Friday, December 25, 2009

An Engagement Story

The story: Friday, December 18th was Dashing's 25 birthday. We always do 3 birthday events - dinner with immediate family, a friends' day/night, and a couple's dinner. As you can imagine, we more or less do birthday weekends. Dashing had a Med School exam during the day on Friday, and when he finished he gave me a call to say he had made dinner reservations at the Compass Room at our downtown Phoenix Hyatt, a rooftop rotating restaurant. I wasn't surprised by the restaurant choice as we had my couple's dinner there this year too. I was surprised by one thing though....he actually made reservations and evening plans? I was impressed as he usually has me call to make reservations. We drove downtown and stopped at the Sheraton's District Bar for a quick pre-dinner birthday drink. Then on to dinner....we talked, ate, celebrated his birthday. We seamlessly got into a conversation about how our past experiences, good and bad, make us who we are today and how that has made us stronger together. He then said, these past 3 1/2 years have been the best of my life. Just then the rotating restaurant viewed our loft, his school, my work, our car (he planned this too!).....he got down on his knee and asked "Will you marry me?" and opened up the ring box.

I have no doubt that I looked like a deer in headlights. From recent conversations, I was sort of expecting something in early spring....but definitely not on his birthday. He later said he wanted to do it on his birthday for that exact reason - to make it a genuine surprise. He said it's the best birthday gift he could have.

So after all of this, the waitress came back with champagne and congratulated us. We left the restaurant hand in hand and called his and my parents. Unbeknownst to me, he had asked my dad for my hand in marriage 2 weeks ago when my dad was in town visiting AZ, and his parents have known for the last month. AND Apparently, the ring was delivered to his parent's house on Thursday while I was standing in the entry way. Dashing's dad signed for a package and mentioned it was medical records. I was clueless! We then met up with his parents for a champagne toast at the OBar at the Ocean Club.

I am loving being engaged to the man of my dreams, and I have to admit I catch myself just frequently admiring my ring. We do not have a date set, and don't plan to until Dashing gets his medical school schedule for the upcoming year. He is so excited for all of this AND he (yes, I said HE) is pumped to be involved in the decisions on everything from location to color palate - amazing! He definitely got his mom's (Glenda's) interior designer genes!

Lots of new and exciting adventures to come!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The future Mrs. Dashing

Yes, you read it right! Dashing and I are engaged! Here are some photos to feed your appetite....story to come soon!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Who brought the Grinch to Christmas?

In my last post, I shared with you all great news about my PET scan results. I am still over the moon about how my chemotherapy treatments have gone thus far - but not really looking forward to 2 more rounds. So, in preparation for chemo wrap-up, I had to visit with a radiation oncologist to discuss my second part of treatment. After chemotherapy, I will have approximately 20 sessions of radiation to put the last nail in my cancer coffin. The radiation oncologist was wonderful, understanding, and explained everything in detail. Feeling pretty good about what was to come, I nodded in agreement with the process as my entourage (Dashing, Glenda, Dashing's dad, my dad) closely listened in.

I then asked "What will be the daily routine when I come in?" The doctor says, you'll be in and out in 30 minutes most days (I'm thinking fantastic!). For the first few times, there will be some additional planning needed." The doctor continues..."On the first visit, we'll give you some markings to properly line you up on the radiation table for each visit." Dashing's dad (who is an ER doc) is known for his sarcasm and one liners; he pipes up and says,"Now Sara, you know these will be permanent tattoos." I chuckle and say, "Oh sure Mark," and waive my hand as to nonchalantly wave it off. Then I see the look on his face and my grin quickly disappears - "Oh, you're serious."

So readers, the Grinch officially arrived with the notification of my upcoming nuptials with some nice blue tattoo dots on my neck/chest area. Just tally them up to some more battle scars. Ugh.

Here is a picture posted online as to what these tattoos look like. I can have them removed later on with a supposed simple plastic surgery visit. I'm just not a tattoo girl, never wanted one. In the holiday spirit, can't I just get a Santa Claus temporary tattoo instead???

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas came early

Do not fret! Santa did not come down my chimney before any of yours. However, I did get a few of great presents early.

Last weekend, two of my dearest out-of-state friends, Miss. Emily B and Miss. Josie, flew out to AZ for a fantastic weekend. Throughout this whole experience, both of them have been so overwhelmingly supportive. They are wonderful friends, and I am so thankful to have them in my life.

This weekend, my dad came into town from Indiana to experience my chemotherapy treatment visit, and of course see me. I'm sure he didn't mind the warmer AZ weather either.

And finally, the most important health present was a report. Last week, I had to get a PET scan to determine how my tumors were responding to cancer. I got a very rare report that after only 5 chemotherapy treatments, my tumors have stopped growing, started reducing in size, and my previously active cancer cells are ALL stunned/killed! This is called a "negative PET" which is the best present that my friends, family, and I could receive this Christmas. Almost as great was my oncologist's facial expression when he heard about the negative report...priceless!

So Merry Christmas to all, and I hope for each one of you a happy holiday season and a new year filled with health and happiness.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday

This past Wednesday, I had my 5th chemotherapy treatment - I can't believe it! I've been responding well to treatment and am still in the best of hands with my friends and family. I have to say that I've gotten used to being the patient in all sense of the word - at home and in the hospitals. However, I got a taste of what it's like to be on the other side of the hospital bed this Thanksgiving's Black Friday.

On Thursday, the entourage headed up to northern Arizona to spend Thanksgiving in the high country. Thanksgiving was moved to Saturday to accommodate every one's schedules. When you're with a medical family - you learn to change the date of holidays frequently. Dashing's sister, Miss E, then started having complaints of stomach pains, and by Friday morning, Dashing and his Dad had determined that Miss E would be appendix-less by the end of the day. Yes, Miss E had a head on collision with appendicitis. This was the start of Black Friday. We headed over to the emergency room (which luckily Dashing's dad runs) and Miss E was prepped for surgery after a positive CT scan. As she was lying in the hospital bed, I started to understand what my family and friends feel as I am going through my treatments.

The uncertainty overwhelmed me and I felt quite helpless. I tried to find ways to keep the Miss E's spirits up with the little things, like loaning her socks and reading magazines. I felt like this was my opportunity to give Miss E support like she has been giving me for the past few months.

As a medical student, Dashing was able to actually stand in and watch Miss E's surgery, which was a success. I am happy to report that Miss E is recovering fabulously and demanded to go out to a Mexican dinner only a few hours after surgery. What a trooper!

So, this Thanksgiving especially, I want to THANK every friend, family, and blog friend for your support and love. It makes all the difference.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The sweet taste of chocolate bread

In my last post, I mentioned baking chocolate bread - a favorite of mine. Fantastic blogger For the Love commented to post the recipe - so here it is! It all started with Glenda finding this small bakery in San Diego that made chocolate bread every Saturday morning. Needless to say you had to get there early or else it was sold out. Then, I thought - why not try to make it ourselves! I gathered online recipies for chocolate bread and we went to work. Although we haven't completely perfected it yet and continue to tweak the recipe - here is a recipe to start with.

2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast (we think we should still add more)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
4 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup plus
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate (we tried Nestle, but are thinking a more rich milk chocolate will be better)
Egg wash (one egg plus 1 tablespoon water mixed)

Stir yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar into 1/3 cup warm water and pour into a large mixing bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Mix flour, remaining sugar, cocoa and salt. Stir remaining 1 1/4 cups water into dissolved yeast, then stir in the flour mixture. Knead dough until elastic (5-8 min) and then add in chocolate chunks for the last few kneads.

Place dough in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1 hour.

Turn risen dough onto lightly floured surface, punch it down - not too much though or you'll lost the chocolate chunks! and divide in half. Form each half into desired shape and place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise. It doesn't rise as much as other breads do - we think it's because of the chocolate weight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Brush loaves with egg wash and bake in 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 30 minutes more or until bread sounds hollow when tapped - it really sounds hollow.

Enjoy warm or cool, and always good with a glass of milk!

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sometimes it's all about me

So many things have changed in my life over the past few months. In lieu of this, I have to remember that things like my hair aren't the only things that make me, me. So, here are some things you may not know about me that make me, me. Then, leave a comment and tell me what makes you, you!

I hate soggy cereal and melted ice cream.

I am a midwest girl at heart - plus it's confirmed by my Indiana birth certificate.

I stalk follow people in full parking lots to take their spot.

My favorite show is 30 rock...."Liz Lem-min" as TJ would say.

I'd rather go to the beach than a ski lodge.

I heart magazines - glossy pages get me.

I despise Cancer Treatment Centers of America's commercials.

I love fresh bouquets of flowers, especially peonies!

I am a Delta Gamma woman.

My new favorite thing to bake is chocolate bread. Both carbs and sweets....yum.

I just found out that my state business application for Sincerely Sara Cate note cards was approved! Website and order forms to come :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A part of something bigger

For an initial update, I did go to the state fair and rolled around in a wheelchair to enjoy my favorites of corn on the cob and elephant ears. It was fantastic.

Now onto what I want to share with you....

On Friday, I woke up planning on attending what physicians call a "noon conference" at a nearby hospital with my fertility doctor. The office had invited me to attend with them to hear some presentations about what new options are arising for patients facing fertility issues due to surgeries and treatments (like me). When Glenda and I arrived, I quickly learned that not only was I invited to attend, but they wanted me to tell my story as an advocate for education on fertility preservation options for cancer patients. I was quite caught off guard, but was honored to be a part of something bigger. I've been racking my brain to find a way to make my experience more than just survival, and it landed in my lap - how often does that happen? I shared my experience with the hospital staff starting with my diagnosis and how fertility preservation has given me a sense of calmness, security, and hope for the future. See, I am not at the stage of my life that I am ready to have children - but I am not ok with the possibility of losing that chance because of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The challenge here is that most women facing treatments like these are never exposed to the options they have in fertility preservation - and may not even be informed that the treatments they are about to endure may affect her fertility. To put it this way, the first oncologist I visited had a nurse practitioner give me a 10 minute presentation on all the horrible things that could happen to me, but never mentioned the possibility of infertility - why!? Well, I hope to assist in my fertility doctor's quest to gain support from the medical community and spread awareness to the public about fertility preservation for patients to prevent the loss of the amazing gift of fertility, or as the movie "Couple's Retreat" would put it, saving the "earth." I'm good with that :)

Post script: My hair has been falling out in massive clumps and I had to cut my hair to about an inch long. I'm not ready to share photos of this near crew cut. Just know I'm getting use of my baseball caps and wig.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pressing on

This past weekend, I went on an outing to the more indie film theater to see a film June Bug, Dashing's grandma, wanted to see. Typically you'd think a grandparent would want to see some slow, lackluster film. No such thing with June Bug. She had me and Glenda join her for a trip to see Coco Before Channel. It was a wonderfully done subtitled movie with so much ambition. One line stood out specifically for me. A main character in the movie said to Coco that when a woman cuts her hair, her life will change. I can stand by that line!

On Wednesday, I had my third chemotherapy treatment. I'm getting used to the drive to Tucson, the check-in process, and the treatment regimen. However, this time was extra special! Instead of sitting in the pods of recliners, I was pleasantly surprised that this time I got to have a private room! Usually these are reserved for very ill people or patients that must receive treatment lying down. They were slow that morning -so I benefited from it. See these private rooms have a bed and tv. So plush! Take a look - it looks like a hospital room, I know, but it is so comfortable!

After treatment on Wednesdays, Dashing's aunt is sweet enough to have dinner ready for the entourage when we arrive home after our long day of travel and treatment. She does this every week - what a kind heart she has. This week's menu included pasta, homemade meatballs, dinner rolls, caesar salad, and wine. So delicious!
I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm headed on another outing to the Arizona State Fair tonight. I may be rolling in a wheelchair, but hey - it's worth it for their elephant ears and corn on the cob!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

They tell me...

They told me there would be side effects. However, I never could have expected nor understood the crazy side effects that would come with chemotherapy. I wanted to share with you some of the wild things I've felt over the past 4 weeks that just don't make sense.

1. Appetite increase or decrease: They told me my appetite would change. Some days I'm not interested in anything, while other days I'm hungry all day. The oddest thing is when I'm so hungry, but am so full I'm about to burst. How is that even possible?? I told Dashing about my insatiable hunger and his response, "Welcome to my life." I had no idea!

2. Comfort: They told me I may not always feel comfortable. I didn't think that meant hot and cold flashes, or both together. Yes, sometimes I feel hot AND cold at the same time. Again, I'm not sure how this is possible, but it happens. One minute I'll be wrapped up like an Eskimo in a snow storm and the next I'm debating putting on a swim suit.

3. Sleeping patterns: They told me I may get insomnia. I am sometimes so tired, yet can't get a wink of sleep. During chemotherapy, they give me steroids for a variety of reasons that have completely messed up my sleeping patterns. Then, they say don't take naps of more than an hour or things will get more screwy. Ugh.

What's to come, they say I'll lose my hair on day 21. That's tomorrow. Nothing's happened yet; however, no one is willing to bet that it won't happen. More to come.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adventures in Hair

I promised photos of my new short haircut and my new here they are!!

From left: new way short haircut; new wig; me and Glenda (in a wig)

You can see that this whole wig experience has been a fun one. I think Dashing was jealous of the fun, so he proceeded to join in too. I think he resembles a member of an 80's hairband.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Logo Fail

The entourage and I frequently visit a yogurt store just up the road. Every time we go there I laugh at one of the strip center neighbor's logos. So, I finally took a picture to share.

LOGO FAIL. Enough said.
Note: If you're confused about what a FAIL is, visit to see hilarious photos that just don't work.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So I've been behind on updating everyone with my treatments - but I figure you all will give me some slack here. In order to pack everything into a nice little post package, I'll attempt to do a montage. Who doesn't like that?? I'll do small clips of things that have happened. If you want more about something specific, leave me a comment about it and I'll include details in my next post.

Fertility egg retrieval last Tuesday (Sept.29): They knocked me out with crazy drugs - don't remember anything, but now have little lovelies frozen in a locker under high security protection. No chemo will get to them in there!

First chemotherapy treatment last Wednesday (Sept. 30): It's like a big living room with recliners and family hanging out. Just includes lots of tubes, beepings, and chemicals.

The next day: You would expect the next few days to be tough, but they really weren't that bad!!! I have lost my sweet that possible....apparently so!

Complications: This has been the worst of it all. I am one of the lucky few that had complications from the fertility hormones and have horded fluid in my body. Essentially I have a little more than an inch of fluid surrounding my lungs called plural effusion and lots of fluid in my belly. AT LEAST 4 pounds of it!!! I had to go to the emergency room to find this out because I was coughing, short of breath, and couldn't lie down. Luckily, Dashing's uncle is a local ER doc too - so we just went to see him. Perfect, I know! Unfortunately, I just have to wait for my body to dispel this fluid because they don't want to stick a needle in me to remove it because of the chance of infection. Whew, I'm out of breath from just re-reading my work. Yesterday I had to take a break for air from walking down the house hallway while holding the cat. I wonder what Wii would say my activity age level is now!

What's on the horizon? A haircut on Thursday, or should I say chop? and wig fitting on Friday (photos to come). Hopefully fluid disposal is also on this list. I haven't laid down in 3 days!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A little letter

Dear local drug store pharmacy,

As a now regular patron of your pharmacy, you have proven to uphold your part of the bargain to act as my drug dealer to dispense my drugs as prescribed. You have shown that my expectation of this service is not out of line.

However, during a recent visit to your established drug dispensing counter, I was at a loss of words for the encounter that ensued. The prescription that I had dropped off 2 hours prior had not been filled or even reviewed. At this time, you told me that my insurance coverage had been terminated as of the previous day. As a young woman beginning the battle against cancer, I do not have the extra energy to inquire and investigate this claim, and a discontinuation of insurance would be devastating to me during my current medical condition. After some tears and some phone call attempts on my part, you miraculously found the right code to enter and all is well and good. Well, no it is not. You have caused me undue harm and distress which resulted in me vomiting on the brick outside your front doors. Enjoy the clean-up.

The Vomiter

Pink Ladies

Well friends, there is much to update you on, but I'll do it bit by bit...

This past Sunday (the day after I watched ASU football endure a heartrending loss to UGA), I went with some girlfriends to go see a very much anticipated Broadway show. Ok, so very much anticipated by me. Legally Blonde the Musical! The show dazzled with hot pink, fuchsia, baby pink, glitter, and heels! Oh a girls delight. However, I think Bruiser (Elle's chihuahua) got the most audience applause. He was cute. Although I enjoyed the ever so clever lyrics and snazzy bend and snaps, I was more impressed with Wicked, which I saw earlier this year. Wow! I sound so theater savvy!

This lighthearted story of a driven sorority girl made for a great way to start a very tough week...more to come tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Deep sigh.......
My self esteem is close to hitting bottom, maybe more like the bottom of a pool's deep end bottom, not bottom of a deep canyon bottom, but it's still the bottom of something. While on the subject, I feel like my bottom is doubling as you read this. As I eat, and am forbidden to exercise. I feel lazy and lethargic. My arm has an ugly picc line in it (it no longer hurts thought and shout out to Ashley Paige - I now have vet's plastic sleeves for the shower! Work great!). I'm breaking out on my face from the fertility dr's hormones plus they say I look 2-3 months pregnant (I'm not) because my ovaries are almost triple in size right now. I'm Casper-ly pale from lack of sunlight (a push to ensure I don't get skin cancer), and since I'll be losing my hair in a few mere weeks - I haven't cut or colored it and let's just say the roots aren't pretty. Needless to say, I'm a little down and totally insecure. Please don't think I'm vain, I just don't feel so awesome.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My light at the end of the tunnel

Over the past 3 weeks (yes! It has been 3 weeks), I have experienced humanity at it's finest. Friends, family and complete and utter strangers have offered their support, thoughts, and prayers. This warms my heart and comforts my soul to know that people are genuinely good. An example, a 70ish year old woman approached Glenda in the Cancer Center's boutique (we were hat shopping) and asked who was sick. Glenda explained that it was me. The woman told Glenda that from the moment I walked into the shop, she was praying for me. Then she came and found me in the bathroom to give me a big hug and tell me that I would soon be a beautiful cancer survivor. Wow.

So in the continued spirit of support and inspiration, Glenda gave me an inspiration board to post pictures and things that will be my light at the end of the tunnel - places I'd like to go, things to do, things I love...

So, I want to hear from you....Other than the wonderful people in theis world...What do you love in this life? (a favorite vacation spot, a hobby, a cinematic masterpiece?)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My TiVo has been returned

TiVo Consumer satisfaction: Low
A detailed update is called for as I have failed to inform you that TiVo is so last season.

We, as society, hold physicians (and lawyers) up as idols. Mothers want their daughters to marry one, parents are proud of the children for being one, and the community recognizes their dedication and determination in the field. I think this contributes to the amount of trust and leeway we give to our doctors. My entourage was referred to TiVo through another physician, and we immediately bit on the opportunity to get into an oncologist so quickly. Our experience with our initial meeting went just fine, with some minor irritations. Refer to my previous post for a detailed explanation of the visit. Although it wasn't the best visit, it didn't really occur to me that in this country, under our current health care - I can CHOOSE to see a different oncologist (This can also be considered a battle cry to not have government health care). I just accepted what I had. Then, Dashing's Dean of the Medical School suggested we seek a second opinion from a contact of his; we jumped on board (another example of how humanity is good - the Dean of a medical school helping me?? Wow, I am so thankful).

We had a fantastic visit at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson with Dr. Thomas Miller, a lymphoma specialist. Literally - he only treats lymphoma. He is THE expert in this, and not only does he have the knowledge and experience, but he is also caring, explains everything, and is willing to chat! This wonderful experience showed me that TiVo was vastly under-performing in his duties to see me as a young woman battling cancer, but instead as just another patient whom he needs to quickly see and move on. ICK. The Tucson center is beautiful and has a lot of perks that TiVo's office couldn't offer (like having someone sit with me during Chemo - TiVo didn't have this feature).

My point is, do not settle on anything in life if it isn't in your best interest. Hence, my TiVo has been returned.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

5 things I never though would happen at 25

5. Inquire about wigs and Rogaine
4. Be on church prayer lists
3. Talk about my eggs over omelets
2. Move into my boyfriend's parents house
1. Be told I'm an inspiration

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A new day, A new do

I have accepted the cruel fact that I will lose my hair. So, Glenda and I went wig shopping on Friday (aka Cranial Prosthesis). We had a fabulous time trying them on; most of them look SO REAL! I've selected one special wig (not shown - being ordered) that I'm so looking forward to sharing with you all at the beginning of October when it arrives. In the meantime, please enjoy the hair fashion show!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Introducing Mr. Picc

Doctor's appointments, procedures, and tests from 7:30am - 6pm is spelled EXHAUSTION. That was my Tuesday. So what did Tuesday include? Well, I would like to introduce my new friend, Mr. Picc. (AKA PICC Line)

Mr. Picc will be with me for the next 6 months of my life. He has two tubes that rest on my arm with a line that is threaded through my veins to my heart. He wasted no time stealing my heart, matter of fact, he got there in about 30 minutes flat! He will be there to help administer my chemo, draw blood, inject fluids, and anything else I may need. Did I mention... I hate Mr. Picc.

Mr. Picc doesn't like water, so I have to hold him outside the shower to be sure he doesn't get wet. He also is always nagging me - like a dull ache in my side; literally the side of my left arm. And, he doesn't clean up after himself, his tubie things flop all over my arm and I have to secure him down with a sleeve thing that makes me itch.

Oh, Mr. Picc. I can't live with you, and I really can't live without you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Relaxing weekend, Realizations, and Religion

I had a wonderful weekend away! Lots of food, fun, and CRAFTING! I made these cute note cards for friends, check them out!

The pink ones are for Miss E, Dashing's sister.

The travel ones are for a secret friend who doesn't know they are coming her way yet! She is a jet setter getting ready to move...

Can't wait to see if these ladies like the note cards! I sure do :)

So, onto the update... I have found that almost no conversation happens without the mention of at least one of the following words: cancer, lymphoma, chemo, doctor. No one is dwelling on it, but you can't make any kind of plans without addressing it. No, we can't do that next week because we have a doctor's appointment at that time. Let's plan the holidays this way because Sara Cate will still be on chemotherapy then. I think we all try to have "normal" (if that is even possible) conversations, but all talk consists of this. Cancer is not only invading my body, it's invading everything I and everyone else does. I challenged myself not to bring it up for 30 minutes. I barely made it. Unbelievable how life changes.

THE HONEST TRUTH: I've been facing this lymphoma head to head with as much strength and positivity (wink wink to the CDCs) as possible. However, I do want you to know that I do have my nights/days when I break. I am not Mother Theresa, and I bet she had her days too! This is what makes us human - I just wanted to share that I am human too and have a sea of emotions that I'm trying to navigate. I had some this weekend. It's when your feelings of scared, anxiety, trapped, lost, broken overwhelm you. Dashing does such a wonderful job listening and supporting me through this - I don't know where he gets his strength and wisdom. He wrote me this cute message using delicious alphabet cookies...
Then, I ate them. I think I've gained a few pounds this week...with the entourage whipping up all kinds of family meals and a do not exercise order, I'm loading up on calories. I'll just tally it up to caloric storage for the journey ahead. HOWEVER, I will NEVER resort to eating Paula Dean's "sandwich." You have to see this video at You will feel sick to your stomach.

The other topic I want to be honest about is faith. I have an unexplainable sense of calmness within me. As Dashing's mom, Glenda, and I discussed, it's about how God will use my lymphoma as a vehicle to make me and those around me better people with more compassion, understanding, and awareness. I hope it provides others opportunities to reconnect, learn to live and love life, and recognize how each one of us are blessed in so many ways.

In honor of my Delta Gamma roots, I have to also mention this about faith. Just as I received word via phone on Friday that my PET scan showed no signs of tumors below my diaphragm (which puts me at a stage 2 ...fantastic!), I took my last sip of water at a local restaurant only to find the glass engraved on the bottom with an anchor and an 'H' (symbols of hope). Faith and hope will show up in the craziest of places if you just keep your heart and eyes open. TDH.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Things that can be symptomatic, problematic, and automatic

~~First off, I want to THANK ALL OF YOU who have sent me well wishes, prayers, flowers, and supportive quotes. You are all amazing and it truly brightens my day. I thank God everyday for all the support I have around me. ~~

Yesterday consisted of my first trip to my oncologist, whom we will refer to as TiVo as we can never remember how to pronounce his name and it comes out sounding like TiVo. I was surprisingly chipper yesterday, so it made for a good day to start my oncology journey. As I sat in the waiting room with my entourage (Dashing & his parents and my dad), I filled out more paperwork. I have felt like a secretary recently with this duty. So on page number 6,000 5, the form asked me for my name, job title, and chief complaint. Did you catch the irony in this as quickly as I did. Let's brainstorm here, chief complaint for seeing an oncologist...hmmm...I don't know, cancer maybe??!! So maybe I'm being harsh...but I at least got a good laugh out of it!

My actual appointment was, I'll be honest, not the best. After being examined ALL OVER, I had the pleasure of having a bone marrow biopsy. This is where TiVo has you you lie in a fetal position because you will be crying like a baby and hammers tools into your Iliac Crest (part of your hip) to remove marrow and a chunk of bone. This is to test if the cancer has crept into your bones too. Dashing gracefully held my hand and stroked my head and neck as I broke his hand, twice.

Later, a nurse came in and started to explain the treatment and symptoms. So after the painful procedure, I'm hearing about diarrhea, nausea, fevers...."Oh the hair loss will begin about 21 days after you begin treatment... you can wear things such as a turban..." Yes this was her solution at one point. I have to stop her and say..."I'm not feeling so well, is that normal?" I had worked myself up, gotten flush in the face, and needed to lie down and have some crackers before I fainted. Ugh - this is a lot more than I thought.

I move on to my next appointment... Today, I had a PET scan to identify areas in my body where the crazy cells are. Seems like they are contained in my chest - which a very very good thing. This means I'll probably be diagnosed at stage 2a Hodgkin's Lymphoma - which in the end is just a number, but it makes me feel better about it.

The problematic thing now includes that I'm starting to have symptoms. Today I started having shortness of breath and pressure in my throat. This is probably because my tumors are pressing against my right lung, trachea, and neck (so that frog I thought I had in my throat may actual be another tumor - thank you PET scan for this notification). No need to worry about these things - just minor symptoms that make me feel winded after I chatter. They say that this will subside once I start chemotherapy, which could be as early as next Wednesday.

The entourage and I are heading up to northern Arizona for the weekend to get away. Dashing and I had a little time yesterday to do 'normal' errands together - so I'm hoping the same for this weekend. One more appointment before we get to leave town....cannot wait!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There's a FROG in my throat

Today was tough - tougher than I though. Was that enough Ts for you? My good morning chat with the family was over a breakfast that I couldn't eat because of my "do not eat or drink" order for my CT scan at 11:30am today. The conversation consisted of everything from freezing eggs to my oncology appointment tomorrow. What a wake up call.

My scan went well. Period. After some more needle sticks, they pushed some contrast into my veins to take the scan - OUCH - the needle drove into my arm and I winced with tears dripping down my face. Afterwards, they wrapped my arm in a cool purple band; at least it matched my shirt. Fashion still matters - it makes you feel a little bit better :) Dr. Dashing, his dad, and my dad were in the waiting room. I think Dashing was holding his breath the whole time as this scan would be the beginning of identifying how bad the cancer is right now. I was lucky enough to then have Dashing's dad work a little physician magic and immediately scoot in with the radiologist to get a quick pre-write up look. Dashing got to go too. They came back blank slates. Dashing explained that it looks like it is contained to my chest cavity (which is great!), but this isn't for sure. My one large mass, however, is much bigger than he had expected, he said. I guess it's about the size of an adult man's fist. WHAT? That's in my neck/chest area? How does that even fit in there! Apparently, this kind of cancer just pushes other things aside to make room - what squatters!

The rest of the day has been hard. More conversations that are heavy, serious, and things I didn't think I'd be talking about this week at all. I feel like I constantly have a frog in my throat, always wondering what is going to come up next. I sometimes even freak myself out thinking it's the tumor growing up through my neck pressing on my esophagus. [Bad Sara Cate, get those thoughts out!] It's hard to think about, talk about, and I am shedding tears at the mention of the C word - that's cancer. I'm an emotional wreck holding it together. What's just as bad is as I'm on the phone sharing this news with distant friends, my ATT service drops my calls. Over and over and over again. I'm like "so, they've told me I have lym......." CALL DROPPED. What! We're both crying. I'm telling someone I love I have cancer and you're going to drop my call. I am really thinking about flushing my pretty iPhone down the toilet.

I'm off to break the news to some of my in-town girlfriends. Wish me luck as this is not an easy thing to bring up with anyone. I'm sure this will involve many tears and hugs. I'm determined to beat this though - watch out cancer. I'm here to stay.

My distant and close friends and family that know have been so supportive sending thoughtful texts, flowers, voicemails, emails, comments.....THANK YOU. These seem like little things, but I promise you that they make my day brighter (tears are running down my cheek as I write this part). I thank God every day that you are all in my life.

Ribbit, ribbit....dang it! That frog is still here. (crying more)

One day at a time

My blog post sabbatical has come from a whirlwind of events - so this is going to be a long post so those who know me can understand what is going on. The "important" stuff is after the cake....

On Friday AND Saturday night I saw Julie and Julia, beautiful movie that has rejuvenated my love for baking. On Sunday, we celebrated Dashing's aunt's birthday and the baking got out of hand. See photo below...

German chocolate bundt cake with coconut glaze (left)
Creamy red velvet cake with home-made cream cheese frosting (center)
Extra chocolate devil's food cake with chocolate ganache icing (right)

After the baking festival, we sat down to play a game of 313, a card game, with 10 people. This makes the game last forever. So, in the meantime, I what Julia Child learned to "breast your cards." It was then that I noticed my right collar bone didn't feel like my left. I figured it was my posture, but I said something in passing at the enormous card table and Dashing and his father (a physician) froze. Me, oblivious to what was going on said, "sure, feel my bones." What I didn't realize was that Dashing and his dad felt three tumors.

This is when the whirlwind began. Remember that was Sunday evening around 6pm. I went to work as usual on Monday morning; finished a report, read some articles and then got a phone call. Dashing's dad has scheduled me for a doctor's appointment at 12noon. This appointment was to include a chest x-ray and meeting with my internal medicine doctor. Wow, now that was fast. Getting a little more worried about what was to come, I gave myself a migraine - great. Thank you stress.
Before I knew it, Monday morning I saw a radiologist for x-rays, my internal medicine doctor for an overview of what was going on, and a general surgeon to review. By Tuesday morning I was in the operating room having a lymph node removed. I am happy to report the surgery went well and I've been out of the hospital for about 20 hours now. However, they did find what they predicted - I was just diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma (a form of cancer) today. I was strong enough after wards to even make everyone go out for post-op breakfast - I may be crazy, but that's ok. I even had a big omelet!
See, this is all hard to swallow (not the food, the news) for me as I have shown no symptoms of illness; no fevers, weight loss, night sweats, bruising......etc. I'm active, in the gym, eating healthy and feeling fine. I've gone from a healthy, Sunday's Julie and Julia gal to a cancer patient in 36 hours. (BREATHE). I'll be having more scans, test, and workups throughout the week and have my first appointment with my oncologist on Thursday when I'll find out my radiation/chemotherapy plan. In the meantime (of course there always seems to be more with medical conditions), I'm beginning to work with a fertility clinic because I'm encourage to harvest some of my eggs for future conception. This is just precautionary they say (from the drugs)

I am currently staying with Dashing's parents. He has taken some time off of medical school. My dad has flown out from Indiana to stay with me too. I can say I am in the best care with wonderful support. With Dashing's dad being a doctor and mom a nurse - they haven't missed a beat (and have called in many a favors from others). My internal medicine Dr. has been a gem - calling all of his contacts to make this as smooth of a transition - diagnosis as possible. As for my kind of cancer - Hodgkin's Lymphoma, there is a VERY HIGH SUCCESS RATE FOR TREATMENT - which is great to hear. This kind of cancer is the one that makes people say the ridiculous phrase "If I were to have cancer, this is the one I'd want to have" - yes, like you would really say that...but they do!

I'll be continuously posting updates on my symptoms, feelings, tests, etc. If you know anyone else who is going through this - I hope you can pass on this blog to them and show them they are not the only ones out there. I hope I can provide information for my family and support for others out there.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


There are so many stages of our lives that we accept different roles, values, and personas. I'm sure I can say that for most of us, a memorable one was the "tween" years (am I using this trendy phrase correctly??). It's that awkward time when your "not a girl, not yet a woman" (thank you Britney Spears). Well I think I've found the next "tween" years of my life. I'm stuck in the middle of that lively, young college student and professional adult. I look about my age, maybe a little young, but I'm sure I'll appreciate that later on in life. Right now, I just feel like I'm not really taken seriously and it has nothing to do with my work product or degrees I have.

I work at a University, and at 25 years old, most students and faculty alike think I'm an undergraduate student. I do my work well, VERY WELL, get paid nothing even with a master's degree alright, act professionally, blog on the clock, dress the part, yada yada. So this just makes things 10x harder when students think it's OK to say, wow you're young - can I ask how old you are? When is that EVER appropriate?

This doesn't just happen at work. It's with strangers, it's with old friends... I feel like since I look young, am not married, and don't have kids, I'm not taken seriously as an adult. I do want that in my future, but does it have to be that I'm not treated as an adult because I'm not there yet?

When do you really start to feel/get treated as a grown up with a little respect and acceptance?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The beautiful Coronado: A weekend getaway!

1 day off work (Friday)
1 plane trip
1 in flight beverage
1 taxi ride
= weekend of fun!

As a final hoorah before beginning the semester, a girlfriend and I decided on a quick trip to Coronado Island. Dashing, Dashing's family, and I frequent the island a lot for family getaways. This time it was time for a girls trip with my good friend Reenie Rose(this is her future blog name)! [See Dashing and I on previous outing here]
The beautiful island has film spot for Marilyn Monroe and vacation spot for Babe Ruth (just to name a few). The Hotel Del Coronado, a national landmark, is a highlight of the island in addition to it's military history. The island (actually a peninsula) creates a natural bay - perfect to protect our military ships and men. Therefore, you can imagine you get a fantastic patriotic feeling while you're there. The beautiful ocean, grand panoramic view of downtown San Diego, and picturesque homes add quite an extraordinary touch to the place. Here are a few pictures from our trip!

(Hotel Del picture from wikimedia commons - I couldn't get one this good :)

On the ferry boat

Great patriotic photo with the flag and Coronado Bridge

Our favorite island restaurant, Village Pizzaria

Fantastic statue of the famous Navy kiss next to an aircraft carrier

Monday, August 24, 2009

When life gets in the way of life

Whew! Today was a long day. Luckily, this past weekend I was blessed with a few days to get away with a girl friend to Coronado Island. More of that to come tomorrow once I can transfer the photos to my computer. In the meantime, I must spill my thoughts about what all is going on in my life.

I started my PhD program today. Wonderful, I know! This is one more ball I've thrown up in the air to juggle. Have I mentioned I don't know how to juggle? Right now, I'm thinking of all the mothers who are juggling ball, scarfs, elephants...mad props to them! I'm sitting here right now with the following things still left undone as the day is coming to a close:

1. fingernails and toenails look like a construction worker's from lack of care
2. the laundry pile needs a name of its own as it has become its own island
3. my "recent calls" list on my phone is more red than black (in IPhone terms that means I have a lot of friends that haven't received call backs...I'm so sorry and promise I'll ring soon!)
4. I haven't spent one-on-one quality time with Dr.Dashing in over a week. The Medical school v. PhD/Work game is currently broadcasting on your local TV network
5. Stationary I promised a friend is slightly delayed. I'm hoping she holds in her baby another week! (different woman than earlier post) Can I do that???

Thank you for listening dear friends. This is not to complain as I'm excited for what the future holds; just needed a moment of your time to process all the things going on. Let me know what you have going on and I'll keep you in my thoughts too!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wide Awake

Last night was one of those nights; you know, the ones where you just lie there in bed with 1,000 things running through your mind. I was thinking..."I wonder if I could become a kickboxing instructor - maybe open my own stationary boutique - what should I pack for my weekend trip [yay! going to Coronado for the weekend!] - oh, my PhD program starts Monday - when am I going to have time to sleep....maybe I should do that now and stock up on hours - hmmm, I'm hungry..."

Whew! What a whirlwind that was. So I pounced out of bed at 11pm to jump on my computer to keep my overactive brain entertained for a bit. Yes, I pounced. I had that much energy/that wide awake! However, it's taking a toll on me today - total punishment! The positive? I have a new 10 things to do in the next 10 years list! Please tell me I'm not the only one that has these kind of nights? What do you think about when you're lying awake?

Monday, August 17, 2009

A wonderous weekend

I'm excited to submit my report on my adventuresome weekend. It was truly a blend of wonderful, sadness, congratulations, and irritation. How is this possible you ask??! On Friday, I spent the evening with someone I love getting to know better....ME! I very much believe that spending time by yourself can be so rewarding. I learn a great deal about myself this way (which would explain why on the Myers Briggs tests I'm an ISFJ - just took another one this weekend to confirm!). I spent time crafting and created [insert fantastic adjective here] stationary for my friend/boss who will be welcoming a new bundle of joy into the world this next week!
So I turned in for the night and looked forward to sleeping in just a bit on Saturday morning before a trip to the gym. No Such Thing. Our building's glorious industrial fire alarm roared it's ugly head at 6:30am. No fire - someone moving a couch hit the sprinkler causing the 2nd floor of our building to turn into waterfront condos. Sophie, our little lovie, was terrified of this disgustingly loud alarm that screamed for about 30 minutes. She is not the same even after the weekend. Skiddish, timid, and scared, she sits at home and doesn't move. Today's To Do list includes researching traumatized cat rehabilitation techniques. Odd.

Dr. Dashing and I spent Saturday evening with a friend who will be moving away this week for a new job; lots of congratulations and sadness as we are excited for his new opportunity but sad to see him leave.

On Sunday, Dashing and I crawled out way out of bed both desperately needing some sleep-in time, but headed to church. It turned out to be one of the best sermons about giving thanks to God for all He has given us. It touched my heart as most of us all so often forget to give thanks for all we've been given. Spending Sunday with Dashing's family that afternoon (just flew back in from an impromptu trip to Quebec City and Montreal, such jet setters!) was a delight and I thank God everyday that He put them in my life.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Delicate design

I am falling in love all over again! No, I have not left Dashing...I am loving my new crafting tools and embellishments I got for my birthday. I'm having such a great time making messes with paper, glue, markers etc. etc. So in my delight for design, I stumbled on these over the top postcards by Ez over at Creature Comforts - a lovely blog that has lovely things! Check out these wonderful vellum post cards! Don't you love them too!

Also found on Ez's blog, a fantastic clothing company with equally fantastic prices. Want to do a little online shopping? Visit

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Glamorous inspiration

AHHH, the organization inspiration I needed! Glamour magazine recently snuck into Today show hosts Hoda and Kathy Lee's dressing rooms and found my newest love for delicate clothing organization. Instead of keeping bras and leggings stuffed in drawers, find them easily with clear plastic shoe holders. I'm taking this further...belts? scarfs? Genius.
Hope this inspires you to try something new and daring!


**Update: Dr. Dashing wisked me away from work and took me out for a lunch date, what a treat :) Earned him a new title - he seems to be dashing more often than not...dashing off to the hospital, clinic, or lunch! I think this flows better too...don't you?s**

Fatigue [noun]: temporary loss of strength and energy resulting from hard physical or mental work. Syn: exhaustion, wear out, tire.

Yes, I am all of the above. I used this medical term for a reason...I'm suffering from fatigue due to extreme hours working on medical school presentations. This is the part of my story where I discuss the not-so-glamorous side to being a medical school student's significant other.

Last night, I even headed to Dr. Dashing's school library in my peach pajamas for a late night rendezvous with a computer and a diabetes pharmacology table. (My confidence in treating Type II diabetes has increased 10 fold). Hair pulled back in a bun, dripping wet from my post-gym shower, I expected to see no-one. What was I thinking??! Medical school = studying. I was lucky enough to meet some fellow 1st year students - oh what they have ahead of them. After a brief reprieve, I assisted in some early morning presentation prep and printing which required a 5:30am rise and shine call. Seems like I'm the med student these days! Lucky for me, we're 2 years down.... 3 to go.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I'm convincing myself I'm in a movie where the days just seem to repeat, deja vu if you will. Unfortunately, I've been pinching myself and I can't seem to wake up. shit. You see, not quite 3 weeks ago I found myself Austin Power-ing it out of my loft's parking garage. The tiny-tiny garage somehow holds 14 cars and some douchebag renter can't seem to find a way to pull his over sized truck all the way into his parking space leaving his ass truck's tail end hanging out into the common space. I would post a picture of this...but loft politics and all prevent me from doing so. Anyways, I'm Power-ing out of my space and finally cut a corner too close.....OH NO....OUCH. Yes, I rubbed elbows with the common space enemy. My side door collided with his back corner. I left a little sticky note with my info - as any respectable citizen with good morals would. All has been taken care of. My car was in the shop for a whole week - survival was tough, but not as tough as the bill - which happened to be the name of the guy who worked on my car. So the deja vu part already... tonight I go to meet my friend for an early dinner. I stroll down to the garage and vuala! The side door that was just fixed has been run into! WHAT! No, this can't be happening. No, I just had that I seeing things? Then, I look for the note............................................I'm still waiting on it. Obviously the person was not so kind as I was. Selfish bastard unkind citizen. For those Seinfeld watchers....SERENITY NOW!

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Birthday

Today is my 25th birthday, and I must say, I am thrilled to be 25. Let me share with you two main reasons for this:

  1. 1. I get to have funfetti cake - my favorite! (see photo)
  2. 2. I have officially left the 18-24 check box on forms!

Although these items may seem inconsequential to most, they are of up most importance to me and require much celebration.

Happy birthday to ME.


I fell into a situation that fits all purposes of the word AWKWARD. Dr. Dashing and I went our for a couple's dinner to a fine dining Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale, Ajo Al's - there's a long tradition of Dr. Dashing's family frequenting this establishment since he was just a little tyke. This place is a fixture of the "90th and Shea" area for 20 some-odd years. Needless to say, it is not unlikely that the Dashings's will know someone there every time we go.

This time, we ran into one of Dr. Dashing's high school girlfriend (HSG) and her mother having dinner. They were just being delivered their beverages of choice, margaritas, when we arrived. So naturally (or un-naturally), they asked if we would join them for dinner. Being long time friends of the Dashing's, it was only right that we take them up on the offer. Now, I've met HSG before and she is very sweet - so this isn't a first time run-in. However, no matter how nice HSG and mother are, this could be a very awkward dinner to say the least. Especially when it was brought up how Dr. Dashing was sometimes at their house after school when boys weren't allowed - HSG's parents would see his car driving away. It was a highlight for the mother to reminisce on old times. AWKWARD, but no, it wasn't.

Over the past few years, I've learned that almost every interaction and conversation could be awkward, if you let it - so as some very wise friends of mine say, "awkwardness, embrace it." So I did.

Monday, June 22, 2009

17 and counting...

No, I'm not talking about the TLC TV show (now actually called 18 and Counting). I'm talking about spending the weekend in a mountain-top house with 17 of Dr. Dashing's relatives. Some in from Chicago, some just from our town. Ranging in age from 18 months to 85, you can imagine the chaos that could potentially ensue with noise levels, entertaining/hosting, conversations, shower schedules, alcohol consumption, group activities, and restaurant reservations. Although it was mostly nothing less than exciting, I was excited to see the weekend come to a close. I don't truly thrive in large group situations, so parts of the weekend were challenging for my introvert side. My Myers-Briggs personality test classification verifies this part of my personality.
I'm still holding my breath for some one-on-one time with Dr. Dashing post board test (which was taken on Friday) before we leave again on a California family excursion with Dr. Dashing's family on Friday. Oh please cross your fingers for me on this much needed couple-time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My lovely lady calves, Check it out! lovely lady calves have finally stopped aching from CDC reunion - Dance Party 2009. This past weekend, I met up with 9 amazing women that I worked with in 2006-2007 as univeristy sorority consultants. It was a gruling job, but having these women as a support system made all the difference and helped keep my ducks in a row. Some of them I hadn't seen since 2007 as we live scattered across the country. So, this past weekend was our reunion in Carmel, California. Between breathtaking views, beach walks (great exfoliant for the feet), wine tasting, and social affairs, I managed to lead a drunken spirit-filled kickboxing/strength training session that evolved into Dance Party 2009 that lasted until the wee hours of the morning- one of my favorite events of the weekend. Here are some of the memories captured on film.


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