Friday, January 25, 2013

College Applications Essays

Today, my oldest child finished the first semester of her Senior year in high school. She has been applying for college and I wanted to share one of the essays that she and my husband worked on together, it really meant a great deal to me when I read it (and brought tears to my eyes)...

This is Faith and I in Memphis a little over a year
 before I was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence 250-500 words. 

My mother, Melanie Kabo has shaped my life so much. She was a single mother to me for much of my childhood, but still found the time to volunteer in my classes and earn some income. Just before Thanksgiving in my Junior year at high school she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Time stopped. . .but she is a fighter and a year and a half later she has very little tumor left after several treatments and remains positive living her life to the fullest.

My mother has proven that when life gets tough there is always something good that will come from it. She volunteers in my brothers school, at our church, works out, and still finds time to spend with me. I really appreciate the time I spend with her before I head off to college. If anything, this disease has brought us closer together.

She helps me see that I can't let this slow me down. That I need to keep on going and act as if there is nothing to slow me down. I continue trying my best in everyday including extracurricular activities to show her that I am able to continue to do what I love. Seeing her do all these great things in her life, watching her stand up to cancer, and not let it influence her negatively has really shown me that anything is possible. I want to live my life in a way that shows others nothing is impossible and that even though life throws things at you that may be hard to deal with, or things that have a major impact on you, you can still live life to the fullest. Nothing can stop me and I hope to continue living like this through college and everyday life.

For these reasons my mother is a true inspiration and has had an incredible influence on me. I plan on carrying her fighting spirit and toughness to help me succeed in the future.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bottoms up to better health

My husband, Sean, and I have done several juice fasts or cleanses in the past. When I was diagnosed with cancer, we did a ton of research and watched many documentaries. We then changed our lifestyles and stopped eating meat (we still eat fish). Our four children are also vegetarians. Every once in a while in the past year we have gotten on a juice kick. I have gone 10 days with just juice, Sean has gone 5. My children don't drink the same juice as us. But at times we make them apple carrot juice, which they love.

When we juice, I have found it easier to put all of the fruit and vegetables in the sink filled with water to wash them and get them clean. We also buy only organic produce.

 My 4 year old son, Ben, loves to help make juice. Actually all of my boys like to put the fruits and veggies into the juicer.

This is what I will be drinking 4 or 5 times a day (12 to 16 oz each drink). I am still doing the Budwig Protocol Diet each morning (and I don't juice for an hour after, to allow the Budwig Diet to work properly).

The ingredients in our juice are...

1 bunch of Kale
4 Carrots
2 Cucumbers
1/2 bunch of Celery
thumb of Ginger
2 Granny Smith Apples (more apples when you first start, to help you get used to the taste, lessening as you go)
1 Lemon (more lemons when you first start, to help you get used to the taste, going back to 1 as you go)

And once in a while we add Cilantro or Beets to the juicer. I have never tried to use this in a blender, only the juicer and what we researched is that when juiced, it takes the fiber out, so the nutrients are easily soaked into the body. And yes, we do lose weight with juicing. Usually about a pound a day. Sometimes we will eat raw vegetables for dinner if we have run out of juice for the day or are so hungry. If we get really hungry, we simply add another glass of juice. I try to not go hungry on this diet plan.

Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor before starting any diet program or before doing any long term juicing program. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Picture with me...

Last week we attended a funeral for a 50 year dad of 4 young children who passed away from brain cancer. He was in our support group, and like me he received the brain tumor vaccine. Our dear friend TJ, had the best since of humor all thought his battle, until his last days (I'm told). That is such an inspiration to me to live my life to it's fullest until the end.

One thing I saw at his funeral and have noticed at several others I have been to, is a nice professional picture of the deceased. Now that leaves me wondering which picture of mine will be displayed at my funeral or should I get a nice professional picture picked out that I would like to be used. I already have a semi plan for my funeral, but that's another topic.

While I have your attention at pictures, I just want to add that I hate every picture I am in. I don't think I am very photogenic and because of this, I am usually the one taking the pictures. Now that I know my time here is shortened, I have been thinking about making some memories for my children, which would have to include pictures of me. And since I hate myself in pictures this is hard.

I have been thinking about this for a while and I'm sure just about every mom/woman hates themselves in pictures. We always have something slightly off, a hair out of place, etc. After all, we're not models. But as a role model to my children and teenage daughter, I do need to step into the picture way more often.

When I look at pictures of my mom when she was my age, I may laugh at her hair or clothes, but I never think anything bad about her looks, she's just always been beautiful in my eyes. I am so self conscious about my hair, especially now that it is short (I love it when it was long) and I think my smile is crooked and hate the way it looks in pictures. And I'm sure my kids will feel this same way I do about my mom, so I really need to step in front of that camera, bad hair day, crooked smile, and all. Who cares what I look like, I'm sure my kids won't just like I will always think my mom is beautiful, they will do the same for me.

So I went out and took pictures with my children. It was Ben's 4th birthday pictures and I bought a Groupon for them. When asked over the phone for my appointment, I said it would just be either only Ben or all 4 of my children together. When we were getting ready and I was picking out their clothes, I thought maybe I should be in the pictures with them, so I was...

...and now I can only hope that my children will look back at this photo and not only say "where's dad?" but say "our mom was beautiful"! This year I am going to try to be in front of the camera a little more (that's my only resolution).

Friday, January 4, 2013

Update to last doctor's appointment

This is an update to another blog post I wrote about my Big Doctor's Appointment and to just update it.

After my oncologist talked with the surgeon, he emailed us saying "Dr. Liau had some hesitation about doing surgery given the location of one of the lesions near the ventricle, and the effects of the prior surgery on Melanie. Based on this, the consensus was to watch these lesions carefully and to consider radiation if there is further growth. We should see Melanie back in 3 months."

So that was good news to us as I wanted to have another surgery, but Sean would rather I didn't because it is so stressful on everyone before and during my surgery. It's like God's hands have been in this, because we were really worried about having to make another difficult decision. And in our support group we have seen people with some deficits from multiple surgeries and I had a lot of short term memory loss after my second surgery last December. We are good waiting, hoping it gives the vaccine more time to do what it's supposed to do and it will give me a chance to try more natural things which I have been researching quite a bit and have already started.

This was discussed a great deal by myself and my husband because it's such a huge decision...have another surgery which may have complications or do chemo for a year...luckily the doctor's made the decision for us and didn't even mention chemo, which I am in favor of delaying. One time my surgeon told us that statistically if you do chemo right away or wait until the tumor grows to do chemo, your life expectancy will be the same. So, I might as well keep chemo in my back pocket as long as I can.

Now we are on to try more natural treatments. I have read and heard so much regarding natural treatments. Some of the treatments we have researched are hemp oil (which does not get you high, but gives you the good cannabinoids you need to fight cancer), the Budwig Diet, H2O2 (edible hydrogen peroxide, infrared saunas, and Vitamin B-17, as well as juicing, eating a healthy vegetarian diet, and exercising (which we already do).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas 2012

(Pictures coming soon, Sean is too organized sometimes and put the pictures on his laptop, which is at his office)

Our Christmas this year, as with past years, was wonderful. We have many traditions that we incorporate. I like to buy the kids a new ornament each year. This year we went with a beach/ocean theme. Josh and Zach both got surfboard ornaments, Ben got a dolphin, and Faith got a mermaid. Our family ornament was a turquoise glass ball with Santa flying over the beach and 2012 marked on it. We also had several ornaments from our travels across the country. One from each Yellowstone, Disney World, and New York.

Every Christmas Eve, we all open presents from other family members not at our house for Christmas. My children all receive new pajamas (that way they look nice on Christmas day for pictures!!).

I always seem to wait until the last minute to wrap presents, luckily this year my mother in law helped during the day on Christmas Eve, so that was all done for me. She also helped bring them down after the kids went to bed. My husband wants our children to be surprised when they see all the presents, so no presents are allowed under the tree until we bring everything down.

Another tradition he has, which I love, is putting the kids stockings at the foot of their bed. That way on Christmas morning they spend a little time opening their stocking so we can get a few extra minutes of sleep. But my children are still a little too small to do this and they brought their stockings into our bed as soon as they woke up (for the 2nd time) at 6am!

Christmas morning was fun, but it seems to only take about 10 minutes for my children to tear open all of their gifts. It makes me happy that I went with my husband's idea of wrapping everything, which probably added a little time to their unwrapping presents, although I always thought that Santa toys shouldn't be wrapped and should be set up ready to play with (to avoid that awkward moment when the kids see that we have the same wrapping paper as Santa)! This was they year that my children got skateboards and pads. Josh and Zach also got Heelies (shoes with a wheel in the heel). Faith got a brand new 5th generation iTouch, she was thrilled! Our whole family got season passes to LegoLand from my in laws and Sea World passes from my husband's business partner. So much to look forward to in the coming year!

After unwrapping, we had our big Christmas breakfast of bacon and eggs. With this being the first Christmas that we are vegetarian, we opted for veggie sausage and fake bacon. Not as good as the real thing, but I was happy to stick with my healthy lifestyle.

In the afternoon we headed to my mom's house in Moreno Valley, where almost all of my family meets. It was a great afternoon of family, cousins, reading the Christmas story, eating, and hanging out. And of course more presents!

We really had a great day and I'm so happy that we were given a Savior on this day so many years ago.