Love and Blessings From The Top Of My Heart

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It is my Golden Survivorversary!!

Ok not my 25th Survivorversary, but my 7th Survivoversary on December 7th, so that's why I'm calling it my Golden!!
Golden Survivoversary!

This morning on my way dropping Joey off to school, I was overcome with a song on the radio.  The song is called "Who Am I", by Casting Crowns.  This morning I was grumpy.  Not sure why, I just woke up that way.  The song reminded me how special, blessed, and loved I am!

I am also reminded that God catches me when I'm falling.  I am His.  There is no greater JOY!!

Most of you know that we moved back to Texas from China in the summer.  We live in Liberty Hill, Texas at our home in the Outskirts of Heaven :).

We were really struggling to come up with a name for our new home.  So here is the story.  You see I didn't get to ring the bell the day I finished chemotherapy, which is normally done, they didn't have one in the part of the hospital I was in.  Jim said, "we'll get a bell, and have you ring the bell".  I did end up ringing the bell at MD Anderson the next day, and then again when I finished radiation.  I was looking up some information online about our favourite bluegrass band, The Gibson Brothers, and noticed one of their albums is called, "Ring The Bell".  So I asked Jim what he thought, he said, "PERFECT!"  A few weeks later we watched a great movie on Netflix called "Ring The Bell", it was about a boys' home, I won't say anymore - just go watch it!!  So between the victory of ringing the bell after cancer treatment, our favourite bluegrass band's album name - we came up with "Ring The Bell Ranch".  And then the extra confirmation came when we watched the movie.

This year has been a busy one, but a great one!!  Jim has settled into his new job.  Jakob is a sophomore at university.  Kelli is a senior in high school.  Joey is a sophomore in high school.  All are healthy and happy!!

Now for me - I am joy-filled to be alive!  I'm getting grey, wearing glasses, but I'm getting older, and let's face it, what's the alternative?!?!  I too am healthy and happy!!  At my annual appointments at MDA in the summer, everything looked great!

I will be having surgery next week as I am having some issues with my reconstruction.  The surgery is on Tuesday, December 13, at Seton in Austin.  I would appreciate prayers for the doctors, the whole medical team, my family, and of course a successful surgery and recovery.  I will be in the hospital for 4 days.  My nurse, Jim will be taking good care of me once I am at home.  And of course his helpers, Jakob, Kelli, and Joey.

Please enjoy this beautiful season we are in right now.  Be filled with Joy, Love, and Peace!
Merry Christmas!!

Come see us at Ring The Bell Ranch!!

Love and Blessings From the Top of My Heart,


PS  Here is the link to the song by Casting Crowns

Sunday, December 6, 2015


December 7, 2015 (China Time)

I am so happy!  God has blessed me with 6 years after Breast Cancer diagnosis!!!  Wow!!

It has been a great year for us!

At the beginning of the year I had a little scare because "something" was found in one of my kidneys, after 3 opinions in China I ended up in Singapore with a 4th opinion which was, that it was nothing abnormal.  So you can imagine how excited I was when MD Anderson decided to run some more tests this summer? They gave me the all-clear on the kidney but most importantly the all-clear on the cancer, no cancer!  Again!  
Today on my 6th Survivorversary

I got some more exciting news!  After working really hard for the whole year of walking at least 10,000 steps, outside (if the air quality was good) or on my treadmill (which my awesome husband got for me), I was able to reverse some of the bone loss that the bone density test I had the year before had showed.  I still don't have Osteoporosis.  That is a miracle!!!  Since then, I am still walking almost 10,000 steps a day and have even added some yoga to my routine.  

I have had a very strange health issue this year, which thankfully is not life threatening, just bothersome.  It started in June.  I get random facial swelling and hives (not itchy) on my body.  It is thought to be angioedema, which is swelling that is similar to hives, but the swelling is under the skin instead of on the surface.  So sometimes I look like I got really bad collagen injections.  It's frustrating when I get it, there is nothing I can do or take that makes the swelling go down.  I get many opportunities to practice the gift of patience that God is teaching me :)

I'm healthy.  Praise God with me please!!
1-6 Survivorversaries!

Enough about me.

Jim, Jakob, Kelli, and Joey are all healthy too!  I am so thankful!!  

Jakob graduated from high school here in Chengdu in June.  The same school Kelli and Joey attend. This summer all of Jakob's things were moved back to Texas.  He is happy to be back in his homeland and is doing very well at University.  We miss him like crazy but he will be back with to visit us in 7 days!

Kelli is having a wonderful grade 11 year.  She played volleyball this year, she was team captain.  Her team came in 3rd place at the International Schools of China tournament and they won the Championship at the Chengdu International Schools Association tournament.  Now it is basketball season for Kelli.  

Joey is now in grade 9.  He's in high school.  My baby is in high school, which is amazing as he was only in grade 3 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2009.  Joey is taking a break this semester from sport teams to focus on his schoolwork - high school is much harder than middle school ;).

Jim is busy.  Outside of work Jim has started his own band here in Chengdu. It's been a great stress-reducer for him and lots of fun for us!  We get to see our friends out at the local restaurants and coffee shops while Jim is playing.  Kelli's boyfriend, James has been playing and singing in Jim's band also.  It's so nice to have such great support from our friends here!!

We have had a busy year of work, school, travel, but most of all quality family time.  

I thank you all for your continued support and prayers.  With so many friends and family that are dealing with illness or that have lost loved ones this year we know that life is precious, love those around you!  And find your joys!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


PS - Please drop me a line at anytime, would love to hear from you :)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Today is my 5th Survivorversary!!!!!

Howdy Prayer Warriors!!

Today on my 5th Survivorversary
Hard to believe 5 years have passed since I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. What a journey my family and I have been on.

As I think back to the first days after my diagnosis, I remember the unconditional love from Jim.  The dread of having to share the news with Jakob, Kelli, and Joey.  The dread of having to tell our parents.  Jim did all of that.  He was my rock and yet it was scary for him too.  Not just scary for me, the kiddos, and our families as well.  You know why he did all that?  It was love!

Love is what brings us through tough times.  I'm thankful for all the love I received during my treatments and surgeries.  So much love and kindness from our family and friends.  Even from total strangers.  

We live in a world that can be filled with so much hate.  War, conflict in our own families, and so many other hateful things.  

I believe God allowed my family to be on the Breast Cancer journey so that we could see that even in the toughest days, days we just want to give-up - Love keeps us going.  God is Love.

I'm doing well.  Healthy.  Happy.  Joyful.  Living and learning in China.  

I have asked "why China?", but just like when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and I asked, "why me?" -- the answer I got was "why not me?", so now I get "why not China?".  

We have been blessed with great experiences in and out of China.  Jakob, Kelli, and Joey have classmates from all over the world.  We have gotten to go on some pretty awesome adventures.  The kiddos even travel sometimes for school events.  

We also live in the modern age where communication is available in so many forms (although not always reliable).

We've had family come visit us this year.  We loved it!!  They got to see where we live and how we live.

The kids and I got to go visit "home" for 2 months this summer, Jim got to visit for 3 weeks.  We made the most of our time in North America this summer.  

While in Kingwood -- I had my annual MD Anderson appointments.  Everything checked out ok.  The only thing that was slightly bad news was that I am 0.2% away from having Osteoporosis.  I have been working really hard at strengthening my bones by brisk walking.  I got a treadmill so I can walk even on "not so nice to walk outside days".  I'm determined to show my doctor that I can stop the progression of Osteoporosis without medicine.  Please pray about that for me.  He told me I'd have Osteoporosis by next summer if I didn't take the medicine.  That was discouraging.  But I believe anything is possible with prayer.  That encourages me.

Kids are doing really well also.  Jakob is playing basketball and in the midst of the college application process.  Kelli is currently in basketball season.  She finished assistant coaching middle school girls soccer.  Joey just finished his soccer season.  His team was undefeated and not scored against in their last tournament.  

Jim is doing well also.  He played "Mandy" the mandolin a few weeks at the International Fellowship (church) we attend.  He also coached ultimate frisbee and some soccer in the local international youth sports league.  

I am staying busy being a hunter and gatherer :).  I have coffee, lunch with friends.  Bible study once a week with other international gals.  And I volunteer at the school library once a week.  I get to have story time with these precious Chinese children - 3 year olds in the foundations class.  

My heart is Joy-filled!  Overflowing.  Writing this really makes me realize that I'm more blessed than I think I am!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!  And Happy 5th Survivorversary to me!! :)
Celebration today!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Saturday, December 7, 2013

4th Survivorversary!!!!

Howdy/Ni Hao!!!

It's been 4 years today since I became a Breast Cancer Survivor.  Hugely blessed to be sitting at this computer to update you!  

Almost a year ago we found out that we would be moving somewhere with Jim's career.  Where?  We had no idea.  And now we know that it was in God's plan to bring us to Chengdu, China.  

This was on Kelli's
instagram today :)
Four years ago when I received my cancer diagnosis we were 3 weeks away from moving to Perth, Australia.  Australia!  How amazing that would have been.  God had other plans.  

God's plans were to take me on a journey that was so rewarding.  Not just me - my husband, children, parents, siblings, cousins, friends.  He knew what I would be up against.  God was faithful the whole way through - He never left my side.  He used me time and time again as an instrument for His Glory.  

Not my choice.  But I am oh so thankful God chose me to be His and that He continues to wrap His loving and faithful arms around me.  

So God brought us to China.  There are many days that I ask Him why?  God promised He will always answer my prayer - it's just not always the answer I want ;)

We have been living in Chengdu for 5.5 months now.  I'm sure if we had we moved to Australia we would have already had some visitors from home.  Yes - that's a hint!!  Please come visit us.  

I'm living in China.  In China!  Four years ago I would not have thought I'd ever be able to do this. 

Jim, Jakob, Kelli, and Joey are doing well.  They are enjoying living here - of course missing our loved ones.  That will make our time home over the summers even more memorable.

I'm doing well too.  Dr. Skoracki was able to get me connected with a Doctor here in Chengdu.  Dr. Yang is a Breast Surgeon.  I have had my 6 month check-up with her and everything looks great.  Bloodwork, ultrasound - everything is healthy in my body.  She has become a friend of mine too.  See what I mean - God continues to watch over my continual healing.  

I will be going back to MD Anderson in June for my next 6 month check-up.  I'll be very excited to see my MDA family too!

You know - four years seems so long ago now.  It's been almost 2 years since I finished all my treatments and surgeries.  Blessed...yes blessed that's me!!

I'm filled with such emotion right now - you have no idea how Joyfilled I am!!  Actually - yes some of you know exactly how I feel.  

I thank you all for being on this journey with me.  Most of all thank you for your continual thoughts and prayers.

Today on my 4th Survivorversary in Chengdu, China
Please be careful this holiday season.  I wish you a Merry & Joyous Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!  

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


P.S.  Book your trip to come and see us!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

3rd Survivorversary!!!!


I came across my journal yesterday.  It was tucked away in a drawer and I happen to be searching for something else.

Here is the entry in my journal from December 7, 2009 - the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Dear Lord,
Thank you for your AWESOME love!  I ask You today to protect my family through this cancer journey.  Surround my husband, children, Papa, Mom, and the rest of our family with Your presence.  LORD, please also be with my sweet friends You have blessed me with.  Please take this cancer from me.  LORD, you are The Great Physician, please heal me - let me shine Your light.  Today was a scary day but as long as You are by my side I'll be okay.  Thank You for having Linda be with me.  Also for the comforting words from Tracie and Joyce.  For Pastor Woody - for the friendship he gives Jim.  Also thank You for the prayer warrior friends of Tracie's - Robin, Sharon and Phyllis.  You are so good and I know You are with me.  I love You!  Stay by my side.  Thank You for Your death and Grace.  In Your Name I pray.  AMEN"

WOW!  I was and am so blessed.  I truly am!!! 

Thank you all for your encouragement and prayers.  I am thankful that I can continue to live in Him! 

I am doing very well, completely healed :).
Today - on my 3rd Survivorversary

Merry Christmas - enjoy your friends and family throughout the holidays and more!!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I want to suck your blood...

Last Tuesday I went to see Dr. Skoracki and you know what?  He sucked my blood.  Okay the technical term is actually "aspirating" my blood but I've always wanted to say (sounding like Dracula), "I vant to suck your blood".

The Saturday before the aspiration I woke up in the morning in pain.  The hematoma had gotten so big.  I rested that day and the next.  Rested meaning I didn't get off the couch.  

Dr. Skoracki had me come in.  Of course by Tuesday the hematoma had gone down in size.  So therefore, he decided to drain the blood with a syringe.  Bye-bye lumpity-lump.  

The blood was sent to the lab for testing -- and thank God it truly was only blood and not some sort of infection!!!  Can I get an AMEN?!?!??!!!!

Well, I'm telling you my talent is growing boobs in other places as I have another "boob-like" mass on my back.

Next  Thankfully my manager at my little job is the ultimate advocate about work/life balance -- health and family come first is what she says.

My back will be re-excised Friday.  I guess I have a leaky blood vessel, it will be cauterized and will stop leaking.

This surgery will be a quick one and I'll come home the same day.  

If you don't mind saying a little prayer that all goes smoothly, I'd appreciate it.

Love and Blessings From the Top of My Heart,


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Happy New Year!...

1/1/2012 Texas Half Marathon
Happy New Year to y'all!  Jim and I started the new year off with a 13.1 mile walk, it took us 3 hours and 15 minutes.  We came in about 9 minutes faster than last year.  It's such a nice way for us to start the New Year.  Reminds me that we are HEALTHY!!!

We had a very nice and relaxing Christmas Break.  We spent lots of time with our family and friends!!!

Hope you all have had a great start to 2012 as well and that Christmas was a Joyful time - a time to remember and celebrate the birth of our Saviour!

Okay here's the latest on the hematoma...I still have it.  The "lumpity-lump" is not as big as it was the day I had the drain put in - December 13th.

Late the night before Christmas Eve I walked out of our bathroom and got the drain tube caught on the doorknob.  Out came the tube and one of the stitches.  Jim was already asleep - he jumped out of bed because the sound of the suction coming out of the tube was so loud.  He made sure I was okay and did also say "great this would happen late on a Friday night - the night before Christmas Eve".  :)

I called MDA the next morning and received a call back from the Plastic Surgeon on call - she told me to keep pressure on it and see my Dr. on Tuesday.  Before I received a call back from her I also emailed Dr. Skoracki (from some urging of a few friends and Mom) and he said it should be fine and just watch it.  Everything was fine all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Then while I was getting ready for work on the 26th - the site where the drain was would not stop bleeding.

I did go to see Gordon, Dr. Skoracki's awesome PA.  He and another Plastic Surgeon looked at the bleeding and told me to rest and keep pressure on the hematoma.  They could tell it was old blood because of the color of the blood - it looked like motor oil.  It took a whole week (and no working - resting again) for the bleeding to stop.  Thankfully my manager is incredibly caring and understanding and told me to also rest and not worry about work.

On my MDA schedule, I noticed that I had an appointment with Dr. Skoracki on the 19th.  I figured I'd wait till then to have the hematoma looked at again.  It was going to do one of two things...get bigger or go away.

Well last Wednesday Gordon called to see how I was doing and asked if the hematoma was gone.  I told him I still had it and it was about the size it was originally (golf ball size).  He asked why I hadn't called and I told him that I figured I'd just wait till my appointment on the 19th.  Of course he asked if I was in any pain and then remembered that I had a high pain tolerance.

So then he told me that if I still had the hematoma at the appointment that they will  do some exploratory surgery in the clinic.  He said that I would need Jim to drive me home.  I told Gordon that my appointment was at 9 am.  Gordon suggested I  have anything to eat or drink that morning before the appointment in case they have to take me into the operating room around noon.  I asked him if I should see a hematologist - he said that we should see what's going on first.  Gordon thinks maybe I was oozing from somewhere.

Wow!  Another little bump on this journey...not a big one - thank God!!  So now I find myself being thankful that I feel fine and this is not a big deal.  Thankful that Jim is able to be with me through everything.  Thankful that my family is healthy!  Thankful that I have a job where my employer is so understanding.  Thankful that I have such an amazing medical team - the best!!!  Thankful that God allows these "bumps" so that I can refocus and talk to Him.

I also am thankful for you and your prayers!!!  Please let me know how I can pray for you also - it's the least I can do for all y'all have done for me!!!

I'll let you know what happens...

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,