Sunday, March 29, 2015

My new normal

The past few days have gone really well.  Post-chemo side effects have been completely predictable and manageable.  I've had less pain than from the first two treatments, and I haven't taken any nausea medication since Wednesday night.  Very good things.  I have been struggling with my esophagus though.  Its been very sensitive - just a general burning sensation and periodic air bubbles and food getting stuck in my throat.   I noticed this last round too, but it seems more pronounced this time.  If it follows the pattern, it should subside within a couple days though.

So all and all, aside from my esophagus, and being super tired, I am doing very well.

Friday at work was, of course, a struggle.  I hit my "wall" about 5 times throughout the day.  But with the help of water, snacks, and a nap during my plan, I was able to power through.  I stayed a few hours late to prep things for next week.  I'm trying to operate under the circumstances that I never know how I'm going to feel, so I want my classroom to be ready for unanticipated absences.  When I finally got home, it was GAME OVER.  Took a shower, laid down, and I knew I wasn't moving again for a long long time.  I officially "went to bed" at 8:30pm, which consequently had me wide awake at 4am the next morning.  Its weird.  Its like my body will now only sleep for the amount it needs.  No more.  No less.

Emotionally, I've been struggling a little bit this morning.  My primary duty to myself is to ensure that I'm accepting my situation, feeling gratitude, and contributing to my healing.   Basically, keeping myself happy.  I haven't been too happy today.  With the whirlwind of doctors and appointments, and massive bits of information having subsided, I've now settled into a strange state.  I'm mourning what I used to be.   This is my new normal now.

One of the things my book was talking about is that many breast cancer patients just push forth and get through their treatment and surgeries with the goal of "getting back to normal".  But there isn't an "old normal" anymore.   The goal is to treat the current cancer, and then making adjustments to your health habits so that you reduce the chance of a recurrence.  Optimal health is my new normal.

I just need to cry a little bit.  Because just a few posts ago, I was writing about how this experience is basically upgrading my life.  And I believe that.  I'm just mourning what I used to be, is all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chemo #3

Not much to report. Today's therapy session went completely smoothly. I'm at home after napping in bed, transferred to the couch. Superman and I have been watching a documentary series called "Chicagoland".  Its about the school budget cuts in Chicago which closed down tons of schools, forcing children to walk across gang lines to get to their new "neighborhood schools". It shows the effects on school personnel, families, hospitals, police work, and politicians. Very informative and interesting. Its currently streaming on Netflix for anyone interested. 
I've eaten half a banana, some crackers, and vanIlla pudding and I feel alright. Tummy is a little off, so i have taken a nausea #1 pill. If this goes to pattern, the worst will hit me in a few hours. Which I will respond with a Nausea #2 and go to bed and be better in the morning. Totally manageable. 
Tomorrow i will have my shot and then be back to work on Friday. This will actually be my first post-chemo Friday with students, so i'm anxious to see how I make it through the day. Pee breaks, water, sitting down, eating snacks, take an afternoon nap during my plan.  It will be fine, I'm sure. Just got to take it easy. 
We found out with the Taxol treatments, I will only be required to go to the hospital on one day each week. They will do labs, oncologist appt, and treatment all in the same day. No shots afterwards. However, my oncologist is not in the clinic on Wednesdays, so we have to pick a different day. Between Superman and myself's schedules, we decided on Tuesday to be the day. I will stay out on Wednesday too for at least the first time to gauge how I feel. Hopefully I'll be up and running the rest of the time. Taxol is supposed to be easier. 
The rest of the family is eating Chinese food tonight, which I admit smells DELICIOUS, but i'm not going to eat any.  If the worst is yet to come for me tonight, thats a bad idea....haha. 
So thats all to report!  Gratitude, acceptance, healing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Just got home from the oncologist.

1.  Shingles will cause no delay in treatments.  Proceeding as scheduled!!  She also said that the shingles spot is healing fine and probably on its way out.   But to still keep an eye on it and finish the antibiotics.  The ring of red changed a little today and was more swollen than yesterday, but she was not concerned.

2.  She did an exam again and measured the tumor and noticed definitely a change in size.  She even had some trouble actually finding it!!!!!! (its softer and less pronounced) She said she originally measured it at 3 - 3.5cm and today it was measuring at 2 - 2.5 cm.  YES!!  1 cm down, 2.5 cm to go!  SO VERY PLEASED TO HEAR THIS NEWS.  I'm so relieved to know that the chemo is doing its job. :)

So, the next steps are, when I finish the A/C portion of chemo (I'm halfway done!  Only two more to go!), I will meet with my surgeon and she will do an ultrasound to make formal measurements of the tumor shrinkage.  Then I start in on Taxol for 12 weeks, which typically produces easier side effects.  I won't be needing the Neulasta shot the next day for the Taxol either.  That was unexpected and positive news.  One less appointment to worry about each week.  woohoo!!

I've been doing a happy dance since arriving home today!!  :) :)

So many exclamation points in this post!!!!!!!!!!





:) :) :) :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stronger than cancer

So a few days ago, a rash showed up on my arm. Just four harmless little bumps, but strange. We showed it to the nurse on friday when I was in for my shot. She looked a little confused and concerned. She said to call if it spread or got worse. Well, by Sunday night, it had not spread, but the bumps had turned into more blister crater things and there was a growing red ring happening around it. 
So my dear husband suggested I call and speak with the on-call doctor. To which I whimpered "can you call for me?"  Being the Superman that he is, he made the call. The very nice doctor asked very thorough questuons and prescribed an anti-histamine and an antibiotic to be picked up and taken that night. His diagnosis:  Shingles.


 True to Heather-form, I hopped on the interwebs and did some research. Superman showed me some pictures. Yep. I have Shingles. 
It starts out with headache and sensitivity to light (I've been missing my sunglasses, now broken, in my car alot lately and I whined particularly loud when Superman turned on the bedroom light the other day) and then flu-like symptoms, no fever.  Diarhea, chills, stomach ache. (Last wednesday, post freakout.). And then an itchy and painful rash on one side of the body. (Right arm. Itchy. Not too painful, but a little bit.)
Sigh, so I guess this is my first real complication, huh. Shingles. Shingles. I can't get past that. I didn't even know what that was. Supposedly, if you had Chicken Pox, Shingles is unseen unheard of in you until a moment when your immunity is compromised. Welp, now would be that moment. 7 days after chemo #2. 
I have my oncologist appointment tomorrow. I just hope this doesn't put a delay in my treatment. Can I be on an antibiotic while receiving treatment?  I don't know.  Lets hope for good news.  But I will do whatever she says is right, even if its disappointing or inconvenient. 

Because I was taking a new antibiotic, Superman made me stay up and make sure I didn't have any bad reactions to it. So I read my book some more. One of the things it was talking about was visualization. Visualizing yourself as being strong and the cancer cells or tumor as being weak. 

I received this message from a dear friend today, who recently heard of my difficulties and I felt the timing was just perfect.

"I hate cancer, but I love people who are stronger than cancer. And that, obviously, is you."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why I'm 100% sure

Doin' my favorite thing:  Coffee-shopping :)

Its a gorgeous day and I'm spending it well.  Had my Zoladex shot at the hospital.  Then we went to the Burger Stand to watch the KU game.  I stayed for about 20 minutes then ran down for a Restorative Yoga class and then ran back up to the Burger Stand to catch the last part of the game.  Then I went home, made some lunch, took a nap, and now I'm coffee-shopping at La Prima Tazza.   Enjoying the beautiful weather through the big windows and open door, and people watching.  Tons of people out tonight.

I've had some people comment about my last post and my restored faith in chemotherapy being the right thing to do in my treatment plan.  However, I realized I did not expand at all as to why exactly I've restored my faith.  Its not just blind faith.  I've thought about it long and hard after my meltdown, a.k.a. "bout of doubt".  

So I'll just explain, summarize, and paraphrase what I understand about this whole process.  I'm not going to consult any sources so it may not be a clear and completely accurate picture.   But here it goes.

So my chemotherapy is considered "neoadjuvant chemotherapy".  It's primary purpose is to shrink the tumor down before doing surgery.  The goal is to preserve as much of the breast tissue as possible, so that its a lumpectomy surgery, as opposed to a mastectomy.  The doctors kept saying, I'm such a high candidate for a lumpectomy that this is an option likely to have the most success.  In addition to that, chemotherapy is considered "systemic", which means it treats the entire body, as opposed to other options which are more localized, treating just the area of the tumor.  That will be the next step actually. After surgery will be 6 weeks of radiation therapy, localized just in the breast tissue where the tumor is located.  Then after the radiation therapy, I'll be put on a hormone pill that regulates my estrogen levels, because my tumor is 50% estrogen positive.  This is all for the purpose of preventing a recurrence of the cancer.  After 5 years on the hormone pill, if there is no recurrence, then I'm considered "healed".

The part about my age too is a large reason for the chemotherapy.  Obviously, chemotherapy is really hard on the body and they have chosen a very aggressive regimen because I'm young, strong, and can handle it.  They want to shock my system ("Shock and awe") and kill all the cancer cells that may be lingering around waiting to coordinate another attack.

One of my big concerns at the beginning of this journey was that my cancer had spread to other parts of my body.  It was legitimate enough of a concern that my oncologist ordered more tests to look: the bone scan and the CAT scan.  No metastatic disease was found.  Metastasis is the term for when cancer has spread from its original place to another place.  Breast cancer has been shown likely to spread to specific places:  lungs, bones, ovaries, and brain.  Well, the bone scan ruled out bone cancer.  The CAT scan ruled out lungs and ovaries.  But they never did a brain scan of any sort.  So its something that I worry about occasionally.  But the good thing, is chemotherapy is systemic, so if there happens to be anything there, we are treating it.  Plus, cancer cells would have to go through my lymph nodes, because its spreads through the lymphatic system.  There is no evidence at this point that my lymph nodes have been effected.  The oncologist examines by feeling my lymph nodes at every appointment and nothing feels tender or enlarged.  Plus my sonogram didn't show anything to be concerned about and nothing lit up on the CAT scans either.  

But like I said in my last post, cancer cells were probably floating around in my body as long as 10 years ago.  In fact, I'm fairly certain I read somewhere that EVERYONE has cancer cells floating around in their body.  But often times your immune system takes care of those and flushes them out before they can do any harm.  When a cancer tumor actually forms, it is a result of a genetic abnormality, or your immune system not working properly as a result of stress, or poor health habits, or some sort of environmental variable.  But, that's the thing about cancer.  There's so many unknown things about it.

So anyway, the reason I'm 100% sure:  the alternative to chemotherapy is doing surgery now, which would have to be a mastectomy due to the size of the tumor.  And I would not receive that systemic shock value that would decrease my chances of recurrence in the future.  There's no guarantee that I won't have a recurrence, but this is the best option for preventing that.  Shock and Awe.  There are definite concerns associated with chemotherapy.  Its just plain hard.  Even on my good days, there's just a haze of "yuckiness".  My relationship with food is completely different.  I don't like to eat anymore.  I don't really get hungry.  Eating is no longer a recreational activity.  Its essential fuel for my body to heal.   Chemotherapy is killing good cells as well as bad, which is why the side effects are so difficult.  The good cells in my skin, my digestive system, and my hair:  the fast growing ones, because the tumor is also made of fast growing cells.  

But I am 100% sure.  Its actually a good thing I had my meltdown earlier this week and freaked out about whether I was doing the right thing.  Otherwise, I would not have thoroughly thought this through.  Now I can move forward with renewed purpose.  Acceptance.  Gratitude.  Healing.

I keep thinking back to the C.S. Lewis quote I posted about way at the beginning of my blog.  My "house" is being torn down to the foundation and rebuilt.  When I come out of this, I'll be healthier than I've probably ever been.  Taking care of myself will no longer be on the back-burner.  And everything will benefit from that.  My husband.  My family.  My students.  My happiness.  I'm getting an upgrade on my life!  :)  

I realized this morning that I'm halfway done with the first regimen.  The 8 weeks of A/C.  I've been reading a lot about the Taxol portion, looking ahead at the next regimen.  For many breast cancer patients, the Taxol is a lot easier with the side effects.  I hope this is true for me!!!!   There will still be a lot of fatigue, unfortunately.  Radiation therapy produces fatigue as well.  So that's something I'm just going to have to get used to.  Just got to take care of myself, and sleep when my body says to sleep.  I have trouble with that sometimes.  I've definitely had to make adjustments.  I have some friends from out of town going out tonight to a live music show which starts at 11pm.  There's not much I enjoy more than going out to see live music.  But 11pm.  No way.  Not unless I bring a sleeping bag with me and prepare to "ker-thunk" at any given moment.  Oh well.  I'm getting an upgrade.  Its going to be worth it!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My first headscarf tie!

Well... 2nd. You didn't want to see my first. Haha. 

Look Good, Feel Better

Superman and I attended the St. Patrick's Day parade on Tuesday.  It was an awesome afternoon with some good healing sun time.  I did struggle powering through though.  1:00pm was the parade kick-off and 1:00 is also my NAPTIME!!  I got some coffee and made it through though.  It was a little de-moralizing however, when I stopped at the store afterwards to pick up a few things.  I had to purchase a single banana and eat and rest in their cafe area for a little bit before going forward with my errands.  I hate being so weak and tired.  Don't got time for that!
Parade photo

Last year's parade photo

I was looking at last year's photo and thought to myself, that was pre-cancer days.  And then I thought, no I probably had cancer then too.  Just hadn't noticed anything yet.  In fact, the breast cancer book that I'm currently reading shocked me with this sentence the other day: "Cancer cells are often present ten years before a mass is finally detectable, having grown to a size one centimeter in diameter and consisting of one billion cells."  That's craaaaazy.

Speaking of the book I'm reading, I put it away for a little bit because it really upset me.  The author has REALLY good things to say and a fantastic message.  Cancer recovery isn't just about what you do while you're at the hospital.  Its how you take care of yourself during all the rest of the time.  Exercise.  Food.  Attitude.  Spirituality.  Etc.  And this is very very very important.  However, he also has a viewpoint of not letting yourself be pushed around by your doctors and making sure you are informed and make your own decisions.  And that's also a good message, but I'm also not an idiot.  Of course, I'm going to be making my own decisions and not let a doctor push me into anything I don't want to do.  But I am just flat out offended that this author, and I'm completely paraphrasing, he explains and backs up his views with good points, but I'm offended that he is suggesting that a doctor wouldn't have the best intentions for their patients.   He also expressed an opinion that chemotherapy is rarely a good option for a breast cancer patients, and that going with the least invasive options is the way to go.  And while he has written a book and has the right to express this opinion, it had a VERY negative affect on me for about 12 hours.  I went from 100% confidence in my amazing women-doctor-team, down to 99%.  And that 1% of doubt was more poisonous to me than chemotherapy will ever be.  It was bad.  bad bad bad.

I think it made me physically ill.  I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling AWFUL.  I knew something was definitely not right.  No fever, whew!  But I was having bathroom issues, chills, my stomach was upset, and a killer headache.  I was scheduled to get another Zoladex shot at 10am.  At 9:30, Superman called and told them what I was experiencing and the nurse talked to me.  Yes, something was amiss.  Especially with the chills, I had probably caught something.  She was not terribly concerned and told me to call if any other symptoms showed up and they rescheduled my shot for Friday so I could stay in bed and rest.  Which I did the rest of the morning.  Now whether it was the 1% doubt that made me physically ill, or if it was because I was at the parade yesterday around tons of people (definitely got breathed on by a bunch of drunk people that nearly knocked me over on their barhop journey), I will not know.   But I am glad that today I feel SO MUCH BETTER. And that the stupid doubt is out of my head.  I'm back in 100% with my amazing doctors and know for certainty that I am doing the right thing.  They have recommended my treatment plan based on scientific data and are using a treatment that has been successful for millions of women.  They've made their recommendation for chemotherapy also based on the fact that I'm young and strong and was perfectly healthy before this all started.  As much as I hate it and its effect on my body, IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  And I apologize to myself, and my Superman (more specifically, taking it out on him) for ever doubting it and it will never happen again.  I'm in this 100%.

I was feeling better by evening time, and I was scheduled to attend a "Look Good Feel Better" event at the hospital.  It turned out to be just myself and one other woman, so its a good thing I didn't stay home.  This program is AMAZING.  Basically, its about making women feel better about their appearance despite the effects of treatment on their skin and their looks in general.  Beauty products are donated and given to cancer patients for free.  I came home with a bag of products, everything I would EVER need, and I'm estimating the value was about $200.  I also learned how to tie scarves!  I was concerned about drawing eyebrows when those fall out, and I learned how to do that.  It was just awesome.  The person who led the workshop was a guy named Jim.  He was wonderful.  Very upbeat and personable.  He was also technologically challenged and was given a desktop computer from the hospital staff to use for his videos.  I got to help him use that, and it was cute.  It made me feel useful.  :)  And, in conversation about my work, I found out that he is a KCK graduate!  Harmon High School!  He attended Argentine Middle School too.  YEAY!!!  And now he is out healing others with his volunteer work.  (I think its volunteer work, not sure.)  I'm kicking myself for not asking if he was a member of band or orchestra though.  FAIL!  If I ever see him again, I will be asking him.

I've been receiving lots of cards in the mail from various friends and family.  Its so uplifting to know that people are thinking of me.  I've got some major thank you notes to write to people in general for being just amazing.  I received a cute elephant in the mail (that sings!) from my aunt.  Its taken its place on the mantel, looking over the family with his strength, serenity, and wisdom.

I'd like to end this post with a video for my husband.  I don't know what I would do without him.  I am the luckiest woman to have him in my court through all of this.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sisters are the best

I had lunch with my sister today and it was delicious and insightful.  That one is full of wisdom about health in general.  I'm lucky to have my "big sister" looking out for me.  She brought me positive cancer-fighting propaganda (elephants!), healthy toxin-free beauty products, and BOOKS.  books books books.

      "Go big or go home" :) and a scarf, which I will definitely be trying on my head soon!

From her cat. :)

I haven't read any books since I was diagnosed.  Totally not in the mindset to read, which is SOOO unlike me. :)  On Sunday, I tried picking up where I left off on one, and I just couldn't do it.  And I felt lost.  If I don't have a book to be engrossed in, I'm lost at sea.  But my sister saved me and brought me exactly what I needed.  So this one, I'm on like page 18 and I'm already saying YESSSSSSSSS.  Thank you thank you thank you.
Highly recommended for anyone diagnosed or has a loved one going through breast cancer.  It won me over at the following handful of words:
 "Breast Cancer occurs in the area of the fourth chakra, the heart chakra, the part of the body most closely associated with giving and receiving whole-heartedly, releasing grief and resentment, and allowing in full partnership with joy." (my emerging yogi immediately attached to this)
"Your goal is to create health and well-being- physically, emotionally and spiritually - not simply to treat the tumor"
"Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food"

Speaking of food, I've been trying for YEARS to lose 10 pounds, and two weeks of treatment, 10 pounds, GONE. *shaking head*  One of the nurses after taking my weight, looked at me sideways and said "are you eating?".  And then was unconcerned, so I guess its ok.   I have definitely changed how I eat.  Fresh foods.  Fruits, veggies, whole grains.  And I'm eating often in smaller amounts.  Its like, I'm not hungry exactly, but I just get this tired feeling and I'm like, yes I need to eat.  My body needs fuel right now, pronto.  

We had greek food today.  Lentil soup, falafel, and hummus.  Yummo.  Then, upon arriving home, I promptly went "ker-thunk!" and napped for 2 hours.  This fatigue thing is for real.  The oncologist said that this time around would probably produce more fatigue.  Man, was she right.

Yesterday morning, I settled in on the couch and powered my way through some Downton Abbey episodes, because THEY WERE GOING TO GO OFFLINE that evening at midnight.  So I'm like, lets do this.  Gotta meet the deadline!  I had like 5 episodes to finish.  When I got finished with three episodes, I could barely function.  It was about 1:00, and yup, told Superman, I'm going to bed and stayed there for 3 hours.  So, I guess afternoon naps are going to be a necessity from now on.  No longer a luxury.  A requirement.

(In case anyone was wondering, I did finish the final 2 episodes later that night and made the deadline.  Whew!  Priorities!  Oh and CARSON AND MS. HUGHES.  *high five*)

So after my nap, I took Charlie dog for a walk.  Got in my moderate exercise/healing for the day.  :)  

Happy dog!  I'm sticking my tongue out at the silly convention that people don't wear stocking caps on an 85-degree day.  I don't care.  Cancer = automatic hipster status.  I'll wear my beanie hat on any day I please.

I have plans to attend a lot of yoga this week (spring break!), but I think I'll sit tonight out.  

So, very happy day.  Sitting with my computer in front of an open window, listening to acoustic folk music, and two dogs at my feet.  I'll take it!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Back in the saddle

I was seriously stuck in a vacuum of sadness over my hair. It was absolutely devastating standing in the shower and it just wouldn't stop coming out in my hands. Balls of brown sadness. I told Superman, I'm not going to be happy again until we shave this all off. So first thing Saturday morning, he went to Walmart and bought a shaver kit thingy and set up a station in the living room. Chair surrounded by a sheet and we just did it. I cried a lot. And I'm still quite weepy over it, but I'm happy again. Back in the saddle. It was seriously hindering my healing and gratitude and acceptance. I had no idea how hard it was going to be.  So I'm going to be brave and post a bald selfie in the name of acceptance. 

The rest of the day was a good day. Superman went out and had a "man night": KU basketball followed by poker with the man friends. At Superdaughter's suggestion, I went out and picked up some girlie movies for a night in.  So it was the debut of the wig. Not too bad, eh?

Looking forward to Sunday and a week ahead of relaxation and acceptance!  Gratitude. Healing. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hair loss/morale loss/sunshine

Its been a rough day for me today.  The hair started falling out 2 days ago, but today there was a huge huge difference.  Officially a bald spot on the center of my head.  I'm glad I wore a hat today.  Superman shall be shaving it for me soon.

So I was weepy most of the day.  Music PD this morning was a good distraction for awhile, but I've definitely been having a pity-party the rest of the day.  I knew this would be happening.  Not sure why its hitting me so hard, emotionally.

First time cancer hat selfie:

Physically speaking, things are bearable.  Definitely achy and stuff but I think its going better than the first round, so far.

So, for my emotional day, it was good timing to receive such an awesome gift from some wonderful college friends.  These guys are spread throughout the country now, east coast, west coast, up north.  They sent me a little sunshine, and it was too good not to share with you!

(oh yea guys, you keep forgetting, my name is Heather REYNOLDS now! :P)  Love them.

And, my spring break officially begins in about 1 hour.  So thankful that Spring Break will be a "good week".  I can get some rest and happiness with my family and Superman and the dogs and fit some time for friends in there as well.  Gratitude, Healing, and Acceptance.   :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Post Chemo #2 and book

So things seemed to be a little easier initially this time.  I was super loopy and drugged up coming home.  Took a nap.  Thought my tummy might be a little weird so I took "nausea #1".  Then I hung out in bed and surfed the inter webs for a long time.  I'm thinking, "I'm feeling alright.  I'm gonna do some yoga."  So I did some really gentle yoga on the bedroom floor and then joined Superman and Superson on the couch for some T.V., and ate some more saltines.  Then around 8:30pm, I all of a sudden felt like "UGH!" and I went to the bedroom and took "nausea #2".  I was feeling just yucky and a little shaky.  So I laid down in bed, wrapped up in my homemade prayer shawl, and cuddled with my elephant.  I realized I left my water on the coffee table, and texted Superman (YES, FROM THE BEDROOM TO THE LIVING ROOM.  I know.) to please bring me my water and some 7up.  Take a couple sips of both and I was knocked out.  Superman woke me up around midnight to check on me.  I was feeling fine.  By the morning alarm clock, I was still feeling good.

I had a dentist appointment this morning too.  Look at the cute bottle of mouthwash they gave me!!! Perfect to keep in my purse for during the day.  Yeay!
Then I have to go get my blood cell booster shot at 1:30 today.   That will cause me to feel like chemo-blob for about the next three days, so I'm enjoying the relative comfort and pain-free existence right now.

I thought I would write about my book ideas for awhile.

So I have to make sure I spin this topic in such a way that NORMAL non-educators, non-political people, will want to read it and be interested in the subject matter.  People, I assume, like inspirational stories about breast cancer survivors that kickass, and they also really care about their kids.  The book has got to be about the best education possible FOR THEIR KIDS.  I can't be about boo-hoo poor teachers, you treat us so bad.  It has to be about, if we get teachers/staff the time and resources they need, then they can properly serve their lovable children/the clients.
The actor Matt Damon is a great advocate for teachers (his mom is one), and I admire how outspoken he is on the subject.  What I don't like is that his approach is, My mom/teachers are such great people.    But this IS  NOT WHAT I WANT MY APPROACH TO BE.  Teachers can not be portrayed as martyrs.  Look how wonderful art thou they are.  They put their work in front of their families (which many times we do, and its because we HAVE to in order to be good at our jobs.  Well, I speak for myself on this one I guess, but I'm sure it applies to others.)  The way our government has and will continue be turning is that ONLY MASTER-TEACHERS will be able to keep education afloat and they will continue, as skilled as they are, to put in more and more hours, and to jump through more and more hoops.  But what about new teachers?  They have no support.  What about mediocre teachers? A mediocre teacher should be able to work this job and do ok.  Its only realistic.  And then, genuinely bad teachers, whatever that definition might be, should be handled on a separate protocol, for sure.

Anyways, I'm rambling, here are some Matt Damon Clips:

Again, I admire him a great deal for what he has chosen to speak out about.  But this...
Superman sent me this the other day.  This is the truth.
A new teacher, or a mediocre teacher, can not possibly live up to these expectations.  We need to change the system.  I mean, I write obviously from the perspective of a band/orchestra teacher, which has its own set of challenges regarding having time to do all the "administrative" things.  But what about, for example, those teachers who have to grade annual "writing summatives".  I honestly don't know what those are and what they entail, but I asked someone, "do you get time in the school day to grade those??"  She replied, yes, we have a little bit of PD time (because we have an awesome team of principals and leadership team), but most of it has to be done outside of school.  WHY WHY WHY are teachers expected EXPECTED (and then belittled when we can't keep up) to do all this administrative stuff outside of the school day.  Concerts are one thing for music teachers.  We receive a stipend for those things, and we SHOULD.  But what about the rest.  There's no time.

Back to the book -
So I want to start with an outline of my "prologue", and then list some topics that I may or may not cover through out the book.  Again, ANYONE who would like to offer feedback or ideas, feel free to comment below or email me privately.  I want this to be good people.  Bestseller.  Or at the very least, a notable book that teachers, politicians, and just plain normal citizens will want to read and make a DIFFERENCE.  (Do you wanna know what I make?  I make a difference, what about YOU!! ~Taylor Mali)

Prologue Outline:
-describe the general list of responsibilities teachers are expected to uphold, and what a typical week/month/year looks like for our to-do tasks, OUTSIDE of teaching time.
-outline my career, how spread out I was at my last job.
-the new challenges of my current job, and the stress accompanying my everyday work load.
-the effect on my family time and amount of HOURS spent on the weekends and evenings doing JUST lesson plans
-the onset of my breast lump discovery and how I avoided making a doctor's appointment for MONTHS, because it "wasn't a good time" to leave work for a day to go see the doctor.
-The official diagnosis.
-how treatment as affected my work schedule and forcing me to let go of a bunch of mundane tasks, and allowing subs to take care of my day for me.
-the suspicion that my lifestyle has (not caused cancer) fed the growth of my cancer.  I know this can't be scientifically proven, but it is a large suspicion.
-and then, when this book is published, hopefully I'll be at the end of the treatment journey, and this will be the uplifting part where I describe my shift on work, life, and health and that I am a better and stronger person because of it.

Other ideas/topics for the chapters:
-a comparison with other countries.  Example:  Finland, Europe in general
-Health care for teachers
-Legislators and drawing their line of expectations and how they are unreasonable
-Matt Damon and his advocating for teachers in a way that makes people "prickly"
-The misconception of summers off
-Substitute teachers and the disrespect they receive everyday (I worked as a sub myself for 4 months)
-Divisions among staff on who has the most work to do.  Grade level teachers, vs SPED teachers, vs Elective teachers, vs various support staff
-Support for new and mediocre teachers.  We can't expect everyone to be a master teacher.  No business would ever survive if EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM had to be 100% awesome all the time.

Those are the only things I have written down at the moment.  I'm open to MORE IDEAS, PEOPLE!

Alright, have a good day.  Off to rest, I go!

*edit - I Facebook messaged this blog post to "Matt Damon's Official" page.  Lets see if he actually gets it and replies!!!!*

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


The day I actually like my new haircut, I start to lose it. 

They said at chemo today that the rest should follow fairly quickly. Superman is on "patch patrol". When it gets noticeably patchy, we shave it!!

Chemo #2 was uneventful. Everything went as planned. I made two discoveries though. 
1. Laxatives and stool softener are not the same nor interchangeable. Ha! It only needed to be explained once. I get it now. 
2.  Superman doesn't know what a Ryan Gosling meme is. We were watching crazy stupid love while passing the time And i asked " I wonder if he has any cancer memes?" (Which I pronounced meeemeeees) he was very confused. "Ya know, hey girl I'll put your fuzzy socks on your feet and get you a soft blanket while you fight that cancer." Still nothing. So I type it into the Pinterest and looked some up. 
Here's a few favorites:

Found a cancer one!

For the record, Ryan Gosling is not my type. Old men with awesome beards (hence the beard meme) that incidentally have a tendency to wear capes, are my type. ;)
And to be clear, I'm not making fun of my superman because he didn't know what hey girl memes were, though I laughed hysterically when he started reading from his Google search that Ryan has never said the words hey girl in his life. I'm making this a human interest story. Superman has been so perfect according to this particular source of media. Now I'm HUMANIZING him. :)

So I've been laying in bed all afternoon. Things are going pretty good. I have a wicked headache and was extremely loopy earlier from all the drugs. My tummy feels funny on and off, so I took some nausea #1 pill. Better to get it under control at the first sign of yuckiness they said. Doing alright. Maybe this round will be easier!  Fingers crossed. My stomach actually growled a few minutes ago. I think it helped that I had a really good meal at the hospital   Last time, I ate a banana before treatment, and a little soup afterwards. Hungry tummies are not happy tummies. I may try to eat some pudding and crackers. See what happens. And WAtER!  I'm peeing (bright orange) about every 30 minutes. 

That's all for today!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Preparing for Chemo #2

SOOOOO many things to write about today!!  *sparkly fingers*

I had my pre-chemo appointment with my oncologist this afternoon.  Basically to check my blood work for adequate blood cell counts for treatment, to discuss symptoms, ask questions, and do an exam.  After just one treatment, they don't expect much results, but she measured and felt and she found evidence that it is smaller.  YEAY!  15 more treatments to go.  Let's heal this thing outta there!

I also had my BRCA genetic testing results.  Totally negative for any of those yucky genetic mutations.  This is great news for my Family!  And great for the future of my cancer recovery.

My mom and dad came with me to this appointment, because Superman is busy being Super-band-guest-clinician in Emporia this evening.  :)

But I think it was great for them to meet my doctor and to hear answers to questions.  I know this is a journey for them as well.  We had dinner afterwards and they brought more gifts!  #cancerperk  :)

I'm particularly excited about the elephant tote bag, fuzzy socks #FUZZYSOCKS, the silk pillow cases.  :)

Speaking of gifts, more examples of how amazing my school is...  The elective team teachers presented me with flowers and a gift card to my favorite restaurant, Ladybird Cafe!! :) :)  They are the best.  #Northwestistheplacetobe

And then, first thing in the morning during my FA (homeroom), I was summoned to the office.  Someone was magically present to watch my classroom for me while I was gone.  Two of my principals sat me down to get some feedback about lunch duty and the hallways.  (I can see it now, "hmmm, we need to distract Mrs. Reynolds for about 20 minutes.  What can we get her talking about?  Oh, I know! Lunch Duty!")  They also shared some great uplifting thoughts regarding my journey and shared wisdom about faith, and positive thinking.  I have the best bosses!  Then there was a mysterious phone call, and then, "Ok Mrs. Reynolds, that's all we need.  Let's walk together, I happen to need to be down in your hallway."  So we get to my classroom, I open the door, and its completely black.  whaaaaa?  I walk in and the lights flip on and there's my FA, pluuuuus my 8th grade orchestra class.  Those sneaky rascals!  They had planned the whole thing!!  They decorated my room with get well propaganda and presented me with a gift.  They then showed me a picture-video-show-instagram-thingy of the orchestra festival trip.  I was doing ok until about halfway through, and then I just cried.   It was contagious, soon, I had all the ladies in tears too.  The boys were hiding, I'm sure.  It was silly.  They are such wonderful sweet children.  My job is the best best best.

They also made a short video.  Let's see if I can get it to work below.

Alright, so I'm doing Chemo #2 tomorrow.  The doctor says that things should remain about the same as far as side effects, with maybe a little bit more tiredness as we go along.  That's good.  And we can also be more on top of the side effects, knowing what medications to take and when.  #laxatives

More healing, gratitude, and acceptance.  #liquidgold
Here we go!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Acceptance, gratitude, healing

Just a couple thoughts for today.


I read the above article and thought to myself YES.  Acceptance, gratitude, healing.  I mean, obviously, cancer is a fight.  But let's be honest.  I'm a non-confrontational person, and I don't need any F**K cancer negativity in my life.  I need gratitude.  Gratefulness for the amazing medicine and medical professionals, whom MANY of them had a quality music education in their lives that unlocked their brains for this amazing career path they chose.
And, cancer, just statistically-speaking, is going to be a thing I live with for the rest of my life now.  Even when I beat it, the chance of recurrence is 30% higher than the rest of the population.  We've got to come to terms with each other.  So, no more "fighting" per say.  Many people have commented on how glad they are that I have this fighting attitude and stuff.  I'm changing it to my healing attitude.  Gratefulness that I have amazing doctors and that I am a teacher and that the lives I shape everyday will make them people who will "heal" others, no matter what medium it is they have chosen.
But let's be clear.  That 30% statistic is by no means permission for cancer to come back.  I plan to do everything in my power from here on out to be healthy and amazing and any cancer cells floating around in my body can flush their way out and go somewhere else.  I'm just saying, cancer will be on my health agenda for the rest of my life, so we better at least be able to sit in the same room with each other without causing a scene.  


The themes that have been in my life recently line up with the 12 pieces of wisdom above.
Compassion.  Connecting with others.  Paying attention to love.   Take care of yourself first so you can take care of the world.  Coming to terms with mortality.  Food.  ...and other amazing points.

Paul Davis posted a note on Facebook today.  Go read it.  It makes me so very sad and so very happy at the same time.   Do you think I could get Paul Davis to back me on my book project??

I haven't forgotten about my book.  Tons of thoughts flowing on that one.  Developing.  I wouldn't post my idea on the inter webs if I wasn't 100% committed to it.  Its happening.  More to come.

Happy Sunday!  Day of rest and love and HEALING.  More liquid gold to come soon.  Next treatment on Wednesday.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New Hair!!

We went wig shopping today!  Came home with a winner. :)


Telling me about the care kit.

We both had a resounding NO to this one.  Look at her face, haha!

This one was ok...

They had a book of african animals on their coffee table with an ELEPHANT on the front. :)

A cap for sleeping and general comfort.

And the winner is...!
Its a very pretty brown color with a touch of auburn/red/gold in it.  I've always loved this color, but my hair will never hold any kind of red in it.  So now, I get to have that color and keep it.  Cancer perk!

So, this wig was just a week old on their floor, so I went ahead and just bought that one so we wouldn't have to wait to order one.  I was starting to get anxious that the hair would start coming out before I was ready.  And we looked through a bunch of color swatches looking for maybe a color of brown that was a little lighter, but then I kept coming back to the color swatch that was the demo wig's same color.  So, it was meant to be.  We bought it!  The great thing is, Superman's army coverage is going to cover this for me.  We had to pay money up front, but will be reimbursed.  Tri-care is awesome.  BCBS doesn't cover anything for cancer patients, like wigs, mastectomy bra type stuff.  So that stinks.  But Tri-care, yes, their cancer program stuff is A-mazing.
So, I'm READY.  Bring it on hair.  You can fall out now.  I also have some cute fake-lens glasses on hand.  I read in a blog about a girl who used her thick-rimmed glasses as a way to mask how weird she looked when her eyebrows came out.  I am so ready.  I'll model my glasses at a later date.

I'm out right now doing one of my favorite activities ever.  Typing in a coffee shop.  Some people would find it odd that I enjoy to spend my Saturday night alone, but coffee shopping is MY FAVORITE.  I'm an introvert.  An INFJ, to be exact.  Being out alone on a Saturday night is coooooompletely fine with me.

I did have a nice surprise too.  Superman showed up with one of our very good friends and sat with me for awhile.  Had some amazing laughs and great conversation.  Love them.

On the way downtown, A Prairie Home Companion was on the radio.  A vocal group was singing an arrangement of Samson and Delilah, one of my favorite songs of ALL TIME.  Regina Spektor's version.  In fact, I wanted to walk down the aisle at my wedding to this song, its so beautiful, but it wasn't very fitting for the occasion.  And Superman vetoed it.  The vocalists brought me to tears in the car, which to be honest doesn't take much these days.  The lyrics also refer to cutting hair, not having much hair, and references red hair.  Quite appropriate for my day today!  Sharing below.

And lastly, for today, because its 9:10pm and almost my bedtime and I'm starting to feel exhausted (sigh!), my mom sent me a poem she found today.

I do not like this chemo crap.
I do not want to wear a cap.
I do not want an IV drip.
No Carboplatin, not one sip.
I do not like my face with rashes.
I liked my lids when they had lashes.
I did not want to lose my hair.
And yes, I’ve lost it everywhere.
Now, nothing seems to be much fun
When to the bathroom I must run.
I cannot taste what’s on my plate.
You’d think that I could lose some weight.
But these steroids, it must be noted
Just cause me to feel big and bloated.
I realize that “this, too, shall pass”
I’ll bet I get to keep my ass.
And I’m sure it’s a foregone conclusion:
I do not want my next infusion.
But I must go, I can’t postpone.
So with this poem, I’ll bitch and moan.
And friends, indulge me with this blog,
And excuse my writing chemo-fog.
To end this here, I have to say; there is not any better way:
I do not like this thing called cancer.
Next time it calls, I will not answer.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Cancer Card

So I was wide awake at 5:30am this morning, and my brain was already blogging.  I've got a good one for you today!

It was a humorous morning.  I didn't have to be at work until later due to parent teacher conferences today, so I enjoyed the quiet time until Superman's alarm went off.  When he started to stir, I turned my unusual early morning cheerfulness full-blown onto him.  Anyone who knows me, its UNHEARD of for me to be in a good mood before 8am.  However, I haven't taken any Tylenol in almost 24 hours.  My port site hasn't produced stabbing pain in a few days.  My achiness has subsided.  I'm in a GOOD MOOD!!!  Superman is NOT IN A GOOD MOOD!!!  He was up late doing pep band last night and was super tired.  So, it was a funny morning, irritating my husband with unfailing cheerfulness.  Excerpts from the morning: "Leave me alone!"  "Don't you have work today?"  "Why are you so cheerful?"  "You don't love me.  Stop lying."   "Get your cancer off of me!"   This is, of course, in good fun.  My husband is not actually emotionally abusive, even if I will declare he is at the top of my lungs.  I can imagine how ANNOYING I was with my intermittent giggling before 6:30am on a work day.

Although I feel great right now, its been like a waiting game with these side effects.  The nausea and achiness showed up right away.  Then earlier this week, I was feeling some peripheral neuropathy.  That's described as feeling numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.  I haven't been tingling so much, but I have felt weird and my hands and up my arms have felt "cold".  That's the best way to describe it.  Superman called the nurse about it, and they were unconcerned, but said to discuss it at my next oncologist appointment and that they can make adjustments to my meds and the treatment cocktail to help with that.
Another side effect started out as a weird prickling in the back of my throat.  Then it started to feel weird when I would swallow cold liquid.  Not so much a sore throat, but definitely some inflammation of some sort.  My gums are starting to feel weird, and I have a couple sore spots in my mouth now.  The nurses told me at the beginning of this that I need to gargle salt water 3x a day to prevent mouth sores.  Superman bought me some awesome toothpaste and alcohol-free mouthwash for dry mouth.  I have been using this, but I wasn't gargling the salt water consistently.  Follow the doctor's orders STUPID.  So I'm doing the salt water now.
I'm on a prescription anti-acid that I'm supposed to take twice a day.  I've realized that first thing in the morning and last thing at night isn't the best regimen.  I've realized that I need to take my second one before dinner time for maximum effect.  I was having a lot of evenings in a row that I just didn't feel good after dinner.  After I switched the timing, I have been fine.
I've also had a weird burning in on my face, below my nose.  Just started yesterday.  I don't know what that's all about.
And then I've had some internal plumbing issues too, but I won't elaborate on those anymore.  I've reached my limit in this blog already for poop-related humor.  haha.
And lastly, waiting for the big one.  The hair to fall out.  Hasn't started yet, but it should before the end of the month.  waiting, waiting, waiting.

So I've been repeating this question in my mind over and over again.  Why do I have cancer?  Ok people.
I'm 32 years old.
I have no history of cancer in my family, that I know about.
I am...well optimal health.
I rarely ever have any health complications or illnesses. (aside from a couple freakshow things like having a super-sweaty hands and feet condition called hyperhydrosis.  And having a thing where air leaks out my nose when I play the clarinet too long.  Its called stress velopharyngeal insufficiency.  I did a research project on it in college.  It was an impressive piece of research.)
I eat well.
I drink only moderately.
I exercise, not consistently, but I do it.  I'm also very active during the day.
I make adequate sleep a priority.
I drink green tea daily, and make considerable effort to consume power foods and antioxidants on a regular basis.

So why do I have cancer??

My oncologist said that they have been noticing a trend with more and more young women getting breast cancer and there is not an explanation for it.  So why is it happening???  There's one thing in my life that I haven't handled well.  Work-related stress.  Does stress feed cancer?  Here's something that a simple google search came up with:

One of the medications I take now has nausea, anxiety and insomnia wrapped up into one.  Its amazing, by the way.  When I wake up in the morning, its like my brain has been wiped clean.  I know what day it is, and that I have to go to work today, but beyond that, nothing.  This week would regularly be a fairly stressful week for me with my two festival trips.  My mind would be overflowing with to-do lists.  I would be walking mentally through every aspect of the day, making sure that I've got everything under control, and even if I do, I will be worrying about every bit of it.

But not this week.  Basically, I just showed up and winged it.  I DON'T DO THAT!  I don't wing anything.  I challenge you to find another teacher who writes more thorough lesson plans than I do.  I basically write my lesson plans so that if I wake up with amnesia one morning, I will still be able to teach my classes.  Its ridiculous.  Superman tells me all the time that I plan too much.  But I HAVE to.  Its how I function.  And although I will never change that, I do know for a fact that I have an anxiety problem.  Its become clear to me.

The past 8 years of my life have been dedicated whole-heartedly and whole-bodily to education and being the best teacher on the freakin' planet.  And here's where my cancer card is going to come in.

I've decided to write a book.  And I'm going to use cancer to get it published and out into the world.

The book isn't actually about cancer.  Its going to be on the topic of educational reform. And the way that cancer has changed how I think and how I teach.  And that changes are needed.  I've been saying for years that I hope in my lifetime, I see a big positive change in education.  But, as you know, I have been faced with the thought of my own limited mortality, and what the hell am I waiting for.  I'll just do it myself.

To be more specific, my book is going to be about how we can't serve our students until we take care of the teachers/staff that interact with them.  Students are our clients.  Without adequate time and resources, we are not able to meet our clients needs.  In just 3 weeks of my journey, I have become a better and compassionate teacher.  Because I HAVE to take care of myself.  Its not optional.  I have always put education before myself and my family, and now I'm not anymore, and the results have already been beginning.  Cancer is the reason I've realized this.

So I'm writing a book.  I'm going to take it and give personal copies to all the people who have never worked in a classroom but are in charge of making educational decisions.  And I'm going to use the cancer card to get there.

"Hi, I'm a cancer survivor.  I need to see the legislator.  Now."

Educators are continually being given impossible tasks, and because we love children, we continue to jump through the endless hoops.  At some point, we need to STOP.  The general public, I have seen, are very prickly about teachers and the details of our jobs.  For example:  the misconception that we have paid summers off.  Nope.  Let's call it what it is.  Its an annual teacher LAY-OFF.

Another example:  Substitute teachers are not real teachers.  omg.  One of my sweetest students the other day referred to one of my subs as "not a teacher".  I had to breathe for 10 seconds before replying.  And then we discussed it.  We came to the conclusion, that yes, the substitute teacher was not a music specialist, but They.  Are.  A.  Real.  Teacher.

So many things.  There's so many topics I can write about.  Have you ever read an education article in an online newspaper and then browsed through the comment section?  There's where you hear the truth of how our citizens feel about education and teachers in particular.  Its saddening.  And its also IGNORANCE.

Also, I've been thinking about fertility issues, ya know, recently.  The top reason why I haven't had a child yet is because, WHEN the heck am I going to take care of a child??  I'm too busy taking care of everyone else's child.  And I come home exhausted after it.  And then I spend 3 hours doing lesson plans and neglect my husband and my health and happiness in the process.  All for education.  Educators are so overloaded and our world takes advantage of us because we care so much.  When is it going to stop and when are we going to make changes and who is going to stand up and get the ball rolling on it????

Book.  I've always wanted to write a book.  But I've never had anything good to say or write about.  I think now is the time.  So if anyone has any ideas, resources, articles, thoughts to share, please feel free to comment below or to email at my personal email address.

I'm doing this.

I will close today with two things: a fun cute picture a friend sent me.  And one of my FAVORITE VIDEOS OF ALL TIME.  I've noticed that a newer version has popped back up in social media recently.  I fell in love with the original version about 10 years ago.  But the one I'm going to show you has some cool graphics in it, and its clean.  The original has some obscene gestures and profanity in it (appropriate to the topic, but this is a public blog, so keepin' it clean).  I hope it fires you up as much as it does me!

Get those puppies checked!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

sweet children

Another great day at festival with my kids.  I'm going to try to post performance videos from this week below.  Couldn't have been happier with those kiddos.

My orchestra kids were so cute when we returned to school.  They insisted on being able to take a few pictures for memories.  1.  I had to be in them.  2.  We needed a girl picture and a boy picture (but I had to be in the boy picture too, front and center.).  I swear, my 8th grade orchestra class is the sweetest group of children I've had in one class together in my entire career.  I could list so many things about them day after day that are testaments of what wonderful nice gracious young people they are, to adults and to each other.  My subs always leave raving reports about them too.  Such nice people they are, and will become.

Some pictures of encouragement I've received recently.  Love these elephants (and the people who sent them!):

7/8 Band

7/8 Orchestra
(the other orchestra teacher at my school conducted the first song, and I conducted the second.  We combined our two classes for the event.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Amazing people

Northwest is the place to be, truly.  I have the best co-workers on the planet.

I went out to my car during my plan earlier this week and grabbed a quick power nap, because it was sunny and warm in the car.  Then I was later reprimanded because there is a couch made up for me with pillows, blankets, a heater, in a quiet place where I won't be bothered whenever I need it.  WHENEVER, even if it means dropping off my kids.

I walked into the building on Monday morning, feeling very tired and strung out from meds, and a co-worker came barreling into my room less than 5 minutes later because I had a "look" on my face.  Just checking in to make sure I was ok.

Another co-worker found me first thing one morning to give me a bracelet promoting good health for the month of March.  Its a tradition from his home country.
Wikipedia:  Tradition dictates that Martenitsi are always given as gifts, not bought for oneself. They are given to loved ones, friends, and those people to whom one feels close. Beginning on the first of March, one or more are worn pinned to clothing, or around the wrist or neck, until the wearer sees a stork or swallow returning from migration, or a blossoming tree, and then removes the Martenitsa.

Then this one just takes the cake today.  Another co-worker asked me if she could make me a prayer shawl.  Of course, I said yes.  I finished up lunch duty today and was summoned to the office and asked to wait.  Then there was a phone call and I was directed to follow.  So bossy!  I was then pulled into a circle of amazing women and they prayed for m
e and gave me the handmade prayer shawl made in one of their church groups.  The colors were personally picked to represent the elephant and to cloak me in strength and prayers whenever I need it.  It was so incredibly meaningful and I can't believe how lucky I am to be surrounded by all these wonderful people.

I just can't believe that I've been living my small tunnel vision life all this time and not making connections with these amazing humans.  Its like I was meant to be at Northwest during this time, to pull me through it.

I saw this today, and had to laugh.
I had some deep conversations with my Superman after work today, and I feel a mission coming on.   I've got some bad ass things up my sleeve.  You don't go through a time such as this and come out the other side without a renewed purpose in life.

And lastly, this article.  Attention husband: don't read this!

Oh also. Said husband sent me this after reading my last post. Enjoy!