsy and size of the tumor, no one really thought chemo would be part of my treatment. But the OncoTest proved otherwise. The score was high enough that Dr. B feels chemo would be helpful.

Expletive.

I will meet with him on Wednesday for details. One thing I know is this: if I were to have a recurrence of cancer in the future, and I hadn't done everything I could now to kill this crap, I would hate myself. I have a friend who's in the misery of a recurrence of stage 4 colon cancer right now. It's horrible and I hate every bit of what she's going through. 

So now, instead of being fit as a fiddle in January, 2023, it'll be April. So now, I have to tell my department chair that I can't teach next semester, and I'm gutted and scared. So now, instead of this being The Great Inconvenience of 2022, it's...something else I don't have words for yet. 

No words except expletives.

I'm not going to start any treatment until after our niece's wedding on October 14. My friend Kim, who had breast cancer last fall, had lunch with me after the SM class. She's good for my soul as well as my good luck charm for shopping, so she and I went to Macy's and found my dress for the wedding. Red velvet and fits like a glove.




So Thursday wasn't a total loss.

I need to put on my big girl panties, stop feeling sorry for myself, and deal with this stuff one day at a time. I'm getting there. 

Prayers and good wishes appreciated for me and for my friend Mary, and all of our family and friends who are dealing with our cancer. Because when one person has cancer, it affects everyone who loves them, too.  

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Ink, Bling, Paper, and Dogs

Today's card highlights a fun brushstroke set from My Favorite Things called Abstract Art and a sentiment from Simon Says set called Sending Happy Thoughts. No die cuts, no fancy tools, just ink, stamps, paper, and bling.

Designs like this are fun for playing with colors, so I pulled three different inks from my Archival Ink collection. Isn't the combo swell?



And here are some fun dog pictures. 

Cooper trying to escape his trip to the vet.

Lily being sassy.

Lily being sad.

Both being mooches. You can really tell the size
difference between the two of them here.

Recovery is going well. Radiation will start on October 18. The Great Inconvenience of 2022 is moving forward!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan




Friday, September 16, 2022

Julie Ebersole Is a Genius! And Thanks, Charlotte!

I've engaged in quite a lot of retail therapy in the past two months, and one one such jaunt led me to purchase Nature Walk Stamp and Die Combo from Essentials by Ellen. Julie Ebersole designed the set, and it was SO easy to work with! The sentiment, however, may be my favorite part of this 3D postcard as it so fully captures my 2022. 



This card doesn't have a fold, just three layers of cardstock separated with dimensional tape. It's too thick to mail, but my intention was to keep it for myself on an easel. It is so stinkin' cute, as Julie would say, and it makes me smile every time I look at it!

Also, mondo thanks to Charlotte A. for sending in beautiful cards for Karen's Card Shop. They are lovely and will go into stock next week! Thank you, Charlotte!

Recovery continues, thanks be to God. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Saturday, September 10, 2022

A Correction and a Card and an Update

 Whew. The last eleven days have been interesting! I managed to turn a corner in recovery Wednesday and am feeling much better now. I think the Percocet was talking on my last post, LOL!

And speaking of my last post, reader Glynnis thinks that the inspiration card was not made by the Mary Ann I attributed it to. She commented:

"I am fairly sure this is one made by Shayne Eddie, who does beautiful simple styles."

Let's give proper credit. Thanks, Shayne, for the inspiration! And thank you, Glynnis, for the information.

And now for today's card, which made me inordinately happy because of its crisp simplicity but turned out to be very hard to photograph. I think we got there in the end.



The dies are Hero Arts infinity hearts, and the sentiment is from Simon Says Stamp's Tiny Words. The card size is 4.25" square.




For those following my breast cancer journey, this week yielded some excellent news. The genetic testing came back negative, so no more worries about BRCA or other cancer genes that might increase chance of recurrence and necessitate further surgeries. Yay!!! 

Also, the biopsy on the lump and lymph node came back. While the pathologist upgraded the tumor from Grade 1 to Grade 2 (cells were growing faster than they were when I had the biopsy seven weeks before and were less differentiated), the margins were clear, the stage stayed steady at T1b, and the lymph node was completely free of cancer. YAY!!!!!

So it seems we will proceed with the original plan, which will be to start radiation in mid-October, once I'm fully healed from the surgery. Two weeks after radiation is complete, I'll start endocrine therapy (a pill I'll take daily for 5+ years). 

Thank you so much to those of you who've sent cards my way! I truly appreciate the cards, emails, and prayers. You are an amazing community! 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Susan

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Post-Op Report

Yesterday was quite the adventure. The cancer is out of me (yay!) and only one lymph node needed to be removed (yay!). I'm feeling okay today, just sore and tired. 

The highlight of my day yesterday was having two radiologists argue over who would inject the tracer into my boob. Both wanted to do it. The one who did my biopsy won, and then apologized for having to stick more needles in me. But he was fast, efficient, and got it done!

Everything about this journey is weird, including the blue pee that results from the tracer clearing my system. Someone really ought to warn patients about that one.

Now, the focus is on recovery from the surgery so we can start radiation. Spectacular. 

So today's card is in honor of all the many, many people who have supported me thus far...friends, family, doctors, nurses, technicians, pastors, counselors, and so forth. My card was inspired by THIS Beautiful PIN. Mary Ann's card is gorgeous, so I did some minor tweaks to make it all about a butterfly. Also, square cards in the US require extra postage, so I went with standard A2 size. 


The butterfly and leafy stem dies are from Tim Holtz, the crimper is from Fiskars, and the stamp is from Simon Says. The butterfly was cut from a piece of watercolor paper with a wash of Twinkling H2Os. You can see a bit of the shimmer in the close-up photo. 



I colored the clear rhinestones with a Copic marker to match. 

What a great layout from Mary Ann! I'm going to play with it again.

Many thanks are also due to the fabulously talented Eddie, who sent a box of cards to Karen's Card Shop last week! They are already packaged and at the church, ready to sell. 

In anticipation of recovery, I placed a largish order with Ellen Hutson last week. When the shipment arrives, I should be finished with the "good" drugs and therefore safe to wield an Exacto knife again. 

Woohoo!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,
Susan

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Cheers!

Texture, bubbles, and cheers! My husband's birthday card, which I believe I forgot to post many months ago:


The man loves beer. And I love easy-to-use layered stamps.


Five circles zig-zag down the strip of textured cardstock, and a wide vellum strip conveys the sentiment. The card design plays around with circles and straight lines, wavy and smooth and textured cardstock, and foregrounds the beer because that was the most important part of the card.

At least as far as my husband was concerned. 

Tuesday, August 30, is the big day. The tumor will go bye-bye, along with a few lymph nodes. In a few weeks, we will have the final pathology report. Assuming clear margins and no lymph node involvement, I'll begin radiation in mid-October. So yay!

Many thanks for all the good wishes, prayers, cards, and such. I've no idea how I'll feel this week, but I'll update you as soon as I can. Please show grace if I blather-post under the influence of excellent painkillers. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and the joy of modern medicine,

Susan

Friday, August 26, 2022

Happy Accident

So back in July, in the depths of worry about what that lump was in my breast, I did a little prescribed retail therapy and bought a jar of White Pearl Hero Paste from Simon Says Stamp, along with a few other goodies. 

Why I bought the paste remains a mystery. I've tried mixed media stuff before and decided it wasn't for me. But all those pretty cards on Pinterest using stencils (I have a drawer full of those) and paste called to me. I thought maybe I could make a subtle background that would enhance my cards, well, subtly. 

I'm all about adding interest subtly.

So my first experiment involved a Tim Holtz stencil that I'd used before with a blue distress ink and not cleaned...this is important. 

Guess what happens when you use White Pearl Hero Paste on a stencil you forgot to clean? 


There's nothing exactly subtle about this background. You can see how the blue ink settled unevenly in the bubbles. That's interesting! The effect made me think of aquarium bubbles, which made me think of the Newport Aquarium, which reminded me that my son's birthday was coming up and for the 18th year in a row, I'm taking him to what he used to call "the Blue Fish Museum." 

And through this happy accident and associative thought process, a card was born. 

Because of my distracted state of mind, it took about a week to put this together, and the results lack my usual white space, but I doubt Jack cares about that. He's going to the Blue Fish Museum, which is what he does for his birthday. And the card will remind him of that. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and happy accidents,

Susan