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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Life is Like a Jigsaw Puzzle!

As I sat at my puzzle board this morning, enjoying my first cup of coffee, I realized how tackling a jigsaw puzzle is so similar to how I tackle my life. Sometimes, it is one piece at a time, and other times, I tackle in "clumps" or "two-fers!"

It occurred to me that the goal is always the same; put the pieces together to create a beautiful picture. It also occurred to me that not every puzzle is solvable in the same manner. Each and every one is unique, with its' own strengths and weaknesses.

Some puzzles are easy peasy, others can be quite difficult. Either way, I am up for the challenge!

Living with cancer that is chronic is much the same way; some days are easy peasy, others much more difficult. Fortunately, nine years down the road, I have many more easy peasy days, than difficult ones, so it is easy to tackle the puzzle of life in a grand way; putting "chunks together" quickly, to create beautiful moments in time.

Those moments could be as minute as completing all of my laundry in one day, to the greater grandeur of moving thousands of miles to begin a new life adventure. These are the days that help me to push through the ones that are not as pleasant.

On the difficult days, I just take life one "piece" at a time.

1. Get up. 

2. Maybe get dressed; maybe not. 

3. Maybe eat; maybe not. 

4. Snuggle with a blanket and heating pad. 

5. Find a distraction; crochet, knit, watch a sappy movie, or attempt to solve a puzzle. 

6. Try not to focus on the pain or nausea. 

7. Whine a little. 8. Laugh a lot. 

9. Eat chocolate. 

10. Drink something warm.

11. Accept the crappy day.

12. Laugh some more.

13. Go to bed and pray for a better tomorrow.


Puzzling with friends!
Not all days can be good days, and that rings true for everyone; cancer or no cancer. We all have struggles, we all have challenges, but if we learn to treat life like a jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time, with all of the pieces creating a beautiful picture, then maybe we will not become so overwhelmed that stress creeps in and adds to our already difficult and challenging moments.

Be grateful for the easy peasy days and approach the difficult ones in whichever manner works best for you, and your current challenge. One step at a time, adding one and one and creating two, or putting together whole chunks of challenges quickly, thus creating your very own big, beautiful picture.

Also remember, that like a jigsaw puzzle, each and every single piece matters. Each and every piece requires thought and placement before it can become complete. When you first begin a puzzle, the pieces are scattered and chaotic, it is only after careful thought and consideration that they begin to take shape and order themselves; filling in the blanks and making sense.

Slowly, methodically they will begin to fit together and become whole. Life can easily become scattered and chaotic, it is how we deal with this chaos that dictates our existence. Strive to give all of your pieces the attention needed to live your best life.

And keep in mind, you are not alone and puzzling, just like life,  is so much more enjoyable when shared with others!

Remember that it will not always be easy, but hopefully, it will always be worth it!

Happy Day, and blessings to all!


FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cmlmichele
Email: CMLMichele59@gmail.com

#chronicillness  #cancer  #chronicmyelogenousleukemia  #Bosulif  #leukemia  #lovemylife  #cml #sideeffects #puzzles  #cmlspecialist #grafteul #thrivingwithleukemia #livingwithcancer



Sunday, February 9, 2020

Living with Chronic Cancer is Tough! Happy Nine Year Cancerversary!!

February 9, 2011
Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. At that time, I knew nothing about blood cancer and didn't know whether I would live or die.

Nine years down the road I am still fighting this disease while continuing to learn whatever I can about CML, while advocating for myself, and others also living with CML.

All that being said, nine years down the road, I am happy to say that I have adjusted well to my "new normal" and that living with cancer is "just the way it is."

My journey, like most journeys, has been full of twists and turns. Good days and bad days, and ones in-between, too. I do not often wonder what my life "would have been" if I didn't have cancer and am grateful for all of the things that have happened "because" I have cancer.

February 9, 2020
I find life is weird that way; we either accept our fate and embrace it, or we don't. I am definitely a make lemonade type of person, for which I am grateful every single day.

The past two years, since switching from Sprycel to Bosulif have been by far the best years since diagnosis.

I believe that is a direct correlation to the change of medication. I was having my left lung drained every two weeks at the end of my Sprycel run, and despite there being a small effusion that remains, I have not had one thoracentesis in over two years.

I have more nausea, but less fatigue, muscle, and joint pain and almost no neuropathy; I call this a win. This coupled with the fact that I have had the best PCR results in nine years, and I am a happy camper.

As a matter of fact, three months ago, my PCR actually dropped to .0094!!! I have never hit the double zero mark before, and I was elated. You would think that having your blood tested once every three months, in order to assess the burden of cancer on your body would become routine; no big deal. Right?

Wrong; it is, and always has been A VERY BIG DEAL!! There is always hope and trepidation wrapped around those vials of blood. I always send them off with high hopes and good juju. Sometimes I am elated with the results, other times I am completely deflated.

So much to be grateful for!
This past year has been cause for celebration time and again, as every single test result was lower than the previous one; it seemed as though I might even become undetected, someday. This was something that we had taken off the table several years ago, as I was "stable"; my PCR results seemed to have hit a plateau.

And then came the switch to Bosulif and they began a downward trend, much to my surprise!
I had no idea just how "cocky" I had become; I assumed that my PCR results would just continue downward until the could no longer detect the BCR/ABL in my blood.

Wrong again! My latest test results actually came back higher than the previous .0094%. I was once again back to single zeros, at .02%  I was devastated!

Now I understand that that is an acceptable number, and more in line in what I am used to, but I am not going to lie; when I saw that test result, I just felt like crying. I had a pit in my stomach and it was hard to take a breath. I could not speak.

If I am lucky, I will make it to 95 like Aunt Helen!!
It was a feeling that surprised me, and I could not shake my disappointment. I know that in three months' time that a new test will replace this past test, but I also know that I will be wondering whether it will go up, or go down until the next results are in.

Hence the life of living with chronic cancer, I suppose. It is a reminder to be grateful every single day and to take nothing for granted.

I realized that day that no matter how "comfortable" you become, no matter how well you have adjusted to your "new" life of living with chronic cancer, there will always be that small voice asking "what if"? I guess that deep down inside, there will always fear of the unknown.

But for now, I am going to celebrate my nine-year cancerversay with a joyful spirit and a grateful heart.

I am so happy to be alive and pray that my good fortune will continue. I will continue to do my part.

1. Take my medication as prescribed.
2. Have my blood monitored every three months.
3. Adhere to my CML Specialists' recommendation.

And all of the other things that are required to live a healthy life.
I am beyond grateful to be nine years down the road from first hearing the words; "I do not know how to tell you this, but you have leukemia."

What a ride it has been!

Happy Cancerversary to me!


FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cmlmichele
Email: CMLMichele59@gmail.com

#chronicillness  #cancer  #chronicmyelogenousleukemia  #Bosulif  #leukemia  #lovemylife  #cml #sideeffects #travelingwithleukemia  #cmlspecialist #grafteul #thrivingwithleukemia #livingwithcancer

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Crazy Busy Life!

New House
If there is one thing that I know, it is that very few things in life, remain the same. I know that many people are born, raised and die in the same place, but my life was not destined to be one of those.

We recently found out that my son and his family were relocating from Arizona to Tennessee, and as you may or may not know, family is very important to me. For the past ten years, I have had to resort to short trips to visit my grandkids and visits in the summer. Living in Boise, this was somewhat convenient, as the flight to Arizona was less than two hours.

That would not be the case once they moved to Nashville, and I hated the fact that I have already missed out on so much of their growing up. While we could not live in Arizona, due to the extreme heat in the summer, because of my CML, we felt that we could handle living in the Nashville area, so we quickly decided to make the move!

Old House
I actually grew up on the east coast, and have many friends and relatives living on that side of the states, so it is almost like going home. Weighing the pros and cons, we felt that the pros were in our favor and scrambled to get to Tennessee before the snow flew in Idaho.

We already had a trip planned to attend a funeral and visit aging relatives in New York and Pennsylvania, so we tacked on Tennesse to look around and see if we could find a place that we could call home.

Ironically, we fell in love with the first home that we saw. It just felt perfect in every way; it was a bit out of town, on a bit more than an acre, with a fabulous backyard for the kids. There is a creek and a rock wall from the civil war dividing our property from the farm behind us. The previous owners had kids, and they left the trampoline and playland, not to mention the pool.


yup! this is what it looks like!
A downstairs master was an added bonus, and the upstairs even has a theater room. We were very excited when they accepted our offer. We flew home and put our house on the market, hoping it would sell quickly; it has not, so we are keeping our fingers crossed! lol

We began packing and prayed our second loan would be approved; once we were sure that the second house would be ours, we put all wheels in motion! It was a crazy race to the finish, and fortunately, we only hit one winter storm during our move. Of course, it was in a 26 foot Penske! That was not a fun five hours. We had to stop every ten or so miles just to scrape the ice off of the windshield wipers, in order to see!

The drive between Idaho and Tennessee is LONG! I had no idea just how flat, deserty and desolate so much of the country actually is and was amazed at the number of dead deer all along the highway. Halfway through our trek, we decided to use a Pod for the last load.

Gratefully, once we arrived in Gallatin, we had three guys to help us unload the truck; which they did in record time. We quickly put the "important" things away, and then flew back "home", taught a dance workshop and loaded the remainder of our possessions in the pod.

Thank goodness for the great neighbors that helped us load us up and clean the house! And a special thanks to Aiden, a 14-year-old young man who helped me immeasurably! I could not have done it, without him!

 I am not sure how I survived, other than the pure excitement of being close enough to my family to attend their functions and see the kids on a more frequent basis.

We successfully drove across Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and made it safely to Kentucky! We were only 136 miles from home when BAM!!! We hit a deer! Daggone thing appeared out of nowhere and literally looked at us before we hit her. We had seen hundreds of dead deer on our journey and felt that we were finally "out of danger" when we hit the sucker! I now know first hand exactly what a "Deer in the headlights" looks like!

Inches from a clean getaway!

It was past dusk and we were so close to home. Luckily, Joe kept us safe; held on tight and the Sequoia kept on running. We were able to make it to the next exit, which fortunately had a Motel 6 right there. We pulled into the parking lot and the steam from the radiator erupted.

While we were totally bummed, we were also grateful that we were safe.

We were also grateful for a motel room and Triple-A Plus. The next morning, we were towed home; in a pickup truck with a bench seat. Talk about arriving in style! lol

We unloaded the truck, had it towed to the recommended repair shop and picked up a rental car. We were not too terribly worried about the damage, as we hit the deer on the driver side, right at the headlight and since we only had a $250 deductible, we felt certain that this would be too big of a hit.

WRONG!!! The estimate for repair came in $151 higher than the allowable amount, so they totaled our car. What a racket, they allowed us to carry a policy with a low deductible, yet when it came time to use it, they refused! I offered to pay the $151, begged, pleaded and hoped they would change their mind, as we loved our truck, but no;  they totaled it. Talk about ridiculous!

So now, along with unpacking, and getting settled enough for family to arrive for Thanksgiving, we had to find another car. Life sure has a way of keeping things interesting. We decided to put the car shopping at the bottom of the priority list and to enjoy the family that was visiting us for Thanksgiving. Sometimes you just need to know when to say when.

Somehow we managed to get the kitchen, baths, and bedrooms "company" ready and were thrilled that we had family coming to help our new house, become a home.

Ironically, my daughter's significant other has friends that live in this area, so they also joined us for Thanksgiving. What a pleasure it was having a little one run around our new home. We are truly blessed.






We did a little exploring around Nashville, played games and ate tons of food. We saw Frozen Two and had dinner with the fam that now lives here and my heart is full!

I am beyond exhausted, but ever so happy. And this is why I have been "missing in action"!!!
There is still much to catch up on, which I will do as I am able, but I want to share that through all of the craziness, I received my very best PCR result EVER; I actually got my first double zeros! .0094
It has taken almost nine years to reach that goal, but I am so very excited, that it doesn't matter how long it took! I am there now, and anxious to see what future PCR's will divulge.

Until next time, I am wishing you all Happy Holiday's filled with good health and much joy.

God Bless!






FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cmlmichele
Email: CMLMichele59@gmail.com

#chronicillness  #gallatin  #chronicmyelogenousleukemia  #Bosulif  #leukemia  #lovemylife  #cml #sideeffects #movingwithleukemia  #cmlspecialist #lifechanging  #thrivingwithleukemia #livingwithcancer #moving #buffalo #lovemyfamily  #idahototennessee #deerinheadlights

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Botanical Gardens: Chocolate Factory

Last Day in Buffalo; Then on to Scranton

Our last day in Buffalo had me moving slowly; we didn't get out of the room before 2 pm. I am grateful that I have finally accepted the fact that I just cannot go like I used to, and also that Joe is patient enough to wait until I am ready.

We decided to go to Platter's chocolate factory and the Botanical Gardens. We figured neither would take too much effort!

The chocolate factory had large plate glass windows where you could view their chocolate-making process, which is always interesting to me; they weren't too busy, so, unfortunately, it was not nearly as interesting as I had hoped.

Since Ginger had already given me my "special" box of Orange chocolate, I decided to buy one for my Aunt Helen, who is soon to be 95 and LOVES chocolate!

We picked up a few other treats and some really great coffee, which I hoped would give me some pep in my step for the Botanical Gardens.

Arriving at the Botanical Gardens felt magical! The Victorian-style buildings that the plants call home are absolutely stunning; they were opened in 1900, and their architectural style was based on the famous Crystal Palace in England. It is a national historic site, education center, and tourist destination.



I loved the dome and all of the glass and I have decided that I have officially become "one of those old people";  as I thoroughly enjoyed walking around looking at PLANTS!

The most fascinating plant, to me, was the Curry plant; it literally smelled exactly like curry, and if I am 100% honest, I can tell you that it tasted like curry, too! Shhhh...don't tell! lol










And then there were the koi fish. They were spectacular! And oh so friendly. I just loved the way that they followed us, as we meandered from one side of the pond to the other. I could have watched them for hours. They were all so unique in shape, size, color, and fins.








I think that my favorite plants were the orchids. There were so many different varieties in bloom; all spectacular. They even have a Corpse Flower; which was not in bloom. Interestingly enough, they only bloom every 7-10 years.













We spent about an hour walking through the various collections, and I was glad that it was not any larger, as, for one reason or another, I am just really tired.

I am grateful for the small adventure, and that I have just enough energy to get ready to head to Scranton in the morning.


After a good night's sleep, we decided to take the backroads to Scranton. We figured the drive would be much prettier and enjoyed the countryside and the rain. When we finally got to our hotel, the very first thing that I noticed was the brochure, from guess where?

Yup, the EXACT same Botanical Gardens that we just enjoyed. The irony of two people, being in Buffalo at the Botanical Gardens, and then in a small EconoLodge in Clarks Summit was pretty amusing. I wondered if they enjoyed the gardens as much as we had.


I think I will leave my brochure in the room, too!

We are going to be visiting family while we are here, so I am hoping that a good night's sleep will perk me up!

Blessings to all.

FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cmlmichele
Email: CMLMichele59@gmail.com

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Niagara Falls


When in Buffalo, New York, you must take a trip over the border, to Canada to see the falls from their side! Don't get me wrong, the American side is pretty darn impressive, but the Horseshoe Falls is spectacular!

On the way, we stopped at DiBella's Subs. Their subs are amazing and it is no surprise that they have been around for nearly 100 years. I don't know what they do to their bread, but it truly is amazing; maybe it is the 16 hours of aging, before baking that makes it so good. It seems that the further east you go, the better the bread gets! lol We had the Uncle Louie on sesame bread, and it was yummy!

Twenty miles down the road and we were in another country watching water fall over cliffs. We parked at Table Rock ($20) and headed to the bridge, to cross the street to the falls. Of course, the wind was blowing mist everywhere and I was amazed at how cloud after cloud was forming over the falls. You could literally see the clouds forming and I thought what a great opportunity for kids to witness science in action.






We knew from driving in that we would have to buy a poncho in order to stay dry. While we were wandering around the gift shop, I saw yellow ponchos sticking out of a trash can and yes, you guessed it: it didn't take me long to pull two of them out of the trash and head to the falls! Not only was I saving money, but I was also saving the environment. So if you ever visit the falls and want to save a few bucks, check the trash cans before purchasing a throw-away poncho.





Once we crossed the street, the mist was almost like rain, and the most stunning rainbow was hanging over the falls. The rush of the water roared, and the mist on my face made me smile!

Standing there with the power of the water crashing down makes you feel really small. Of course, I took a photo under the rainbow and when I later shared it with my daughter, we discovered that we were both standing under rainbows at the same time; she was in Hawaii and I was in Canada. How cool is that?



After enjoying the falls, we took a walk through the park and marveled that it was still gree, and warm. We so expected it to be cold and dreary. Eventually, we headed back to the car and were amazed that the mist had almost completely ceased to exist. I guess it was the wind that created all of that "rain" earlier, but I was happy to see that the rainbow was still there.







Driving in and out of Canada was a breeze, but I thought that it was interesting how many more questions the Canadians ask when entering their country compared to the few questions asked when entering ours.

I am grateful that we were able to see the falls and enjoy their beauty.

FaceBook: CML: A Place for Hope and Humor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cmlmichele
Email: CMLMichele59@gmail.com

#chronicillness  #bosulifbackpain  #chronicmyelogenousleukemia  #Bosulif  #leukemia  #lovemylife  #cml #sideeffects #tracelingwithleukemia  #cmlspecialist #patriotsvsbills  #thrivingwithleukemia #livingwithcancer #horseshoefalls #buffalo #newyork  #niagarafalls #canada




Bricks for the Brave!!