Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The Writer's Struggle Is Real + Hitting A Creative Block

February is a month that I wish I could genie-wish my way out of. And I blame it mostly on Valentine’s Day, but this year I blame it 

Again, it’s one of those things that I try to stay ahead of and I spend months thinking of great ideas for Klay and the kids, and then life happens and it’s the week of and I still have NOTHING. ZIP. ZERO. Stressing out for all the wrong reasons, and I try to focus on being glad I’m home with my family, but here I am talking about my Valentine’s Day missed opportunities and it’s already March… typical.

Last Feb. 14, I was in the hospital completing my third round of chemo, so there was no romancing, wining & dining or exciting things coming my way. Unless you can do chemo and drink chardonnay—but we all know that would never be a fun party. 

The year before the YEAR OF THE CANCER, my Valentine’s idea for Klay turned into a fiasco that led me to a meltdown in the middle of a Walgreen’s parking lot. No I didn’t accidentally lock one a kid in a vehicle again. <-- that really did happen, click to read it. But my 2013 meltdown wasn’t near as serious.

The photo machine was down at Walgreens, and I spent hours uploading them the night before; I just wanted to walk in there with the photos ready and however many extra I needed cause I had places to be. But, of course, I waited till the day-of to finish the project.

My partner to finish this DIY project for Dada was my nearly two-year-old son, who clearly did not want to cooperate. All I needed was just one good photo and this is what I get...

Valentine's Day Photo Idea

And the year prior to that I was put on bedrest waiting for my bundle of joy to arrive—and he finally did—Feb. 22–three weeks early, for that story click here.

Now, my baby just turned 4! I honestly can’t believe it. I’m so happy he’s growing up, but it makes me so sad at the same time. I miss the times he slept on my chest and all of those baby noises he would make. I miss how he’d growl when he got mad, or make us laugh by saying and doing funny things.

He so sweet and caring, but I’m not going to pretend he has a halo over his head… because that’d be far from the truth. The past two weeks he’s been a true fournager, for sure.  He thinks he can talk back, not listen to what we have to tell him, he cries if he doesn’t get what he wants… AHHHHHHH!

All I constantly hear: 

“No. I don’t want to."
“Can I sleep in your bed?"
“I can’t go potty I’m scared."
“Don’t leave me in the kitchen by myself, I’m scared.” (I’m literally 15 feet away in the living room.
“I caaaaannnnn’t.”

Oh and there is so much more.
He’s wearing me out. When something messes up or goes wrong, he talks in his “whiny” voice and starts to cry before we can even tell him how to address the problem. And we all know it’s a fake cry. I don’t remember being like that as a kid. I’m sure I probably was, and I’m sure some can vouch for that. But if I could only teach that kid patience and how to talk quietly, I’d be a much happier person.

On the other hand, Bex, it pretty good for the most part, but if GiGi or Dada are around, he loses it crying and tugging on their pants because he wants someone holding him (and it better be them, if they are around). And since all my pant are large and XL that no longer fit me (and that’s what I have to wear) one small tug and they fall to the floor. I’m just thankful that hasn’t happened around other people besides Klay.

This 124lbs thing is not really that fun. I literally have no clothes that fit. You’d think since I shop a Maurices all the time (or used to before AML) that I’d finally get a shopping gift card or something from them.  (Speaking of clothes, Klay and I cleaned out our closet and went to IKEA, so It looks so much better; post on that soon!)

Anyway, it seems sometimes that Bex cries for hours on in. But he’s a sweet, sweet chunky monster who is walking, saying some words and eating everything.

I adore all of my boys so much, they’ll never know. But I really just need a day to go shop, buy new makeup, check out some of my favorite stores and relax.

So why am I talking about Valentine’s Day after it’s OVER?

I haven't blogged like I promised I would. I've been working on my blog and I've been writing and writing, but nothing felt good enough to publish. 

February was the time third time I picked up blogging and trying to stay consistent. So this last month I realized I should feel more accomplished in my life and with this blog'''ij. I did have a huge bump in the road, but at least back then (in those V-Day posts) I could find something to write about. And sharing my stories gave me some sort of validation (like I was good at something. But I just can't think of anything I'm really good at any more. 

I won’t ever be the “Cass" before I was diagnosed. I’ve grown a lot since then. I’ve learned more about people and relationships, and who really cares when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve endured a lot of physical and emotional pain. I’ve witnessed more death since then. I witnessed a lot more of everything since then. 

I’ve just been in this hole feeling like I'm sinking. 

I want to blog and write and make people laugh; that’s all I ever wanted to do with this blog. I’m just trying to figure out how to do it all. I want to create my own business and use this blog as a marketing tool for that (don't worry I'd still keep the usual crazy posts in too). I just don’t know where to begin. 

I think I’m ready to go for it. If I fail, I fail. I’ll stand up and try something else. I can’t keep living a lifestyle where I don’t do anything for myself anymore.

And, I’ve just been down and sad. It’s hard for me to write when I'm feeling unaccomplished. I look around on Facebook and remember a life with a job and what it was like working and I feel unaccomplished. I'm lost right now. 

I can’t think straight (which could be part of my "chemo brain"), but it’s like I can’t come up with any new post ideas, ideas to sell e-products (worksheets, webinars, ecourses, ebook, which I plan to do eventually but I’m not ready to tackle that task yet), or even good ideas for physical products. 

I don’t know what I have to offer people that people might pay for. 
What are my skills? 
What am I good at? 
Those are questions that I can’t answer any more.

writer's block the struggle is real

I'm trying to get my blog redesigned, while taking ecourses to learn more about monetizing a blog, and how to make it the change exciting for my readers. I've watched free webinars, read articles after articles, looking at different tools to use to make my productivity better. But mentally I feel like I'm not progressing.  

I need a change. I need something to do besides doctor appointments and helping take care of kids. I need turn this (my blog) into a job. I want to financially contribute to my family.

Guess I’ll stop it there. So, I guess it's goodbye to February and welcome a (hopefully) greener, more prosperous March.

If you have time, please take this survey to help me out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How Someone's Random Act of Kindness Saved My Life

Did you know it’s Random Act of Kindness Week (RAK)?
#rakweek #randomactsofkindness #randomactsofkindnessweek

Oddly enough, it even has a special day which is on Thursday. 

It’s really kind of awful a foundation created a holiday or event to remind us to be kind. But The Random Act of Kindness Foundation was created We should be like that every day! But if it helps encourage people and spread kindness and awareness that can make this world a better place—I’m all for it. 

Let me just say it was the RAK idea that saved my life.   
I’ve never been a resolution-maker or someone who has posted about random acts of kindness before, but I feel like I do little things for people I don’t know a lot just everyday. 

But right now because of this particular week, all I can think about is one thing—how a stranger saved my life through a RAK.

Ya’ll, I have a confession to make.   
I received a letter from my donor… April of last year.

My transplant coordinator brought it to me when I was in the hospital post-transplant. I was shocked when she showed it to me, but surprised because I figured I’d be the first to send one.

Her letter totally brightened my day.

It was short, sweet and to the point. She's a very good writer and I was very impressed with her words. It was like she knew exactly what to write to me.

BAD NEWS: I have yet to write her back—gasp!

"Get on it Cass!"

I know there is really no excuse that could bail me out of this one. I’ve had a lot going on in my life from being diagnosed while pregnant to having a preemie to going through the transplant and all of the other medical crap that has happened, even in the past few months. But I have to write her. I’m going to write her.

If you recall,  I "wrote" her on my blog, but I feel like I need to add more to it. I don't even know what I should say… or what I can legally say because we have to stay anonymous.

cricket, cricket.

See? And I can't say that. She'd think I'm some crazy person or something. I know... I am (kinda cray) but you know what I mean! I mean this woman sounded incredible in her letter. I honestly can't believe it's taken me so long write her back. I feel terrible about it. She probably thinks I'm a bitch.

She told me that her new year’s resolution was to complete a RAK.

My stem cell donor new year’s resolution idea was to sign up the Be The Match Registry at Who knows? You could be the cure for someone too.

Little did she know, I'd just switched to my AML Oncologist/Specialist and had my first talk with him Christmas Eve. That first day he was already talking about looking for a preliminary matches following the holidays.

Meanwhile, my donor signs up in December or January and orders her cheek swab kit, sending it back in January, and then all of sudden she gets a phone call to come in for more testing.

People have signed up for 10+ years and have never received a phone call. She signed up and a matter or days or weeks later she received a phone call—about me. If she wouldn't have followed through with her random act of kindness that winter, I may of had to go with a 50% match which is much tougher on your body, especially when you aren't related.

Related Post: I Am Having A Stem Cell Transplant

She was a 100% match and agreed to go through the process to donated millions of stem cells, taking off work, staying at the hospital, for me—a complete stranger.

Related Post: The Match

I was in the hospital this year when the ball dropped and I was in the mood to celebrate. Plus, I’ve never been much of a “resolution-maker,” though now, thanks to my donor I definitely will become an avid resolution-maker and celebrate #rakweek by taking a pledge to do something special, random and to hopefully inspire others to do the same.

Thinking about how my donors random act of kindness saved my life and gave me a fighting chance, made me want to write down my resolutions and RAK ideas.
So I made a list of some of my resolutions this year, as you can see below.

How A Random Act Of Kindness Saved My Life

So my reader challenge to you is to come up with your own random act of kindness, write it down to make yourself accountable for it, … and follow through with it.

Have you already stopped your original New Year’s Resolutions? Well, here’s a kick in the rear! Create your random act of kindness story! Read other random acts of kindness stories!

I want to hear about your resolutions and RAK’s!
Make sure to comment, like, share, tweet, and be happy and tell me your RAK!.

Pay IT Forward. You never know you could save someone’s life, make a dream come true, or just put a smile on someone’s face for being kind.

 Random Acts of Kindness Week | #RAK  RAKWeek | Random Acts of Kindness Idea

Don't forget you can also join


Monday, February 08, 2016

Life On Cass Lane gets a Newsletter!

Exciting news!

So I’ve been working on creating a newsletter, but I do need some help from my readers—you guys. I need you to sign up so I can send out my awesome newsletter!

This newsletter is going to be loaded with exclusive content, more frequent updates, tips and advice. But that’s not all! I’m launching some new, fun ways to get to know my readers, fellow cancer survivors, patients, and caregivers. 

In the newsletter, you’ll get info about:
  • Host FREE webinar support groups for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers
  • Host FREE LIVE Q+A’s with my followers
  • Announce the launch of my products I’m working on
  • Share funny and embarrassing stories that have yet to make it to post-worthy
  • Tips & Advice
  • Updates on me Medically
  • And even some giveaways!

So let’s start your week off right with some fun, exclusive news from my newsletter!
Get a dose of Cass bi-weekly, maybe even more times a week, if readers want more!

Let me light up your inbox and sign up here! 

You can also help me out by filling out the quick survey below!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Health, Hospital & Hell

To say 2015 wouldn't allow me to end the year on a good note is the understatement of the century.

As much as I want to blog everyday, something in my life pops up and ruins this writer's plans.

Just a few weeks (now months) back I was back in the hospital for three days with a virus in Nov... #onemorehospitalstayforthebooks

Then post-Christmas, on the 27th, I was admitted again for GI issues.
This hit me like a ton of bricks, ya'll, and I'm still currently having issues--two months later.

Needless to say November and December were insane months for us and January decided to follow suit.

I've literally been in the hospital this entire time I've been not blogging. I've had maybe 10 days or so since December 27 that I've been home; it's February 2.

It all started when we had to cancel Bex's first birthday because of my sinus surgery and then Thanksgiving came--a joyous time of year where we are supposed to give thanks and list all we are thankful for--unfortunately, that wasn't the case this year.

We had family members have strokes, my grandpa had a triple bypass surgery, I got sick, Bex had hand foot and mouth again, then Brody got sick, and even Klay managed to get a bout of what was going around the "White House" this time. It was terrible.

Between the family illnesses and deaths, every time I've wanted to write some other issue would already add to our fully-loaded plate.

It's honestly just been really really tough.

I'm doing as much as I can to try to stay healthy, but I can't help but notice all of the people around me are falling apart too.

I was actually the last one to get sick and had been rather healthy early December. My energy level was the best it had been since my diagnosis and I was hopeful I was on the mend.

And then WHAM! Like a Holly Holm KO kick to the head, all of my excitement about the holidays flew out of my mind and was replaced with worry and fear.

Sickness. Family illness. Deaths. All of them during the holidays this year.

I'm knocked back down again emotionally and physically as I sit here in a hospital bed typing away about how bad 2015 was for us.

And it so far looks like 2016 isn't off to the greatest start, but I'm determined it will be better than 2015! This is going to be a good year. It has to be. We so desperately need it to be.

It's been more than three weeks and people aren't really sure why I'm having GI problems. I have ulcers in my stomach, but tested negative for CDIFF. It was absolutely terrible.

We do know I have an inflamed colon, but we don't know what is causing it so we can treat it.

This lengthy hospitalization was not planned and it's been a struggle to find people to help out. I feel like I'm such a burden when I ask people to do stuff for me. And I know people say I'm not, it's just everyone has their own lives to tend to and don't need the complications of my life sitting on their doorstep with the little bubble that says "help me" next to it.

And this was my first hospital stay from Dec. 27-Jan.14.

Then, I was admitted again less than a week later and finally went home on the Jan. 30th. This time I tested positive for CDIFF, and I fell at the hospital fracturing my sacrum (buttbone, which was already fractured by the way).

Then to top all that off--I started to swell like a balloon and we learned there was a blood clot in my neck connected with my power port or central line, so I had to have surgery to have that removed (the port). Now, I'm on blood thinners, but I still have a lot of fluid in my face.

I mean it was so bad that I didn't even recognize myself.

I just feel bad for everyone around me. Everyone whose life this impacts everyday that's not mine.

I hate that I'm away from the boys. It kills me not to see them everyday.

I honestly feel like the last three months were just a blur. I don't know what to say when people ask how I feel, I'm tired of talking. I feel terrible. I look terrible.

It's made us have to shuffle the boys around, which we hate. I just want to go back to a normal routine again. My mom and Klay have been amazing. I literally don't know what I would do without them. Their lives are the most affected by my illness (along with the kids, of course). If Klay's with me, mom's watching the boys, and if mom is with me, Klay's with the boys. Mom is at my house every day taking care of me and three kids (Swayze, too) and she's done a hell of a job keeping it together. I honestly feel so much more at ease when she is around. There is nothing like being taken care of by your mama. NOTHING. I love you, mom.

Plus, Klay's working and trying to balance this crazy life we're living right now. He's trying to grocery shop, cook dinner, play with the kids, bathe the kids, get them to bed, and work and go to the Reserves and work there. Plus, visit me and stay with me at the hospital, driving back and forth from Dallas to our house everyday. There is just so much he's doing. I feel terrible for him. I just wish I could do something to make everyone's lives a little easier.

I love him so much. And he's been through this all with me (skinny, fat, bald, rashes, broken tailbones, dealing with me shitting myself, bathing me, helping me get dressed--you name it, he's done it.)

Then the poor guy dropped a cage on his foot at work and had to go to the ER last week. It was only a bone bruise, but it just seems like none of us can catch a break.

Right now I'm at the doctor. Yes, I'm out of the hospital, but I'm still swollen, having GI problems, my stomach is killing me, and I'm wearing Depends, which should tell you a lot about how "well" I am right now.

This is my life right now.

I'm 28 and married with two beautiful boys who I don't get to see because of my "recovery" from my stem cell transplant. I'm wearing Depends--so yes, I'm pooping on myself--I'm skinny, my skin is disgustingly dry, my face is blown up because of a damn blood clot in my neck. Oh, and it hurts any time I move my bum because I had to fall and break something while I already feel like shit. I'm going through menopause and I can't have any more kids. My life is quite possibly at the lowest point it's ever been--physically, emotionally, etc. I'm just trying to shake things off, but it's so hard because I keep getting bad news all the time.

I just don't even want to answer questions about anything. I don't want to engage with anyone right now. I know I don't need to shut people out at a time like this. All of these health problems have turned my life and those I love most [their lives] upside down.

Having these GI problems for two months with no resolve is frustrating.

Every day I've been sick with diarrhea, blood in my stool, going to the bathroom every few minutes...

I'm weak, I'm losing weight. I lost eight pounds since December. I'm in the 125s with clothes on. All my clothes are 4x too big for me. I need to get rid of the old and buy some new clothes asap, but don't feel like it cause I'm sick and weak.

I'm way too skinny. It's scary. Though it may not look like it in these photos I'm going to show you. They are gross, but I want people to know what this is like for me and what I've had to experience.

My face is still swollen and swells up really bad in the morning. My right eye is constantly blurry because of the fluid. Hopefully these blood thinners I'm on will help the swelling go down soon. I'm not as big as the last photo. My whole body was full of fluid then.

The only upside to swelling up like a balloon last week was that my jugs were pretty huge for a week. It was like size B to F in 24 hours. Holy Moly they were the biggest they've ever been. It was honestly insane.

But feeling this way about yourself isn't healthy.

I look in the mirror and look at my butt, that's really just skin now. There is no fat to it whatsoever. It's gross. I need my Kim K. curves back with a lot of junk from her trunk while I'm at it.

I was actually happier with my body when I was bigger (pre-AML). At least then I had something to grab. Now, its just skin. There is nothing there and it's pretty depressing.

There is probably a lot of stuff I've left out that's happened since I last wrote, but my brain just isn't all here today or ever, any more.

I just want to apologize to everyone for my lack of posting. We've literally had something happen to us everyday (or just me being sick and tired). And sometimes it's too hard to think about. I just can't even wrap my mind around all of this sometimes. It's a lot to take in.

I know I'm a bucket full of mixed emotions. I literally don't even know what to think or how to feel any more. I just know that I do want to do this--share with you guys. Sharing and knowing that people out there care and want to help does make me feel better.

My goal this year is to grow this blog. I'm working on getting it redesigned and some new things up and going, so I'm hoping that this will help me feel like I'm doing something with my life. I need something to do besides doctor appointments, hospital stays and feeling like poo all the time.

Please continue to pray for us during this very, very difficult time. We need all the prayers we can get!

Also, let's toast (& pray) for a great 2016!