Friday, January 25, 2008

Science Project

I know -- I'm a living science project. But today we were focused on another project: #20 on my bucket list, which was "help my son create a winning science fair project."

He won second place for his project to determine "What Makes a Better Bat? Wood vs. Metal". It served a practical purpose, as he has outgrown the old bat from his tee ball days, and we were wondering whether to go wood or aluminum. It was a fun project, and my son worked very hard and learned a whole bunch of stuff about conducting an experiment. So we already declared him a "winner" before the judging got started. The fact that he brought home a trophy and a ribbon, too, made it extra nice. And being there at the school assembly when he accepted his award was one of those moments I was grateful to be able to experience. (But there's still a lot more on my list, so I still need to stay alive!)

It's good to get him interested in the scientific process. Maybe he'll grow up to discover a cure for cancer.

Or maybe he'll be a professional baseball player, if science fair projects have any predictive value. My elementary school science project was on the anatomy of the brain. The coolest thing about it was the pickled dog brain that my dad found for me to use in my exhibit. That planted the seed for my fascination with the brain and how it works. I later studied psychology in college. It wasn't the most marketable choice of major, but it was really interesting, and now it is unfortunately quite relevant for me to have learned some things about that part of the body.

I'm glad my son's interest was centered around something fun, like baseball.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I've Got the Blues!

Actually, I've got the BLUE. Meaning, I passed my karate belt test tonight, and am now sporting a very fashionable, not-quite-"BYU blue"-but-still-makes-me-sing-the-BYU-fight-song blue belt! Sensei described it as entering the "midpoint" of my quest for black. It's a long, tough journey, but as with life, the journey is what really counts.

I spent much of the test trying to be quick and powerful and accurate. I spent a small portion of the test doing some sparring and getting pounded by my test mate, who was much younger but higher ranked and certainly a lot better at sparring. Luckily my platelet count is good, and thank goodness for my bobble-head helmet. I think we looked like Rock-em Sock-em Robots, but it was a good workout.

And then the rest of the test was spent just feeling so grateful and amazed that I was alive -- really alive. Not just maintaining a heartbeat or a brain wave. I was doing things I "shouldn't" be capable of doing, having been a mushbrain for more than two years. It was an amazing feeling, and I am once again grateful for the many good people who have not only prayed for my life, but for my quality of life.

The only thing that wasn't wonderful about tonight was the fact that this was my first belt test without my son. Our paths have diverged for the first time since we donned our white belts together. He was not invited to test -- not yet, anyway. He was disappointed by that, but not discouraged. He'll be ready soon enough, and maybe he'll start advancing faster than me at some point. (After all, he has boundless energy and all of his brain!) He was a good sport, helping me practice before my test, and eager to see my new belt. He's learning to enjoy the journey, too.

By the way, I racked (what's left of) my brain for an appropriate song to add to my blog soundtrack, using the word "blue". But so far everything I've come up with uses blue in the sad way, and this is a happy thing! So instead I have this very humbling song that I remember from the tournament scene in the Karate Kid movie:

Try to believe
Though the going gets rough
That you gotta hang tough to make it
History repeats itself
Try and you’ll succeed
Never doubt that you’re the one
And you can have your dreams!
Fight ‘til the end
Cause your life will depend
On the strength that you have inside you
Ah you gotta be proudstarin’ out in the cloud
When the odds in the game defy you
Try your best to win them all
And one day time will tell
When you’re the one that’s standing there
You’ll reach the final bell!
You’re the best -- around!
Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I'm silver!

Today marks twenty-five months of living with the GBM piano dangling over my head (or in my head). I think we'll celebrate by digging out the quarter jar and spending it on something fun.

And then I'll set my sights on going for the gold!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Good news: MRI looked "good". My doctor is happy, and I am greatly relieved. I've heard a lot of bad news stories and it was a struggle to keep them from haunting me as I anticipated the news. But my doctor's nurse practitioner was merciful and started right off the bat with, "Your MRI looks good," before beginning the neuro test.

I don't know if it was the relief, or if it was the thousand other things going through (what's left of) my mind, but I forgot one of the three "short-term-memory words". I think that had only happened once before in the two dozen neuro exams that I have been through. Today's words were "tree", "popcorn", and "frog". I remembered the first two, and was shocked to find myself at a loss for the third. It was okay. I aced everything else.

But still -- after I was finished with everything, including my chemotherapy infusion, I stood at the checkout desk, where there was a little plastic frog sitting next to the receptionist's computer. I swear it was mocking me. And then my husband and I stopped at the store to buy a new humidifier (recommended to help the dry nose side effects of Avastin), and the first one I saw on the shelf was a big green one shaped like (you guessed it) a frog!

I didn't buy that one.

Frog frog frog frog frog.

Maybe I just don't like to think of things that remind me of the word, "croak".

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Head Games

Yep, it's head games time again. Every eight weeks is "picture day", where I get an MRI shoot of my head. This time, however, is like last time -- there wasn't enough appointment space to do both the MRI and the doctor's visit (aka verdict) on the same day. So I get a nice 24+ hour period to sit and ponder the possibilities before I actually find out how the MRI looks on Thursday. Will it be another good news day, or will I be going in for an emergency craniotomy? Or worse? Or something in-between. It's kind of crazy.

As always, I approach this moment with a natural tendency to over-analyze everything, to try and guess how it might go. I have a sinus headache, which coincides with a whole bunch of allergy symptoms. (Headache = scary; allergy headache = normal.) So that might not mean anything. I had a karate lesson this evening and was reassured by how well my review of the material went. (Balance = check. Memory = check. Coordination = check.) But then I remembered that I was symptom-free when I had my last bad news scan. I wrote an email and noticed a typo. (Typo = bad; noticing it = good.) I just keep going back and forth, trying to guess how I'm doing, which is so silly, because after all this time (yeah -- ALL this time, which alone is a good thing) I should have no problem remembering that things are what they are, and it's just time to find out so we can deal with anything that tries to get in my way. (Or celebrate, if nothing's getting in my way.)

New to my blog soundtrack is a song that takes me back to high school in the 80's, when Foreigner reigned supreme:

I daydream for hours it seems
I keep thinkin of you, yeah, thinkin of you
These daydreams, what do they mean?
They keep haunting me, are they warning me?
Daylight turns into night
We try and find the answer but its nowhere in sight
Its always the same and you know who's to blame
You know what Im sayin', still we keep on playin'
Head games, thats all I get from you
Head games, and I cant take it anymore
Head games, dont wanna play the...Head games

(Okay, well actually, I CAN take it, and I WILL take it, and I'll play the head game and hopefully I'll win!)

Enjoy the suspense with me...and much thanks to those who help me float through these moments on prayer!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My Bucket List

There's a new movie coming out called The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It's basically about two terminal cancer patients, who decide to
leave the hospital and do all the things on their "bucket list": a list of things they wanted to do before they kick the bucket and die.

From what I've seen so far, their list includes things like skydiving and race car driving. (Grab-life-with-gusto kind of stuff.) According to the synopsis in, they do these things and "ultimately find the joy in life".

It looks like a cute movie, and I'm sure many people will like it. Making the most out of life is a good thing.

Personally, however, my bucket list is different. With sand pouring through the hourglass, I don't feel a desire to go skydiving or anything else that would make the sand move faster. (Although a skydiving accident is a guaranteed way to avoid dying from cancer!)

Here are things from my bucket list:
1. Write a book. (done)
2. Write another book. (I have ten in embryo, hoping I won't need another setback to kick me into gear.)
3. Teach my children everything that I can.
4. Write my life story.
5. Take my son to the Museum of Science and Industry. (done)
6. See my family and friends as much as possible.
7. Sing Messiah as many times as I can (four so far, and counting!)
8. Make something useful out of this experience.
9. Break all my bad habits, and turn all my weaknesses into strengths.
10. Do as much temple work as possible.
11. Organize all the family memorabilia and pictures, so their stories will be known.
12. Get my house in order, so I don't leave a mess behind.
13. Record my voice while it's still good.
14. Read and sing to my kids as much as possible.
15. Magnify my new calling as a Relief Society teacher.
16. Serve a church mission with my husband.
17. Make lasting (good) memories with my family and friends.
18. Make amends for any offenses (intentional or not).
19. Get my black belt in karate. (getting closer to blue)
20. Help my son create a winning science fair project.
21. Teach my daughter to sing.
22. Read the scriptures as many times as I can.
23. Dance with my husband again. (and again...and again...)
24. Tackle unfinished business (stuff like learning to play the piano, mastering algebra, going to graduate school, finally finishing an unabridged copy of Les Miserables).
25. Give someone hope. If I can live past my expiration date without going sour, anyone can.

Those are just the first 25 that came off the top of my head. I want more out of life than the rush of a daredevil adventure. I want things that I can take with me, and things that will continue after me.

And okay, I'll be honest...I want things that will take a while to finish, so that hopefully I'll have to stay here!