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Some good news!

I know that last week Lisa posted about our delay in treatment.  I got an update on that as well as some very welcome news along with it!

The reason that we had the delay in the first part was because of the clinical trial that I agreed to participate in.  In this trial they are developing a vaccine for Pancreatic Cancer.  I won’t go into the specifics now, but the whole thing is fascinating. Apparently though this vaccine needs to be administered one week before Chemo starts.  So that pushed us back a little.  In addition to that this is phase 3 (of 3) of the study.  This is the one that is presented to the FDA for approval before commercialization of the drug. Because the FDA strictly scrutinizes this particular aspect of the study, they are very particular about whom the allow as a subject.

Yesterday I received a call from my Oncologist (He’s also the one leading this study).  He old me that they had done a thorough review of my medical records and have determined that I’m not a candidate for this study.  You see, they are developing a vaccine for pancreatic cancer.  I don’t have pancreatic cancer.  I have Ampullary Cancer.  Although they are similar, they are different.

The Ampulla is somewhat similar to your body’s bile duct.  Bile ducts come from the Gall Bladder and the Liver, the Ampulla comes from the Pancreas.  Because this particular type of cancer is so rare, it doesn’t get its own classification.  It simply just gets lumped in with the pancreatic type.  Biologically though the two type of tumors are very different.  The Ampullary tumor is far less aggressive than the Pancreatic tumor.

According to Devalingam Mahalingam, M.D., Ph.D, my new oncologist, the rate of recurrence for Amullary Cancer, without Chemo and Radiation is only about 30%.  In fact, there are no clinical studies on Ampullary Cancer to even suggest that Chemo and Radiation reduce the chance of reoccurrence.  In my mind, that all very good news.  I have to be honest, the odds the doctors were giving us prior to yesterday were not anywhere as good as this.

Dr. Mahalingam did say that the treatment for both Pancreatic and Apullary tumors are identical.  He went on to say that in his clinical opinion I should go ahead and submit to Chemo and Radiation.  I am in total agreement.  So I will begin on Monday afternoon.

From my perspective this is simply affirming what I’ve believed all along.  Once this treatment is over, I get to return to my regular life again!  There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have said many times, “God isn’t done with me yet.  I’ve got way too much to do!”


Musical Interlude-Amy Grant-Better Than A Hallelujah

God never promised us a tragedy free exhistance….we ALL suffer during this journey called life….because that is what life is…..God doesn’t DO these things to us…..they just happen…..to ALL of us……what God DOES promise is He will ALWAYS be there for us during these times of tragedy…..and He hears our desperate cries and weeps with us…….He won’t magically make all your troubles dissappear….but He DOES send love and help is a variety of amazing ways…..you just have to be open to His blessings!


And Just Like That…..He Provides

I suppose it’s human nature….to totally freak out and wonder what the heck we are going to do……and I continue to do that…..even though I know I don’t have to……even at the end of a freak out session I always say “I don’t know why I am worrying because God ALWAYS provides for us.” and He does……and has once again…..

A job came through for Paul…….a dream job actually…..I don’t want to go into a whole lot of detail since I am not sure how public this knowledge (“Yes, I have that knowledge”-Dr. Frankenfurter) is so I won’t reveal any details yet but suffice it to say, it will keep us off the Welfare Line!

And once again I am shown that He is always watching over us and aways making sure we have what we need…..so why do I worry so much? And this isn’t the first time either……we have been faced with dire situations in the past and we may not get relief right way but it ALWAYS comes…..not in our time but in His……

Jobs showing up at just the right moment…..a monetary windfall that kept us from losing our house……a phone call from a friend when I am in the middle of an emotional crisis……help ALWAYS arrives…..and it does over and over and over……so why the stress? Is it a lack of faith? I don’t think so……I think it’s more that I want to do it all myself…..it’s a control thing I think……my wanting to be in control of my own destiny……but why in the world do I want to do that? I SUCK at that! Ha ha! My life runs so much more smoothly when I had over the reigns to Him and let go…..

That doesn’t mean we sit back and wait for the bread truck to arrive though……we still get after it and work hard and do all the things we need to do to help ourselves…..but these feelings of hopelessness……He doesn’t want me to hang onto that……it’s so unnecessary……yet so human……


My Peeps are AWESOME!

You know, it’s difficult putting yourself out there like this…….talking about my weaknesses……but it’s easier to do here than any other place…..I don’t really like to talk about it……because it makes me feel like one of those “whiners” I hate….you know who I am talking about….those people you regret asking “How are you today?” because they go on and on about how horrible their life is……so I prefer to put on my positive face and deal with people one on one in that manner……

But here I can let it all go…….

And the response from my friends has been overwhelming……people have shared their own struggles and fears and experiences with anxiety attacks. All kinds of support and suggestions came in and I was so surprised to hear how many women experienced the same thing…..and how brave they are to tell me I am not alone in this……

The biggest reason for this blog has been for someone else……in case any other woman going through the same thing would just trip over this and see she wasn’t alone……that she isn’t going crazy……and that she isn’t the only one out there to be dealing with Ampullary Cancer in her 40’s……and that is a driving force behind sharing all these feelings and experiences……

But I guess sometimes this blog is just for ME……..

Thank you my friends from the bottom of my heart….for sharing your personal stories with me and helping me see I am not “losing it”! I LOVE you all! XOXOXO


Why Are These Things HAPPENING????

It is the question so many of us ask when things don’t go our way…..we lose a job or your car window gets busted out or your husband gets diagnosed with cancer…….it’s so EASY to ask why these things are happening….like we are entitled to an easy, stress and drama free life…..

Sorry kids…..it just doesn’t work that way……

I have heard this message over and over the last several years courtesy of my wonderful Pastor and it’s taken 40 (something) years to finally figure it out…..God isn’t “doing this” to you…..He just doesn’t work that way… ….it’s so easy to slip into the “woe is me” and “why is God doing this to me”  mode when things go sideways……

I know I used to do it…..I spent a lot of time in my early 20’s pretty pissed off at Him…….but I grew up and learned to see things in a different way…..that we ALL have trials and tribulations and it’s not going to stop…..it’s US that needs to change….change how we look at it all……

A friend of mine posted this article and that is really what prompted this post. It’s titled “What to do, what to think when crisis arrives”  I especially liked the quote at the end…

Perhaps the best way to meet the crises of our lives is to admit them and their accompanying feelings, spend time in genuine reflection, and be painfully honest with ourselves.

I know when we are hit with some big news I go into about a 24-48 hour funk……I may cry all day or lay in my tub for 5 hours but that is just the processing taking place……and that is my time of reflection…..I allow myself to feel it all and I take that time to express all my fears and sadness and I can give it all away……and He takes it every time……and then I can let it go…… and that’s the hardest part…..letting it GO……sure, it comes back and rears its ugly head again so you give it away….AGAIN….and again and again and again…..whatever it takes……

It’s taken a lot of years and a lot of tears to make it here……it’s what works for me…….but spending my life moping around and complaining how hard my life is isn’t the answer…….for me or anyone really……what makes me so special that I should be exempt from the tragedies of life? Saint or Sinner….. none of us makes it out of here without trials and tribulations……and it’s learning how to deal with it that makes your life wonderful or unbearable…….

make it wonderful…….

Nothing Like WORK to Cure What Ails Ya

It appears my anger has subsided…..it was replaced with sadness the following day then I basically just got over it….working yesterday helped a lot…..and venting to my mom….she always calls at just the right time! ha ha! I suppose this is just to be expected….this rollercoaster of emotion…….

It helps when I dig my nose into some work…….being self employed there is always LOTS to be done……but there are other things as well….calls to the VA….resheduling doctors appointments….dealing with my car window…..crappy financial stuff and calls to insurance companies……things I don’t “normally” do but have taken on while Paul is incapacitated…….

See, we have a division of labor here in our house…….there are Paul’s “things” and there are my “things”…..sometimes I have to tell the kids “You are asking the wrong parent”……like if it’s a Math question, that’s a Paul question……I handle English……He takes care of anything involving engines….I don’t even like to pump my own gas but I will…..but car repairs or anything I can’t stand doing……they are greasy and gross….ha ha ha! BUT I take care of the entire household maintenance…..grocery lists, kids chores, cleaning and laundry so that is a pretty fair trade as far as I am concerned…..but I am finding I am having to take on more and more……I am out of my comfort zone…..

Truth be told, it’s not like I CAN’T do it……I mean, I have spent MANY a year single and self-sufficient and caring for my own vehicle and paying my own bills, etc. I refurbished an entire home so I can do pretty much any kind of home repair project and I have mowed many a lawn……..not that I can’t……I just don’t “Like” ha ha ha! guess I need to suck it up and just do it!

One thing I AM getting excited for is getting through this weekend and focusing more on Little Dog Entertainment. For those that don’t know, Paul and I are both small business owner’s. Little Dog Entertainment is our booking agency. When Paul went into music full-time 15 months ago he went out to hustle up gigs and spent time working with event planners and wedding planners. They would often ask if he “knew of a classical guitar player or a string quartet?” so our booking agency was born! Just like we did as Realtors, we are bringing buyers (event planners) and sellers(our musicians) together and the musicians pay us a little off the top for finding them work. It’s a win-win and everyone is happy! We LOVE working this company….a LOT!

I also run LolaBelle’s Treats, my dog treat/food business. We work Farmer’s Markets and have many regular customers who see us for our homemade dog treats and out homemade dog food. We also do some boarding and sitting and we have a line of hand-made dog sweaters and toys. We have been giving some thought to being a distributor for Blue Buffalo as well. The whole idea behind this was to generate enough money to eventually open a store front in Portland with doggie daycare. I have never been interested in the grooming aspect but there has been a bit of a void since Critter Love shut down and this town could DEFINATELY support a doggie daycare/retail store. So that has been the ultimate goal……funding being the main issue of course….

When I lost my “real” job last July we decided to make a go of this full-time. We were both receiving our unemployment benefits and if there was ever a time to “go for it … it was then. We agreed that if one of the businesses really started to take off we would work together on that business. The fact of the matter is, Paul and I are dynamite when we work together. Working real estate as a team for all those years proved it. When we work together we are AMAZING….so we knew eventually one would pull us in…

…we have spent this entire time giving that decision to God……I would even speak it out loud……that we would look to Him to lead us in the direction we needed to go……and we really feel pulled towards the booking agency……

I love LolaBelle’s and all our wonderful customers and we WILL continue to run it as a part-time venture just like I have been doing for the past 3 years…..besides, it’s still a sweet little money-maker so I have no intentions of giving that up…..I may hand it over to the kids in 6-12 months and let them work it while I supervise and manage their money….but again, we will still be working our markets just like always…..but things like putting my food into vet’s offices and going retail…..that has to wait…..

So this Saturday is the Rockport Market Days and they are also having the Nautical Market next door so we anticipate LolaBelle’s Treats making a big HAUL this Saturday! And LOOK! Lola fetched this article from the Rockport Pilot showing the Maritime Museum if offering very inexpensive nauticle antique appraisals! Cool! I offered Rachel a cut of the profits and she has been making my Peanut Butter and Chicken Chip Treats. Her Grandma has taught her GREAT cookie making skills so she is a natural at baking. Nothing would thrill me more than to hand the reigns of this over to her in a year or two so I am giving her an opportunity to step up if she wants it. If not her brother might want it…..or not….and that’s ok too……

So for now we stay small 😀 and we will continue to take care of all our regulars and maybe a few more new customers too! But our big expansion dreams are being put on the back burner….and that’s ok!

When Paul was in the hospital, I had the opportunity to work Little Dog Entertainment more than I ever had and let me say this……I LIKED IT!…….talk about a blast from the past…..I was talking to people and making DEALS…..and there is nothing that gets this girl’s blood pumping MORE than working a business DEAL…..Paul gets it…..I was smelling the blood in the water…..I wanted to book that event…..we were talking numbers and possibilities on how to make this bride’s event even BETTER!……I was in my element…….and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until that very moment sitting in the hospital parking lot……

I am not sure I even realized how devastating it was to me to lose our real estate business. Paul and I poured our heart and soul into it and built it up to tremendous success and to have it all end so quickly was shocking and devastating….emotionally….financially……it was a sad day when we decided, together, that we HAD to cut bait and move on…..we let our licenses (including Paul’s Brokers License) expire…..we ended all our advertising contracts…..and it died……it was horrible……

and that’s how I knew LDE was the way to go……I had that same feeling I had when Paul and I still worked in “The Shack” in Rockport…..our friends remember……that was one of the GREATEST times of our marriage was working together in The Shack at Coldwell Banker in Rockport…..and how I felt sitting in that truck in that hospital parking lot was the EXACT same feeling……and that’s good enough for me……

So plans are in place….my marketing campaign is starting to come together…..and we are going “old school” here….I am talking “shaking hands and kissing babies”…..I know how to work it…and Paul can come with or Paul can stay home and work the phones……this WILL work….I KNOW it…..

So, now after reading this entire blog post this is where I insert my Shameless Self-Promotion of which my fans know I am the QUEEN of!

Visit our website  www.LittleDogEntertainment.com

“Fetching” the Best music in Coastal Bend!

 We provide musicians for weddings, corporate events, private parties, memorial services and more! Best of all, our services are FREE! (our musicians pay our fee!) Vocalists, Flute/Piano, Absoflutely! Quartet, String Quartet, Classical Guitar, Jazz, Salsa, Tejano, DJ’s…..we have it all…just give us a call! Paul-361-563-3539 Lisa-361-230-0631

Paul’s Surgery 4/12/11

First off, I can’t start this blog post without give a HUGE shout out to my best pal….GOD…..for getting me through this ordeal!! Yes, we all received the results we had hoped and prayed for…..but the most IMPORTANT thing I received was the STRENGTH to make it through this so far. I was able to kiss Paul goodbye and KNOW that he was safe in God’s hands….no matter what the outcome. So I got a big “Thank you Jesus!” on my lips because I was sure I would sob all morning and I was as cool as a cucumber.

So we got up at 4 and had a 5:30 check in. Paul was in the surgery ward by 7:30, processed and prepped and wheeled back by 8:30. My wonderful friend and pastor’s wife Margot drove up to sit with me and it made such a difference! I was really prepared to go it alone….I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone….and I just thought I could handle it….but I was so glad I listened to my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law and some friends…when they all said I should have someone there with me because it made a HUGE difference. So I am forever grateful for my blessings of wonderful, caring friends!

The wait really wasn’t too bad….we both started getting a little antsy at the end but that was after 4 hours. Fortunately, there was a phone in the waiting room so the O R nurses would call periodically to inform the families on how their loved one was doing.  We spent time with a woman whose husband was having some metal put in his shoulder and a pair of sisters who were there with their brother who was having a bottom lobe of his lung removed. All the phone calls we received were very positive. (Praise God!) I was notified when the surgery began, when they removed the head of the pancreas and when they were sewing him up. It was so fantastic and I wished ever hospital in the world did that. But this is part of the reason UTSA was named the Best Hospital in San Antonio.

I also need to mention how revered Dr. Glen Halff is. First off, I got a personal recommendation from a friend of mine who has known him for many years and says he is a wonderful person and very dedicated to his craft. All the staff and doctors we spoke with kept saying how lucky we were to get Dr. Halff. One resident said he did Whipples textbook and the other said “BETTER than textbook!”. Those are the kinds of thing you want to hear about the surgeon who is going to have his knife in the love of your life!

So after he was done they took him up a floor to ICU. Nurses came and escorted us to the ICU Waiting Room and we waited less than 30 minutes before I got to see him. Margot and I had the pleasure of talking with a large family  from the Valley whose father was receiving a liver transplant. They had gone to another hospital first (In Seattle) and said they were treated horribly. They said UTSA has been a MIRACLE for their family!

Then I finally got called back to see him, Paul was still pretty groggy but I was shocked to see how GOOD he looked! I mean, he had a nice color and didn’t look like he just had major surgery. His anesthesiologist tells me he was “better than perfect!”  Dr. Halff tells me everything went just like we had discussed. They did take a little of his stomach only because he had some scar tissue from a surgery he had as an infant. Other than that, removal of the gall bladder, the bile duct, some of the small intestine and the head of the pancreas (40%). fortunately, the 60% that is left is the part that produces insulin. There is some risk of developing diabetes with this operation but Lord willing, we will dodge that bullet.  He also said he saw NO EVIDENCE that it had spread to outlying tissue and that the definitive pathology report would be back in about a week.

So he is resting comfortably in ICU with an epidural for pain and several drain tubes and other gross things we won’t talk about here. They did already remove one of the IV’s and the chief resident remarked that Paul is already progressing much faster than the typical patient. I told him my husband is an overachiever! Ha ha ha!

I have been asked to bring the score to The Producers and his laptop tomorrow……can you believe? And of course I will…..I wouldn’t dream of denying him…….but I will make sure he doesn’t over do…….his nurse, a lover of theatre and Skyline Chili (!), is excited as well!

So I thank you all….your feverent prayers and good thoughts were felt and helped carry us through! But we aren’t done yet! So keep ’em coming and keep checking with us for updates here or on our Facebo0ok pages! Peace!

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