Saturday, September 29, 2007

Feels like autumn

I woke up this morning with every intent to bounce out of bed, take a shower and head to beehive soccer (our little neighbor girl is on a team - you know, they all swarm around the ball). Instead, I woke up kindof groggy (too much fun playing Wii with our friends Reid and Cathy last night) and I felt like I might be getting a sore throat. So, I skipped the shower, put a warm scarf around my neck, slapped on a little make-up and went to the game anyway. It felt like old home week on the soccer fields. Amy and Angie showed up and rooted on their "old friends" daughters. We had a wonderful time and they were all so CUTE.

When the games were over, we decided to stop by Grandma's house (my mom) to see how her day was going without my dad at home (he was attending a funeral). We found her sitting in her chair with a bloody napkin around her finger. She thought she needed a little extra attention, so she cut her finger with a table knife while making lunch. She wasn't sure if it looked bad enough to go to the doctor. Needless to say, we took her in for stitches and a tetunus shot. Afterwards, we went to lunch. Eventful day...but everything turned out ok~

When I arrived at home this afternoon, I could smell "halloween" in the air. Leaves were blowing everywhere, it had just begun to rain and fall was all around us. I love this season.

After yesterdays blog from Angie, I almost didn't want to write anything. I don't want the message to exit anyone's head. Lung cancer is still the dirty cancer. It is way underfunded. It doesn't belong just to smokers anymore. Let's help make lung cancer matter too!

Next week will be a busy one for us. 2 appointments with a specialist for Rick's mouth, then chemo on Tuesday. When will I have time for my TIVO'd shows? Just kidding...

Love you more than all the leaves changing color...

Hey, have I mentioned lately that I danced with Ellen?

Dreaming Big,

Friday, September 28, 2007

Time to Make a Difference

Monday will be October 1st. Everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is just a known fact in this country. Women are encouraged to go to their doctors to get mammograms and other screenings. People wear pink ribbons and buy yogurt with pink lids to raise money for this particular cancer. I am thrilled and thankful that our society does these things. Because of the screenings and the funds raised annually the survival rate for breast cancer continues to rise.

Did you also know that November is Lung Cancer Awareness month? Don't feel bad if you didn't know that... not many people do. During the month of November there are no special "screenings" to have performed. There are no mammogram-like tests to have done. There are no colored ribbons or colored yogurt lids to purchase. These things do not exist...yet.

While attending the Ellen show on Monday she spoke of her mother's battle with breast cancer 30 years ago. She talked about how secret it was. Nobody talked about it. Nobody addressed the issue. I am happy that women with breast cancer do not have to face these issues any longer. Unfortunately, today people who develop lung cancer are still in the same sort of situation that breast cancer patients were 30 years ago. Rather than be angry that this particular form of cancer is lagging behind in research due to funding and awareness I am doing something about it. I am joining forces with the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

Between now and November I am asking everyone who reads this blog to think about this...

450 people die of lung cancer every DAY in this country. That is 164,250 a YEAR. If we wait 30 more years to take a stand and fight for screening and appropriate funding for this disease we will have lost just under 5 million people in this country alone!

On November 8, 2007 my family and I will be traveling to San Francisco where I will be donating a check to the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. The size of the check depends on you. I am challenging all blog readers to do two things. First, I ask that you make a donation of any size and second I ask that you send this information on to everyone you know. Sometimes the people that you least expect to make a donation will be the ones that donate the most.

In the near future when lung cancer awareness is a priority in this country you will be able to hold your head high and know that you were a part of making it happen.

Please make checks payable to:
Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation
or click on the link below to donate online with a credit card

Send checks to:
Angie Schmitt
18607 Ballantrae Dr.
Arlington, WA 98223

Thank You!


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Back to Normal

Except for all the autographs I've been giving, life is pretty much back to "normal" around the Schmitt house. Ok, I haven't been giving autographs, but I would if someone asked.
Today I wore my, "I danced with Ellen shirt" (just in case there was someone who hadn't heard about it). I'm going to try to stop talking about it...I just don't know how soon that will happen. I'm still trying to get the smile off my face.

On a serious note, yesterdays doctor's visit brought such peace to my life. It was the first time I have gone to an appointment and actually given myself some credit for the outcome of the appointment. It would have been easy to just point the finger at a drug. It's working...or it's not. The bottom line is, my attitude, our attitude is a big part of the end result. I was given lung cancer for a reason. Now that I'm not working at school, I'm going to start working harder at making changes to the lung cancer world. It will take some time. For now, time is all I can hope for. So, why not spend it doing something that really matters?

For many of you, reading this blog has become a daily event. I hope that it brings you as much joy as it does me while I'm writing it. Currently, the blog is read an average of 265 times per day. Wow! Those are some amazing numbers for a little blog out of Stanwood.

Rick's tooth is feeling better tonight. The doctor called today from Seattle and said that Rick's blood is too thin now, so he'll have to cut back on his shots...still 2 times a day, just less drug.

Love you more than all the side effects you can get from Chemo :)

Dream Big,

Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

See? Laughter is the best medicine

I am proof that laughing can keep the cancer bug away. I had no idea that today would give us such great reports. The tumors are still in my lungs, but within this last month the growth has been so small and my symptoms are not alarming, so we will continue with Tarceva for a while longer. We are going to rule out anything suspicious in my brain because of some dizziness I've been having. I'm just hoping they find brains :)

Rick's report was great as well. He will be changing his chemo routine a little. Starting Tuesday, he won't have to bring the chemo fanny pack home with him. He just has chemo (every 3 weeks - not 2 like before) for a couple of hours, then takes chemo pills for the next 2 weeks. He is thrilled. Except... his tooth is still hurting. Hopefully, within the next couple of days that will start getting better as well. They say this can be a side-effect of chemo, let's hope it's nothing worse.

It was great having all the kids with us for the appointments today. I know that going to SCCA can be a long day, but sometimes I think it's longer for the ones who stay back home and have to wait for a phone call. When cancer messes with a Schmitt, it messes with the whole family!

Hey, did I ever tell you I danced with Ellen? OH, I DID! And, I loved it...

Dreaming with my dancing shoes off...the blisters are killing me ("she survived lung cancer but died from dancing blisters" - what a headline)


Two for Two...

This is just a quick message to put a smile on your face. We are still at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance with mom and dad. They both have appointments today. Mom went first. Her scan came back with NO CHANGES. That is great news. The Tarceva seems to be on its best behavior this month. So, no chemo yet. She will remain on Tarceva and get another scan in two months. :)

She will get a scan of her brain next week because she has been dizzy lately. They want to rule out the possibility that it has spread somewhere else. Mom feels confident that all is well.

Dad's appointment also went well. Two for two. Mom will fill you in when we get home....

Amy, Angie and Jake

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heading Home

We're sitting in the airport with happy hearts. The past 4 days have been wonderful but it's time to head back to the real world. We won't have anyone picking us up in a limo to go to the store, or work. We won't be calling room service for morning coffee and toast. But, we will be HOME in our own beds and that is a place I've been missing.

Rick hasn't been feeling well lately. I guess he started having (chemo related) dental aches after I left so he went to the dentist today. They have him on an antibiotic for an infection, but the pain is pretty intense. I hope he's feeling better by the time we get home. He didn't sleep well last night so hopefully having me back home will help. :)

Our original plan was to head to Disneyland this morning, but instead, we took our time getting ready, boarded a limo at noon, went to Malibu (Paradise Cove) for lunch and a walk on the beach. Bonnie was the official photographer of the day...

Lunch at the beach was fabulous and filling. We ate way too much, took silly pictures and wished the day wouldn't end. Bonnie reminded us that trip might be ending but not our journey together.

The girls and I had the opportunity to "really" get to know Bonnie and it's a unanimous vote...We all feel like we've known her forever. Now we need to get to know the rest of her family as well. She is the most genuine, loving, funny, Flinstone toed woman I've ever met.

Love you more than all the blisters on the backs of my heels from dancing with my new best friend....(Ellen)

Dreaming Huge-gantic,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Day of a lifetime

I know that in a couple of days my life may change drastically. What I also know is that my attitude doesn't have to. Whenever I'm feeling low or crabby, I'm going to think of today. The day I felt like a star. :)

When we woke up this morning, I really didn't know what to expect. I knew we were going to visit the set of General Hospital and go to the Ellen show. I thought that was pretty spectacular...but what happened instead was amazing. Let me being our journey through today...

Woke up around 7:00. Bonnie was already up and she had ordered coffee, toast and fruit from room service to get us started. Once Bonnie and I had showered, we sat and chatted for over 2 hours and remembered we were suppose to wake up Amy and Angie an hour ago. Needless to say, Amy and Angie's morning started out rushed.

We took the car back to the car rental and Nancy Lee Grahn (General Hospital attorney with lung cancer that was miraculously cured), picked us up and chauffeured us around for the next few hours. On the grounds of ABC we watched the filming of General Hospital, had our photos taken with some stars, had lunch with others, (I even used my Tide stick to clean off a spill on the front of an actor's t-shirt...where's Kelly Ripa when she's needed?) I'm not sure if I can download the pictures now, but I promise to share them with you when I figure it out!

We left the ABC commissary and headed onto the set of Grey's Anatomy. For those of us who are avid Grey's watchers this was really a treat. We literally stepped into the world of Seattle Grace Hospital. The sets were amazing (it really felt like we were in a hospital). Every piece of art work, to the posters in the bar are authentic Seattle stuff. Don't tell anyone, but we (Amy, Angie and I) got our photo taken on the bed in Merideth's bedroom. We also sat at Joe's Bar while Amy pretended to be the bartender. We left the sets and met Merideth (Ellen Pompeo) and Christine (Sandra Oh) before they went in for filming. They were so kind to sit with us on a bench in the alley (with their doctor's gear on) and have their photos taken. I also had my photo taken with the "Chief". We were hot and sweaty by this point and had not even made it to the Ellen show. What we really needed at this time was "hair, make-up and costumes" but we didn't have time.

We arrived at the NBC studios and were greeted with open arms from Ellen's staff. Apparently, all your letters and e-mails (not to mention Amy's original letter) made it their way, because we felt like royalty when we arrived. We were quickly whisked inside (out of the hot sun) and put into the Riff Raff Room (Ellen know what I'm talking about). From the first guy at the gate, to Ellen's personal assistant, we were treated with the utmost respect, except they had to hold our camera's for us during the photography inside the building.

One of Ellen's workers, came up to us and said that Ellen's personal assistant would like to come out an talk to us. When Craig arrived, he talked to us about our "story". He then left and said, "even if someone tells you to leave...don't move". He came back in about 5 minutes and said, please come with me...and at that time he took us into Ellen's dressing room. Honestly, that set me over the edge, the tears started to flow. I would imagine Ellen gets thousands of requests for people who are desperate to see her and for some unknown reason, she picked ME. We stood in her room and chatted for at least 10 minutes. While we were talking and she was asking about what was going on with our lives, she got teary eyed. I reminded her that she was being filmed in moments and she was going to ruin her make-up. Her thoughtfulness was incredible. She hugged us many times, we had photos taken (with someone else's camera) and she told us to stay in touch and keep laughing. I didn't think the day could get much better than that.

After leaving her dressing room, we were escorted into the studio (our seats were pre-selected for us) on the DANCING ROW. Before the official show started, Craig the assistant, called me back down into the hallway, where he handed me a bag from Ellen. It contained all her HBO specials on DVD, a signed book with the photos they had just taken and said these are from Ellen. He said "she wants you to watch the DVD's while you're having chemo and just keep laughing".

Ellen entered the stage, was her usual funny self during the monologue then danced up the stairs and through our row like she does everyday. Only this time... it was our memory we were making. Ellen stopped at the end of the row (where I had been placed) and danced with ME. When she was done dancing with me, she you can say you did it..."I Danced with Ellen".

The show was great, everyone in the audience got a copy of Ellen's new re-released book, "My point, and I do have one", as well as a copy of James Blunt's new CD. As though this were not enough of a day for me, the audience got to stay for a longer taping to watch Ellen's interview with the TV show, "Extra". During her interview (with regards to breast cancer) she mentioned how laughter is the best medicine and she'd met someone before her show today who confirmed that. I'm the someone she was talking about. When the taping was over, Ellen looked up, blew me a kiss, thanked everyone for coming, said she doesn't hand out hugs and handshakes after the show then walked straight back to where we were sitting, gave us all hugs and said, "Keep fighting hard and don't stop laughing ~ oh, and now you can tell everyone, we really ARE FRIENDS".

Before we left the studio, some of Ellen's people brought us goody bags (t=shirt, mug, boxer shorts) wished us well and told us to stay in touch. Sheila (our personal assistant) had a stretch limo Hummer waiting for us just outside the gate of the Ellen show. The car held 20 people and the 4 of us just spread out. We had champagne, took photos and recounted our day.

While at dinner tonight at the Crustacean Restaurant I decided that nothing could top this day so instead of rushing to Disneyland then fighting the traffic at 4:00 in LA tomorrow, we would have a peaceful day driving around the beaches of California, having lunch in some quaint restaurant, and getting in one last 8 hour span of non-stop talking with Bonnie, before we had to leave her.

Here's what I learned today. If I tell our daughters I want something...the won't stop until they've done everything in their power to make it happen. Let's find a cure. We call Bonnie, Bonnie Claus, because today felt like Christmas. Nancy Lee Grahn feels like and old friend and would do anything for us (today was a perfect example). You can be dealt a crappy hand at the card table of life, and still win. That's what I intend to do.

Thank you Amy for getting this day to happen. Thanks Amy and Angie for allowing my 49 year old "Make a Wish" come true, NOTHING could have been better than spending it with you. Thank you Bonnie Addario for your love, generosity and dedication to eradicating lung cancer. We will lovingly, always refer to you as our Bonnie Claus. Thanks to Sheila who doesn't miss a beat when it comes to arranging and preparing us for. Thanks to Nancy Lee Grahn for making connections with her "people" so our "people" could have such a fun time. Thanks to Rick and Jake for acting excited for us when we call home and rattle off our days events even if they don't know what we're talking about. We miss you both! And thanks to all of you for all the kinds things you wrote to the Ellen Show to help me get on. Bonnie calls all of this Serendipity, I call it Love.

What was that? My daytime Emmy speech? Ok. Now, on a serious note. Please know that we were hot and sweaty before we arrived at the Ellen if I look disheveled it was all for a good reason. We were with the cast of Grey's!

In these past 3 days I've almost forgotten about cancer. The girls tell me, "that what the plan was". Mission accomplished!

Love you more than I loved dancing with Ellen (maybe not...but I'm working on it)

Dreaming with my dancing shoes on,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pinch Me

Today we had fun being tourists (looking at the stars on Hollywood Boulevard - the one's on the sidewalk...not the real ones). It was a laid back kind of day, we just went with the flow.

This afternoon, our friend (my ex-sister in law) Debbie and her husband met us at the hotel and we visited for a couple of hours. It had been 15 years since the girls saw her so it was great to get together again.

Tonight, we had dinner here at the hotel with Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexa Davis on General Hospital). She is incredible. We are meeting her tomorrow morning to visit the set of GH as well as check out the set of Grey's anatomy, and have lunch in the ABC commissary. We talked for hours about famous people and places, then got serious about lung cancer. She is going to be an important voice for this cause. (during dinner Nancy's daughter Kate and I went out in the lobby and talked to whichever Olson twin we saw last night)

"We're going to get over this brick wall one way or another, I'm sure of that".
Nancy Lee Grahn

After our ABC tours, we are going to the ELLEN SHOW...I am so excited. This trip has been a wonderful experience for the girls and I and we're only half way through it.

I have so much to share about these past few days but I'm really exhausted. I'll write more later and attach photos.

Dancing Big,

Star Gazing In Hollywood

Just got into Hollywood to meet the girlz at about 10:00 tonight (really about 1:00 am NYC time).....I was in back NYC to attend a Faster Cures Meeting....more about that later.

I am so excited to be here with Doreen, Amy and Angie. We have a lot on the agenda for the next three days which we will tell you about on a day to day basis.

We already did some star watching tonight...Amy and Angie saw Taye Diggs (sp)? and one of the Olson twins......Our twins Amy and Angie are much cuter!!!!


Dor has some things to say now......

After sleeping in the parking lot of In and Out burgers while waiting for Bonnie's plane to arrive, we were greeted by her amazing smile and laugh. I've had the pleasure of spending time with Bonnie over coffee, wine and a Gala but now we are camping out in a fabulous old hotel in the heart of Hollywood.

The room at the Chateau Marmont feels like were in a movie from the 50's. If you close your eyes you can even smell the set. The girls think I'm nuts, but Bonnie knows what I'm talking about.

We have so much more to share with you but for tonight, we're putting a fork in it. We're done. Spent. Finished. Bushed. We've all been awake for more than a day and it's time to get that beauty rest before our TV debut.

Love you more than all the lip injections we saw on the streets of Beverly Hills this afternoon.

Dreaming Big,
Bonnie and Doreen

Remember...we're only a breath away from a cure :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hollywood, here we come...

I wish I could jump into bed and get a little shut eye, but one eye keeps popping open to see if I'm dreaming. Can you believe this week? I'm still trying to take it all in.

I have clothes to wear. Nothing exciting (except for my new coat...I'll try to get photos with it on). Who would have thought going to the Ellen show would bring so much pressure to the audience? In the end, I'm wearing a blouse I got for my birthday in May. It's green (surprise, surprise) We're not allowed to wear lettering on our clothes, or dress alike otherwise ~ we would have had our "Breath Away from a Cure" shirts on... We've gotta bring attention to this damned disease. I can't think of a better place than while dancing on the Ellen show :)

I've got the laptop charging to take it along so we can keep everyone up on the blog. I'm not sure about posting photos while were gone but we'll do our best.

Amy is spending the night tonight so we can head out to Angie's by 6:00am. Our flight leaves at 9:00am but we need to get some caffeine courage (Starbuck's) before we get on the plane.

Dreaming Big,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ellen Info...

So, I was just sitting here in my office trying to get caught up on my work when my cell phone rang. It was the producer of the Ellen show calling just to check on things and make sure we didn't need anything. It was like... "Hi Amy. How are things? Is there anything you need from us? I just wanted to make sure you are good to go. Call me directly at blah, blah, blah when you get here and I will come greet you guys". What the heck? :)

If the people at the Ellen show are really this good to us in person, I might have to put "promote the Ellen show to everyone I meet" on my long list of things to do in life. They have been wonderful to us so far. I asked my new "friend" when the show is going to be aired so we can let our blog readers know the exact date. It is for sure going to air on Tuesday (25th) at 11:00 am on channel 5 (in the Seattle area). Just check your local listings (I sound like a television ad) to see what time it's aired in your area. I should have asked her who was going to be on the show. Now I'm curious. I might have to find out.

Stay tuned....


P.S. I found out who's on the show but I'm not allowed to tell. They said it will be on the Ellen website on Monday morning. Sorry guys, I wish I could say. The lady from the show said, "I'll tell you but you can't post it on your website". That's a true statement.

One hint though.... the ladies will be happy. I know I'm excited. There are worse people to have to look at for an hour, that's for sure. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Getting ready for our next journey

Today I got our itinerary from Sheila (my personal assistant, oops...I mean Bonnie's) and I can't wait to get started. With all the excitement that's been planned, I'm not sure when I'll have time to get my photo taken with the stars. Oh wait, I'm having dinner with a star on Sunday night. I'll do it then. Nancy Lee Grahn (actress on General Hospital) will be joining us for dinner at an exquisite restaurant in Beverly Hills. (Me in Beverly Hills? Will this be like a re-run of Beverly Hillbillies?...Oh, I hope not) She'll be taking us on a tour of the set before we go to the Ellen show on Monday.

What's so great about these 4 days will be the chance to really spend time with Bonnie and my girls and brainstorm how we can change the world of Lung Cancer. I know Amy and Angie are eager to learn more.

I did a little more shopping today. No luck. I may have to go naked after all. Originally, I was just joking....but if I don't find something tomorrow, I won't even need to pack a suitcase. Just my make-up bag. I promise, if I'm naked on the Ellen show I will be easy to spot in the crowd. Ugh! I really am going to start putting my things together tonight.

Rick is feeling pretty good today (actually he's been outside working with Jake all evening). He doesn't have any symptoms from the clots in his lungs and the clot in his leg isn't giving him any problems. I just wish he wouldn't over-do it so much.

I've been feeling pretty much the same as usual (with a few minor changes - but those are to be expected). I don't like to alarm myself with aches and pains anymore because they are probably just pulled muscles from playing too much Wii.

Dreaming Big,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oops, I missed another day...

Sorry about my lack of blogging on Tuesday. My entire day involved, cleaning out my closet (I was looking for something to wear on the Ellen show, and at Disneyland, and on the set of General Hospital, and out for dinner)...With what I discovered in my closet I am going to have to go naked. Sorry about the visual. :(

Actually, I am going to work for a while this morning (volunteering) then I'm going to spoil myself by shopping a little for our "girls weekend". We are going to have a ball. I can't wait!

A little bad news from yesterday...Rick went for a scan then chemotherapy. Though we don't have all the scan reports back (we won't get them until Wednesday) they did call Rick's oncologist to say that blood clots were also found in his lungs. I freaked (because I didn't go along to the appointment) but Rick and Dave Q. said they didn't seem too alarmed because Rick is already on the blood thinner shots. The bad news for Rick is that he will still have 2 shots a day for the next 2 weeks (not one shot a day like we were hoping) but as long as they save his life...what's another dot on your belly? Before too long, Rick won't even notice when I put the rubber gloves on.

This week would have been 7 days of worry for me, but with all the excitement surrounding us, I've almost forgotten about the 26th. I know you are all wanting to "adopt" my kids right about now...but sorry...they already have parents. Parents, who are going to beat this ridiculous disease and laugh about it 20 years from now.

One last note, today is my 17th month survival mark. 17 months? Remember when I was excited about 17 days?

Love you more than all the photos I'll be taking this weekend.

Dreaming and dancing with my mouse ears on...

Monday, September 17, 2007

I can't get this smile off my face...

Today at work I got a call from Bonnie (from San Francisco) that she had some very exciting news to share with me. Amy asked her to call and break the news about coming to California and being a guest in Ellen's audience. I'm am SO EXCITED. I'm trying not to smile so much because my laugh/smile lines are deepening as I speak. Bonnie will be joining the girls and I for a couple of great days. :)

There are few special things planned for us in the coming week some of which I don't really know a lot about . We're leaving on Saturday and returning on Tuesday night. This is one of those unforgettable memories that all people should get a chance to experience. Girls weekend in California :)

Tomorrow is chemo day for Rick (as well as a scan day). His buddy Dave has been asking for a long time if he could take Rick to a chemo treatment and we agreed on tomorrow. I didn't realize that I would be taking a sabbatical by then or I could have taken him. I'm sure they'll have a great day...

I'm not positive, but I think the Ellen show will air one day after we're in the audience. I'll post many more blogs between now and then. Thank you for all the letters and memos you sent to the show (don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about) Amy and Angie told me the truth. I'm sure Ellen just wants me to come to the show so people will stop sending e-mails :)

I'll keep you posted if any more big surprises come in.

Dreaming Big...and Happy,

Is that music? Lets Dance....

Thank you... Thank you... Thank you

Dor loves the Ellen show. We all know that. So...I sent out an email last week and asked everyone in my address book to email the Ellen show and tell them we want to get Dor on the show. They give away tickets but the only ones they had left were October 30th, and Nov 1st. With mom getting ready to start Chemo I didn't want to wait that long. In addition to all of the emails we sent to the show, Bonnie and her crew came thru with a direct email address to Ellen's publicist. To make a long story short, after talking to the producer of the show this morning.... Angie and I will be joining Dor and Bonnie with our VIP passes on MONDAY. Yes, this coming monday. I don't know when the show will be aired but Dor will be dancing with Ellen a week from today.

In addition to the VIP passes, the producer is trying to set up a meet and greet with Ellen.

As if mom needed something else to be happy about, all of us will be visiting "the happiest place on earth.... DISNEYLAND" on Tuesday before we fly home. We all know that mom and dad will be getting their scan results on Wednesday so we are doing what we can to make the next few days as fun and enjoyable as possible. Jake is student teaching so he can't come with, and dad thought it would be more fun if "the girls" went alone.

I'm sure that "Giddy" Dor will write more later but in the mean time.... THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for sending the emails to get her on the show.

That's what friends are for....

Shh... is that music? Let's dance....


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The weekend is over already! Ugh

The weekend went by fast. Too fast. We spent lots of time with the kids, had dinner with Rick's brother and his wife, watched a bunch of football and just relaxed. Apparently, by the photo...Rick and I weren't doing a lot of football watching. Instead we were doing a little football snoozing.

At church this morning, the first thing out of the pastor's mouth was..."we're all going to die". I leaned over to Pam and's time for me to go now. The truth is, the message was just what I needed to hear. We're all going to die ~ some sooner than others, some when they least expect it, and some after long hard battles. We can't control any of that. What we can do, is live life. Be kind. Appreciate good things and people. Let someone know you love them before it's too late. I hope I'm doing all these things and more. I hope you are too.

My back (shingle area) is bugging me a little tonight so I think I'll head off to bed. Tomorrow is my first official day of long term medical leave but I'm going into work for a bit. I can't just walk away from the place and people I love. Besides, I have to clean out my office... you know... Un-Doreen it a little. Oh, I'll leave a bunch of unfinished business so they have to call me every once in a while. I still need to be needed, just not as often... :)

Sweet Big Dreams,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Polka Dotted Rick

So far the belly injections are going well....except for the part where Rick uses his foot to push me away because he doesn't want a shot, and how he always says "did you wash your hands?" just after he hears the water in the bathroom being turned off, oh~and then there is the fact that he has a polka dotted belly from all the shots. Literally. His stomach has maroon colored dots every place I've put a needle in him. (except for the one time I gave him a big bruise, but we're not talking about that time...I was still practicing).

I had coffee this morning with Cathy since we hadn't seen each other in far too long. While the coffee was delicious, the friendship and laughter was worth the whole trip to town. She brought me a daily devotional to read for encouragement. I started today and I can't wait to finish it next September 14th, 2008. Reason number 48,930 to stay healthy.

Jake's girlfriend, Megan is here from Seattle for the weekend (wiikend). Tonight we had a nice BBQ and Angie joined us (then did up all the dishes). Amy was in Seattle all day for the UW vs. Ohio State football game so she wasn't around. The best part is, tomorrow is another Seahawk Sunday so we'll all be together again. Is it silly that I still love having our kids around all the time? I'll admit we played a little Wii today (in between painting the deck) and it's still as much fun as it was the first day we got it. I feel like a 12 year old just talking about it.

The only problem I've been facing lately is that I tend to cough when I laugh and you know how much I love to laugh. So, I'm trying to stay away from funny people and stuff. Just kidding, I make myself cough all the time (remember...I think I'm funny).

Good night, sleep tight...and DREAM BIG~

Friday, September 14, 2007

A New Beginning

Today I completed all the paperwork needed to begin my long term medical leave. Now, I know when you look at me it's hard to believe that I'm even sick... it's hard for me too, but it's time for me to get my priorities straight. When Dr. Eaton sent the letter for the District Office to start the process, his words jumped off the page to explain it all. "Doreen Schmitt is a patient of mine. She has a diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer and will need a leave of absence from work from the current time until the foreseeable future". It doesn't get much clearer than that. My friend was standing by me when the letter arrived over the fax and she began to cry. I said, "what are you crying about?" (in a very loving voice) and she said "that stupid letter". I reminded her I've known about it for a long time. She said reading the words...made it real. I guess I can understand that. I don't like the way they sound either.

Now about my days. They will be filled, probably overflowing. For the next couple of weeks, I'll be working with my boss and the person they will eventually fill my position with. I will not be in the office everyday, and I certainly won't be keeping the same kind of hours I was working. I hope to hand the torch over to the next "keeper of the Spartans" with the light still burning bright.

I will make a gradual move out of the department into a world that is full of hope and naps and knitting. I know that this time around I may have to get sick before I can get well. There is a chance I will lose my hair. Feel nauseous. Sleep a lot. But the possibility that I will be laughing in the middle of this storm is almost a sure thing.

Here comes a random thought:
I hope someday I can get tickets to the Ellen show. I've been sending e-mails (reminding her that we will both be 50 next year) but she hasn't responded. I'll give her time. I don't need to be on the show as a guest, I just want to dance in the isles and LAUGH. Ellen is my laugh prescription. I take her every night. I TIVO the show, then watch it before I fall asleep. Try it. You'd be surprised how good it is for the soul. My friend Sandy told me yesterday that I was like fudge. "Always good, just not always healthy". Shh, what she doesn't know, won't hurt her.

In the past week since the girls went to Reno for the ACS convention, we have received over 50 letters or e-mails from strangers (just friends we haven't met yet) telling us how proud we should be of our children. Well duh? Welcome to our world. This amazing stuff didn't happen with happened with drive, determination and passion. Whether it was school, sports or cleaning their room, they have given EVERYTHING, EVERY TIME, EVERYWHERE. Great things will continue to come out of these children of ours. Watch for them to make a change in our world.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Dreaming Big,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm fighting back... would you care to join me?

So, today I feel a bit empowered. Allow me to share my thoughts with you.

I spent quite a few hours today getting geared up for this upcoming Relay season, working on a special project that most of you probably already know about, and trying to find a way to get more involved with Bonnie and the crew down in San Fran. I love my job, don't get me wrong, but it is certainly not something I am passionate about. A few years ago maybe, but not now. I have no doubt that I am at my best when my email is blowing up with messages, my phone is ringing off the hook, and my brain is moving a mile a minute trying to see the big picture. It is in that state of mind when hours fly by, lots of projects are accomplished, and the big picture slowly comes together. There are so many ways to make a difference in this world and I intend to leave a mark or two on it.

After work I stopped by mom and dad's to see the family and check out this "Wii" game mom has been talking about. For those of you who don't know what it is (I have received a few questions from people wondering what the heck Dor was talking about), it is a video game system that is interactive. I was sceptical at first. I mean, since when do my parents play video games? When I got to their house mom was cooking and dad was watching a college football game. Mom's attention span was that of a 12 year old the second I walked in the door. Noodles were boiling over on the stove and dad got kicked off the big screen tv so she could show Angie and I how to wii. I have to admit, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. The kind of laughing where you stomach hurts and you are afraid to drink anything for fear of spitting it all over the livin groom in laughter. I'm not great at the bowling game but I think I might be a force to reckon with on the boxing. :) I'm undefeated and I intend to keep it that way. I might want to "Wii-tire" right now to ensure my spot at the top of the family boxing list.

I was having a discussion with an acquaintance today while working on all of the planning and projects I've got going on. She said it's great that I never stop, and how it is impressive that I continue to look for a way to get involved in cancer related projects when I already have too much on my plate. I guess I don't see it as an option. How can I not? It is the reason my life has completely changed. It is the reason for my tears. I might not see a cure for cancer in my lifetime but I fully expect to see one soon after and I intend to have a little something to do with that. I told the woman today, "I guess when it comes to finding a cure.... if you're not part of the solution maybe you're part of the problem." Sure, we all have different organizations that we support for our own reasons, but really... how can someone look at cancer... the national epidemic that it is.... and not think we are in need of supporting the researchers to find a cure?

Of course I do what I can to help, as do many of you. I refuse to sit here and do nothing. I refuse to only be sad. As easy as it would be to do exactly that. I'm on a mission to FIGHT BACK. This is not Ok. Watching my parents go thru what they are going thru on a daily basis... it's not Ok. Have cancer take so many of the ones we love... it's not Ok. So, for those of you who wonder how I do it, or why I refuse to stop.... this is nothing compared to what my parents do on a daily basis. Am I crazy? Maybe. All I know is that I refuse to stop when we've got work to do.

On a mission and Fighting Back-


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New and Improved

I hope you like my new and improved blogsite. I thought I should spruce it up so you all stay interested. You know what's funny... a year and a half ago I didn't even know what a BLOG was, and now I am one.

I am getting very good at giving Rick his shots. He prefers shots of Crown Royal, but I've been giving him Lovenox instead. I think they would both thin his blood....but we're going to "stick" with what the Doctor ordered. My doctorate should be coming in the mail soon. I've been getting my degree online with "You've gotta be kidding me University". When I tell our ridiculous story out loud, I hardly believe it and I've seen the medical reports.

Nothing new to report...except...we got a Wii in the mail today. Dy found one for us in Idaho (she also got one for herself). Wii are going to be so good at it. I think this wiikend, we are going to have Wiihawk Sunday. Ok, I'm done with my silliness for tonight.

Dreaming Big,

Rapid Relay Response......

I mentioned a few days ago that the 2008 Relay for Life was right around the corner (May 30th) and that we were in need of volunteers who would be willing to join our committee and lighten the load that a few of us have been carrying. In the last couple of days we have had about 4 or 5 people contact us about helping out. It would be one thing to get a few "average" volunteers but we are thrilled to say that our new recruits are going to be real assets to the group. For those of you blog readers that are considering joining the "team" please be assured that there are a number of sub-committee positions that we are still trying to fill. You will not have to take on a lead role nor will you be left by yourself to "figure it out". We are working to create a strong committee and YOU just may be the person we are looking for!

If you have questions don't be afraid to email one of us.


I love you more than (the late) Terry Enis won football games-


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Memo from Dr. Doreen

Just about the time we settle into our daily routine...we get a new one. Change, it keeps us moving.

Today we went back to SCCA and had a lesson on how to inject Rick in the abdomen with a drug called Lovenox. I find it ironic that the one I love will feel a little extra pain from me with a drug involving the word "Love" in it. I gave him his second dose in the parking lot of SCCA so we could be on a "normal" time routine ~ whatever "normal" is anymore. For this first week he'll recieve 2 doses per day, then he will continue to have a shot once a day for as long as he has chemo. This is a little different from the original 2 week plan I thought we were on. But, if it helps...we're doing it. Rick will have to be monitored a little closer than usual since his blood will be very thin. He has already had a bloody nose once today. Although he is not thrilled about it, Rick will be spending the next day or so lying down. The pain is great enough that when he gets up and does too much, he doesn't have any choice but to lie back down.

All of this new excitement has allowed me to take the focus off scan day which is coming up 2 weeks from tomorrow. Rick and I are still looking for a healthy body to use as parts...we need lungs, liver, better vision, and thicker hair. We've checked e-bay and craigslist, so far..No Luck!

I need to go back a few days and tell you how much fun we had at the Cougar game on Saturday. We woke up to a phone call from my friend and fellow Coug Mom, Rosalie (who works at a t-shirt shop) who had shirts made for us with Romeen Abdollmahamedi's name on the back (he is the kicker for the cougs I talked about last week). So, while we sat next to his parents, we were stylin'. We rode the Sounder Transit Train to the game with Janeen and her family. Fun, stress free, and full of Cougar fans. We met Jake and Megan at the stadium and had a chance to visit with them before they went to the student (or Alumni) section. It was a great way to spend the day.

If these past couple of days haven't been enough of a wake-up call for me on why I need to take time off work, I'm not sure what I need to smack me in the head.

I'm off to give my Ricky his second shot of the day. I don't think either of us are thrilled about that.

I love you more than my children hate cancer.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back To the Doctor We Go...

Today my Dad began having extreme leg pain in his left calf muscle. It got to the point where he was limping and noticed that the calf was swollen. I am very proud of him for listening to his body and taking these symptoms seriously. He called my Mom at work and told her about his leg. After calling his Oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance it was decided that he needed to get to a hospital immediately. Dad was given an ultrasound and it was discovered that he had a blood clot behind his left knee. We immediately got him down to the SCCA where they gave him a shot in his belly. Mom has to get him back to the hospital tomorrow so that he can get another shot and so the doctor can teach Mom how to give him the belly shots at home.

A very sweet friend of Amy's named Melana lives in a nice condo in Seattle, close to SCCA, and offered to let my parents stay at her place tonight so they wont have to make that long trip again tomorrow morning. They felt like they were invading her space but she promised them that it was her pleasure to turn her condo over to them for the night. We are blessed to have such great friends in our lives. Thanks again Melana!

We will keep you posted on the outcome of tomorrows visit to the doctor.

I love you more than my lawn needs mowing-

Dreaming Big,

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Where do I begin?

I am not sure where I should start.... As you all know, I spent several days in bed with pneumonia and a bad back and was not sure that getting on an airplane and flying to Reno was such a good idea. Now I know that not only was it a good idea, it may have been one of the smartest decisions that I have made in my life.

We spent 2 days in Reno at the American Cancer Society Great West Conference with 1,200 of our new best friends. The weekend was filled with wonderful motivational speakers, informative break-out sessions and an abundance of hugs and well wishes from everyone we met. It was an amazing site to see so many volunteers willing to spend time away from their jobs and families in order to dedicate their efforts to finding a cure for cancer.

On Friday evening Amy and I were honored to share our family's story. We told the story from our hearts and received a standing ovation from the emotional crowd. It was a lot easier to share the story when we knew everyone in the room "gets it". If given the opportunity we know they all would have had a similar touching story.

Amy and I were thrilled to meet a number of Relay for Life pioneers including the man who started it all, Dr. Gordy Klatt. He is a colorectal doctor from Tacoma, WA who had a vision and made it come true. He inspired us. He motivated us. He made us want to do EVEN MORE than we already do.

With the conference behind us it is time to begin thinking about our 2008 Relay for Life. At our break-out sessions we gained knowledge about everything from fundraising to team retention and we know the information will be very valuable as we get our relay off the ground. At the completion of the conference the ACS representatives got our fundraising efforts off to a great start by awarding Amy and I a check for $800 to put toward our team. We were honored to accept the check and want to thank them for the kind donation.

This weekend Bonnie Addario, her daughters and her very precious grand-daughter met us at the conference. They are wonderful people and I am extremely greatful that they made the trip to attend this event. Bonnie was like a second mother to us, greeting us with hugs, kisses and kind words. We are thankful that she is in our life and we will be doing our best to fund raise for her foundation between now and Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November. Check the blog for upcoming fundraising events.

As I sign off for the night I would like to challenge local blog readers to get involved in the Stanwood-Camano Relay for Life. We are still in need of volunteers who are willing to serve on our committee for 2008 and by doing so, lighten the load on the few committee members that are holding multiple committee roles. I would like to leave you with this quote that I heard this weekend at the conference...

"Very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts"

Dreaming Big-

Sunflower Foot

Warning: This is NOT my foot...but I love the girl it's attached to. Jordan Osborne drew this sunflower for his sister Morgan and she had it tattooed on her foot. Although the pain was unbearable at times ( she hopes childbirth won't ever be this bad) she had "Dream Big" added to the bottom of it when the sunflower was finished.

Whether you like tattoos or not, this is a beautiful piece of art and Morgan is a beautiful, thoughtful soul. She used to bring me a sunflower to work every week while they were in season because she knew they made me smile. The truth is, she made me was the sunflower that kept me smiling.

Dream Big,

Watch for a big blog this afternoon or evening...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Long Emotional Week

The week is over and not any too soon. My emotions were raw. Today I cried a little more than the day before. Not because I think I'm making the wrong choices about work and life, but because I'm finally making A Choice. This is my life and I need to take care of it. So, if that means more knitting and less stress...then that's what it will be.

Tomorrow we are going to the Washington State Cougar game in Seattle at Quest field to watch the team (but mostly Romeen Abdollmahamadi the kicker and a friend). We are really proud of his accomplishments as a walk on kicker and as a student. We were going to have his name put on the back of a shirt, but we couldn't find one big enough and you would need to take out a loan to buy all the letters.

Amy and Angie got to meet Bonnie and her daughters today. They hit it off (which I knew would happen). Bonnie could brighten the darkest day with her smile and sense of humor. I feel like our little circle is complete. We were all meant to be in each others lives.

Karen Hushagen, Amy and Angie are all sharing a room in Reno and apparently having a great time. Although Angie's back is still hurting, I know she is very happy that she was able to attend this event. More importantly, they were able to see what a difference Bonnie and her team of Doctors and Advisors are making in the world of Lung Cancer.

Today my dear friend Val picked me up for "lunch". Though we didn't eat anything, we did drive around (a little fast) in her Mercedes convertible and drank frozen coffee drinks. The music, friendship and laughter were exactly what I needed. We acted a little bit like Thelma and was refreshing :)

Love you more than Stanwood loves it Spartans.

Dream Big,

Thursday, September 06, 2007


When I was first diagnosed, I worried about not working. Not for the money...but rather for the excitement and friendship. Luckily for me, I was able to continue to work for the past year and a half. When Dr. Eaton told me about starting chemo and getting off the Tarceva a couple of weeks ago, the first thing I asked about was work. Again, I thought I needed it. Or, it needed me. Today, something struck me like a lightening bolt. When I run out of sick leave and I'm fighting each day to live...I will not be going to work. My work will be to heal. Stay as healthy as possible. Laugh as much as I can. This was a very hard realization for me. I thought I was "the job". I thought it wouldn't or couldn't run without me. The truth is, anyone can fill our place...with their own ideas. And that's ok. Hopefully, I've made a mark (with a permanent marker) in the lives of kids and colleagues. If so, my job is complete. I'll continue to attend sporting events, plays, and Taco Tuesdays.

Everyday since my meltdown, I've grown a little. I hope by the time my first treatment comes I'll have it all figured out. I know that's wishful thinking, but remember...I'm a big dreamer.

Rick had a good night's sleep last did I. We're going to shoot for 2 in a row.

Love you more,

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Daily Scoop...

Rick had another terrible night of sleep. Chemo has it's way of keeping it's victims up at night. The good part is... his fanny pack of poison comes off tomorrow, so by tomorrow night he should be able to get a good night's rest. Perhaps I'll make him a list of things to do while he's wandering around at 3:00am tonight. Ironing is quiet, dusting is quiet...yeah, that's a good idea!

Since my mini-meltdown on Sunday, I've been thinking of things to ask my doctor. This morning at 5:55 I wrote him a little e-mail with all my current questions (I don't know how often he checks his e-mail so I figured it might take a few days for him to respond) By the time I got to work, he had already responded to my concerns and I feel so much better. The unknown stuff really has a way of making my mind wander. Once I know...I can move ahead. He gave me a list of my potential chemo cocktails (depending on how quickly the cancer is coming back). I looked them all up...none of them look as promising as a strawberry margarita, and I'm sure they won't have the same effect on me, but if that's what I need it...then BRING IT ON...

Today was a busy day at work and apparently it kicked my behind. I got home around 4:00, laid on Jake's bed to talk to him for a minute and woke up around 7:00 when Rick came in an laid by me. OK, I'm awake now. I really need to get some work done around this place.

I sure hope Angie has a speedy recovery. I think she was feeling better today. My mom spent the day with her again. I feel better when she's not home alone.

I spoke with Amy tonight and she is having a nice time in Montana. Relaxing, hiking, getting some much needed time away from this rat race that we call life.

Dinner was an easy fix tonight. Last night I made a big pot of split pea soup and a big pan of lasagna, so tonight it's pick your leftover. Oh, and there is always popcorn if you don't like those choices.

I'd best be getting off the computer now since I haven't done anything productive since I've been home.

Love you more than all the heavy backpacks being carried home from school today.

Dream Big,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Blesssed Day in Seattle

I'm sitting here in the Resource Center at Seattle Cancer Care while we are waiting for Rick's chemo drugs to arrive. I just got confirmation on my scan date and time as well as the follow-up appointment with Dr. Eaton. It is all very REAL now. Real scary. Real ridiculous. Real Cancer. And, I'm a Real Survivor.

We have our favorite nurse Karen again today. It's amazing how much a familiar face helps when you're going through anything like this. She makes us laugh, she looks like Jane Gum, and she's phenomenal. We asked today if they have any rooms with 2 beds in it but no luck. Maybe they will let us snuggle in the same bed while we are both having treatments? Probably not, but it sure can't hurt to ask.

I feel a little guilty about not being at work today, but I've called (a bunch of times) and everything seems to be going well. It gives me peace knowing that I haven't left the office in a frenzy. Oh, even if I did ~ no one would tell me. They don't want me to worry - yeah right!

I spoke with Angie this morning and she seemed to have a decent night's sleep and is doing better than yesterday. She actually woke up at 4:00 am and took a shower. I don't know how safe that seems, but she said it made her feel better. Grandma Myrna is staying with her today so she's not alone (and I'm sure she's trying to heal Angie with food...) We are so fortunate to have so many people around us who love and support our family.

I'd better get back upstairs with Rick to make sure everything is going well. Remember, I think I'm just short of my doctorate.

Love you more than all the raindrops falling in Seattle this morning.

Dream Big,

Monday, September 03, 2007

Angie's Cough

For the past week (month) or so, Angie has had terrible allergies and a cough that went along with it. After a little sinus spray and some Claritin, her allergies seemed to be getting better. The cough however has been holding on. You know how I feel about coughs....I believe they are only useful to dislodge something from our throats. Last night after dinner at Jimmy's Pizza (a family favorite) Angie bent over to cough and threw her back out. Now as she coughs, she screams in pain. It's terrible to watch. I spent the day with her. I'm not sure if I was any help, but it helped me to be with her.

Life is funny sometimes. Last night I was sobbing about all my woes...then I woke up this morning to a phone call from Angie who needed her "mom" and somehow last night just doesn't seem that important anymore. Today felt "normal".

I'm going to make this short. Tomorrow is chemo day so we'll head to bed early. Jake starts school (student teaching) tomorrow as well. Angie is suppose to start work tomorrow too, but unless they bring the students to her bedside, I don't think she'll be any good to anyone for a couple of days. Amy is visiting a friend in Missoula for a few days then it's off to Reno for ACS event and to meet Bonnie in person. Then there's me. I'm just going with the flow... Today, the stream just seems to be calmer than usual.

Love you more than all the kids on school buses tomorrow.

Dream Big,

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back Home

On the journey back home tonight I was thinking about how we've become so accustomed to the 3 hour drive across the mountains. I used to whine about it, are we there yet? Now I have little things I look for. The crooked barn near Ellensburg that Rick's complains about every time we get near it, or the North Bend Outlet Mall that he asks me if I want to stop (right after we pass the exit), or the hill we come down right before we cross the Vantage Bridge over the Columbia River. I can close my eyes and the thought of each of those, makes me smile. Desert Aire, our home away from home, gives us a reprieve from the real life we live at home in Stanwood, where pill bottles fill baskets and the counter always has an itinerary from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, an explanation of benefits from Regence, or a bill. Where did our "normal life" go? I want it back!

Rick and I had barely walked in the house and were putting things away when I had a meltdown. I started to weep about all the unknown things I'd forgotten to ask Dr. Eaton about 10 days ago. (very un-productive meltdown if you don't really know what you're melting about). Rick held me while I sobbed, I got mascara all over his shirt, then he reminded me how much I'm loved. I'm better now. I'm going to make a list for Dr. Eaton, then call him. He always tells me to call if I need to. I think after tonight, I need to. I believe this is my first step out of the pit I'd like to call, Denial.

I was reading my CURE magazine today and I came across a very powerful message. As a survivor, I need to be aware of dying but fully engage in living.

Keep dreaming big,

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy September

Sorry for no blog posting yesterday. Technical difficulties. It could have been the person entering the information, but even Amy tried and it didn't work. We are going to take a quick trip over to Desert Aire for the holiday. We don't plan on staying all weekend - the travel on Monday is terrible. We have a lawn to mow, weeds to pull, sudoku puzzles to do, and a few movies to watch. Bob and Dy will be meeting us today sometime. I'm already planning what to have for dinner. (No, tonight it's not mac & cheese)

The weather is a perfect 80-ish with a touch of wind to keep us comfortable. Ice cold water, a pair of sunglasses, a good book and the one I love. This will be a GREAT DAY!

Please be safe this weekend...

I'll try to write more later,
Dreaming Warm and Big~