Friday, August 31, 2012

Sunny horse back riding

It's 95 degrees but Rory loved riding Champ! She got to feed him ginger snaps at the end.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Famous Family

From a local paper here today!

Greatest beach quote EVER

Rory's first long stretch on the beach was full of fun, but also full of the realities of being on the beach... Salt water in her mouth, a wave that knocked her on her ass, and sand in her "naughty bits".

At the end of our time on the beach the first day, she told daddy she had a lot of sand in the, um... Lets say... Lowest point of gravity in her swimsuit.  Rory, laughing as she walked awkwardly: "It feels like a bean bag, Daddy!"

We went home, took showers, emptied her swimsuit of sand, and took naps.  That afternoon, I said, "Come on, Ro! There's enough time to get to the beach before dinner!" and my six-year-old responded in a snarky 14-year-old tone: "Yeah, enough time to get a bean bag in my vagina!"

When I shared that one with the staff of Little Pink at dinner, they requested she get a Twitter account.

So tempted to get in the car!

Kidding, of course!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ocean Pit Stop

We arrived early so stopped randomly in Ocean City and took Rory to see the ocean, since we were only two blocks away.  It was her first time in the ocean and, of course, she was thrilled.  We told her she could go in up to her knees, but you can tell by how wet she is that that limitation really doesn't carry much weight with a six-year-old near the ocean!

So excited for the trip

Humbled and Overwhelmed

This week we are on a family retreat of sorts, given as a gift, and I must say, it is humbling. We arrived yesterday and met two amazing women, Jeanine (the organization founder) and her sister, Kristie.  Kristie showed us to our house, which they filled with breakfast food and snacks from a shopping list we had to send her.  And she said, "So if our run out of almond milk, you call me." Me: "Great, you can tell us where to get more.". Kristie: "no, you call me and I go GET you more.  That's my job this week.". Wow, this is slightly uncomfortable. Not sure I can get used to this.

Last night we met the other families, and though there isn't anyone Rory's age, everyone is very nice and I have no doubt she will be entertained.  The activities of the week include horseback riding, stand up paddle boarding, crafts, kayaking, game night, yoga, necklace making, facials, and maybe sailing.

I will post some photos when I can, but if you want to see what we are doing, the organization will post photos every day on their blog at

Love, Jill

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Power of an Awesome Husband

It's not often I write about how Jason is doing through all this cancer #!$% except to show videos of how he celebrates with me and entertains me during treatments.  Yesterday, though, he played a huge part in framing my attitude and I wanted to share it.

After we left the doctor's office and cooked dinner, I mentioned that I wasn't sure if we should be doing any kind of celebration of the news from the doc.  I felt a bit in limbo... yes, I didn't have any more chemo scheduled, but we didn't know for certain I was done, and we didn't know what treatment was next.  My scans weren't scheduled for three weeks to give us any facts.  And let's be honest, I have metastatic cancer ... historical data shows there's a good chance that even if this chemo knocked it out completely, it will be back.  So, I wasn't really sure whether we should be marking the occasion somehow.

Jason's take on the situation was influenced directly by the book "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.  We've both read it in whole or part.  It's a tiny book that packs a huge punch in explaining the value of focusing on RIGHT NOW rather than holding on to emotions from the past or possible futures.  This has been valuable for us both, but especially for Jason when the Jewish (re: worrying) side of his nature takes over.  I can't recommend the book enough to anyone, especially those who have a tendency to worry (cough, cough, Mom, cough, cough).

That's why his response surprised me so much.  It sounded something like this (I can't write that phrase without hearing the Charlie Daniels Band bust out a mean fiddle, but alas, there was no fiddle at our dinner table):

'Well, my thought is that looking at RIGHT NOW, we should celebrate.  Today, you feel great, the doctor says you're done for now with chemo.  You've completed six months of treatment and so far the response has looked good.  They told you today that your blood work looks good, your tumor markers continue to go down, and your liver enzymes are looking pretty much normal.  We don't have any idea what's going on three weeks from now, so why should that stop us from celebrating the good news today??'

The only thing he could have added to make it even better was "and they say now that chocolate cake and sugar are good for you!".  He also then reminded me that while at treatment I had literally six or seven people stop me to tell me how much they liked my hair, so I also had to feel like I was looking good.  :)

I love this man.  Truly.  He is my rock, my humor, my cook, my reality, and my heart.  Truly.  And THAT is the Power of an Awesome Husband.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We are on a BREAK

Coming to you live from Pod 2 today, hopefully for the LAST time!  This morning the doc said my numbers look good for treatment today and seem to show that things keep getting better.

We've scheduled a CT scan for two weeks from now (to let today's chemo drugs do their magic before we scan), and we meet with our favorite Brit again in three weeks (yes, my doc is British, in case I've not mentioned that before).  If my CT scans show that the tumors are further reduced, we will switch to maintenance mode by starting some new oral medications whose job it will be to keep the tumors in check, not growing or spreading.  I can live quite happily and healthily like that, since the only way I feel bad right now is when I'm tired, and the tiredness is from chemo, not from cancer!

So, for now, we are ON A BREAK.  I won't see the doc again for three weeks, so until then we just get to relax and be well.  You should do the same.

And, for those of you whose brains have already gone there, here you go...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Winner, winner, tempeh dinner

Awesome Tempeh BBQ sandwiches with avocado. 

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich courtesy of Your Vegan Mom
1 package tempeh, sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
1/2 c. barbecue sauce (Use a good one, you're really going to taste it.)
1/2 c. water
about 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
3 good rolls (Yes, I know, in the photo I used toasted sourdough and that will do in a pinch.)
1 large carrot, shredded
1 avocado, mashed (Again with the photo.  As you can see, those slices are slipping right off the sandwich. But mashed avocado, on the other hand, makes a delicious sandwich glue.)
Vegenaise (I love vegenaise and paranthetical notes.)
Heat the oven to 350.  Whisk the barbecue sauce, water, and rosemary together.  Spread the tempeh out in a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.  Cover with sauce.  Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove the cover and continue baking for about 15 minutes until the sauce is mostly absorbed and the tempeh has developed some chewy edges.  Slather those buns with vegenaise, slap on your tempeh, top with avocado and shredded carrot, and take a moment to enjoy.
This recipe makes enough for three sandwiches which is an odd (hee hee, math humor, did I mention that I taught fourth grade?) number for recipe results, but if there's two of you, you'll have enough left over for the next day's lunch to help alleviate your guilt with a sandwich for that person that's working so, so hard. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Veganism as a way to save the earth

I thought this was fascinating because I had never thought about how the HUGE industry of producing meat and dairy products could be impacting the EARTH.  I just knew it was healthy for me to not eat them.

Going vegan is a win-win!!

(Click on the image to make it bigger so you can read it all.)If you still can't see it, click here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

No More Pod Parties?

This Wednesday when I go for treatment, there may be big news.  This just might be my LAST chemo treatment!!  My doc has been out of the country the last two visits, but according to his staff, this Wednesday is the last treatment of my six months.  When I asked if it was the last treatment FOR SURE, they said I had to talk to the doc.  It's likely that when I'm there on Wednesday he will order a CT scan of my torso again to see how we are doing at six months before making a final call on what is next.  I'll be sure to post again on Wednesday to let everyone know what we know.

If the scan doesn't happen for a few days, and we don't get to talk to him for a while after that, it could be up to another couple of weeks before we know what is next.  And, to answer the next question, yes there will definitely be something next.  There is still probably some surgery coming up (no need to keep those ovaries in there) and there will definitely be another medication to try to keep everything calm and at bay.

In the meantime, I will continue my "Party on 7" mentality (the chemo pods are on 7th floor of Siteman) for Wednesday morning!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sugar Kills!

I've heard a few people talking about seeing this Dr. Sanjay Gupta piece on "60 Minutes" recently (tick tick tick tick tick tick), so thought I'd share it.

The phrase "Sugar Kills!" sounds extreme, but it's time people realize that it's TRUE.  As far as cancer is concerned, cancer is, in it's most basic form, an inflammation.  And SUGAR is fuel for inflammations.

Research shows that many, many people have cancer cells in their body, but not everyone gets cancer.  Sometimes that one little cancer cell just sits there and doesn't proliferate.  It doesn't gather up its energy and start making a gazillion more cancer cells to throw an evil party with in your body.  There are multiple reasons why that might happen.  But research is clear that one way to encourage that little bad boy to make more friends and start the evil is to give it plenty of sugar to eat.

Please take a minute to read this article.  There's also a link in it to a 90 minute video that I encourage you to watch.  Then pick up whatever food you are about to put in your mouth and read the label.

Oh, and one more thing... SUGAR is SUGAR, no matter if it's natural (fruit) or not.  So pick up a veggie instead of another piece of fruit.

(Does anybody else think they could have chosen a different name for this link???  Tee hee.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Little Pink Houses ... for the Lustbergs!

WE ARE GOING ON VACATION!  There is an awesome organization called Little Pink Houses of Hope whose mission is to provide time for breast cancer patients to unwind, step away from the hecticness of treatment, work, etc, and just relax and spend time with their family.  We applied for this opportunity and recently found out that we are accepted!

Bethany Beach, here we come!

What does that mean??  It means a free week in a beach house for the Lustberg trio in Bethany Beach, Delaware!!!  We just have to pay to get there.  They take care of food, activities, and lodging.  Isn't that amazing?? We are so excited.  There will be six families at Bethany Beach the week we are there.  The moms are all my age (38-40) and between us there are 10 kids, mostly 6-9 years old.  They fill the house with snacks and breakfast foods that we request, then plan activities throughout the week like jewelry making, surf lessons, etc, all paid for!  We can participate in nothing or everything.  It's our trip to relax the way we want to relax.

Rory has been to the beach before once, but it was February, so too cold to get in.  I can't wait to see her in the ocean!

Shifting into a Lower Gear

A while back I read a book (well, most of a book, before it was due back to the library) called The Journey Through Cancer.  In this book, I found a new way to view my body.  The author laid out two options:

1)  Think of your body like a machine.  It runs and runs and when something breaks, you fix it and get it running again.  Go, go, go!

2)  Think of your body like a garden.  It needs light, energy, oxygen, and nutrients.  It takes a little nurturing every day.  When you find something wrong (a weed), you can catch it early because you are tending the garden every day.

I realized that I have been treating my body as a machine for as long as I can remember.  So many of us do!  Right now, though, I have the opportunity and the incentive to try the other tactic.  Through the beauty of FMLA, I have the option to work less right now to try to take care of my body.

Managing work and family is tough enough when both parents work full-time.  Add in managing cancer care and, well, let's just say it's MORE.  I don't have the option to cut down the time I spend being a cancer patient.  I don't want to spend less time with my family.  But work is one place I could slow down.

So, as of the beginning of July, I cut down my hours.  I now work 3 days/week.  Luckily, my boss and teammates were incredibly supportive (When I told my boss I felt the need to reduce my stress by cutting two days/week out of my work schedule, her first words were "Are two days a week enough to reduce your stress?"  Awesome, huh?).

I don't know how long I'll stay on this schedule, but for now it's helping. Every other week I'm in treatment and the two days I'm off are Treatment Day and My Tired Day.  But the opposite week, when I'm feeling good and I'm off, I get to do yoga, go for walks, and drink green juice to my heart's content.  It's lovely.  

My chemo is scheduled to end in a few weeks and then I'll see what the doc says is next.  Things with my schedule may change and that's just the way our world rolls for right now.