Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Day After

My lumpectomy surgery was yesterday. Today I'm feeling great! No pain whatsoever! It's almost like it was a non-event. That's how well God, and my praying friends and family took care of me. At least 30 text messages and emails came my way the day before and the morning of surgery, and I'm most grateful for all of them. Thank you for prayers and the peace that poured over me.

Pre-surgery testing (EKG and Xray); pre-surgery prep (radioactive dye uptake, and wire placement - to pinpoint the tumor for the surgeon); surgery; and recovery all went as smoothly as possible. And it was all accomplished without pain - not even nausea from anesthesia! Being the wimp I am, and this being the first time I've ever been in the hospital, except to deliver our daughter and son, I am relieved it's over. God heard my prayers - and those of many of you - asking for strength and protection. He gave me both.

The surgeon removed the tumor and got "clear margins" - a good thing. The tumor was expected to be 9 mm and was in fact 15 mm. It seems an ultrasound biopsy does a good job showing tumors, but only two-dimensionally. Still, the tumor was small enough that doctors believe I am now cancer-free. The only thing that will make it certain is learning that the two sentinel lymph nodes that were biopsied during surgery are clear. Those results will arrive next Monday, April 1, when the pathology report is phoned to me. If indeed everything is clear, then, for "insurance" purposes, I'll have partial breast radiation that will likely begin April 8. That won't be an easy road either, but prayers will get me through it too.

My sister, Susan, in Kansas sent me a gift that sure lifts my spirits. I can't wait to proudly wear this t-shirt.

Ah yes. I'd say my sister knows me!

This 12" X 16" pillow was sent to me by my Iowa friend, Kim, a breast cancer survivor herself. It's a "Booby Pillow," the official name given it by another friend and breast cancer survivor, Andrea. It makes me smile.

In the note Kim sent with the pillow, she reminds me that I was the person who taught her how to stash fabric and sew a pillow case! Admirable talents to teach her? I wonder. This particular print is a design of the Lutheran Church of Hope logo that we had made by Spoonflower. Now both Kim's stashed fabric and her pillow case sewing skills have come full circle. What a lesson God teaches us! When we bless others, we are indeed blessing ourselves. Thank you Kim.

For the next few days, I'm taking it easy. This will be my vantage point while I do a little bit of hand embroidery.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I am Blessed!

Words cannot express how grateful I am for the dozens and dozens of comments on my previous post. Goodness! So many. Nor could I count all the private emails I received. Though I've spent hours on the computer, trying to compose thoughtful responses to each of you (except for the six or so of you who are "no reply commenter"), my replies were not done begrudgingly. It was therapeutic for me to consider what you said and then examine my feelings - emotionally and spiritually - about this diagnosis. You all make me certain I am not experiencing this alone - in fact, many of you have been through something similar, and even worse. With God's love, and many prayers, I am being helped. I am earnestly and sincerely thanking God for surrounding me with "such a great cloud of witnesses." You bless me.

Thank you, Gloria, for directing me to this Bible verse;
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear. I will help you." Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
Cards have been coming in too, with "concern for you" cards running neck-and-neck with birthday cards. In the picture I'm featuring my favorite card that came from my line dancing buddy, Sheila. It says, "Sixty Schmixty." Hrumph! That's what I think too!

Friends also blessed me with some thoughtful and lovely birthday gifts. 

Thanks Susan M. for the chocolate bar. Seems it was invisible because it disappeared before I could take a picture... a decadent, 72 percent dark cocoa with raspberry bar. Delicious!

Not one, but two fabric shop gift certificates came from Team Di, and Deb. What's not to love? 

Sweet Ms. Lolly surprised me with beautiful work from her flourishing palms. It's a 9" X 13" casserole/cake carrier!

Aren't the fabrics pretty? And that orange binding and drawstring are just the right finishing touch.

She even made a pot holder to go with it. It sounds crinkly inside, so I'm sure it was made with Insul-bright. So practical, and just plain charming!

I will use it as soon as I can get hubby to make a casserole for me to take someplace!

Sewing-wise, I seem unable to remain focused on one project at a time, but that's not too unusual. Three are in the works. That seems about right, doesn't it?

I started FPP palm leaf blocks to make a wall hanging for a long, narrow space in the living room. Yep, we're still adding the last finishing touches to this house.

I really like these blocks. Fourteen more to go.

At the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Lakeland (FL) last Friday, I picked up the pattern for "Lunch Time," by Flamingo Island Designs. It's available as a kit, but I'm not and never will be a kit person. It's too much fun sorting through and picking out fabrics that make my project different from everyone else's. I'm not much for machine appliqué or this fussy kind of sewing, but the design is too perfect for filling the bare wall in our front entry. Our family has this thing for pelicans - childhood remembrances of beach vacations on Sanibel Island (FL). In front of our house, our lamp post name sign has a pelican on it. I'm on the hunt for a pelican statue/figurine too.

It's been enjoyable to pick and poke through fabrics to see what works for all the bits of wings, bills, and legs for the pelican, and nine sandpipers. This is as far as it's gotten.

I'm still FMQing this 86" X 101" monstrosity - Roll, Roll Cotton Boll - trying to take a bite of it every day. The blocks are quilted now, and I'm starting to quilt the outside setting triangles.

I'm sure glad I listened to Carla's recommendation to try sateen for the backing. From an online store, I bought a wide back sateen that enhances the texture of the quilting, though it could also be looking nice because I'm using Quilter's Dream polyester batting - another recommendation. In any case, it's been wonderful to quilt, without skipped stitches or problems of any kind.

Now if all of life could be as easy as free-motion quilting! Surgery is next Tuesday and radiation begins about a week later. Thanks for hangin' in there with me, friends. I am blessed by each of you. Linda

Monday, March 18, 2013

Life is Not Always a Bowl of Cherries

As much as we all wish life would go along at an even pace, at some point in our lives, each of us faces a big turn of events, an exceptional challenge, a bump in the road. Or, one gets that proverbial pit in a bowl of cherries. I got that pit.

Fourteen days ago I was told I have breast cancer. I know that having breast cancer doesn't make me special, because in fact one in every eight women will get it.

Still, I wonder why it happens to some of us and not others. I don't have risk factors: Our family doesn't have a history of breast cancer; - though the biopsy technician pointed out that someone has to get breast cancer for it to become "a family history" - I nursed my two babies; I've never had hormone replacement therapy; I've never smoked; I eat healthily; I exercise; I'm not overweight; and yes, I drink alcohol (wine), but definitely in moderation. Cancer can happen when you do everything right.

My tumor, which is about 9 mm in size, was identified as an abnormality during a routine mammogram in January. I couldn't, and still can't feel it. After a second mammography visit, on February 27 I had a needle-guided ultrasound biopsy. Five days later, on March 4, my husband accompanied me to the doctor's office when I received the report: invasive ductal carcinoma with tubular features. Who wouldn't be frightened to hear that!?

In the past two weeks I've seen an oncologist and a surgeon. On March 26 I'll have a lumpectomy and a biopsy of two lymph nodes under my arm. Three to eight days later the pathology report will clarify whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and/or elsewhere. The doc says there's a 90 percent chance it has not. Then, I'm a candidate for a newer radiation treatment called partial breast radiation that will be delivered directly to the lumpectomy site for only one week. No one's yet told me how I'll feel during that week, if I'll feel extra tired or even sick, but I will handle it. If one week of intense radiation means that by the end of April this could all be behind me, I'm goin' for it.

I'm also goin' for soaking in God's Word! Verses about the hope he offers for the future, his strength and how he is helping me stay strong - though I do have my moments - help me bare up. When I feel overwhelmed, he hears from me... and he's hearing frequently from me these days! He's also hearing from praying friends and family, and even people who don't know me. Such knowledge is filling me with a blanketing peace. I share this, not to draw attention to me, but to invite your prayer too. It's the only thing I covet in the way of "help." God hears.

My tumor was found early, while it is small, so I have a good prognosis.

Now I'm admonishing you women, in the nicest, most encouraging way. Take advantage of the medical technology we're blessed to have available to us. Make that mammogram appointment you've been putting off. Seriously. It could save your life. I mean it!

Today I'm celebrating my 60th birthday. Even though it's a big number, am proud to be 60. Gosh, I've made it through 60 years of living!

Weeks ago I had hoped to have a party today, but this diagnosis shook me loose of that idea. But God-willing, breast cancer won't slow me down for long. Now, I'm holding out for a Cancer-Free Party. Until then, happy 60th birthday to me! Linda

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Road Trip

On Tuesday, two quilter-friends - Karen and Sheddy - joined me on a road trip to Lakeland. Travel time is much nicer when spent getting better acquainted and talking quilting. Our destination was Heartfelt Quilting and Sewing, to hear a lecture and see a trunk show by Carolyn Friedlander. Also planned was an on-the-way stop at Fabric Warehouse in north Lakeland. The shop's modern fabric selection was wonderful.

I managed to leave with 17 pieces to replenish some low-in-inventory designs and colors - Anna Maria Horner Field Study; V&Co. Simply Colors; Nicey Jane; Bella solids; and a few basics.

Later, at Heartfelt Quilting and Sewing, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing Carolyn's quilts, and meeting her afterward. I was happy to note we have mutual acquaintances with several celebrity quilters! Jill and Marny, Tammy and Doris.

Carolyn does all her own FMQing on a Janome. 

It's great to see the efforts of a young quilter who creates a quilt, from start to finish, all on her own.

Her workmanship is beautiful, so it wasn't surprising to know she won two ribbons at QuiltCon.

Now if we can just get Carolyn to come and visit us at our Central Florida MQG, couldn't we have fun?

Sheddy, checking out Carolyn's quilting.
Carolyn's first fabric line, Architextures by Robert Kaufman, were just too yummy to pass up. Though I didn't buy all 21 prints, I can already picture these as negative space and contrast prints in future quilts. In fact, I have a project in mind and I'm itching to get started! 

A good time was had by all! Linda

Monday, March 4, 2013

BOMs Away

More fun, and much less time-consuming than UFOs is working on BOM blocks. This 12" "Winged Square" block was already mailed to Cindy in the Mid-Century Modern Bee (MCMB). At her request, the background fabric is Kona Snow.

Also, for the MCMB, this 9" Hugs and Kisses block is for Debbie. She's making a low-volume quilt. I was glad to include in it an Aboriginal print I picked up in Australia. It's the large, pointillist- looking fabric in the upper left quadrant.

This "filmstrip block" is the first (January) of the BAM-BOM being offer through BAM: Bay Area Modern quilt guild. You know how it is when you don't have exactly what you want and you're forced to be creative? That's what happened to me with this block. For the little pictures in the film strips we were to fussy-cut squares from a print fabric. Not having a stash print that would work/was the right size, I decided to improvise. I Googled "Florida icons," downloaded ten pictures, resized them in my Page (MacBook) software, printed them on Printed Treasures, and cut them out. One of the little designs is of our new Central Florida MQG logo. I think it works! Background fabric is Moda "Simply Color".

I hurried to finish the February BAM-BOM which was released on February 28th. While the block is really neat, let's just say that I'm glad I needed to make only two feathers. Half of each feather is selvages.

I also prepared and stitched the second BOM of my alternative version of Val's Apples of Gold

Hooray for being caught up with March BOMs! For the first time, I'm linking up to join Lyn's BOMs Away Monday, on Monday! Linda

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Scatterday - I

This Scatterday post is brought to you by the letter
Money - I-shape
Can you tell how desperate I was to find something money-related to an"I"?! I can't think of one photographable item that's money beginning with the letter I. I mean, who has an ingot laying around the house?! But we keep lots of quarters, for when we get on the Florida tollway.

Tools - Iron and Mini-Iron
Having gone back to short hair last November, I no longer need or use the Chi flatiron. I bought my T-Fal iron because of it's high rating. I've not been at all disappointed.

But this little iron is a favorite to because it's so portable and just fun to use. How about that wee size?! I bought it at Walgreens, one of my favorite odds-and-ends places to shop, especially at Christmastime.

Metal - Street sign I
After photo-cropping, the focus is on the letter "I" in the word "crossing." Or rather "xing."

Here's the whole sign. Since I had never seen a golf cart sign until moving to The Villages, I'm guessing you've probably never seen one either. With a population of 96,000 people (and counting) it's estimated there are about 60,000 golf carts. Carts are used when playing golf at one of 38 golf courses, (and counting) and for transportation on more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) of designated golf cart roadways. I'll have to say, carting is our most enjoyable form of transportation, and economical too.

Sewing Room - Inchies
So many inchies are in my sewing rom that I couldn't fit them all into one picture! I have a few more rulers I could have added, but these are a good representation of them; as well as a hem gauge in my Bernina pocket tool; several tape measurers that include my favorite, yellow, 100" one; and the inches along the edge of my Gidget II sewing machine table.

Perhaps I'm just a slow learner, but it's finally dawning on me that these Scatterday challenges are much less about photography and improving picture-taking skills, and much more about creative thinking. Linda


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