Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stanwood High School, "I love you"

Today I had an out of body experience while answering the phone at work. I answered an incoming call by saying, "Stanwood High School, I love you". I was so embarrassed, I hung up the phone. I'm sure the woman on the other end of the receiver was asking herself, what did that woman just say to me? Now, I know many of the staff at our district office read this blog daily, so I would appreciate it if you would break the news gently to our Superintendent that I had a little slip of the tongue. I could have said something damaging to our reputation, but instead I told her I loved her. I hope she votes yes on our next school bond.

What's ironic about this was an all district conference about harassment. You know, what's appropriate to say to others, how you can touch them, where you can touch them. I think I flunked the test. I hug everyone, and I tell strangers I love them. What can be more uncomfortable than that? Go me now.

Many people told me today that they watched a show on TLC last night called Crazy, Sexy, Cancer. I think I have that. Ok, maybe not the sexy part, but definitely the crazy part. Apparently, the young woman who had an incurable kind of cancer went on a "raw food" diet and the cancer has just "gone away". I would love to try it but my macaroni and cheese, and popcorn would be way too crunchy if I didn't cook them. I know this is a serious topic and perhaps I should think seriously, but I can't imagine my last meal being a glass of wheat grass and carrot juice. I'm not putting the concept completely out of my head, I'll just put it in the back of the refrigerator with the cancer I'm still trying to digest.

I had a few visitors at work today. Larry Libby, my personal photographer (pop-a-razzi is what I'm going to start calling him) and his grandchildren came by the office to say hello and take a few snapshots. I asked him to only take photos of my skinny parts and he said I didn't have any left. Honesty, that's what I love most about Larry. I've attached a couple of the shots. Hope you enjoy them.

My dear friend Kim and I went to lunch today. She is home (from Palm Springs) for a few days until she leaves for Bali. Her family is building an orphanage on the island and she and her husband are going to fly there to check out the progress. To make this all seem a little more believable, we ate lunch at Taco time. Is this life I live a "made for TV" movie or what? Honestly, the people in my life are amazing. If you put yourself in their company often, you begin to think like they do.

Jake and I got to see the slide show and hear the speech tonight for the American Cancer Society. It was true to Amy and Angie's heart. The photo selection and words they've used captured our attention immediately, and we already knew the story. I can't wait for others to experience it.

I love you more than all the families who will take their final vacation of the summer this coming weekend. Be safe. Be sane. Be good.

Dream Big,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Random Thoughts.

Last Friday at my doctor's appointment, Dr. Eaton told me to continue taking my Tarceva for one more month for a couple of reasons. One, so they could see how much my lungs changed after a one month scan and also, so I could gather my thoughts about what he had just told me. Since then, I've acted tough, fearless and funny, but tonight I thought I would really try to "digest" it. I don't like the taste of it. It's bitter. It's too big to swallow. It keeps coming back up. I've decided denial is covered in dark chocolate and goes down better. So we'll talk about this some other time. Like, 10 years from now.

At work I'm taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Isn't that a Paula Abdul song? Though I'm no further ahead then I was on Monday, I love being there. And...they love me too! I think.

It's 11:11 and I'm still wide awake. I think I'll go watch a little TIVO. That always puts me to sleep.

Hugs and Dreams,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's official

Jake was reassigned to Stanwood for his student teaching. He is scheduled to work at Cedarhome Elementary (less than a mile from our home). We're all excited for him. He will be working in a 5th grade classroom with Mr. Chaplick. From what others have told me, it will be a great fit.

Today was fairly uneventful though busy. I keep thinking we're going to catch up at work, but something new keeps popping up. I guess that's what they call job security.

Rick hasn't slept well since his last chemo treatment. I'm really hoping tonight will be a better night. I didn't know he was having trouble sleeping because I was out like a light. Sorry Rick :(
Other than the lack of sleep for Rick and a little extra coughing from me, we're doing well. If you didn't read the blog everyday you wouldn't know there was anything wrong at the Schmitt House!

Tomorrow all the staff comes back to work so it will be another busy day. I'd better call it a night (you know...I'm trying to get all the beauty sleep I can)

Love you more than all the students who start school in September.

Dream Big,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Blog #401

When I was getting ready to post a blog today, it said "blogs posted, 400". Can you believe that? I've put our life out on the internet over 400 times. I know I talk a lot (no comments please) but I'm truly amazed when I think of hours I've spent at the computer telling you about our day when I could have been cleaning house. Exactly my point. Don't spend hours cleaning (unless you love to), or ironing (because you're a freak like me) or cooking (if you don't know the number to the take-out restaurant) unless it brings you joy. Instead, spend time with friends and family and make unforgettable memories. There I go again, giving you advice I don't seem to follow. But, I'm working on it.

The link for the I love you more than quilt unveiling party is added at the top of this blog... We had a wonderful time (you can tell by the photos) Thanks Jane for EVERYTHING~

WSU and Stanwood are working to get Jake relocated in Stanwood for his student teaching. The time spent on I-5 back and forth to Everett and away from home is more than Jake needs in his life right now. I sure hope it all works out!

I'm really tired again tonight so I think I'll head to bed. I've attached a photo of the family from yesterday at the party. Enjoy!

Dreaming Big,

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Quilt

The "Quilt" is spectacular. I've attached a photo for your viewing pleasure. I'll attach the legend later to explain what each square means and who made it. The one thing I'm sure of is that I love everyone who contributed to the making of it. I can honestly say that this token of love has touched my life more than you'll ever know, and it came at a time when I needed it most.

Thanks again for an amazing day.

Big Dreamer,

This blog is not for wussies....

I am strong. I am woman. I am hungry. (I only had popcorn for dinner last night) When I'm not wanting Mac and Cheese lately, I want white popcorn, with a little salt and butter. Does that have health food written all over it? Or what! Corn is a vegetable. Butter is a dairy product. Justification. That's what it's all about.

I refuse to let cancer change the way I think, or feel, or act. (sorry about the acting part) I have known about this lung cancer for the past 16 months and so have all of you. So let's get over it and keep on living.

I'm getting so excited for the quilt unveiling. You won't find it on my bed, or on the back of the couch. I'm planning on hanging it on a big wall in our home. What better piece of art, than an I LOVE YOU MORE THAN QUILT to greet you when you enter?

Yesterday was fantasy football picking day for Amy and Angie. They have been on a powderpuff (all girls) fantasy league for about 3 years now (with Angie's friends from Alaska). I think the Amy or Angie have won 2 of the 3 years, but win or lose, they always have a great time doing it. What makes me crazy, is on Football Sundays at our house, no one watches the game...they watch players. This is what I hear "Oh, I hope the Seahawks win, but I don't want Hassleback to throw the touchdown. Or, give the ball to so and so, because I'll get more points out of that guy". Yesterday while Amy was choosing her guys at our house, it finally clicked. Now I get it. To be honest, I could care less how they root for a team. What's important is, they are at our house, laughing, eating, having fun... This year, it will be ALL the kids. I can't wait.

I'd better go so I can make my husband a nice breakfast (not to mention my growling stomach)

Love you more than all the gas used at a Nascar race.

Dreaming Big,

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mom's Version

All of what Amy said, happened. Now let me tell you what I'm feeling.

Yesterday was just "another" doctor's visit. I got up early, tried to look pretty for the photos Angie would be taking for the slide show, remembered I should have gotten gas before I left for Seattle, hoped I had enough cash in my wallet for parking, remembered I couldn't eat or drink any thing for 4 hours before my scan...oh, yea I forgot I was having a scan. Before my scan, the nurse made me take off my underwire bra and I did a quick magic trick with it by pulling it out the side of my blouse without taking my top off. The nurse was very impressed. I laughed with Angie and Janeen in the cafeteria after the scan while we ate oatmeal and did sudoku puzzles. Then we went upstairs. The view was beautiful. Truly beautiful. The water was calm. The temp was in the mid 70's. I got a good parking spot. Then we saw Dr. Eaton.

After every scan or test I've ever had, Dr. Eaton has greeted me with a handshake or hug and "everything looked great or better or fantastic". Yesterday, Dr. Eaton didn't mention the scan when he walked through the door. He asked a few of the general questions, made me breathe deep, which made me cough so he left the room and got me a water. That's when I told Angie and Janeen something had changed. I felt it. When Dr. Eaton got back he took us into the room where we could watch the computer screen show images from prior scans until the current one. To the naked eye, you wouldn't notice a big difference. But that's why they don't pay us the big bucks. The CT scan techs circled 3 different spots and identified them as areas that had shown activity and growth. And that was it. We talked about possibilities, case scenarios, and how great it has been to go 16 months with pretty uneventful reports.

I look today, exactly like I've looked for the past year and a half (with some additional pounds which I may be needing). I'm still laughing. I'm still making people crazy. I'm still planning that 50th birthday party next May. I just know that inside there are some changes going on. Short of a miracle (which I'm still holding out for) I knew that a day like today would come. What isn't going to change is my attitude. What you won't see is a woman who throws in the towel. What you might see is a physical change. And for most of us, that is the hardest part.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow where the "I love you more than Quilt" will be revealed at Bill and Jane Gum's house with lots of friends and family around. I've been a little emotional for this past day. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it together tomorrow. But, don't count on it.

Dreaming Bigger than EVER...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Not Prepared to Hear Those Words...

So today has been a wake up call for me. It's not exactly like I've been oblivious to the whole "cancer thing" since it has obviously been the focal point of my life for the past 16 months, it's just that we have been fairly lucky so far. How crazy does that sound? We have been "lucky"? Most people probably wouldn't describe my family as lucky considering we have been in and out of hospitals for the past year and a half ....and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

So mom had her check up today at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Her treatment is very different than dads. Dad has to go thru 4 to 5 hours of chemo at the hospital every other Tuesday, followed by 46 more hours of continuous chemo from home. So, every other week, dad gets to go thru hell, not sleep, feel nauseous, etc. He has been doing that routine since January.

Mom on the other hand has been extremely lucky... there is that word again... with her treatment. For the past 16 months mom has taken a pill. The little, white, $4,200 a month, miracle pill. It has been that simple. No nausea. No hair loss. None of the typical chemo side effects. She was given a one in five shot of living a year. We celebrated that one year anniversary in April and she has not shown any signs of backing down. Her miracle drug (Tarceva) has worked damn well. For many lung cancer patients Tarceva makes you worse. Again, here we are at the 16 month mark and mom is still going strong. Until today.

Angie and Janeen drove mom to her appointment in Seattle, not because they needed to, just because they wanted to go along. Angie wanted to take some pictures for the presentation we are doing for the American Cancer Society. She figured it would be a good time to get some photos and document the beautiful, top-of-the-line treatment facility. When it comes to cancer... at least mom's battle with cancer... there have been three hard days where the doctors talk but the words don't come out right. Or when they do, they are in slow motion. Today was bad day number three.

Statistically, mom shouldn't be here. Mom really has become the poster child for Tarceva. She holds the records for any patient down there when it comes to the length of time the drug has continued to confuse the cancer. Her record appears to have ended today. For the first time since April of '06, mom went to the doctor and came away with bad news. Her CT scan shows that the cancer is no longer being confused by the Tarceva and is starting to grow again. The problem with the cancer growing, other than the obvious reason, is that they made it really clear to us on day one that Tarceva is currently her only real option. Today, the doctor used the word chemo with my mom. He said she will continue to use Tarceva until the 26th of September and then she will get a CT scan. If the scan shows that the cancer has continued to grow, she will stop taking Tarceva and begin Chemo. The routine will go like this...Chemo on a Monday, Chemo the next Monday, then the next week off. Then it starts over again. Life as mom lived it will have to change a little.

I am not ready for this. We are not ready for this. I try to be prepared but I am SO not prepared for this. My family is my world. My parents have been sick but they have continued to look like mom and dad. Nothing has changed about them so far. Neither are bald. Neither are sick enough to stay in bed. Neither look horrible. They both work (too much) and both have gone about their everyday lives. All of that is going to change and I am not prepared for that. I knew this day would come. We all knew, but after being so prepared to hear bad news for so long... yet never hearing anything but positive results for the past 16 months.... we became immune to the possibility that me might actually hear something bad come out of the doctors mouth.

Bad day number one was April 19th, 2006 hearing my sobbing mom tell me over the phone that she had lung cancer. Bad day number two was 3 days later when the doctor said "She has options if it is only in one lung".... followed an hour later with the results that is was throughout both. Today, hearing that her only option of buying time has begun to fail her.... it is like getting a shot to the stomach.

There is not a damn thing I can do. To make things worse, it is one of the only times my dad didn't go to her appointment. He thought she was fine because Angie was there. He is sad that he wasn't with her. After hearing the news I drove to my dad's office and took him to lunch. We said very little... which is probably typical for grieving, type A, want-to-save-the-world, stubborn Germans. There was a real appreciation about him though. He didn't say it, but I could see it in his eyes. He had the eyes of a lost soul and I did everything I could to disguise my broken heart so he wouldn't see it in my eyes. Today has been a tough day.

My mom seems different tonight. I have missed this "mom". The mom who really gets it. The mom who stops trying to please the world and quickly checks her priorities. Recently she is working 10 hours a day, spreading herself too thin and it makes us a little crazy. Unfortunately it has to take something like this for her to realize the rest of the stuff she does throughout the day can wait. Her happiness needs to come first. Don't get me wrong. Mom isn't giving up the fight, she's just going to make sure her priorities are where they should be.

I have so much more to say but I think this is it for tonight. We will post more information soon.

With sad eyes-

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Big day tomorrow

I've been poked, prodded and scanned more these past 16 months than I ever had in the previous 47 years. Tomorrow is another one of those days. It's been almost 3 months since my last CT scan. I don't anticipate they will find anything...well maybe... a big heart, some fat cells, and confused lung cancer.

I'm getting ready for bed now but I want to share a little story: Tonight at the grocery store Jake's 5th grade teacher saw me in the produce section and we started to talk. She said, Jake was the first 5th grade boy she actually liked. "He was so personable". She said that she has never forgotten the book report he wrote about "Harris and Me". After reading Jake's report she was inspired to read it. Now it's one of her favorite books and she has been reading the story out loud to her class ever since. She also told me she still has the card he gave her on the last day of school. He signed it John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmitt. Mrs. Wheeler wanted me to tell Jake that he'll make a great teacher. As a matter of fact, he's been influencing lives since he was 10 and she is one of them. I cried, right next to the lettuce.

What made this little story so great is that today was his last day of working for the city and tomorrow he attends his "first" teachers class.

Tom, my boss - though I've been the one bossing him around - is going back in for surgery tomorrow. The surgeon is going to try to find the spot that his spinal fluid is leaking from. Hopefully he'll be up and "running" soon. I've now started parking in his spot and they're naming the wrestling room after me. Ok, that might be an exaggeration...but he needs to get healthy and back to work!

Dreaming Big, Healthy Dreams...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What's Happening Wednesday

As many of you noticed, yesterday we had a lot to say. I hope I can still find some words to share with you today. Oh, you know me...I'll never run out!

Rick didn't sleep last night (at all). I think he wanted to watch Poker After Dark, or some all night ESPN special but he says it was because of the chemo. All I can remember is a spider biting me on the palm of my hand and I woke up in a frenzy. I'm sure the spider wasn't that big, but because I couldn't find it...I imagined it to be a black widow or a brown recluse. Let's face it, I need more quality sleep and a little less stress in my life.

I'm very proud of our daughters for agreeing to share our story with a room full of strangers who are all fighting for the same cause. More importantly however, is the fact that I'm proud of them for just being who they are. Though they came to us in the same package, they are very different. They're not perfect. Neither am I. They're not always funny. They don't think I am either. They make me crazy sometimes. I make them crazy most of the time. They are always truthful. They are always amazing. They are smart, talented and deep thinkers. And, they're beautiful. No matter what they say at the American Cancer Society's Regional Event in Reno, I can guarantee it will come from deep within their hearts.

My boss is still in the hospital so I've rearranged my office (inside his) where I can have more room, a better computer and a door to shut out the Riff Raff. I'll try to keep his name on the door for a few more days, but if he's not back by Monday...well, we'll see.

It's time for my beauty sleep. (I've got a lot of catching up to do...if you haven't noticed)

Dreaming Big,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Telling Our Story

The American Cancer Society is holding a confernece in Reno on September 7th and 8th. Amy and Karen Hushagen were both invited because they are the Stanwood-Camano Relay for Life Co-Chairs for next year. I was also invited because I was one of the top fundraisers in our region. At first I declined the invitation because it is the first Friday of the new school year for me. I didnt think it was right to miss a day of school the first week. Then about two weeks ago Amy and I got "the email" that changed my thinking on this matter. It was from Amy Terich (from the American Cancer Society). She said that the ACS was asking that Amy and I tell "our story" at the regional conference in Reno. At first I thought she meant she wanted us to break into little groups and share our story with a couple of people. That is not quite what they had in mind... When the conference opens on Friday morning (September 7th) it will be opening with Amy and I speaking in front of 1,400 people. We will be telling the story of our family's battle, showing a slide show and inspiring others to find a way to get involved. Although we are both a bit nervous about this kind of public speaking we know everyone in the room is there for the same reason... to find a cure for cancer. That helps a little. Since receiving the email I have spoken with my Principal and he and the rest of my teaching staff fully supports this decision and have encouaged me to go. I wanted to share this exciting (but a bit scary) news with you dedicated blog-readers before I forgot.

I love you more than all the butterflies that I will have in my belly on September 7th-

Dreaming Big,

Back from Seattle

Here's what I know. Chemo went well for Rick. We met with the Doc around 3:00 and the plan for now is to have chemo on the 4th of September, then again on the 18th of September. Before his chemo on the 18th, they will do a CT scan. On September 26th, we have an appointment to meet with Rick's doctor to discuss what the test results had to say and work on a long term plan. As long as the chemo has been working, and the radiation did some good, Dr. Whitting thought he might have Rick continue with the chemo regime he's been on, but maybe drop the 46 hour pack he brings home each time. We'll keep you posted as things progress.

We stopped by Northwest Hospital (since we haven't spent enough time in medical facilities lately) to see my boss, Tom Wilfong. Long story short, he has been leaking spinal fluid and has what they call low pressure syndrome. I was in the room while the doctor was explaining it, and I assured him that we have plenty of "pressure" in our office, but I don't think that has anything to do with his problem. He'll be in the hospital for a few days (at the least) while they check to see if the leak repairs itself. If not, he'll need to go back in for surgery. I know he's anxious to get started bossing me around, but it will have to wait until he's feeling better.

Oh, I forgot to mention, while we were waiting to see Rick's doctor todayI went to the "knit for life" class at Seattle Cancer Care. It is where women (and men if they're interested) sit around and knit hats, scarves, or whatever for cancer patients. It is used as a tool for relaxation and sharing stories. I loved it! People just donate yarns and needles and share their love of knitting and life. If that combination doesn't have my name written all over it, I don't know what does.

I need to go now so I can do a little "heat therapy" better known as ironing.

Dreaming Big,

Wasting Time

Rick finished his chemo around 1:00 this afternoon, but we can't see his doctor until 3:00. It gave us just enough time to go out for lunch then hit Seattle afternoon traffic. On the way home from SCCA we're going to stop by Northwest Hospital and check in on my boss. He had back surgery a few weeks ago and thought everything was going well until this weekend. They checked him into a room to run a bunch of tests. Hopefully, everything will turn out OK.

I'm sitting in the resource center at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where you can find books, videos, brochures and whatever else a cancer patient or their family, friends might need. I hope you never need anything from this room. But, if you do, I'm sure you'll find it. I've been looking through all the bookcases for a cure. Still no luck. :)

I'd better go now so the next person in line can use the computer.

Love you more than all the cars on the freeway at 4:00 today :(

Dream Big,

Monday, August 20, 2007

16 months and 1 day

When the 19th of the month arrives...every month...I am pleasantly surprised. It was the 19th of the month when I heard "the news". I can't imagine a day coming any time soon when I'll worry about seeing the 19th of the month not arriving, but when that day does come, be assured that I enjoyed every month I shared with you.

I often tell you stories of how we should live, or love, or how we should make special time for our family and friends. But sometimes, I'm the worst one at following my own advice. I've found myself at work way too much. I'm not sure if it's because there is a lot of work to do, or if I'm able to hide in my office from what I have to face in the real world. Whatever the reason, I've put everything I love on the side burner of the BBQ right next to that beer butt chicken. If I've done this to you lately, I'm sorry. That's not just a general "oh yeah, I'm sorry". It really does come from my heart. I'm just not sure how to fix the way I am. Duct Tape, perhaps?

Rick has chemo tomorrow so we'll be heading down to Seattle in the morning. Sometime early next month they are going to scan him to see how the radiation and chemo have been working. I have my next scan this Friday. As usual, I'm a little anxious. Not worried. I just want it over so I know the Tarceva is still working. And... the traffic in Seattle is awful due to construction. But, there is always the perk of stopping at Dick's on the way home. You know, it's our little light at the end of the tunnel.

Have any of you played Nintendo Wii (pronounced we) ? First let me explain. I don't play video games. I don't hardly even play solitaire on the computer. But this weekend in Desert Aire, I played Wii. It is an interactive video game, that makes your muscles hurt, makes you sweat, keeps you laughing, brings out your inter-athletic ability (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating about the athletic part), but it is SO FUN. The problem is, you can't find them. Nintendo pulls you in...then only makes 5 of them per week. Ok, they probably make more than that, but I don't know who they're selling them to. My advice for the day, if someone invites you over for a Wii bit of fun, TAKE THEM UP ON IT. You won't be sorry.

I think it's time for me to get to bed. 6:00am will be here before I know it.

I love you more than all the files Teresa Haugstad made for me today at work (Thanks Teresa you were an angel)

Dreaming Big,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Everyone... Meet Noah

I have mentioned Noah before. He is the 23 year old guy in my Air Force unit that was diagnosed with testicular cancer a few months ago. I have attached a few photos. I love this guy! You can tell from the pictures that he has quite the sense of humor. The "Mini-Me" one is from last night. One of our co-workers got married on Lake Union and Noah brought me as his date. I guess he's into hot, older women. Just kidding. :)

So, the reason I am introducing you to Noah is because he is exactly the type of person we need more of in this world. Let me explain. First things first. Noah had his last Chemo treatment a few weeks ago and has been given a clean bill of health. He will continue to receive check-ups every once in a while but for the most part, we should see the funny guy in the military uniform back to his normal self very soon.

Throughout his treatments Noah was extremely sick. He had chemo treatments for many hours, nearly every weekday. Cancer treatments became his life and he hated every second of it. He describes his chemo treatment as "in-humane". The second he was "cancer-free" he decided to plan a fundraiser for cancer research. In addition to being quite handsome and a bit of a goofball, Noah is an amazing drummer. He has been in a few different bands and is currently playing with a band called THOMAS STARKS. If you have not heard their music you should look it up on-line. They are great.

So, on November 20th Thomas Starks is headlining a concert at the Triple Door in Seattle. ETHER HOUR is the opening act, and all proceeds from the show go directly to fund testicular cancer research locally in Seattle. If you have never been to the Triple Door, it is definately worth seeing. Tickets for the show are $20 and the venue only holds 300 people. I will be there as will my family. Mom has listed this concert on her list of reasons to stay alive so I fully expect to see her there as well. I will attach a link to the triple door webpage where you can gather more information. I hope to see you there!

Signing off for now....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Desert Aire Delight

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to do. Like now. I can count all he things I've done today on one hand. I took a nap on the front deck. I rolled over every once in a while just in case the sun hit me. (I wanted the tan to be even) I played a round of the Newlywed game.

This blogging is taking up quite a bit of my nothingness time so I'll have to write more later.

Love you more than I love relaxing at the Desert.

Dream Big,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Do you like your chicken WELL DONE?

I stopped by the grocery store tonight because I didn't take anything out for dinner. I had a really nice time at the market because I ran into people I hadn't seen in a while. Seeing old friends is always a perk. While I was shopping, I decided I would make my ever so famous Beer Butt Chicken. I'm sure you've all had it. You set a whole chicken on can of beer or soda, then put it in the barbecue next to the flames. Do not put the chicken directly on the flames. Long story short, I've never fixed one of these chickens on our new BBQ so I figured how different could this new BBQ be? Ok, the new BBQ gets much hotter than the old one. Apparently, that's why we got rid of it. Attached is a photo of my chicken on the BBQ after 15 minutes. The inside is cold and if you look carefully, you'll see the flames burned the end of the chicken's leg off. Lucky for me, I had a back up plan for dinner.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. It's been an extra busy week with new bosses, meetings, conferences and the fall sport season starting. I think a dip in the river, a cold glass of wine and friends will fix me up.

I'd better get out to the BBQ before I have another disaster on my hands. If the second chicken burns, the next thing I'm making for dinner is RESERVATIONS.

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bubble Bath...

I'm sure someone could argue that a bubble bath is bad for your personal health, but I'm going to take one tonight for the mental heath benefits that it provides. A few candles, a new magazine, and lots of suds. "Wet Heaven" as I'm going to start calling it.

I stayed late at work again tonight. It felt good to get so much done without many interruptions. There is something about finishing a job and filing it away that gives me some inner peace. I've hung new photos of my family and really cleaned my office up. I hope I can have a more regular work schedule this coming year than I did last year. It's not that I "need" to work, but I love what I do. I love and miss my friends and the kids when I'm not there. Hopefully, we have the chemo routine down and we both keep our cancer in check so the year will be uneventful (or as uneventful as you can get in our case).

My back (side) is sore tonight so hopefully soaking in the tub will help. Rick is feeling great and has been working everyday. He still goes into work a little later than usual, but the extra sleep does his body good! I try to get extra sleep every day too, but all I get is dark circles under my eyes. How fair is that?

Heading off to bed early for a little extra beauty sleep.

When you wish upon a star...dreams come true :)

Dreaming Big,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Long winded phone conversation...

I got on the phone tonight with my dear friend Kim in Palm Springs and we talked for a couple of hours (honestly, it was 118 minutes). I miss her laughter and insight so much. She used to be the athletic secretary at at Snohomish High School and we talked to each other nearly every day. We used to bounce ideas off each other, share our frustrations, cheer each others teams on...and now she lives too far away to do this as often as we like. So, when we do get the chance, we take full advantage of it. I'm planning a little weekend jaunt down there sometime this winter.

Kim entered my life for many reasons, some of which I'm still figuring out. What I do know is that she brings me courage, smiles and affirmations about faith. She is my guardian Angel.

I worked a little late (ok, a lot late) tonight, but I got so much done. The next few days will be hectic, but with a little help from some amazing kids (Michael & James) I might stay on top of it! I'm sure by Friday after work, I'll be ready for a Desert Aire break :)

The Schmitt's are doing well. Thanks for loving us unconditionally :)
Love you more than Verizon loves long winded women.

Dreaming with a phone up to my ear,

Sleepless in Stanwood

Perhaps I can't sleep because I know I went to bed without first writing a blog. Or, it might be due to the fact that I keep waking up with ideas for a successful year at work. Maybe, it's because I keep thinking of the nice dinner we had in LaConner with Dave and Val tonight and that we should do that more often. What ever the reason might be, here I am.

It's 2:00am I don't have anything insightful to say. So, instead...I'll read you a quote I saw in Seattle last week:

I read once that the Ancient Egyptians had 50 words for sand, and Eskimos had 100 words for snow. I wish I had 1,000 words for love, but all that comes to mind is the way you move against me while you sleep and there are no words for that.

I loved it. I thought you might too!

Nothing more to say. Except, I love you more than Egyptians love sand and Eskimos love snow.

Dream Big, Dor

Sunday, August 12, 2007


This morning I slept in. No, I really slept in. I think it was almost 10:30 before I started stirring around in bed. I believe my overload expiration just kicked in. My body said, "go ahead, keep running me like this and let's see what happens". Well, apparently, my body has complete control of me and it wanted sleep. I think I might start listening to it a little closer. Like tonight, as I was getting ready to settle down for the evening, my body said...I've had enough of this messy bedroom. And, at 8:00pm, it started making me organize, sort and fold. I'm not done with my "clean sweep", but I couldn't handle listening to myself any longer and I needed to write a blog. So here I am, tired and cranky.

We attended a 50th wedding anniversary today. 50 years is a long time to spend with the same person. Congratulations Dick and Jayne. Wishing you many more years of marital bliss.

No health news today. And news is good news.

I'm heading back to work again tomorrow for the beginning of a very busy week. Hopefully, we'll get the opportunity to head over to Desert Aire on Friday. It's been a long time since we were over there for a weekend. Let's hope our week goes as planned so we can go.

Love you more than pancakes love syrup.

Dream Big,

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Do you ever wonder?

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were given an expiration date when you were born? Would you procrastinate and try to do everything in the last weeks of your shelf life? Or...Would you savor every sip of sweetness to pass over your lips? Would you really smell the ocean, flowers, and your grandma's chocolate chip cookies? Memorize every smile, laugh, or line on your loved ones faces? I'm working on this every day. I think you should too.

Rick is feeling much better than he has in the past few days. He and Jake were outside most of the day doing a little deck repair. 20 years of weather beating down on the wood has taken it's toll on it. It will look great when they're done. Then it's up to me to paint! Not a problem. I love to paint!

I spent the afternoon with Angie (doing a little shopping until she fizzled out...which doesn't take either of our girls very long to do). This is why they don't have clutter in their houses. They don't stay in a store long enough to buy something useless. Where, their mother - me, can wander around a store for hours and buy stuff I "might" need down the road. Where did they get this discipline? Jake has it too! Drives me crazy. Organized, structured, disciplined. Boring...just kidding kids. I'm jealous. When I grow up, I want to be just like you~

Wishing you good health, lots of rest, and dark chocolate....

Love you more than all the "stuff" I've bought over the years, and NEVER needed.

Dream Big,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Good News and Fun Times

The day started early for me as I had an appointment in Seattle at 8:30am. I left the house around 6:30am and picked up Pam. Our day turned out to be much better than we had even planned.

I kept saying I was going to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, but actually I saw Dr. Merati who is in Otolarngology-Head/Neck Surgery. He had a great sense of humor and picked up on mine right away. I will definitely go back to his office when I need to. This is what I learned today about my "hairball" hoarse throat. The doc had a consult with me and explained that the reason doctors get nervous when a patient stays hoarse for a long period of time, is because the nerve to your vocal cords runs through your lung before it heads back up to your throat. So if someone is hoarse, it could mean they have something wrong with their lungs and it is damaging the nerves to the vocal cords. Bingo! We already know I have that problem. He took me into a special room, put a tube and camera down my nose (after he numbed the back of my throat) and took a look around. Good news. No tumors, nothing suspicious growing in my throat. My vocal cords are inflamed/swollen and loose. Apparently, they are suppose to be tight and thin. He suspects that from all the coughing I've done this past year,I have damaged them. I told him I could live with a deep/raspy voice and I'm not a public speaker so it's not a problem for me. I'll be seeing him again in December. I'm going to have a CT scan done the end of this month to make sure everything is still going well inside the lungs.

I'm approaching the 16th month survival mark. Before you know it...I'll be saying 2 years...then I'll be saying I'm 50 years old. I can't wait!

I felt bad that I wasn't home today. I guess Rick didn't feel very well so he came home from work early to rest. Jake was here with him, but I still felt a guilty for being gone all day. He's feeling better tonight, thank goodness. I anticipated that chemo would be a little tougher than usual for him this time since he just had radiation and it's a shock to his system again since he hasn't had any chemo in a month.

After my doctor's appointment and Pam's final radiation treatment, we went to University Village and spent the afternoon shopping and visiting. We were given tickets from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to see Mel Brooks "Young Frankenstein" production at the Paramount Theatre tonight. It was one of the best plays Pam and I have ever seen together. We laughed from the moment it started, until the moment it was over. The two leads were "George the Pharmacist" from Desperate Housewives, and Karen from Will and Grace. We didn't even know this until we arrived. If you get a chance to see won't be sorry. I promise.

I'd better get to bed. It's back to work for another busy day tomorrow.

Love you more than all the laughs we heard tonight at the play.

Dream Big, Dor

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Can you hold please? Actually, NO, I can't!

I planned on writing earlier, but I promised Jake I would help him hook up his desktop computer to our wireless router by using a USB adaptor. All of this is a foreign language for me. I just called it what it says on the packaging. Who made up these names? And what does it all mean? My neck has a bend in it from holding the phone with one ear and typing cryptic code words into the computer, all the while trying to decipher what the guy on the other end is saying to me because he is in India.

I'm on hold again... I'm giving this whole process 5 more minutes, then we're packing all the stuff up and bringing it back to Costco. They have a great return policy! And, I have no more patience. That is a winning combination.

Rick is feeling much better today now that he has his fanny pack of chemo off. I have an appointment tomorrow morning at the University of Washington Medical Center. I'm sure they'll find nothing unusual, but my family will all feel better once we know that for sure. My appointment is with an ear, nose and throat specialist. Apparently, he's suppose to be really good. I think tomorrow will just be a consultation. Pam has her last radiation treatment (#30) tomorrow morning so we are riding to Seattle together. Yahoo for her. The radiologist told me on Monday that she is the toughest broad he's ever met. I could have told him that! Hopefully our traffic will be better than it was on Sunday.

I really don't have anything witty or funny to tell you tonight. I'm sure you're relieved by that, but I do my best to keep the entertainment lively :)

Love you more than all the minutes I was on hold tonight,

Dream Big ~ Dor

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Back to work...and I survived!

It took everything I had, but I got out of bed at the (butt) crack of dawn, took a shower and went to work. Just like that. It didn't hurt. I remembered where my office was. I remembered the people I work with (though some of them are still on summer break). I guess I can do it! I thought I had to pick between work or play, but if you do it right, they can be the same thing. Shhh...don't tell my boss.

Rick isn't feeling too bad after his day of chemo, though he seems pretty drained tonight. I'm hoarse again today (NO, I did not say horse). Do you think it's because I talk too much? Don't answer that.

I'm going to sign off now so I can finish a book I've been reading all week. Then I'm off to see a movie with Janeen and my girls (I hope).

Love you more than all the blogs I've written (today is #380)

Dream Big,

Monday, August 06, 2007

Concert, Blue Angels, Chemo...

Since I haven't written since Saturday, here's what's been happening:

The Martina McBride concert was really nice. We "may" have snuck over the divider in the stands so we could sit in the comfy padded chairs, oops, I mean... No one was sitting in them, and we thought?????Maybe we should warm them up. We waited and waited, but no one ever came. I guess we got their seats ready for nothing. (Oh, and our butts felt better after the show was over). I really wanted to hear Martina sing "In my daughter's eyes". She sang everything but that. It was ok though, because Amy sent me a you-tube video of her singing it after we got home.

Pam made me promise that I would go see the Blue Angels with her in Seattle yesterday. In her words "I'll pick you up, we'll go watch the show, then come straight home, I know we both have lots to do". Problem #1. You have to leave very early, because they close the floating bridge down. We got there around 12:15. The show started at 1:30. Problem #2. When the amazing show was over, we got in Pam's car and took the "special route" a teenager told us about. Problem #3 We moved about 2 miles in one and a half hours going this special way. Problem #4 I told Pam about a recipe I tried last week over in Spokane and it sounded really good to her so we had to stop at a grocery store on the way home to pick up the ingredients. We arrived back in Stanwood around 6:00pm. Truth is, it was an amazing show. The last time I saw them, I was a little girl and I probably didn't appreciate it as much.

Today was chemo day for Rick (and also radiation day for Pam). While Pam was in having her boob put on the rotisserie, and Rick was having blood drawn, I was visiting with some of the craziest ladies I've seen at Cancer Care (besides me and my friends). Cindy (our newest friend) was having radiation for cervical cancer, then upstairs for chemo. She too. had an amazing group of friends with her. I think I saw 10 different people throughout the day who had stopped by to give her their love. Long story short, we got tickets to see Young Frankenstein at the Paramount (compliments of Cancer Care Alliance....and our new friends also got tickets so we're hoping to meet up with them again on Thursday). It is a small world. Just about the time we think cancer "got us", we realize it has "given" us so much more.

I'm going back to work tomorrow. My summer is over. Who would have thought that I would still be working, laughing, living? Oh, of course we all knew it. Doreen's not a quitter. Unless it's a marathon, too much dessert or Fear Factor and I have to get in a tub with rats.

The athletic department is going through a few changes again this year. I think we'll do just fine, but anytime you have change ~ there is a little more work involved. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine.

As I watched Rick while he was sleeping during chemo today, I came across this paragraph in a book I was reading and I'd like to share it with you. I can relate to this and I'm sure many of you will too.

"When you have been with someone for so many years, they become the glove compartment map that you've warn dog-eared and white-creased, the trail you recognize so well you could draw it by heart and for this very reason keep it with you on journeys at all times. And yet, when you least expect it, one day you open your eyes and there is an unfamiliar turnoff, a vantage point that wasn't there before, and you have to stop and wonder if maybe this landmark isn't new at all, but rather something you have missed all along."

On that note,
Dream Big and eat popcorn at the movies~

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Parade Day

Let me tell you how the morning started out....

We arrived at the check in point at 9:30ish. I had to say what "group" I was with and I mumbled "the woman of the year group". So, after that bit of embarrassing chit chat & congratulations,, they sent me back to the line up to pick up my sign. We all know that most people spell SCHMITT the wrong way...SCHMIDT. But today was hilarious, the sign said Doreen SHMIDT, Stanwood Camano Woman of the Year. When I got the sign everyone around said,"hey you spelled her name wrong". The guy felt really bad, but I said it was fine. I know who I am. Being that I am woman of the year, I went over to Rick's office (which wasn't far from where were were parked) made two SCHMITT signs and taped them over the misspelled name. Everything turned out fine. Being Woman of the Year sometimes requires special talents...

I am humbled by even being called Woman of the Year. I'm sure it was by default, but that's not important. What's important was while I was riding in the Corvette through town today, I was gently reminded why I love life. My community, family and friends made this day extra special. All the congrats, well wishes, and kisses that were blown to me were overwhelming. I even cried a couple of times. Once, when my son ran out to the car with a bouquet of sunflowers then again when I saw a friend whom I hadn't seen in 10 years. Ok, I know...I cry all the time, but I thought I could keep it together during the parade.

After the parade, we all went to the Stanwood Camano Fair. It's now almost 5:00 and I'm getting ready to head out again to the Martina McBride concert. The American Cancer Society gave us tickets and I'm really excited to go. I'll try to write more when I get home tonight.

Love you more than all the waves I handed out today.

Dreaming Big,

Friday, August 03, 2007

Back in our own bed

We're back in Stanwood (just in time for me to get ready for the big parade tomorrow). After we got back home, we ran a few errands, then met my parents for a hamburger. Our local fair (The Best Lil' Fair in the West) is going on right now, so we met my folks there. We didn't stay long, but it was nice to see so many familiar faces.

I'm sick of talking about sickness, but I need to tell you how amazing I think modern medicine is becoming. Rick had surgery on Wednesday night. He was released from the hospital last night (Thursday). We drove 6 hours home today. Then tonight, we went out for dinner and took a quick trip through the fair. A few short years ago, he would have still been in the hospital (or if he were on a soap opera he might still be in surgery). I know I shared it with you before, but if you want to know more about Rick's radiation procedure, look online for S.I.R.T Yttrium-90. Amazing stuff.

I've had a few too many coughing spells lately. Thankfully, I have an appointment with the E.N. & T doctor on Thursday, so hopefully...we'll find out it's just a hair ball stuck in my throat. Yuk. I'm sure that's not the problem. Maybe it's just allergies. Maybe I'm allergic to Cancer?

It's time for me to get my beauty sleep for the parade. Oh, GREAT! I should have gone to bed much earlier than now. Like, last week :)

Love you more than all the kids at the parade tomorrow.

Dream Big,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Recovery Time

Rick is now back at Bob and Dy's recovering from a wild couple of days. When we got to the hospital this morning, he was awake and hungrier than a bear. He asked the nurse to get him some breakfast (since he had no food restrictions) and it didn't arrive until he was gone having a CT. Angie and I were in the room when the breakfast arrived so I open the lid over the plate and couldn't help but laugh in hysterics. Rick's long awaited breakfast had come in the form of a mini (airplane snack size) blueberry muffin and a mini box of Rice Krispies. We couldn't wait for his reaction to this gourmet delight. Just as we had suspected...he couldn't stop talking about it, but not in a good way.

Amy joined us tonight for dinner. It was nice to have all of us together. I have to admit, we are all exhausted though so we are mostly just looking forward to loading up the car and heading home. There is no place like home.

We will keep you posted when we get back to the West Side of the State. See you at the Parade on Saturday.

I love you more than Rick loves M&M Blizzards... and that's A LOT!


Procedure complete!

The girls and I just left the hospital after a very LONG day. Rick was doing well when we left, but we needed to get some sleep so we could be back at the hospital by 9:00am. Dr. Lui said because of some complications, the surgery took 3 times as long as they had planned (3+ hours). After Rick's last procedure, his body healed itself and closed up the vessel they were planning on using for the second surgery. His body made a new vessel however that was 6 times as long (and curled around inside his liver). After incredible skill and patience, Dr. Lui and his team were able to get the job done. Rick's femoral artery started to develop scar tissue the last time he had surgery, so this time they did not sew it, or plug it back up...instead they are applying pressure for 6 hours and hoping it closes itself without scarring. We'll know more in the morning.

Thanks to Bob (my brother from another mother) and Dy for posting a quick blurb earlier to let you know what was happening in our life. Bob forgot to mention, that Rick's beads are really into country music now. Apparently, they spent the morning in Nashville, TN. When Rick talked to us tonight, he sounded like he had a little "twang" in his voice.

Love you more than (oh, I'm too tired to think of one tonight...I give you one tomorrow)

Dream Big,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Quickie update

I thought I would post a quick note to update you on Rick's second radioactive treatment in Spokane. Rick was scheduled to be at Sacred Heart Hospital this morning at 10am. 8am, Doreen received a phone call from the hospital telling them the radio active beads did not arrive as scheduled so their trip could be in vain. Needless to say, Rick was not a happy camper. But through sheer determination and the help of
FED EX, the Spokane health care professionals managed to get a fresh supply of those high powered, cancer killing radioactive beads from Australia to Spokane by 7:30 this evening. Rick went in for surgery at 8pm, will spend the night and check out tomorrow providing all goes well.
Doreen will update everyone later with a detailed progress report.

Dream Big,
Bob (their brother from another mother)