Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On our way...

We're getting ready to head out to Spokane for another round of radioactive beads. Rick will be glowing about this time tomorrow. He'll spend the night again, then be released on Thursday (as long as everything goes as planned). I want to spend one more day in Spokane just to make sure all the radioactivity stays where it's suppose to. So, we'll be home Friday. Then, I'll see you at the parade on Saturday.

We'll write more tonight when we get there. If you need anything, call Jake. He's the token caretaker while we're away.

We don't take American Express...but prayers are gladly accepted. :)

Love you more than a monkey loves bananas!

Dream Big,

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quilt Unveiling Party Coming Soon

Oops, I got so busy doing errands and visiting with friends today that I forgot to make dinner. Not to worry. We still have leftovers from the birthday party and Cathy sent me home with some homemade chicken noodle soup. I'll just heat it up and act like I made it. :) I met up with Cathy this morning for coffee and we spent the day together marking things off our lists. It feels like an accomplished day.

Rick is feeling (and looking) so much better than he has. I think the extra week off from chemo was good for his body. I've been a little hoarse all day (it could be from talking too much, but I'm in denial about that).

I'm not done packing for tomorrow but that shouldn't take long. We don't need much. We're not going dining and dancing while we're over there. Just sleeping and sitting in a hospital. Well, I might do some "dancing" while Rick is in the hospital, somebody's gotta pay the bill. I'm just kidding. I just got a visual of me dancing...I'm sick about it.

The official unveiling of the "I love you more than"quilt is Sunday, August 26th at Bill and Jane Gum's house. If you're interested in attending call Pam Erickson at 652-0287 for more information. (or call Pam for a good time if you're a male between the ages of 45-75, tall and have good teeth ~ oh never mind about the teeth, she's got good dental insurance)
I forgot to tell you how much fun it was to Ride the Ducks in Seattle on Friday. Even though we we've lived in the Seattle area our whole lives, we learned things that only visitors get to hear about. We wore quacking whistles around our necks and made fools of ourselves. You would have quacked up if you had been with us. It was the best $25.00 we've spent for an hour and a half of entertainment.

Dream Big,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lazy "Daze" of Summer

Today was just that. A Lazy Day! We (Rick, Jake and I) took our time around the house straightening up from yesterday's gathering. Amy is in Spokane for the week (she'll meet us at the hospital for Rick's radiation procedure), Angie went to the Mariner game and had a great day. She'll be going with Rick and I to Spokane on Tuesday. Jake is staying home to hold down the fort. I'd better think about packing, AGAIN. Honestly, we've had a revolving suitcase in our bedroom since May.

The the young folks in the photo below, are my parents. We can never catch them in the mood for a picture (or else my dad is somewhere building something so we can't find him for the shot)...But yesterday they were feeling photogenic. When my mom saw this photo, she said "when did my hair get so white"? I'm concerned that my mom needs to look in the mirror a little more often if this was a surprise to her. :) Just kidding.

Rick was very tired last night, but so happy to have spent the day the way we did. He is feeling rested today. Hopefully, he'll have a good day tomorrow as well so he'll be full of energy when we leave for Spokane. I'm feeling great. I don't think I heard myself cough all day. Now, if I can just keep this up for another 20 years...

Dreaming with my eyes wide open (I don't want to miss a thing),

What a great day it was...

First, I must apologize to my children. Before ANY gathering...I develop ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and my family takes the brunt of my outbursts. I just want everything to be perfect...and perfect is not attainable. I want there to be enough food, drink, games, chairs, smiles, clean forks, all the carpet strands to be standing upright (you can see where I'm going with this) What's important to know, is the people who stopped by today to wish Rick a happy birthday could care less about any of those things. They just wanted to share this day with us. But for some strange reason, this is the one lesson I can never learn. Take a deep breath, and just go with the flow, Doreen..

The weather was perfect for a party. Sunny, warm, with a breeze. My BBQ ribs turned out better than usual. We had guests until midnight. Rick got a fire pit for his birthday so we had to try it out. It was wonderful to sit around the campfire listening to music and chatting about the day. We really are blessed with amazing family and friends who are always here for us.

I sat on the back of Val Quillen's convertible Mercedes today and practiced my "Woman of the Year" wave for next weekend. I have a couple of options for waves. Screw in the light bulb, touch the pearls or the Price is Right, 2 handed, "pick me" wave. I'll keep practicing and see which one feels the best. Oh, and what will I wear? I need to lose 30 lbs by next Saturday. Any ideas how I can do that? Honestly, I'm looking forward to being chauffeured by Uncle Mel in his Corvette. I'll post photos next weekend.

We're tired tonight, but it's a good kind of tired. I'll write more tomorrow and post a few more photos.

Love you more than all the rice-a-roni in San Francisco!

Dream Big,

I've posted a photo of my ever so beautiful family that was taken this afternoon.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad.

Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday dear Ricky....
Happy Birthday to you.

If you're out and about.... stop by and say hello. We are all at Rick and Doreen's house and plan to throw some food on the BBQ around 1pm. Everyone is invited.

Thinking happy thoughts-

Thursday, July 26, 2007

News from the Peanut Gallery

Rick will be turning 51 on Saturday so I thought we'd have a little BBQ. Nothing too exciting, just a little get together - because getting older is something to celebrate. Everyone is welcome to attend. I should be careful when I say that, I'm not sure just how many people are reading this blog.

I had a nice lunch today with Amy Terich from the American Cancer Society. Another positive reason for getting cancer. If we had not been touched by it, we may never have known Amy. Ok, now that we've met you Amy, can you dig in your box of cancer cures and find one for us? Thanks! Any little bit will help. Your love, laughter and friendship have been a gift to our entire family.

Our house trim is looking a little drab and chipped, so I've decided to give it a quick little touch up. (I have not painted anything in months and I was having painting withdrawals) I've painted everything I can reach, now I have to wait for someone strong and/or tall to get home from work to help me with the rest of it. Ladders look like accidents waiting to happen, so I'm going to wait for help. Maybe I should call OnStar?

I have a Dr. appointment tomorrow in Seattle. I'm sure he'll say, you look marvelous...or something like that. Then, he'll say, keep taking your Tarceva (which I will ~ with a smile on my face). I will say thanks, are you finished with me yet? , then head off for a fun filled day in Seattle. Who would have thought that Dr.'s visits would be so easy?

Love you more than all the watches at Timex.

Dream Big,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oops, I skipped a day!

You'd think since we weren't gone for chemo yesterday I could have written something wise, spiritual, or funny...No such luck. Instead, I went to Taco Tuesday, with Pam and Janeen, then off to see the movie Hairspray. I cooked. Ironed a few shirts. Went to the grocery store. Cut some hair. Is anyone snoozing yet? I know, it sounds kind of boring. Today, I was thinking about going outside and watching my sunflowers grow.

Honestly, I've been sleeping in. Apparently, this is my body's way of saying "Give me a break, would ya, Doreen? So, I caved in...covered my head with blankets...and got out of bed at 9:20am. I feel refreshed. I feel motivated. I feel like watching Ellen.

Rick looks and feels so much better today. I think a few days at home, skipping the chemo yesterday, and home cooked meals are doing the trick. His appetite even seems to be improving. His color is coming back along with his sense of humor.

I have an appointment at SCCA on Friday so I'll be going down with Pam for her radiation, then to have my blood work done and then to my appointment with Dr. Eaton...then we're going to RIDE THE DUCKS (in downtown Seattle). It's going to be fun. Who couldn't use a little excitement now and then? Then, we might stop in Ballard at some store called Ernie's or Archibald's or Elmer's. I'm not sure what the store has in it, but Pam is sure I need to go there. I'll let you know how it went and what I HAD to BUY.

This blog is making it's way into the hands of complete strangers who are becoming friends. Just yesterday, I received an e-mail from Denise, a "new friend"who at 44, was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer, just after Dana Reeves was diagnosed. It's important to me to meet others who are also "living" with lung cancer. When I hear from these people, it gives me hope. I only hope I can do the same for them.

I'd better get out of this bathrobe, take a quick shower, and attempt to do something constructive today ~ Ta, Ta for now!

Have I told you lately that I love you more? Well, I do!

Dream Big,

Monday, July 23, 2007

No chemo tomorrow

This morning like a really good wife, I called Rick's doctor and tattled to him about how Rick has been feeling. He just called the house tonight and talked to Rick. He said he wants him feeling better before he has another round of chemo, so they are not doing it tomorrow so he will be ready for the liver radiation next week. He isn't scheduled for chemo again until the 6th or 7th of August. Does anyone ever get sick of hearing about sickness? I sure do. (I am glad that Rick has a little break)

Today I called my dear friend MaryAnne, who is my spiritual guide, and the best banana cream pie maker in the world. When I talk to her, she fills my soul with good thoughts and positive energy. We all need a MaryAnne in our life. (She also cared for Amy and Angie when they were little girls which is one of the reasons they turned out so amazing)

When I was done talking to MaryAnne, I invited my friend Cathy over for lunch and the opportunity to catch up on the past couple of weeks. We had a nice visit (but it was a little rushed because I was meeting Angie for a movie) All in all, I had a great day.

Now, some serious stuff. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I found that I had a passion, a true passion, for changing the face of lung cancer. You've all heard me mention it many times. Recently, however, I've felt this passion start to fade. Not because I don't want to change the stigma that our world has about lung cancer, but...because I feel a betrayal to Rick and Pam. It's hard for me to concentrate on lung cancer only when Rick and Pam are both getting treatment for a different kind of cancer. I know this seems ridiculous because no one has ever made me feel this way. This is my own problem. When I look in the mirror (which I think I need to do more often - my hair looked terrible this afternoon) I see a healthy, young (ok, middle aged), vibrant woman. I don't see sickness. Neither do other people. That's where my problem comes in. How can I focus on something that already seems clear? I'm doing well. I'm a lucky lung cancer patient. With all that being said, I know that lung cancer needs publicity. It needs advocates. It needs research. It needs a better survival rate. It needs me. So, I'm going to change my way of thinking. I'm a wife, and a mother....and a multi-tasker. I can do it all. I can keep my passion alive and still do what I can for other forms of cancer. Wow, this blog thing really is a form of therapy. I just saved myself $150 in therapist charges.

Now if I could just cure cancer with this blog I would really have something to brag about.

Dreaming big-

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I woke up this morning with a smile on my face. The smell of my own house, being in my own bed (with good sheets), knowing I would get to see all the kids today...I knew this was going to be a great day.

Jake and I made a quick trip to Costco (before Rick got up or the girls came over) to fill up the cupboards and fridge for his weekly lunches. It was so nice to be in my own kitchen, whipping up a batch of "something" I had just invented. The kids told me how much they missed my inventions while I was gone. Oh, and they missed "me" too! It amazes me how much pleasure I get out of doing things that I once thought were mundane.

Since I've been home, I've received some really nice e-mails from many of you saying how you missed my blogs. I really missed writing them. I think I need to re-evaluate my profession. Is it bad timing to want to become a journalist? Do you think anyone would hire a stage 4 lung cancer patient who just writes about her life? Ok, you're right. I'll just keep blogging for your reading pleasure and my personal joy.

Rick is just not himself lately. His appetite is almost not existent. He didn't get out of bed until after noon today. He doesn't have much energy. I know his body has been through a lot, but he has felt so good up to this point, so I've been spoiled. Hopefully, his blood work will be good enough for him to have chemo on Tuesday. If not, I don't know if they will change his 2nd liver surgery date. I have no control over anything...and I don't like it one bit. Oh wait, I never had any control. Who am I trying to kid?

My tip for the day: Make sure your wills are up to date. If you don't have one, get one. Please~
We can never be too prepared.

Love you more than Clark Kent loved Lois Lane.

Dream Big,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

We're home

Of all the places I've ever visited, HOME is my favorite.

Let me start with health. Last Monday Rick wasn't feeling well, so he pretty much stayed in bed on Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday until we left for Mt. Rushmore. He thinks it might be something he ate, I just worried (because I do that very well). By Wednesday he was feeling better but his appetite still hasn't come back. On Thursday during the day, he sneezed and felt like he pulled something in his side but didn't think much of it. By Friday morning at 3:30am I was using ONSTAR again to find the nearest hospital. The pain was so intense that he felt like he was going to pass out. We had no other option but to visit a hospital in the town of Sheridan, Wyoming. This was my biggest fear ~ Going to a hospital in a town away from home, having to explain his story to a complete stranger. Not to worry ~ our guardian angel was with us and the hospital we went to was only a year old, Rick was taken in immediately (he was one of only 2 patients), the nurse and doctor were wonderful people and they took our concerns very seriously. The doctor on call immediately sent Rick in for a CT scan to make sure he didn't have a broken rib/punctured lung or that the port in his chest did not relocate inside his the chest wall. All the results came back negative. They gave him a shot of pain medicine (which helped in just a few minutes) and gave him a prescription for a couple of days until he could get back home and see our doctor. Now, he is just recouperating from a pulled "something" in his chest wall. We'll be seeing the doctor on Tuesday so we'll let him know what happened. Rick's body is very compromised because of all the stuff he's been through. These are all just reminders that we are still ALIVE.

I was so busy on this vacation I forgot I had lung cancer (except when I coughed). That's a good thing right? Yeah, I know. Don't forget to take care of Doreen. I keep hearing it... I promise I will. I'm almost afraid to sit still now that I'm home. I believe if I stay really busy, cancer can't catch me. :)

Now the vacation: It really was wonderful. Oh, like any vacation...it had it's moments but isn't that what makes it a vacation? Aren't we really just taking time away from our ordinary days? So, those little events that made us a little crazy, now become memories of "the trip to South Dakota Sumer 2007".

We visited Mt. Rushmore (twice...once in the evening when they have a special ceremony) then again the following morning when it was light out. What an amazing sight. We also decided to visit Yellowstone National Park which a great experience. Buffalo and deer just ran wild in the park. I'll post photos later. We visited Sturgis (Harley town) but not much was happening yet. Bike week is the first week of August. These places were on my list of important things to do before I die. Now, let me explain....I didn't make this list after I was diagnosed, these have been on my mental list for many years. We should all have a list of places to visit, things to do, people to meet. These are the things that keep life interesting, fun, challenging. These are reasons to live. Now, I get to mark a few things off the list. Knowing me, I'll add more things later so I never run out.

One of my favorite places was Wyoming. The rock formations/mountains were spectacular. All the little towns we went through looked like little old towns from a western movie. I could have stayed and visited longer had it not been for a sick husband and my desire to be at home.

I'm very tired tonight, so I'd better sign off. I promise to post photos, and write daily now that I'm home.

Love you more than all the sunflowers in South Dakota!

Dream Big,

Civilization again

We got into Butte, Montana this morning after 2:00am. (Now that's what I call a vacation) I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say that we're hoping to be home tomorrow night. (actually today...now that it's already Saturday) I'll tell you about everything when we get home. Watch for a big blog with photos.

Now I need to get some rest.

Love you more than all the cowboys in Wyoming!

Dream Big,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cameo Appearance

I know I didn't get permission from the "Blog keepers", but I'm sure you won't mind if I write something (as long as I promise to send my $$$$ to the One in a Million Campaign).

As much as I want a cure for cancer, I was getting that desperate for a location with wireless internet (that is a slight exaggeration). I had no idea how much I missed writing the blog until I couldn't. I finally got online this morning ~ and then ~ WOW! Who would have guessed that so much could happen while I've been away? Four very influential women have made a guest appearance. The two I gave birth to, and the two who joined my life for a great cause. I know some very strong women who are determined to make some changes and I'm jumping on their BANDWAGON ! Amy and Angie, thanks for being the amazing daughters you've always been. Your fight to make a change will forever change your lives and the lives of so many others. Deborah, thank you for sharing your sister's story with us. She made a difference in many people's lives and it appears you'll be doing the same thing in her honor. I'm thrilled to have you a part of the team. Bonnie is an amazing coach, so don't worry about a thing. Bonnie, You inspire me to want to be a better person and help other people along the way. Serendipity? Oh, you'd better believe it sister~

Now a little bit about my adventure so far:

I feel like this trip could be one of those jokes people send.

Day 1 - The drive was beautiful, I had no idea Washington was so green (or wide).
Day 2 - I don't remember being in Montana during the daytime before. It's lovely... but perhaps Rick was driving so I slept through it since it looks a lot like Washington but the sign "Welcome to Montana" identified it as something else. As did the North Dakota welcome sign.
Day 3 - We're here in South Dakota. The farm house is quaint. There is a little old school house on the property. Thank goodness it's still summer vacation. I had no idea that South Dakota had so many bugs.
Day 4 - What a cute little town we're staying in. Did you know people still close their businesses up for lunch at noon? How nice. Unless you've driven into town for bug spray.
Day 5 - The family reunion was so nice. I'm so glad their isn't going to be a quiz on names. I met so many Ottenbachs, Ottenbachers, Oddenbachs, Diedes and Schmitts that my head is spinning. Did I mention bugs?
Day 6 - Someone in town bought all the fly strips at the store. Now we have to wait for the people at the lumber yard to get back from lunch so we can buy some there. They do however sell cold beer at the store (and it doesn't close for lunch) See, you should always look for the positive things in life.
Day 7 - You'd think when the weather gets so hot you could fry an egg on your car that the bugs would go away. Not in South Dakota. We've started the journey back home. I'll write more later.

I've been having a good time (minus the bugs, heat, sweating and gas (fuel) at $3.39). One thing I haven't mentioned is that SUNFLOWERS are planted all over South Dakota. Although the acres and acres that are planted have not yet bloomed, there are wild sunflowers blooming all down the highway. Some of the old farms are amazingly beautiful. This journey through time (or at least it feels like I'm in a different era) helps me appreciate how hard these people have worked for generations so we can have fresh foods, grainy breads, juicy steaks, and sunflowers (not to mention the thousands of other things we get from these farmers without even realizing it).

Rick hasn't been feeling well the past few days. We're not sure if it's something he ate, the heat, or the fact that he recently had radioactive beads injected into his body....but he was feeling better last night when we arrived in Pierre. I'm going to call his doctor when their office opens, We have scheduled the 2nd part of his Selective Internal Radiation Therapy for August 1st. He's looking foward to having this procedure over with. Then it's back to chemo until they tell us anything different.

My throat thing seems to be better but I've been doing a great deal of coughing (mostly in the morning and at night...it could be I'm inhaling too many bugs) I have an appointment to see an ear, nose and throat doctor at the University of Washington in early August. I don't know if I really need it. I think what I really need is a cure for cancer.

I'd better go get in the shower so we can go see President Rock. I'm not sure when my new suggestion will make it into publications...so for now you can continue to call it Mt. Rushmore.

Love you more than all the bugs I washed off the grill, and windows, and mirrors of my SUV...

Dreaming Big (with bug spray on)

Just a Little Note to my Friend


By now you have read Deborah's note to you......She has agreed to be on our Board at the Lung Cancer Foundation and help us find an end to this horrible disease.

I am so excited to finally "scoop" you. You are the kind of person it would be absolutely impossible to have a surprise birthday party for. You are such a snoop.

I still remember the day we met face to face. It was on November 9, 2006 at the Hotel Vitale Hotel. While Tony and Rick sat quietly (how could they not) we just hugged and talked and talked and talked. That was the night in San Francisco when we had the Foundation gala for lung cancer and your darling children arranged everything so the two of you could be there......You gave me a bracelet that I have not taken off for one minute. The words you put inside say "inspire"......You told me I inspire you but it is YOU that inspires me.

There are days that I wonder why I started this foundation and then I think of you. I think of the courage it takes every day for you to even smile in such adversity. As Deborah says your blog chronicles your days and nights but what lies beneath the words is a woman of great courage, love and faith. One that puts her children, husband and family before her needs. A woman with an incredible sense of humor in the darkest days. A woman that cleans her house before she leaves for vacation and makes sure everyone in her life is OK before she drives away. A woman that cries in the shower so no one will know she is sad. A woman that has coffee with her friend Bonnie and walks the streets of San Francisco. A woman that hugs and means it.

There has been a great deal of serendipity in my life. It is serendipity that we met. If not for lung cancer our paths would not have crossed. I can honestly tell you that my life is fuller with you in it. I am a better person having met you.
You have my word that I will do all I can to erase cancer from this earth and give you and Rick many reasons to smile.

I hope the rest of your trip is wonderful and I know the kids can't wait for you to be home......and, Thank God for "On Star"....

I love you more than all the "satellites" tracking your car!!!!!

Bonnie Addario


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Hole in the World

To Doreen and Rick and all of you -- my prayers and energy go out to you.

Your chronicles of daily life -- finding sunny moments in the often dark and somber landscape of living with cancer -- are inspiring, and candid and often hilarious.... You have all figured out the secret -- we cannot predict or control the future -- and (in Doreen's baseball entry that went entirely over my head and round my sports-free bases..) we cannot call many of the plays. However, we can...and you ARE creating a positive and lasting legacy in how you are choosing to llive your lives with love and connection and passion.

Thank you for your spirited voices -- they are creating lasting change. I give you my word that I will continue to speak out -- on these beautiful occasions when I am invited, as you have invited me today -- or, as is more typical, as I go about my daily private and public life.

Onwards we go -- undeterred.....
Much love-- Deborah

In early March 2006, Dana Reeve’s death stunned the world. We were numbed and saddened. Dana died from lung cancer, days before her 45th birthday, and only months after her diagnosis. The individual narrative is compelling.

Dana Reeve is my sister. My sister married Superman. In 1995, a riding accident left her husband a vent-dependent quadriplegic. Superman paralyzed. And so on.

We held our collective breath. We cheered them on—amazed at their courage and their grace. Together they changed the landscape of paralysis and spinal cord injury, and their legacy continues today through the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

During her short life, Dana was revered as a caregiver and a patient advocate. Months before her diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer, she was honored by the American Cancer Society as its “Mother of the Year.” After her husband’s death in 2004, Dana strove to find a new balance—devoting her energy to their young son, Will, as well as to supporting the causes that she and Christopher had embarked on together. She focused on writing her autobiography and reviving her career as a singer. This is where the individual narrative of my broccoli-loving, blueberry-devouring, non-smoking sister ends, and the sickening tragedy enshrouding the disease of lung cancer begins. It is an abrupt transition, and alarming in its unceasing repetition.

Consider this: The majority of lung cancer cases, approximately 60 percent, are diagnosed in non-smokers. This includes former smokers who have admirably overcome this powerful addiction and never-smokers like my sister. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology confirms one’s anecdotal impression with stark clinical data, revealing the number of non-smoking women diagnosed with lung cancer is on the rise.

Approximately 25,000 people who have never smoked will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and nearly two-thirds of them are women. Now, imagine hearing Dana’s heart-wrenching story repeated by thousands of women and their families in 2007 alone.
Abrupt transitions. Alarming similar outcomes.

Lung cancer remains the leading cancer killer, accounting for one-third of all cancer deaths annually. Surrounded by stigma and lack of awareness, the disease kills at a steady rate. It is terribly underfunded and engulfed in a cloud of confusing media messages.Contributing to this is the stark reality that the disease has few survivors and is swift to kill. It leaves little window for the voices of its victims to be heard.

More than 160,000 Americans will die from lung cancer this year. Nearly twice as many women will die from lung cancer than breast cancer, and nearly three times as many men will die from lung cancer than prostate cancer. Since the National Cancer Act of 1971, coordinated and comprehensive research raised five-year survival rates for breast cancer to 88 percent, prostate cancer to 99 percent, and colon cancer to 64 percent. Yet no such effort for lung cancer has been undertaken, and its five-year survival rate is only 15 percent.

The vast majority of diagnoses, roughly 70 percent, are late stage, contributing significantly to lung cancer’s lethality. Yet lung cancer early detection, a key arrow in any cancer control quiver, remains mired in debate at the expense of those at high risk who could benefit today from low-dose CT scans.

Dana and every other person diagnosed with lung cancer and their families deserve better. In her memory, and the memory of all those who have died from this disease—smoker or not—let us come together to reverse the decades of stigma and neglect too long attached to lung cancer. I know it is what Dana would want us to do.

By Deborah Morosini, MD

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quick Update

Not much to report from the Schmitt family. I spoke with Mom today while she was on her way to the hardware store to buy bug spray, mosquito repel, fly strips and anything else that promised to keep the bugs away! Their plan is to start heading toward home tomorrow with the intention of doing some sight-seeing on the way. As much as they have enjoyed spending time with distant relatives they miss their family and friends at home.

I am happy to report that Amy and I received some emails today from people interested in becoming an author on the blog. I will keep the details a secret for now but I can assure you that tomorrow's blog will be written by a very special person with a well-known story. We also have an author for Wedneday's blog who you have all heard a lot about. You will get to know this person a little bit better after Wednesday. We are still auctioning off days so dig into your wallet and see if you have a $20 bill to share...

I love you more than Dor loves her bug spray,


Saturday, July 14, 2007

An idea...

Since mom and dad are gone and mom honestly does not have internet access like she assumed she would, Angie and I can pretty much post whatever we want. We are the only two with the username and password to log on to the blogger site. That gave me an idea.

Some days are hard. Take Angie's day yesterday for example. As you can tell by her blog posting, she was having a difficult time. Other days, we are up beat and happy. Both of those scenarios make it easy to write. It's easy to say what is making us sad, or tell you guys about the wonderful things that happened that day. The difficult days are those days when we just feel indifferent. Nothing good happened. Nothing bad happened. On those days, we all call each other and say "why don't you write something tonight." This is where my idea comes in.

This blog site is read anywhere between 100-200 times a day. I think one of you need to make a special appearance on the blog. Angie and I have another week to "entertain you" while Rick and Dor are away (and I will be doing military training with very limited internet access for the next 8 days) so that will put a lot of pressure on Angie. We certainly aren't getting much help from mom's stories about South Dakota. Believe me... you're not missing much. She said it is nice to see some of the family members they haven't seen in years, but she has compared the town to the movie "Fargo." If Angie and I are going to hope for interesting stories from them I think we are in trouble.

SO... we will be auctioning off an opportunity to become a celebrity. YOU TOO can get the username and password for a day. YOU TOO can become a little bit closer to becoming a part of the Schmitt family. For a $20 donation to the A Breath Away From The Cure Foundation, you can be writing tomorrow's blog message. The folks at ABAFTC have figured out that raising $20 Million dollars will enable them to put a lung cancer screening program in 10-12 hospitals nation wide. There are currently none. They have developed the "One in a Million" campaign encouraging a million people to send a $20 bill and help them reach the goal. Maybe tonight one of you will get us $20 closer to reaching that goal. You will be helping to save lives, relieve a Schmitt twin of coming up with a topic, and leaving Dor an unexpected message all at the same time.

Send me an email if you are interested. amyzoe@hotmail.com

Dreaming Big-


A Couch to Cry On

Most days I am fine... other days, like today, I get overcome with sadness and I cry like a baby.

I have been shopping for new livingroom furniture for a couple of weeks now. It is hard enough for me to decide on a menu item when I go out to eat, so you can imagine the challenge I have been experiencing with looking for livingroom furniture. For my entire life I have been making decisions based on two things (1.) if I like it AND (2.) if my mom approves. It may sound funny since I am a grown 24 year old ( ok, ok, I am 30!) but her opinion has always mattered. It represents the "ok" to go along with the process of whatever I am about to do. I always have my decision 99% of the way decided when I check with her but for some reason her 1% represents so much more than I could ever put into words.

Today when I finally decided on the livingroom furniture that I wanted I had one more thing to do... get in contact with Mom in South Dakota and make sure she thought it sounded like a good choice. I called her and called her and called her but she didn't answer. This went on for hours. At one point I sat on a piece of furniture in one of the stores and sobbed. I didn't sob because I was mad at her for ignoring her phone. I sobbed because that is the reality of what my life will be like someday when she is gone. She has always been my "go to" person and I've never needed a back-up plan.

Once mom got into an area where she had good service she called me back like she always does. Just seeing "MOM" show up on my cell phone made my sobbing start up all over again ( I really feel sorry for the salesman Larry who probably thought I was a mental case!). As usual Mom asked me lots of questions about my furniture choices and how I planned to decorate and then gave me her stamp of approval.

For the next hour or two Mom and I talked on the phone and cried together. We had one of our "Life is so un-fair" moments that we don't have very often. Dad reminded us that it ok to have those moments from time to time.

More than anything else I wanted Mom to know how much I value her opinions and how complete I feel when I get her approval.

I love you more than I love my new livingroom furniture,


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mom's Own Personal On-Star Ad

ON-STAR, don't leave home without it!!Mom used to question whether or not she actually needed On-Star in her car. Today she got her answer. While in Columbus Montana an accident took place directly in front of my parent's car. A boy in his early 20's fell asleep at the wheel and seriously crashed his car. He and his 20 year old passanger (both from Washington state) needed immediate medical attention. My Dad, Grandfather and Uncle ran down the hill to the crashed car and my Mom pushed her On-Star button requesting medical help. One boy was significantly injured but lived due to my family's On-Star button and huge helpful hearts. Later today Mom noticed that her gas light was on. She re-assured Dad that it "just came on" so they continued past the next exit with the intention of getting gas shortly. Unfortunately the gas light must have been on for a while becasue somewhere on the side of the freeway in Montana my parents ran out of gas. Although I didn't get the full details from Mom I have a feeling that Dad was not exactly thrilled. This is where the On-Star button comes into play. Twenty minutes after pushing the button a lady pulled up with $5 worth of free gas and went on her way. Mom informed me that they have already used the On-Star button about 8 times throughout this trip. She is becoming and expert. She used it on Tuesday night to search for hotels in Bozeman and later used it again to look for a local Appleby's. My parents have decided to continue driving the rest of the way to Eureka, South Dakota tonight (hoping to arrive around midnight) to stay at my Grandpa's 80 acre farm. They will be calling tomorrow to keep us informed and we promise to keep the blog updated. As if Dor was not already a spokesperson for many other things she is now adding ON-STAR to her list!

I love you more than all of the dried up yards in Washington-

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bonnie... You Have My Vote

Tonight, as I was messing around on-line I went to the BONNIE J. ADDARIO- A BREATH AWAY FROM THE CURE website. I try to read up on the latest lung cancer news, and Bonnie is the front runner when it comes to getting lung cancer on the map. I know mom talks about Bonnie all the time but for anyone who hasn't taken the time to read their webpage, you really are missing out. There is no doubt in my mind that this group of people will be the ones who make the difference. And, I fully expect to see significant changes to the lung cancer stigma during my lifetime.

As I was reading the front page of her website (which is http://www.thelungcancerfoundation.org/) I noticed the section at the bottom about the book called:

"WORLD CHAMPIONS: 25 Charities that make our home a better place to live"

A Breath Away From The Cure is listed in the book as one of the 25 finalist. You can vote for them by purchasing one of the books, or simply by entering your email address and voting for them. The Charity that gets the most votes receives 20% of the money raised from the book sales. Bonnie and the rest of the gang has done an amazing job bringing awareness to lung cancer... not to mention hope to my parents. I think the least we can do is click on this link and vote for them. Just click on the VOTE button in the upper right hand corner. Make sure you get this link to everyone you know. http://www.25charities.com/

Good Luck Bonnie and thanks for all that you do.


Day one on the road....

Very funny kids... you're all grounded.

Contrary to your belief we have Internet service so I'm hoping to keep in touch with the real world during this vacation.

This morning at 6 when we took off it was all fun and games. Jeff, Dawn and the girls followed behind us so we all made stops together. While Dawn was feeding the baby we all played with Darlena at the rest area. We would get back in the car all sweaty and tired, turn on the AC, cool off, and do it all again in about two hours. The temperature was in the mid 90's all day. UHG! It's now about 8pm (9pm Montana time) and the temp is a cool 85 degrees. It actually felt good to get out of the car, stretch, and play... until we were all involved in the "Attack of the killer mosquitoes." Ok, I might be exaggerating a little but we really did have to run for cover. It was ridiculous. My father in law said I better get used to it. Hey, nobody said anything about bugs! Is it too late to turn around?

Rick and I have been taking turns driving while Rick's dad takes naps. I think he's enjoying the trip so far... or at least the part he has seen. I'm sure he's happy just to be the passenger and not the driver.

We heard on the news that Thursday is going to be a scorcher for everyone. Don't forget to wear your sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, hydrate, and don't work too hard. As a matter of fact, I'm giving you all the day off. Go to the beach, or the lake, or your kiddie pool in the backyard. Just tell your boss you talked to me and I said it was ok.

Here's what I know about this kind of weather. When our kids are outside for even a few hours their olive skin turns so dark that their teeth look like pearls, and their big brown eyes sparkle like stars. I hope we can recognize them when we get home. I miss them already.

Dreaming in wide open spaces-


Party Time

Now that mom and dad are on the road... likely without internet access for most of the 12 day trip.... we have scheduled a giant kegger at their house. There will be lots of drugs, alcohol, strippers, etc. so call in sick and get over to Rick and Dor's house.

:) Just kidding Mom. We will all remain on our best behavior. Drive safe and hurry home....


Your Kids-

Charlie and his angels. :)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Vicky...where are you?

This is to my "newest friend" Vicky who posted a comment on the blog yesterday. Please e-mail me at dreambig@wavecable.com Hopefully, we'll find a way to connect before I leave for my (ever so exciting) trip to South Dakota. Honestly, I'm really looking forward to it!

To the rest of my friends and family...I'll write a little later tonight after I finish packing, cleaning, cooking, and organizing....

I just talked to Rick who is at work and I think the radioactive beads are doing their job. Rick sounds completely exhausted today(which the doctor anticipated would happen). Hopefully, he will get a good night's sleep tonight and we'll have a nice drive tomorrow.

Love you more than all the un-ironed shirts in my laundry basket (again) ~

Dream Big,

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Serious Packing

I have this problem when I go on vacation ~ I think I need to cook and clean everything before I leave. Jake and the girls are not going on this vacation with us, so I feel like I should make sure everyone and everything is taken care of while I'm gone. Today I fixed one of the kids favorite dishes, Chicken Divan (enough for all of them to share). I'm also getting ready to bake oatmeal cookies (they love my version). Amy and Angie live in their own houses but I still think I'm in charge of them. Is that just a mom thing?

Seriously, I need to start packing. Where do I begin? When we actually get to South Dakota, we'll be staying at the 80 acre farm my father in law bought a couple of years ago. No one lives there....it's just for anyone to stay at if they're visiting the area (do people actually go to South Dakota just for the heck of it?). So, my sister-in-law Dawn and I are coordinating kitchen/meal stuff we'll be needing over the next week or so. I can't wait to try some of the German dishes my father-in-law always talks about. There will be lots of relatives back there, many who will be staying at the farm with us in their motor homes or in the house. I'm looking forward to childhood stories of Rick's Aunts, Uncles and cousins. I'm just hoping someone helps with the dishes. :)

On our way home from this journey, we are going to stop in Sturgis (so I can feel like a motorcycle mama). Hopefully, I won't come home with any new tattoos! (just kidding) Then, we're stopping by President's Rock (Mt. Rushmore), then through the Black Hills (where I believe they sell jewelry), then a detour through Disneyland. Ok, I was lying about Disneyland...but I figure after this trip you can call me Goofy.

Nothing new in the health department. Rick's feeling pretty good for all the stuff his body has been through, and I'm still coughing. Same cancer. Different day.

Love you more than all the locusts in South Dakota. (oh my gosh...are there locusts in the Dakotas? I think I saw a movie about that one time... ick!

Dreaming Large,

Saturday, July 07, 2007

What a day...Put a fork in me, I'm done!

I woke up this morning with my day somewhat mapped out. I have many things to do before we leave for the Dakotas. Instead, I called our dealer (car not drug) to see if they could fit me in for an oil change before Tuesday. I wasn't due for one yet, but Rick thought we should do it now since we'll be driving over 3,000 miles - round trip. They were happy to "fit" me in, give me a loner car and said they would call when it was done. I got there at 9:00ish and picked it up tonight at 5:00. I'm very happy the SUV got an oil change, but I didn't get much of anything else done (I did do a little shopping and picked up a few items for our vacation).

When I arrived home, our friends Reid and Cathy stopped by to bring us dinner. Their son Scott, caught and cooked dungness crab today, so we had fresh crab salad and beef kabobs. We are so spoiled and very grateful.

After dinner, I ventured over to my sister-in-laws house where she highlighted and cut my hair and I cut hers. It doesn't sound like a very fair trade but she didn't seem to mind. Now, I'm ready to head off "into the wild blue yonder"...wait....I'm ready to go "home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play"... Oh, I guess I'm just ready for a vacation.

Dream Big Dreams,

Friday, July 06, 2007

Look what I found!

I said over a month ago that I would post the speech I said at Relay for Life and tonight I found it while cleaning up the office.

Let me give you a little low down ~ The theme for this year's relay was "Field of Dreams"...so as you can imagine, I spoke about baseball.

I've recently discovered that Life is a lot like the game of baseball. Most of the time when we get up to bat, we get on base and eventually make it home. Sometimes we're lucky enough to hit a double, a home run or even a grand slam. But, every once in a while we're thrown a curve ball, or get caught stealing a base and we're thrown out. Those are the times when we take it for granted that we'll get around the bases and end up at home again without any problems.

14 months ago I was caught off base. I was thrown that inside fast ball. I had been up to bat, got on base, assumed I'd make it home like always. So I stopped paying attention to the signals. That's when IT, cancer caught me off base. And I was out. Just like that! Cancer is a lot like a double play. Not only does it get you out, but it also takes out those around you. And, the inning is over before you know it.

The theme for this year's Relay for Life is Field of Dreams. So, who better than, ME, the world's biggest dreamer to give our opening pep talk? If you build it, they will come. Tonight proves it. You are all part of the biggest game of our life, and it looks like we've sold out. With over 70 teams and well over our goal of $100,000 dollars raised (it ended up being $165,000+), I'm betting my money on you. (I think I'd better rephrase that...because that's what got Pete Rose in trouble) I would however, chose any of you to be on my TEAM.

Let me explain what I know about the game of cancer. Cancer let's us get up to the plate. We take a few swings at the ball, but it doesn't feel right. Something just isn't right. Everyone watching us knows that we just aren't playing "our best game". Eventually we get hit by a pitch and head down to 1st base.

First base is where we go to our doctor or "coach" and tell him or her our our symptoms. Generally, the doc will say, you're young and healthy, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. We'll send you around the bases with no problem. Sometimes however, they just run a few tests (before they put us back in the game). Then they find it. The big C. Cancer. The opponent. This is that opponent you've heard about many times but never wanted to meet. You may have watched a friend or loved one play against them and it probably wasn't a pretty game. That cancer team is tough. But, you're you're tougher, so you head on over to 2nd base.

Now, second base is where we meet with our oncologist (team manager), and our teammates who will come up with a "new game plan". They want to see us get around those bases and head for home. That's the object of the game. So they call time, throw us a few signals and advance us over to 3rd base. I guess one of the reasons I've always like baseball is because it takes teamwork to succeed. There is no better team than that team of doctors, family and friends who will be in your dugout with you every single day (even when there is a rain out).

For any of you who've ever played baseball, you know you never want to be left at 3rd base. This is where you can see home plate very clearly. You're only 90 feet from winning the game. With cancer however, third base is where we get our treatment. For some, the treatment alone gets them thrown out on third almost immediately. For others, they can stand on 3rd base looking at home plate for months or years and then still get thrown out at home. For many, they have surgery, chemo, radiation, and steal home without ever looking back. They're SAFE. But, they always think about the next time they have to get up to bat. As a cancer survivor each scan, blood test, exam, feels like you're getting up to bat with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th and bases are loaded. Every time you play this team, you hope you'll be the stronger one.

I want you to think of the money you've raised this year as your ticket to the World Series. You'll see 2 tough teams battling it out. Cancer vs. US. Someone has to be the winner. With money, comes research, awareness, treatment and cures. Let's help send cancer back to the minor leagues. This game might go into extra innings but let me assure you, I'm staying until the last pitch is thrown and the fat lady sings. And...I don't know about you, but I don't hear any music.

Now let's get out there and play ball!

Ok, that's it. What was amazing about writing this is that we were at Desert Aire and I woke up in the middle of the night and typed it on my laptop. When I woke up in the morning I still liked it enough to share with all of you. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tonight we went out for burgers with my parents, Angie and Jake (it's Military weekend for Amy so she couldn't be with us) and had a nice little visit. We played darts, well... Jake played darts and I attempted to kill the people at the table next to the dartboard. I never claimed to be an athlete. Just an Athletic Secretary.

Love you more than all the sunscreen used this past week in Washington. (Yes, we do have sunshine every once in a while)

Dreaming Big~

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Here's what's happening

I just finished BBQing dinner and it was very tasty. Grilled shrimp and veggies over rice pilaf. Makes your mouth water just thinking about it, huh? Unless of course you don't like seafood or veggies....

When I got home from work today (I promise, I'm trying to finish up for the summer) I looked into Rick's big brown eyes and found it hard to imagine that he is unhealthy. I'm sure under the microscope and in a laboratory it shows that he has the C-bug, but in person he looks fabulous. He really does needs to sleep better... Hopefully, tonight now that he has the chemo pack off, it will be a better one. He will have a 20 day hiatus from chemo drugs while we are on our South Dakota vacation - Yahoo! It will be nice for his body to finally have a rest. I could use the rest from worrying as well.

Gotta go...

Love you more,

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

First let me remind you of my tips from last year....

Doreen's 6 rules for the 4th-
1. Do not drink and drive (and light fireworks all at the same time) Bad combination
2. Do not hold Roman candles in your teeth. (unless you've always wanted dentures)
3. Do not use "lit fireworks" as a centerpiece on your wooden picnic table
4. Do not light fireworks under your covers just because it's "darker" under there
5. Do not use hot sparklers as a tattoo maker
6. Have Fun

I fell asleep last night before I had a chance to write a blog and I actually wanted to get these tips out to you before you made some bad choices. Please call if you need me to meet you in the Emergency Room...

On a serious note, Independence Day is a time to think about how lucky we are to live in America. You don't have to like war...I don't. But, we can do our part to keep America a great place to live. We should pay our taxes ~ so we can have better education, nicer roads, parks. Vote ~ because we can and our opinion matters. Respect our flag, honor our troops, be proud. July 4th represents much more than fireworks, it represents FREEDOM.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday. Be safe...and sane. (I know, it's hard to do...I work on the sane part everyday...no luck yet)

Dream Big,
Firecracker Dor

Monday, July 02, 2007

Think Positive, Be Thankful, Don't Complain

Those were just reminders to myself considering the day we had. We got to Seattle this morning with plenty of time to spare. However, the whole day was kind of mixed up. We had to wait for Rick's blood work to come back before they would order the chemo, so instead of his treatment beginning at 10:00am, it didn't start until around 11:45am. Then about 1:30 or so, the nurse came in to say there had been a mix up with Rick's 5-FU (that's chemo in the fanny pack he wears around for 46 hours after his treatment). The infusion people couldn't make it to the hospital to hook up his chemo until 4:30 this afternoon. We've been away from home for long enough in the past 10 days. We told them that wouldn't work for us, so tomorrow they are coming to Stanwood. We don't have too many complaints about Seattle Cancer Care, but sometimes the scheduling needs a little refining.

I am very happy with the results of our treatments, I'm thankful for the incredible doctors we've been so lucky to get, and with all the people who enter the walls of cancer...there are bound to be a few mix-ups. Today I'm just a little frustrated. I'll get over it soon :)

I'm heading back to work tomorrow. I needed to be in my office the last week of June, but since I had more important things (Rick) to worry about, I'm going to make it up this week. I'm hoping to get lots of work done since no one else will be around.

I wish I had been with Amy and Angie today while they went to the funeral service for Rachel Bergsma. I know they are big girls but it never hurts to have your mom next to your side holding your hand when you're full of sorrow.

Gotta go for now. I'm going to start dinner. Pork Chops....

Love you more than all the dandelions in our field...

Dreaming Dor

Sunday, July 01, 2007

We're HOME!

After an overwhelming week we are finally back home. Rick is still feeling pretty good (as a matter of fact he's been at work since we got home) He came back to the house for dinner then he's heading back down to the office. I know he'll feel better once he does a little catch up work. I just know what an ordeal his body has been through so I want him to take it easy for a few more days.

It's chemo day again tomorrow. We were hoping to go to Desert Aire for the 4th of July, but with chemo scheduled this week, it's nearly impossible. We'll be heading to South Dakota soon, so I think we need to stay around home for awhile and enjoy the life we have that's right in front of us.

Over the weekend, I learned some very sad news. All during high school and for a year at college, Amy and Angie played basketball with, or against a terrific athlete named Kim Bergsma. 2 years ago we learned that Kim's mother, Rachel, had lung cancer. She was young, healthy and active. Rachel called me shortly after I was diagnosed and encouraged me to be strong, be my own best advocate, go to the Seattle Cancer Care for the best treatment. It was because of her that Dr. Eaton is my oncologist. She was upbeat, full of life and very courageous. She passed away on Wednesday at the age of 53. She was expecting her first grandchild in 4 months. My heart is full of sorrow for their family.

I didn't tell you this news for you to be sad. I just wanted to let this be a gentle reminder to tell your friends and family how much you love them, because life is short.

I'll leave you with the saying off a plaque I saw on vacation last year...
Dream as if you'll live forever...Life as if you'll die today~

Dreaming Big,
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