Sarcoma Update, Pt I

Cancer

As I write this, I am well into week 4 of radiation. I have seven sessions left, which seems like nothing. The end is in sight!

It has been a roller coaster of emotions. Exhaustion. Gratitude. Frustration. Sadness. Loneliness. And sometimes – on a good day – acceptance and peace and hope.

When I was diagnosed with sarcoma my surgical oncologist told me that this type of cancer is very rare, very aggressive and very resistant to treatment. I can honestly say that I believe that my tumor has shrunk during this time of radiation and I truly believe that it has been so effected because of the myriad of prayers that has been continuously poured out for me across the globe. It has been a tremendous thing for me to witness – literally thousands of people praying for me, most of whom I have never met in person. It’s when I reflect on this that I am overwhelmed with gratitude and hope.

The whole point of radiation is to kill the cancer in the tumor as much as possible so that the surgery is easier and there’s a higher possibility of getting all the cancer out at once. If it shrinks, that’s a huge positive that no one was expecting. Of course some part of me is hoping for a miracle despite the improbability. A tiny voice has told me on more than one occasion that so many people are praying, maybe it’s possible…

But that, really, isn’t the point of prayer. I’m praying for acceptance of my situation whatever it may be. I went into this knowing a few facts that were hard to accept. That after surgery I won’t be considered “cancer free” by my oncology team until I’m 10 years out. My chance of sarcoma appearing somewhere else is 20% – and that’s a high number for me to think about. The fact that the cancer was still localized after having first noticed this lump two years ago is very unusual, and that the sarcoma itself is high-grade (aka, more aggressive) gives me hope that maybe once I’m past surgery it won’t reappear.

Last week – week three – was hard for me. Honestly: I struggle to show weakness to others. I talked a little bit about this in one of my posts last week, but I’ll explain better here.

Without going into details, last week two different things happened with other radiation patients that made me feel the injustice of my situation. Everyone – everyone – is at least 30 years older than me, probably closer to 40+ if I’m being honest. Everyone comes with their spouse and their grown up children and I imagine that they don’t have jobs and can go home and rest or do whatever they want after radiation is over. And here I am, with my little nursling who just this week turned 5 months old, my stroller, my diaper bag, my phone volume on high in case my sitter calls me about the two tornados – ahem, toddlers – at home. I have been told by all of the faculty (doctors, nurses, social worker) that I need to take time for myself but I feel guilty because I have a husband who works his butt off for us and three very little children who need me. Sickness is part of old age and part of the process of walking towards death. As I put it bluntly in my frustrated vent to my husband – old people are supposed to get sick. I am 27 years old. Not even 30. Not even close to “halfway” through my life, and I’m in the same situation as them except my situation is harder because I’m not in a place where I can spend all day doing what I want to do.

This attitude rocked me last week and made my life a lot harder. I’m sure that getting angry is part of this whole process, but in that moment I was like – this is not fair, I don’t understand why this is happening. I let other people who are also suffering get under my skin with their comments instead of letting go and letting God. I don’t understand the plan of God but I do believe there IS a plan.

Week four has been very exhausting. My whole body is tired. My radiation site is red and puffy and irritated because we are killing that dang thing and killing some healthy cells in the process. I am nervous about what the next few weeks will bring. Once I’m done with radiation we will redo my scans (MRI, CT), see what progress has been made and make a game plan for surgery at the beginning of September. If all goes well, then the best case scenario is that I’ll go in for scans every 3 months for the next 3 years and then twice a year until I hit the 10 year mark.

Pray for me, that I don’t let the little things get me down and that I remember all of the good things that have happened to me in my life, and in this time! I’m almost at the end of the first stage of this journey.

I’d love to answer questions in another post – so feel free to send me any you may have!

cancer.

Cancer

A little over a month ago I went to a general surgeon to take care of what I thought was a lipoma in my leg.

I’ve had it for two years and in that time it has grown from a tiny barely there lump to several inch oval. In the fall I started to get concerned about it because it became dark and I knew it was noticeably larger and uncomfortable if I put any pressure on it, but my dad has lipomas and multiple doctors told me that they were genetic. When I finally saw the surgeon in April she made me get an ultrasound and an MRI and told me that it was a tumor.

She referred me to a surgical oncologist who had a busy schedule so I waited four weeks for my appointment. When I saw him, he told me he’d be shocked if it was cancerous. I had the biopsy last Wednesday and this morning I got the call….

Cancer.

It’s cancer.

The first words out of his mouth were “I’m so sorry…I’m genuinely shocked that this is a lot more serious than I thought.”

The lump that has innocuously grown slowly over the past two years is a sarcoma.

Right now, this is our course of action: check to make sure that the cancer hasn’t spread to my blood, and then do radiation 5 days a week for five weeks straight. Then surgery.

When I received this news this morning I didn’t know how to respond or what to think, and I still don’t…my normal response is to joke when I’m put in a serious situation 🙈 but I’m asking for your prayers to help me to stay positive and strong 💪🏼 and that this cancer is located in the tumor only.

I have already received so much support and so many prayers since I made this public. Thank you so much, from the depths of my heart, for all of it. I will be making some phone calls tomorrow to get a second opinion about treatment options.

Lemon Poppyseed Donuts (Dairy Free!)

Baking

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe on here – and since National Donut Day was last week I’ve had donuts on my mind!

There are a few artisanal donut shops in Boston (namely, Blackbird Doughnuts and Union Square Donuts) and both have vegan options. I’d probably buy more donuts if they weren’t $3+ per donut….when I can make 6 at home for that price.

I adapted this recipe from Baker By Nature, substituting coconut milk for milk and vegan butter for butter!

Pro tip: use a piping bag or a gallon bag with a corner shipped off for easy donut pan filling.

I would definitely make these again! They were fast and easy and only made 6 donuts … Livia and I devoured them on our own.

Father’s Day Gift Guide + A Peek inside Lighthouse Woodworks

Collaborations, Uncategorized

Lucas and I met in 2012. Our relationship was long-distance, which gave us plenty of time to talk about anything and everything. One thing that Lucas told me at the age of 25? “I never want to own my own business.” Well, five years later, Lucas started a business with a lifelong friend of his and hasn’t looked back.

Owning a small business has changed our lives. We’ve had our ups and downs and a lot – a whole dang lot – of late nights, but we can’t deny that starting Lighthouse Woodworks has been the greatest thing to happen to our family besides having kids. In two years Lighthouse outgrew their original space and has acquired an additional two offices, two shop spaces and a showroom!

Our kids have been a driving force behind Lucas and his partner Daniel – in the time that they’ve been full-time, we’ve added four babies to our families! Being dads is such a huge part of who they are and I wanted to gift something to Lucas this Father’s Day that would be both special AND practical! A lot of times I end up gifting things that are sentimental (hello, Enneagram 2 over here) and they only get taken out on special occasions. I teamed up with Rustico to gift Lucas this awesome Journeyman Apron and wanted to give you some other handcrafted and functional leather gift ideas for the dads in your life!

For the Fisherman

Rustico’s Leather Fishing Log is a perfect gift for the fisherman in your life! Lucas loves fishing (I would call it a summer obsession, actually) and thought that this would be a really cool gift – think he’s trying to hint something? It’s handcrafted out of top-grain leather and made in Utah.

If your guy is into Fly Fishing, Rustico also makes this unique Book of Flies that is designed to hold up to 20 flies! It’s felt-lined on the inside and the outside is that same buttery Top-Grain as the Fishing Log and comes in a bunch of different colors!

If you can’t make up your mind, Rustico sells this On the Fly Gift Set so that you can purchase (and personalize) both!

For the Beard Aficionado

Ah, Beards. A source of pride for many husbands, the length of which may be a source of conflict between husband and wife… well, if he’s gonna let it grow, beard care is key! This Beard Grooming Kit comes with all the essentials and a gorgeous leather pouch to house all those products.

For the Businessman

Why should women get all the fun when it comes to bags? This Surveyor Leather Messenger Bag is perfect for the working professional, made with full-grain cowhide leather and designed with plenty of pockets for organization. It has antique brass hardware and can fit up to a 15″ laptop!

This Knox Bifold Leather Wallet has a sleek and minimal design; it’s a classic gift that will last for years.

For the Carpenter

The Waxed Canvas Journeyman Apron is such an awesome, functional gift for the maker in your life! I cannot say enough about how great it is. It’s made of waxed canvas and has multiple leather pockets, great for storing small craftsman’s tools.

The canvas and top-grain leather will show some wear over time but according to the use each artisan puts it to, so it’ll age rustically to tell the story of each person’s craft. It’s durable and has a beautiful design. It also comes in a variety of canvas and leather color options so it’s super customizable!

I’m biased but I think Lucas looks pretty dang good in his.

For the Beer Lover

This Beer Taster’s Gift Set is perfect for the craft brewer or beer lover! Just beer isn’t usually special enough for a gift…but pair it with this leather beer log, miner mug and leather coasters and it’s definitely something he’ll use and love!

Lucas’ Picks

Lucas is a huge fan of this Phoenix Copper Water Bottle; he said that he’d love to take this camping or fishing and I agree that it is pretty dang cool.

Lucas was also really into this Epoch Apple Watch Band – he wears his Apple Watch everyday! Lucas loves watches and I actually can’t believe I didn’t think of gifting this to him. Don’t be surprised if he ends up with one of these.

Every guy needs one good leather belt, and Lucas has been wearing the same one for seven years. It’s about time he gets a new one (as he pointed out to me) and this attractive, minimal leather belt is exactly what he has in mind. Rustico’s Leather Men’s Belt comes with nickel or brass hardware and comes in four colors.

Rustico has so many great products and their website actually organizes gift ideas into different categories too, so if you haven’t found something you love on this list, you definitely will on their site!

Thanks so much Rustico for gifting this Apron to us! *This product is gifted but all ideas are my own.*

A Non-Definitive Guide to Boston Beaches, Part 1

Adventures, Cities, Uncategorized

Nantasket Beach, Hull MA.

This is our fourth summer living in Boston! Every year summer rolls around and the question arises: “which beach should we go to?”

Lucas and I have differences of opinion; Lucas has two priorities: location and parking. He never wants to go very far. Firstly because we usually go in the afternoon, and secondly because we don’t know how the kids are going to behave that day which means if they’re not in the mood for the beach it’s a waste of time to drive for an hour just to leave an hour later. Lucas is from Denver which means that it still irks him that we have to pay for parking everywhere and doesn’t like having to walk very far from a parking spot to our destination (although, I think this is true for all people). He’s a very practical person. I am less practical, especially when it comes to beaches. My opinion is that I’d rather drive a little longer if that means the beach is much nicer! I also care less about parking, but maybe that’s because I am not the one who’s stuck carrying everything (sorry, Lucas).

With that in mind, here are some universal truths about all the beaches I have thus encountered in Boston.

  • The water is cold. Even in August.
  • You’re not finding a beach that makes you feel like you’re in Key West, sorry.
  • If you have a toddler between the ages of 6 months – 2 years you will change at least two sandy 💩 diapers per child.

Disclaimer: I am not a beach expert, just a mom living in Boston who has spent a lot of time thinking about which beach to go to!

Here are some of our most frequently visited beaches along with their pros and cons.

Nantasket Beach, Hull MA.

Nantasket Beach

Nantasket is a 30 minute drive from Boston and about 45 minutes from Eastie where we live! I’m gonna be honest: I do not like driving to the south shore. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because I dislike driving through the tunnel and the city when there are plenty of beaches on this side of Boston. However, if you’re already on that side of the tunnel – this is a worthwhile trip!

Pros: It is a good, family beach. It’s pretty clean, has ample parking (although depending on how busy it is, you may need to pay for parking – going on Memorial Day weekend meant it was packed and we had to splurge $20 to park in a grassy lot) and the water is clean! The sand is also pretty soft and fine.

This beach is located in a great beach town – there are quite a few bars, restaurants and ice cream shops in beachfront locations or walking distance from the beach. This is something a lot of beaches are lacking in and around Boston and something I don’t take for granted.

Also – and this could be a fluke, since we have only been here a few times – this beach has some serious waves! We saw a dozen or so surfers this weekend, while most beaches in Boston don’t get that kind of action.

Depending on where on the beach you park your fam, you can also go fishing – which is something my husband considers important.

Cons:

It’s a good beach and people know it – so it’s packed. Like, really packed. More than once one of the kids wandered into someone else’s space and you really need to stay on top of them – no wandering at this beach!

Another con – the tide! High tide reaches almost to the rocks, which pushed people out of the beach and squeezed them even closer together.

Bucket or Fuckit?

Bucket.

Winthrop Beach, Winthrop MA.

Winthrop Beach

I think Winthrop Beach is a hidden gem. Located in Winthrop, MA, this beach is tucked away from tourists and city dwellers, thanks to a lack of T stops near this beach. It’s mostly all locals and I don’t think they want to share.

Baby Mathias @ Winthrop Beach. You’re welcome.

Pros:

This is another clean, pretty beach, with fine sand and a vast beach – you’re not getting pushed off the beach from the tide at any time of the day. It’s quiet and family-oriented, and pretty empty during the week. Next to no waves makes this beach safe for your littles to hop into the water, which you can do with peace of mind; Winthrop Beach had one of the highest water cleanliness ratings in 2019, with a perfect score of 100%.

Nearby Deer Island has great fishing, with lots of striper bass; my husband and a friend caught two a few days ago.

Cons:

Parking is a big problem over here, especially if you plan on coming on the weekend. This is a big pain in the 🍑.

There’s also no shops or restaurants close enough to walk to, so pack a lunch or bring snacks!

Bucket or Fuckit?

If you only have access to public transportation or are going on the weekend, fuckit. But if you’re a mom looking for a quiet beach? Bucket.

Baby Liv @ Constitution Beach, East Boston MA.

Constitution Beach

Constitution Beach is a year-round favorite of ours thanks to a really awesome playground that they have (it frequents my stories). It isn’t the *best* beach but it’s a few minutes away from us and right next to the Wood Island T stop. Other bonus features? A concession stand, tennis, handball and basketball courts, and an ice skating rink.

Pros:

Everything I mentioned above, plus tons of free parking! This is a good all-around, family-centered beach. Plus, this is another beach that had great water cleanliness scores this year, with a 95% cleanliness rating.

Cons:

This beach is not a place for conversation, thanks to its location. You can see and hear planes landing and taking off at Boston Logan, which sits right across from the beach. Here’s a picture from the winter where you can see the planes pretty clearly.

The sand here isn’t the greatest, but the beach itself is clean.

Overall though? This is such a good place for a family outing!

If you’re local – bucket.

Revere Beach, Revere MA.

Revere Beach

Revere Beach has a bad rep. I think anyone from Boston (or who has lived in Boston for a few years) turns their nose up at Revere Beach, which is kind of the Coney Island of Boston. The oldest public beach in the states (est. 1896), this beach is probably the most busy beach closest to the city.

Lucas and I feel very differently about this beach.

Pros: it’s close to the city, and it’s a huge stretch of land, over three miles long. It’s accessible by two T stops on the blue line (Revere Beach and Wonderland) and there is parking all down the three miles of beach. There’s also a bandstand and a sprinkle of restaurants and ice cream shops. The beach itself is pretty wide and you won’t have a problem finding a spot to pitch your (beach) tent.

Cons: it’s not the cleanest beach, the sand is gritty and the crowd there isn’t the most family centric; meaning – while weed might be legal here now, I don’t want it around my kids. #isaidwhatisaid

But! Really, the city has done a great job trying to clean this place up. The water rating was 98% this year, pretty damn close to perfect, so even if you find some empty cans in the sand, know that the water quality is actually outstanding.

Revere Beach also hosts a Sand Sculpting Festival every July, and that brings out musicians, tons of food trucks and other fun activities for the whole family. In 2018 there were approximately 1 MILLION attendees, which is both amazing and claustrophobic, depending on how you view things. The sculptures are always really impressive.

Bucket or Fuckit?

There are better beaches. But the Sand Sculpture Festival is one for the Bucket list.

Nahant Beach

Nahant is about 30 minutes north of the city, but this long strip at the end of a peninsula is one of my favorites close to Boston.

My younger brother, last summer at Nahant Beach, MA

Pros:

The sand is soft and light, the water is clean, and there’s a fresh breeze that drifts back and forth over the sand. Another beach that received a perfect score on the water quality report, this one tends to be populated but not overcrowded. This beach feels more like a vacation beach and less like a city one because it’s placed away from anything else.

Cons:

It’s isolated. I like this, but this also means there’s nothing besides beach, not even a lone ice cream shop. Parking also cost $10 for MA residents and $20 for non-residents after Memorial Day, making it the only one on this list without any free parking. My husband thinks this one is overrated, but I appreciate that it’s secluded and that the clientele tend to be less rambunctious than those at Nantasket or Revere.

Bucket or Fuckit?

Toss up. I think it’s worth the parking cost; Lucas does not.

That’s it for now – and I’m only scratching the surface of the beaches in and around Boston! I’ll be writing another post soon, since there are four other beaches we venture to often that aren’t on this list!

Diaper Bag Essentials!

Baby Essentials, Collaborations

Today I received this diaper bag from Joone Co and it has exceeded all of my expectations!

Having three under three means that I need a diaper bag that is spacious and organized and this checks those boxes!

This bag is the Carryall Tote and comes in five colors. I chose Saddle!

It has plenty of pockets – THIRTEEN! With two insulated inner pockets for bottles, and two larger outer pockets for sippy cups or water bottles – and is still sleek and streamlined for a really appealing look. It’s made from oiled vegan leather and nylon so that it’s both stylish and easy to clean.

And while we’re at it, here’s a look at what’s inside my bag:

Ring slings are a must and I always regret not bringing one if I forget to pack it!

Blaise is exclusively breastfed, so this is a necessity since we are out and about a lot!

This is the Micro+ because my kids outgrow the Micro too fast. This is an older color but it’s called Saddle. Gathre has a sale going on right now for Mother’s Day so it’s a good time to snag one of these if you don’t already have one!

  • Pacifiers

I have three under three. I always pack at least three pacifiers in case of emergency.

  • Snacks

There’s always a few GoGo Squeez pouches in my bag because that’s the only brand of applesauce Mathias will eat. I usually pack Liv a granola bar or two as well!

  • Diapers + Wipes

We’re a Pampers family. For whatever reason my kids are super sensitive and these are the only diapers that don’t give them rashes!

  • Swaddle

You never know if a place is going to be cold – the hospital usually is! So I pack an extra blanket for B.

  • Extra G-Tube Supplies

I’m a special needs mom; that means bringing extra supplies. I always keep an extra bag of Nourish (Mathias’ food), an extra extension and a syringe with me, and keep an emergency G-Tube placement kit in the car in case something happens and it gets pulled out.

That’s it!

*This diaper bag as well as some other products pictured were gifted to me. However, I was not asked to write a blog post and all opinions are my own!

Say Hello to Spring with Raw Sugar Living

Beauty, Collaborations

65 degrees in New England is practically beach weather and after the long winter that we have over here I am more than ready to throw a swimsuit on and get some sun!

Well, mentally I’m ready. Physically I have quite a bit of preparing to do (new swimsuit for this postpartum body, a base tan and other beach shopping essentials are all necessary).

Luckily, Raw Sugar Living Sugar Scrub + Body Butter can prep and soften these legs that haven’t seen the sun in months 🙈 the beach is my happy place and the smell of this new Pineapple, Maqui Berry + Coconut is totally bringing me back to my honeymoon almost exactly four years ago in the Caribbean! #takemeback

Luckily I don’t need to go on a cruise to get these – they’re available at Walgreens!

I definitely recommend this particular combination of Pineapple, Maqui Berry and Coconut because it’s an ultra-reparative blend which can hydrate that rough winter skin! The combination of vitamin E and Aloe Vera helps to heal cracked and dry skin while Cold Pressed oils and the different fruit extracts visibly firm and repair. Skin is left feeling restored and more toned.

As if that wasn’t good enough, they also provide a bar of soap to a family in need for every product you purchase! So you can feel good on the outside, and on the inside ❤️ #RawThankYou #RawLovin #Sponsored

You can find Raw Sugar Loving products at your local Walgreens or online!