Dear Diagnosed

To the diagnosed person,

I know that I am probably writing to the majority of the U.S.A., but I felt that this letter needed to be written just to you. Yes, you there; you with the recent diagnosis. What did the doctor say? Cancer? ADHD? AIDS? Depression? Diabetes? I know I could go on, but I would get writers cramp if I tried to name all the possible diagnoses in the world. Every day there are so many who receive diagnoses, and while many are mere viruses, many are fatal diagnoses. “You have six months to live,” or, “you will need to take this medication for the rest of your life.” Maybe, “your results came back and we are concerned.” Whatever the doctor had to say, here is what I have to say to you:

This diagnosis doesn’t define you.

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Family Ties

com·mu·nal

adjective kə-ˈmyü-nəl, ˈkäm-yə-nəl
: shared or used by members of a group or community
: relating to or involving members of a commune (sense 1)
: relating to a situation in which you are doing something with other people

As of now, my husband, toddler, and I have been living upstairs at my in-laws home for almost two months. Despite popular belief, it’s actually working out quite well. My little family lives upstairs where we have our rooms, a bathroom and a little living area. It’s cozy and we are trying to make it our own for the time we are there, but it is also just what we need for the moment.

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What Inspires You?

INSPIRATION.

There is that word again…

I have been trying to spice my life up a bit.  Not that it isn’t diverse and crazy-good already, but it is important to me never to live a day where I don’t seek inspiration.  Inspiration helps keep the perception and mind clear.  It continues to allow the creative juices flow freely.  There is so much that surrounds us to which is good and can take a rough start into a smooth sailing sailing remainder of the day.

Here are a few of my latest inspirations: Continue reading “What Inspires You?”

Young Adults with Cancer: the Fiercest Warriors I Have Ever Met

Dear Young Adult Cancer Patient,

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but you have captured my heart. Through my 2.5 years of nursing you have taught me far more than I could ever imagine. You have wisdom beyond your years and truly know what it means to live.

I remember the first time I saw an age younger than mine in the chart, it was a harsh reality. Despite being young, vibrant, and healthy you were still diagnosed with cancer. You weren’t even a smoker and you had lung cancer that spread everywhere… they were completely uncertain of how you in your mid twenties had gotten lung cancer.

I remember admitting you for your first round of chemo. You and your husband just a few months prior were talking about starting a family. Now you were faced with the quick reality that you would probably lose your ability to conceive and while figuring out chemo, a stem cell transplant, and dealing with the fact that you have cancer, you had to make decision on preserving your ability to have children. Life really did change for you overnight, but with a brave face you took on this challenge with a smile.

I remember you, not just one of you but two of you, who found out you were pregnant and had cancer. One of you minutes apart, the other of you just a few months apart. You both had a choice… your life or your babies life. You both selflessly chose your child’s life. You both amazed me.

I remember you, many of you, young moms. You faced each day with the determination to have more time with your children and many of you beat the statistics for each of your cancers. You would spend that time with your children. The incredible love between you and your husbands has shown me that true love really does still exist. All of you, are incredibly brave women that I am so beyond blessed to have been able to be your nurse.

The young fathers, how you loved your children and your wives. My heart still breaks thinking of saying goodbye to you as you were discharged to hospice.

And the young singles. You bravely have faced this battle with grace and dignity. I have nothing but utter respect for you as you have faced your battles. Some of you have chosen to face it alone only letting a few people walk with you, others of you let your family and friends rally around you… all of you have left me speechless by your ability to walk through this.

So to all young adult cancer patients and survivors, please know that I think you are incredibly brave, bold, and amazingly beautiful. I’m so beyond blessed to walk with some of you through your cancer battle and will continue fighting for you. Thank you for capturing my heart and allowing me the privilege to walk with you.

With sincere appreciation,

One of your nurses

I could continue writing, but the fact stands… young adults with cancer is a VERY real thing. And it isn’t just one type of cancer, but a widespread variety cancer.  Many of the patients I have come in contact with felt healthy one day and not the next day. Each year 72,000 people ages 15-39 are diagnosed with cancer (1).  There is very little research that has been done on treating cancer in the 15-39 age range. In people 40 and older around 60% of them are in clinical trials while ages 15-39 only about 2% (2). This leaves little room for improvement in treatments.  Cancer is the 4th leading cause of people aged 20-39 only behind suicide, homicide, and accidents (3).

I could continue on with the statistics, but my main goals in writing this post are this.

1. If you have the incredible opportunity to meet a young adult cancer patient or survivor, I encourage you to sit and get to know them. They are pretty incredible.

2. Help the fight by donating specifically to places like Stupid Cancer that specifically go to researching and assisting this specific age group fight against cancer.

3. If you are in this age range, please don’t think you are invincible. Here are the simple things I recommend to help keep an eye on your own health… get a yearly physical, get yearly blood work, get a year skin check… and if you think something is wrong please don’t delay going to the doctor.

Resources:

1. Stupid Cancer

2. National Cancer Institute

3. American Cancer Society

Moving Made Me Realize Just How Blessed I Am

Moving. I hate it. But honestly, who doesn’t? Your life is stirred up for the minimum of a month and everything seems chaotic. And for Type A personalities like myself I start packing at least a month in advance and I want to be unpacked within 12 hours of moving in (and surprisingly often accomplish this) . This will be my 11th move since I was 18. I’m a pro at it. But I still hate it.

With each move there is a mourning. A letting go. Even if it is just 20 miles away I am closing a chapter. A long time ago I wrote in a journal of mine “live in NYC for a year”… it was a bucket list type goal. Well, I didn’t live in NYC for a year, but I have lived in Chicago for 1.5 years. And I’ve loved it. City living isn’t easy. It has challenged me and made me learn a lot about myself. There is a new meaning to “just running to the store”. And I never thought I’d be so good at parallel parking… even in 2 feet of snow.

One of my favorite streets in Ravenswood

I’ve been tucked away in my little Ravenswood/Lincoln Square neighborhood. I know these streets forwards and backwards from the hours I’ve spent walking them. I have a favorite ice cream shop, a favorite neighborhood pub, a favorite house, a favorite Thai restaurant, a favorite Indian restaurant, and a couple of my closest friends just a short walk away. And as I face this move to the suburbs I mourn the loss of what has been home. I know without a doubt I am making the right move, but I still mourn for the comfort of my sweet little apartment with the brick walls and character that only an old city building can have.

As I’ve sifted through my things… as I’ve mourned the loss of the city… as I’ve thought through all the reasons I know moving to the suburbs is the right option I’ve been faced with a strong reality. I am blessed.

Often because of growing up in the U.S. I can lose sight of just how blessed I am. Life gets stressful and it is easy to focus on the stress, but I am trying to focus more on the blessings. I am incredibly lucky to have the ability to move. Even more so, I am blessed to have a roof over my head and a lot of things in this roof. I am blessed to have a job I get to go to every day. I am blessed to have an incredible education. I am blessed to know that I CAN pay my bills.

So as I take this step that is hard, yet so right, I want to step into it know that by reducing costs, reducing commute times, reducing stress, and so many other things I am stepping into a place where I can bless many more others. And as my church steps into what they call the “Celebration of Hope” where we spend 3 weeks focusing on helping both worldwide and locally I am challenged. Challenged to look at the ways I’m using my time, my money, my education, and everything that has been entrusted to me. I want to use all of my blessings to bless others. So, as I take this step into a new season of my life, I’m asking myself “how can I best use my blessings, skills, time, and money to bless others?” I want to pack every box with a purpose. I want to live every second of my life with a purpose. I want to know that in my last breath, I made decisions that allowed me to love and bless others well.  Will you join me on this journey? Can we embrace just how blessed we are together?

Out of Hibernation Leapt the Manning Sisters and It All Felt So Glorious

For many of us, this has been an extremely long winter.  I have found it so unnerving with every ounce of my being lacking motivation to work out, clean, and be a productive member of society.  My extreme lack of sunshine is reflected in paleness, mood, and body.  I NEED SUN ASAP!

Recently, I have been spending a lot of time together bonding with my sisters.  You see my beautiful sister Mary Jane entered the world of the married a year ago and then more recently motherhood this January.  We had some fun bonding in between all of her major life changes and it was good.  Our baby sister Claire just got her license.  EEK!  I have been personally trying to spend more time with them as I know they both need girl time and it’s important for us to be close.

This past week at work, Mary Jane and I had to replace a few office chairs that were worn.  There were 5 that were purchased.  Well when she got back to work, we got them on a cart and took them where there was some open space to assemble them.  We only assembled 4 of them due to the fact our shipping department got antsy and assembled it by himself.  We started pulling the pieces out of the box and of course we got bothered the whole time.  Our dad, brother and cousin all approached us at different points of starting and everyone had a different suggestion.  Give me a break boys!  We got this.

The old chairs practically leaped into the trash!
Chair Races….ready, set, go!  We did it  🙂
I didn’t have to work on Saturday.  It was a nice chance to catch up on some spring cleaning, sleep, and laundry.  I asked my sister Claire if she wanted to get a pedicure as we both needed one.  Upon getting the list of Claire’s chores we were on our way.  We stopped by Starbucks first then it was on to  the Spa.  I wanted to catch up on everything that was going on in her little world.  She got asked to Prom by her boyfriend of 4 months.  She was excited at her new found freedom of driving and most of all just excited to relax a bit.  I told her that I would help her with part of the list (which included making dinner) in order for her not to get into trouble.
My mom had already started a roast so it was a matter of making sides and a salad to accompany it.  While Claire did her laundry, cleaned and organized her room, and dusted the back porch I produced the remainder of dinner.  No one seemed to be bothered by that so it all worked out well.

Then on Sunday, Mary Jane and I got motivated and finally went out on a walk.  It was warmer than it had been for a while and the sun was still shining.  I’d like to think we had some fun…

We may or may not have started off jogging when we realized that was a poor life decision…

We discussed our current fitness goals, men, Caribou (her daughter Carolyn Rose), and girl stuff.  There were a lot of laughs and honesty.  My phone ended up dying and her phone was left in the car.  Oh darn!  That meant there weren’t going to be any distractions and Caribou was in her precious Grandma’s hands.  We were only going to do one lap at the YMCA which is 1.65 miles but we quickly decided to do another one as to continue our chat. 3.3 miles down, some great laughs in and awesome bonding time with my sister we finally headed home feeling accomplished.

There is nothing more refreshing than the ritual of sister bonding.  I love hanging out with my sisters and even though we are all at different points of our lives that’s what makes it even more special.  All of us couldn’t be more different aside from the fact we all may or may not be over achievers!  I am the single, educated (2 degrees) career driven girl who has the social life.  Mary Jane is the educated (going on second degree) married girl with child at 25 and Claire is cute 16 year old who is maneuvering high school well with awesome grades despite her sports schedule, who is boy crazy and dreaming of what’s next.

The Manning sisters haven’t bonded like we have this past week in a very long time.  It was long over due.  One might say there were a few beautiful byproducts of this long winter.  Out of hibernation, leapt the Manning sisters and it all felt so glorious!

Welcoming Spring with open arms whenever it decides to stay….

Tailgating Fun…

Happy Friday the 13th!  I hope everyone has had a great week thus far.  Today’s post is dedicated to TAILGATING in honor of the beginning of the College Football season!  This means it is officially OK to whip out the face paint, temporary hair color, and attire supporting your team.  There is nothing like having team spirit.

Tailgating is a great way to bond with fellow fans and friends.  It is also a great way to make friends.  The atmosphere is full of energy, food, games, drinking and music.  Everyone is trying to get pumped up for a victory!  Victory! (as inserted from the movie 300).  Whether you are one that takes things to extremes or you are the kind of person that is just alright wearing a sweatshirt to the big game, there is something for everyone there.

I have just a few things to consider when you are tailgating that might just save you in the end!

1.  Temporary Color might not always stay temporary.  I cannot tell you how many times someone has come into the salon and they have to get a corrective color due to temporary color.  Yes, if you read the labels–it claims to be removable;  washes out!  Well if you have extremely porous hair (blondes especially), it can soak it up which makes it stay longer.  The color can fade in a few washes but once it is there, it takes a professional to remove.

http://gamergirl.hubpages.com/hub/temporary-hair-color

2.  Face/body paint has a lot of wonderful attributes and is easy to use, but make sure you are not allergic to it before applying!  I have a good friend who is extremely sensitive.  She has some trouble wearing certain eye make-up colors and most definitely has to watch what facial products she uses.  This friend decided to tailgate but paint her face first.  Bad news bears!  She broke out in hives.  #bodypaintfail  It is always a great idea to test what you are using before the big day.  There is nothing worse than having to wash it off, take a Benadryl and sit in discomfort at home.  If you need more information on allergies regarding face or body paint, this website was pretty all inclusive: http://flyingcolorsfaces.com/?page_id=257.

3.  Attire.  Now I don’t know a lot of people that have trouble with this one.  But, if you are a Southern Belle and you would like to look the role, here is a great find for you!  I must confess, I am appalled that they wouldn’t include any of the Big Ten in this list!  http://tailgatequeen.com.  It is perfectly appropriate to wear your school colors proud.  Whether you bought a jersey or a t-shirt, or are wearing long johns and an oversize coat for the game…the attire is where it is at!  I am more of a practical person I must confess–if it is remotely cold, I have my hat and gloves ready.  This website is more up my ally: http://fiestafive.wikispaces.com/Tailgating+Attire.  I love seeing the game day goofs in full blown costumes though!  Who doesn’t love seeing Gumby or Big Bird floating around the tailgating fields or in the stands?
Here are a few friends of mine who were willing to share their tailgating pictures!  Keep in mind, we are Indiana girls through in through.  GO IU! (and ND I suppose….)  🙂  Enjoy.
Provided by Jenna Gabet; This is “The Walk” as started by Coach Hep.  Pre-game IU festivities.

Provided by Jenna Gabet; “The Walk” beginning procession which includes the introduction of the players entering the premises and stadium.  These are the escorts! 

Provided by Jenna Gabet; The roommates  🙂

Provided by Cyndi Wolf;  Game Day–Irish style that is– is never  fully complete unless you have a Guinness in hand!

Provided by Cyndi Wolf; Pre-game photo opt!
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