Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fuck Cancer!

I'm not just saying it out loud for everyone to hear, I'm screaming it at the top of my lungs 

Fuck Cancer!

For causing her unimaginable pain and incomprehensible stress. For filling her medicine cabinets with toxic medications and her purse with an unlimited supply of tissues. For taking her hair and the color in her face. For the mouth sores and the constant nausea. For turning her life upside down and taking away things like stability, comfort and peace of mind. For making it impossible for her to sleep through the night and for forcing her to learn how to cope with virtually anything.

Fuck Cancer!

For taking away her new-found career and her ability to think on her feet. For giving her a taste of hope and then taking it all away with the discovery of two new tumors. For slowly hacking away at her self-confidence and her ability to take care of her family. For making it virtually impossible for her to stay on top of medical decisions and mounting medical bills. For making her future uncertain.

Fuck Cancer!

For thinking you are in control and for doing your best to break her. Despite all of your efforts, she is STILL here and she is STILL fighting. She is so strong. So much stronger than you think. Despite all of it, she continues to love wholeheartedly. In spite of you, she continues to be a Wife and a Mom, a Daughter and a Sister, an Aunt and a Niece, a Godmother and a Cousin, a Friend and a Hero to everyone who meets her. 

Despite you, she lives.
She breathes.
She smiles and she laughs.
She hugs and she kisses.
She is still the same beautiful person, inside and out.
And you will never take that away.

Fuck Cancer!
















Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Words and Wearing Pink for Yolie

Yolie starts chemotherapy for the second time in just over a year this Thursday. {long, anxious sigh} 
 
She was given a week off to allow the burns from radiation treatments to heal. The plan is for her to receive two different types of chemo: the first will be administered via a three hour infusion every three weeks. The second will be four pills in the morning and four pills in the evening every day for two weeks.
 
Some of the side effects caused by chemotherapy include: headache, fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, hand-foot syndrome, sores in the mouth and throat, shaking or trembling, and a whole slue of other not-so-fun ailments. She will be on this regiment for a minimum of six months and at some point they will start to monitor the size of the tumors to see how they are responding to treatment.
 
To help her get through the next six months, she is going to need all of the love, support and encouragement she can get and although we have the best intentions to say all the right things, we sometimes miss the mark. {Myself included}
 
So, to ensure that she receives just what she needs, I did some research and thankfully, I found some great information. I feel so much more secure in my ability to really be there for her in every sense of the word and my hope is that you will feel the same way.  
  • Ask permission—before visiting, before giving advice, before asking questions. And make it clear that saying no is perfectly okay.
  • Make flexible plans that can be easily changed in case something comes up or she needs to cancel or reschedule.
  • Be careful not to come across as pushy or demanding.
  • Be humorous and fun, when appropriate and when needed.
  • Allow for sadness—do not ignore uncomfortable topics or feelings.
Practical Ways You Can Help:
  • Send regular text messages and Facebook posts.
  • Make a donation to her Fund Me page
  • Offer to make a home-cooked meal via Meal Train.
  • Gift her a magazine subscription.{Magazines are her favorite}
What to Say:

Avoid Saying:
  • I know just how you feel.
  • You need to talk.
  • I know just what you should do.
  • I feel helpless.
  • I don't know how you manage.
  • I’m sure you’ll be fine.
  • Don’t worry.
  • How much time do the doctors give you?
  • How long do you have?
  • Let me know what I can do. (Instead, offer specific ways you can help or other things you can provide if they need it.)
Do Say:
  • I'm sorry this has happened to you.
  • If you ever feel like talking, I am here to listen.
  • What are you thinking of doing, and how can I help?
  • I care about you.
  • I’m thinking about you.
  • I don’t know what to say. (It is better to be honest than to simply stop calling or visiting out of fear.)
To help brighten her first day of chemotherapy, we are planning another Wear Pink for Yolie event. Here's how it works: simply post a photo of yourself on Facebook and/or Instagram using the #pinkforyolie hashtag. It's so easy and has the potential to make an enormous impact.

I'm basically asking, pleading and begging everyone and anyone I know to not just participate but to also help me spread the word. Do you work for a large company? Get your co-workers involved. Do you have a favorite Starbucks that you frequent? Ask them to participate. Ask your Family, your Friends, your Neighbors, your Mom's Groups and your Gym Pals.

Nobody is off limits. Not even your Dog. Cat. Hamster.
{You get the picture}

Enjoy the Day!
Missy




Sunday, April 5, 2015

You.

Stunned. Elated. Grateful.

These are just a few words that come to mind when I think of the Fight for Yolie Bake Sale that we hosted last Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

We set-up an amazing spread of Easter themed baked goods on my friend Julia's beautiful patio, just down the street from the University of La Verne campus. Our hope was that people would stop by on their break or on their way home from work and all of the money raised would go directly to my Sister, who is battling breast cancer for the third time in three years.

And one by one, that's just what you did. You showed up.

But you didn't just spend a couple of dollars. You left with platters, plates and brown paper bags full of cupcakes, cookies, mini cheesecakes, rice crispy treats and scones.
And that's not all. You offered encouraging and supportive words and lots and lots of hugs. {Thank you!} It was almost overwhelming. By the time Yolie arrived, an hour into the bake sale, we had already raised almost 500.00!

She was genuinely taken aback by the generosity displayed all around her. She felt incredibly loved and supported and it was exactly what she needed as she prepares to start another six months of grueling chemotherapy. How did you know that? You just did.

You. My friends and co-workers. I don't think I could ever thank you enough. Without you, without your support, I'd most definitely feel helpless and hopeless. I wouldn't be able to muster up the strength to fight alongside her. But I don't have to.

Because of you, I feel empowered. I feel strong.

I don't fear the future because I know I am doing everything in my power. No rock left unturned. I'm willing to do pretty much anything for Yolie and time and time again you've proven to be supportive no matter what crazy idea I think up. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For always being there for me and now for my sister. Because of you, we raised over $1,000.00 as a result of our Fight for Yolie Bake Sale. Because of you, we are over half way to our goal of raising $10,000.00. It seemed out of reach just a few weeks ago but if there is one thing I've learned over the past few weeks is, there is strength in numbers and in community.

And boy did I get lucky in the community category!

Enjoy the Day!
Missy

If you would like to make a life-changing gift, please click here

P.S. There were so many people who were instrumental in the success of this bake sale. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank them here:

Thank you for the countless text messages and facebook posts wishing us a successful event and for the online gifts from friends who couldn't attend the bake sale.

Maria Hernandez -
for the use of your amazing kitchen, for keeping us well-fed, for donating cookies, a general donation jar, poster board and tags.
Griselda Hernandez - for donating baking supplies, disposable containers and your time.
Lisa Mejia - for donating your time.
Denise Gutierrez - for donating baking supplies and your time.
Debbie of Dagal Creative - for donating your graphic design talents for our beautiful table signs.
Julia Wheeler - for allowing us to use your beautiful home to host our event - it was perfect!
Debra and David Morales - for helping with set-up and for lending your tables at the last minute!
Sarah Prosenko - for donating chocolate dipped pretzels.
Marianne Duyan - for donating cookies, lemon bars and your time.
Rebecca Farraj - donating beverages and ice and for donating your time.
Alma Argueta - for donating carrot cupcakes and mini Oreo cookie cheesecakes.
Isabel & Darlene Rodriguez - for donating beautifully decorated cupcakes.
Amanda Hanson - for donating freshly baked almond scones.
.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

She

With the overwhelming support we have received over the past few weeks, I felt compelled to tell you more about the person you are supporting.

The person you are giving hope.

Her full name is Yolanda Lynn Lopez but we lovingly call her Yolie.
She was born on November 26th.
She is the 4th of five siblings.
At age 6, she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
She is a woman of faith.
She is a dedicated Wife and Mommy to three.  
She is smart and funny as hell.
Her favorite season is fall.
Naturally, her favorite colors are brown, orange and green.
She has a great smile and an even better laugh.
She is a natural in the kitchen.
She loves to belt out her favorite country songs.
She is a fan of Carrie Underwood.
Her favorite pastime is hanging out at home with her husband and three children.
She is a fan of rocky road ice cream.
She is incredibly thoughtful, has a way with words and completely unaware of both.
Her favorite show is Modern Family.
She wears her heart on her sleeve and she loves wholeheartedly.
In 2013, she graduated with an AOS degree at the top of her class.
Did I mention she accomplished this while battling breast cancer the first time?

She is a light in the life of many.
She is a fighter and a lover of life.

And as her big sister, I couldn't be prouder.
Thank you for your unwavering love and support.

Click here to read more about her battle with breast cancer.
Click here to make a life saving gift.

XoXo,
Missy

Monday, March 23, 2015

One Step at a Time

How do you put a price tag on someone's life?

I've been thinking about this question a lot lately. Who am I kidding...I think about it every single minute of the day.

Before my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, I didn't realize how often families were put in this unspeakable situation. According to The American Cancer Society, 20% of people with health insurance can't afford to have the cancer therapy they need to save their lives.

Can you imagine checking-in for treatment and being told that you have to pay $12,000.00 up front for the next series of chemo treatments?

I keep picturing my sister standing there with tears in her eyes. She manages to keep her composure but it wavers as soon as she gets out the words, "I don't have $12,000.00." Thankfully, they offered (this time) to put her on a payment plan but we worry what will happen next time and quite honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It's bad enough she has to endure these horrible treatments that literally suck the life out of her but to have to figure out how to pay for them, too. She has enough to worry about: She has two teenage children who are trying to cope the best they can while also trying to find their way in this great big world, a four year old daughter who is questioning God's existence because he hasn't answered her nightly prayers to heal her of cancer and on top of all that, she has rent, utilities, car payments and car insurance not to mention daily expenses like food and gas.

Her disability benefits have run out and yesterday she found out she doesn't qualify for SSI so it is only a matter of time before they lose their apartment. The place she and her family have called home for the past five years. Moving is stressful for most healthy people. She has to do it while also enduring chemo treatments.

It just doesn't seem fair. It seems mean and cruel. And as her older sister, I just want to take care of it. All of it but I can't. I can't do it all. but I can make a difference, no matter how small.

One step at a time.

Sleep is a distant memory because I have so many things to do, people to talk to, grants and loans to find and research and money to raise. Some how. Some way. I've raised money and awareness for many causes in my lifetime. Now it's time to put my experience to work for my Sister.

Someone I can't imagine my life without.

This is where you come in. If you have the financial resources to help, please do and know that your gift is truly making all the difference in the world. If you don't have the financial resources, please don't feel bad. My intent is never to make anyone feel guilty for not making a donation. I know times are tough. Instead, please consider helping me raise money by spreading the word. Simply share the link to this blog post or the direct link to her Fund Me account via your Facebook account. You can also lead a fundraising effort or support one of mine. {More info to come} You can sign-up to provide her and her family with a home-cooked meal via Meal Train, send uplifting cards or simply keep her and her family in your prayers.

As a family and as believers in Jesus Christ, it feels like we are being given the ultimate test...in every sense of the word. I am motivated to keep her on this earth for selfish reasons. Because I'm not ready to say goodbye and because I want my son, her godson to grow up with her strong and loving presence in his life. I want her to be there when he graduates middle school, high school and college and I want her to be there to witness him say the words, "I do" and for the birth of his babies.

But most of all, I am motivated to continue fighting because she has her own children to continue raising. Her youngest is five so she has many more boo-boo's to kiss and books to read, questions to answer and milestones to treasure. That is motivation enough and thankfully for all of you - my husband and my son, my immediate and extended family, friends and co-workers - you sustain me and keep me sane. Thank you for your love and friendship.

I am so very blessed and together, I am confident that we can make a difference. We may be small but we are mighty in our #fightforyolie

Xoxo,
Missy

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fighting for Yolie

Last Spring we received some pretty heartbreaking news: My younger sister who battled breast cancer two years ago found another tumor and was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer. A few weeks later she had a radical mastectomy and endured six months of chemotherapy.

At the end of her chemotherapy, she had surgery to have what was left of the tumor removed. The doctor was skeptical but thankfully, we received good news when she walked into the waiting room saying, "I got it all." She was finally cancer free. It was an emotional day for all of us but most of all, for her.

We celebrated with a small cake and some balloons but the celebration was short lived because within just a few weeks they found another tumor. It's difficult to put into words what goes through your mind when you're watching your loved one go through so much physical pain and emotional turmoil.

I try to focus on her eyes.
I smile a lot and hold her hand.
I make silly jokes and talk about the weather.

But sometimes my nervousness gets the best of me and I say really, really dumb things.Thankfully, she will usually wave it off and promptly change the subject.

As her older sister, I feel completely and utterly helpless. Sometimes I want to cry and other times I want to scream but the thought that always enters my mind in the midst of an emotional breakdown is what she must be going through. I can't even imagine.

In between the pain, I do see glimmers of joy in her face. Like when she is around her kids, when her favorite show is on or when I tell her my latest Mommy mishap. I love those moments. And she is a believer in God so I'm sure her faith is of great comfort to her. I know I would be absolutely lost without him.

Currently, she is getting ready to start six more months of chemo and then we are hoping radiation treatments will eliminate what is left of the tumor because surgery is not an option. We are also very lucky to have so much love and support from family and friends.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I think the same idea applies here too. We have an amazing village. One that rises to the occasion without a second thought. Thank you, all of you for your love, your encouraging words and for continuing to pray for Yolie and her family. We appreciate it more than I could ever fully express.

Enjoy the Day!
Missy

To help my sister with medical and living expenses, please click here

Jake's 3rd Birthday

WOW!
That would be one way to describe how I feel when I say out loud, "He's 3." I still can't believe it. I also can't believe that I didn't post anything about his party so I'm just going to keep reminding myself, "better late than never."

We celebrated Jake's birthday on Saturday, October 18th at the Chino Children's Museum, which is basically a pretend city for toddlers complete with buildings, doors and activities perfect for their size and age. The theme was Spider Man and lucky for me, Dollar Tree had tons of Spider Man stuff that worked perfectly for the goody bags. Each child received a mini puzzle, a coloring book, crayons, snacks and candy - all in Spider Man packaging.
We ordered the food through a local Italian restaurant so the menu included pizza for the kids and salad, pasta and bread sticks for the adults. Once again, we ordered the cake from our favorite go-to person who hit it out of the park with her cake decorating skills.
Jake was so excited when we walked into the building. He kept saying, "I'm so happy," which of course made me melt every time he said it. If I could change one thing, it would have just been more time in the party room because the two hours that we were given went by in what seemed like light speed but I loved that I could relax and really enjoy the party. A big indicator of that was I was able to sit down and eat. That's never happens. Ever.

I was really able to soak in every bit of goodness going on around me; the laughs, the smiles and the conversations. When we sang him happy birthday, he sang right along with us with a huge smile on his face.

I found myself reminiscing over the course of the party - thinking about the milestones he's had over the last three years. He's growing up so fast and although we have our off days, we also have so much fun. This can be a difficult age but it is also so great to be able to have a conversation with him - to be able to sing along to his favorite songs and discover new things together.

He makes me laugh and he has such a big heart. What can I say...I'm a lucky Mommy!

At age 3, Jake is a fan of:

Macaroni and Cheese
Turkey Sandwiches
Milk
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Finding Nemo
Spiderman
Trains
Singing
Dancing