Dogwood Photography Weekly Challenge Week 8: Panorama

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I skipped week 8.  It has been a hectic week this week.  My husband has been in China, my kids and I had a lot of appointments, and I had chemo today.  Week eight was a panoramic picture.  I went to a local military beach and snapped this picture and merged it in Light Room.

My infusion went well today, though I’m considerably tired.  I did get some really positive news.  My CA-125 reading went down 40 points!  The doctor is going to continue me on Doxil.  I’m still planning on going to next base to talk to the doctors about clinical trials.

Here are some more pictures from the shoreline along the Chochtawatchee Bay in Florida…

 

Dogwood Weekly Photography Challenge Week 9: Shadows

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This week’s challenge is artistic shadows.  I tried taking several shadow pictures, with very little luck, but at last week’s Mardi Gras, I was able to capture these beads laying on the boardwalk in the shadows of a building.  That’s all I have to say about that.

It has been a crazy few weeks, and that’s why I am behind in just about everything.  I gave up Facebook for Lent.  I haven’t given it up 100% though.  I still go on and read statuses, sometimes I post a little bit.  I mostly post my photography, updates on cancer, and updates about my friends.  Recently, I posted regarding my friend, Becky, who passed away.  It’s the fifth death in our little local cancer group.  It’s the first person I have known quite well.  So her death caused me to go into a tailspin.  I have had to talk myself down a few times this last week.

I’m still stable.  As in my cancer is not growing, it is not shrinking, it is remaining the same.  It feels like the last two weeks of each chemo cycle it grows, but once I get chemo it shrinks it.  It’s frustrating, and annoying.  I find myself on my downtime doing a lot of research.  It’s hard to explain to people that I have cancer, but I feel great (for the most part), and I don’t look like I have cancer.  It’s definitely one of those invisible diseases, and it’s really hard to explain that you aren’t terminal, but you aren’t entirely well.  I feel like I have a ticking time bomb inside me.  One day it’s going to explode, and I’ll be like Becky, slowly fading away.

 

 

Dogwood Weekly Photography Challenge Week 7: Faceless

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Laissez les bons temps rouler!  Happy Mardi Gras.  This is my last Mardi Gras in the deep south, so I decided to save my week 7 inputs for today.  I’m a few weeks behind, but I do have most the photographs done.  The real reason for not posting though was week 7 was a chemotherapy week, and I didn’t feel up to going to shoot, and week 8 I was busy getting our house ready to sell (it’s on the market).  Mardi Gras was a perfect excuse to get my faceless picture.

I never realized the Mardi Gras tradition, and how it relates to my religion.  Mardi Gras is a traditionally Catholic celebration.  It started in the early church monarchies in Europe, specifically in Rome!  It is 40 days and 40 nights BEFORE the Lenten season, and takes place between Christmas and Lent.  The King Cake that is traditionally served during Mardi Gras represents the Halo of Jesus.  The baby inside of the cake is, well duh Baby Jesus.  The colors represent the three gifts the kings gave to Mary and Joseph.  It’s a time of revelry before a time of reflection.

While our house was being shown I got out to take some pictures faceless pictures, and this was the one I decided on.  The man stilt walking a feat to behold.  God knows I couldn’t get my fat arse up there.  He was dancing and posing for pictures.  We got beads, candy, and Moon Pies for all!

So enjoy the pictures and laissez les bons temps rouler!

 

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Traditional Mardi Gras Brass Band

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Jazz Sax

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Eglin Color Guard

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Crazy Stilt Walker!

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Senior Dance Troop

An Open Letter…

Apparently I have a hater, who has gone from a few blogs I have guest-wrote, my own personal blog, comments on another article, my Caring Bridge, and a few other personal sites.  This person, for whatever reason, has decided I’m “faking cancer, am a troll, and have committed Stolen Valor.”  I spent my day e-mailing administrators at Caring Bridge, Go Fund Me, and various other sites to straighten out the accusations.  Instead of running away, and hiding, I would like to address these accusations head on.

This is not the first time someone has accused me of faking this illness.  The first accusation came a year ago, when I first started this lovely adventure.  It was from a running group I belonged to, so I’m not surprised that the accusations have come to light again.  And I think it’s common to accuse writers of making stuff up to gain hits, sell stuff, or even make money from something so heinous.

I can assure you that, despite my deepest wishes, I do have cancer.  Specifically, I have Stage IV Serous Carcinoma of the Ovary.  Currently, my cancer is in 4-5 spots in my abdomen– four lymph nodes and one small tumor located on my pleural cavity, sticking out of my rib.  I have done 26 chemotherapy infusions, two surgeries, and spent countless hours laying in bed so tired that I can’t even think straight.

My purpose for writing about it, sharing it, talking about is two fold (and believe me I am not being paid for any of it).  First, if I can save one person from the pain I went through it would be worth it for me.  Ovarian cancer is insidious.  I had very few symptoms, and the symptoms I did have are so subtle that they were easily explained by something else.  Secondly, it is very therapeutic for me to write about my illness.  It helps dealing with it.  Whether it be an open letter rant like this, or comedic naming my of my tumors– the one on my rib is Quatto, and the one in my rectum was Felicia.

So to the hater, I’m not going to provide overwhelming evidence that I have cancer to make you feel better.  Not going to post a picture of my pathology report, or my surgery.  I am not going to name drop my oncologist (he’s a really cool guy though, and I recommend him).  I’m not going to post my DD-214 to prove I was a veteran, or my VA award letter to prove I’m a disabled veteran.  I’m not going to post a picture of my husband to prove I’m a military spouse.  I am well aware that any you wouldn’t believe any of it any way.  I will tell you that your reports got to the right people, I was informed, and provided adequate proof of illness, and my various blog postings, Go Fund Me, and comments I made on other blog posts were not removed.

I understand your reasoning for questioning anyone who goes online and says, I have cancer.  There are sick people out there who DO fake cancer.  I actually with the help of the NY State Police, and the VA did out a faker.  She was arrested and currently facing charges for fraud.  Fakers happen.  A little piece of advice, though, once you report a faker, and appropriate action is taken and proof is provided– please do not continue to malign and harass the individual you reported.  Stalking only delegitimizes your claims of fraud.  I was contacted, and I provided enough evidence that any investigation into the matter was dropped…

That being said, for those who want to know how to spot a faker, I’ll give you a few guidelines:

  1.  If it sounds too good to be true, than it probably isn’t true.  Same goes with negative news.  If it doesn’t make sense it’s probably not true.  For example the faker I outed, said she was on oral chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.  Usually front line chemotherapy for gynecological cancers is IV carboplatin and taxol.
  2. Strangers asking for money.  I did end up needing to fundraise.  I didn’t ask for money from strangers, I posted on my Facebook.  A few of my classmates saw my fundraising effort to get on a clinical trial and it was shared on my alma mater’s website.  Most patients needing fundraising will not ask you for money unless they know you.
  3. Ask for verification.  If you have questions about whether someone has an illness, or is getting ill-gotten gains.  Ask questions.  Ask for doctors, ask for references.  Ask.  If anyone had any questions about my cancer, I would gladly have answered any questions.
  4. If you are still in doubt, report it.  But don’t let the anger consume you.  Be like Elsa, and Let It Go :)!

 

Dogwood Photography Challenge Week 6: Artistic Candy

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This week’s challenge is Artistic Candy.  It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and it’s also my husband’s 42nd birthday.  Last year at this time I was throwing up in a plastic bin at a hospital after my hysterectomy.  Our birthday celebrations on his birthday has been spotty.  Of the 25+ years we have been dating and/or married, we have been together on my husband’s birthday a handful of times.  I think I can count on one hand when we were under the same roof.

Anyway, we met in 1991.  I had started running track at the insistence of my Life Studies teacher (I think that’s what it was called, I don’t remember for sure).  I decided to go to an indoor meet, because being the social butterfly that I am, I had nothing better to do.  It turns out my husband didn’t have anything better to do either– he missed his race.  We talked all night.  He drove me home.  We flirted a ton.  He even dated another girl.  But we always came back to each other.

We started to date on August 29th, 1992.  Every month, he would send me a rose for every month we were dating.  He even managed to send 24 roses on our 2 year anniversary in the middle of August while he was at basic training at the Air Force Academy.  We dated long distance, before the internet, before cell phones, and before technology.  Most communication was done via letters.

In March of 1995, he proposed, and I accepted.  We were engaged just over a year, and were married June 13th, 1997.  As many military couples do, we spent most of our first several years of marriage living in different homes, different zip codes.  I remember being told by my flight commander that we were better off divorced, but we stuck through that.  We have stuck together through 13 PCS moves, 4 deployments (2 combat deployments), a child with autism, the death of his step-father, the death of my father, a grand total of 4 years of separation (not related to deployments), a child with significant developmental delays, and now cancer.

We are separated yet again…  But we are always and forever together.

Dogwood Challenge Week 5: Black and White Landscape

Tres-pass (verb): 

  1. To enter a owner’s land without permission
  2. To commit an offense against a person or set of rules

This week’s challenge was a black and white landscape photograph.  It was a rough week, around day 16-18 after chemotherapy, I start feeling sick.  The illness lasts about 24-48 hours, then magically it lifts, and I feel better.  This time it was more stomach flu-ish than the typical cramping, and for whatever reason I could not trudge through it, as I have been trudging through chemotherapy.  I often think of chemo like running a marathon.  Sometimes I hate running, so I close my eyes, and stomp it out.

Today I trudged through the neighborhood looking for inspiration.  I was told a long time ago that as a photographer, I have a good eye, but not the best technical skills.  I forgot that my ISO was set low when I made my way to a dilapidated barn…  I got good shots, could not fix them in Lightroom to make them look decent as a black and white shot…

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And this one too…

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Still other pictures I took made great black and white landscaping.

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But nothing hit me as far as my mood this last week.  You see I have been thinking about our world, and the recent climate.  I was raised Catholic.  Last week in mass the priest spoke of the Beatitudes.  The pictures circulating around the internet have made me sad and contemplative.  Pictures of babies separated from their mothers for extended periods of time out of fear.  Pictures of babies denied surgeries, because of fear.  Pictures of fences that we are putting up around ourselves.  I found a sign that says “No Trespassing.”  The meaning behind the sign is simple– don’t go on this person’s land.  Laying on the ground near the trespassing sign is the sign above, “No Hunting.”  Again pretty straight forward, you don’t go hunting on his land either.  It’s by a game trail, so that’s a good thing with all the children in the area.

But the word trespassing has a different meaning– in old English it means “sinning.”  Trespass shows up in the Lord’s Prayer (just like the Beatitudes are in the Bible), “Forgive me my trespasses, and those that trespass against me.”  Many Americans are afraid, especially Christians.  They are afraid of terrorism, afraid of not making enough money to make it week-to-week, they are afraid of war, and they are afraid of progress.  They have bought into fear, and therefore have elected someone to lead us that is not worthy of that sacred duty.  The fear is making us forget.  Forget what we are, what we fought for, and forget our past.  We are repeating the sins of our fathers.  We are trespassing upon others.

That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth…

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Dogwood Challenge Week 4: Portrait Headshot

The Story Of Sadie

When I found out this week’s challenge was a head shot, I struggled.  I’m can take pretty good portraits, but it’s not my all-time favorite type of picture. I don’t really like taking pictures of people.  I have a hard time going up to a stranger and asking them, “Hey, can I take your picture?”  I had to ask right away if a portrait meant human.  When I was told portraits are whoever, or whatever, I want them to be.  So I knew, who I wanted to take a picture of.  And she has quite a story…

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No this is not the picture I submitted, but it is her goofy personality.  From the time I was a little girl, I always wanted a Siberian Husky.  I grew up in Minnesota, and huskies are kind of a part of life there.  When I went to college, our college owned a team of them.  We used to feed them, play with them, and just being around them.  Huskies are a unique breed of dog.  They are unlike any dog I have ever owned.  You often hear about the negative attributes– they are stubborn, they run away (A LOT– just look at my Facebook feed, when I am begging my local friends to help me get my damn dog back), they are ferocious hunters, and they can be loud pain in the asses.

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Sadie is all that, and more.  We found Sadie, rather Sadie found us in 2010.  We lost our dog Scooter to cancer just one year after Zeus died from suicide by diaper genie.  We had moved to Ohio, and Ryan needed a dog.  I perused Pet Finder on mission from God.  I found Sadie. She was being kept at a double-wide in a 3′ by 3′ cage.  Her family had adopted her, but left her rearing to an 8-year-old boy.  She was wild.  Her hair was every where.  She cried, barked, and was just a brat.  After getting the OK from the landlord, I brought her home.  After about six weeks of intense behavior training, she became my dog.

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For the last six years this dog has been my constant companion.  She was there when my dad died.  She was there when my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD.  She was there when we fought the school district.  She has not left my side through cancer treatments.  She lays by my feet through the nausea, the tears, and the frustration.  In 40 years, I have never have had a dog that was my companion.  Sadie is my dog.  When we first got her, I asked Ryan what Sadie’s name should be.  Without missing a beat, he said, “Sadie Lady Dog-Dog…”  So here’s the picture I submitted to the Dogwood 52-week Photography Challenge Week 4:

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