Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Widow Wednesday--What I wish Ray knew before he died

I left this for my last post for stomach cancer awareness month because it is still the part of the story for our family that isn't finished. This is something that causes anxiety for me everyday. People ask why I let my kids each so much junk? Why I don't do things for myself more often? A lot of it all has to do with this very thing...they may also carry the gene. I fear everyday that they could get sick. That they may not be able to eat certain things. I never want to see them go through what their Dad went through. I know he would have done anything for his girls, including get cancer and die so that they could have the chance to survive. If he had to be the one to die for the family to find out they carried the gene he would have volunteered. I am a little ahead of myself so I am going to start back at the beginning.

When Ray was diagnosed all the doctors said the same thing, he was young and healthy and stomach cancer was never even a thought. Stomach cancer had been on the rise though in young, Italian males. A genetic doctor came in and asked if Ray wanted to be part of a study to see if he carried the gene for stomach cancer. His Grandfather had died of cancer, as well as his Grandfather's brother but both were in their 80's. The doctor didn't think that there was going to be a link and he just was "unlucky". There was never even a thought not to do the testing if we could find out the why he got sick we would do it. A neighbor had told us that some other neighbors were also going through cancer treatments too. I was an anxious mess thinking it was in the soil or in something where we lived. I wanted to move. The testing would answer some questions.

The testing would be done and sent to Canada and would take quite a while for results we were told. Unfortunately, it took almost a year for results and in that time Ray had already died. He never found out that he carried the gene for stomach cancer. It wasn't a matter of if he was going to get it just when. Since he had to get the gene from a parent and his grandfather had died from a similar cancer we knew his mom must also be carrying the gene. She was tested, as well as her sister, her sister's daughter, and all Ray's siblings. His mom was sure to be positive since he had to get the gene from someone, but the rest had 50/50 chance. As I said earlier if you have the gene it isn't whether or not you will get it, but when. With the gene there is also a higher incidence of a few other cancers occurring.

Of the tested his mom, aunt, and oldest brother all carried the gene. The recommendation if you carry the gene is to remove the stomach. Since the cancer starts in the inside layers it is usually silent until it is too late and progressed. All opted to have their stomachs removed quite quickly. It was scary and we didn't know what to expect. His mom has done the best of the three with very little obstacles. They do have things that make them sick and they can't tolerate. Not having a stomach can also cause some deficiencies and shots are needed. All in all they are all doing well. Adjusting to the new lifestyle and learning what they can and can't tolerate seems to have been the hardest for them all.

My girls can't be tested until they are 18. Most people are thinking about what their kids will be doing when they graduate school at 18 all I can think about is whether they will have to have this major surgery. I also worry if they get the cancer before they have the surgery. Statistics have shown that it rarely occurs before the age of 18, but what if they get it? The one true positive is that at least we know that they have this chance and hopefully it can be prevented. I know their Dad would have died for everyone like he did, for them to all have a chance at life.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The shoe that looks way more expensive!

A random mid-day post! I have been so busy shooting sessions and working on wreaths (I work for my friend that owns an Etsy shop) and I haven't had time to put as much effort into the blog. This is just a hobby so it takes the backseat. I did want to do a quick post with these boots though. Every time I wear them I get stopped and asked where they are from. They must look more expensive than they are! Almost everyone thinks they are Ugg or from Nordstrom and are shocked to hear where I bought them. They also come in black and in a flat style.

The shirt I am wearing, as well as the hat, are both 50% right now if you have a card from the store or 40% with any form of payment. My faux fur vest is out of stock in the color I am wearing, but I linked to the other colors. It is so warm and an easy layer.

Hoping to get some more posts done in between all my craziness! Anything you guys would like to see? Christmas decorations, gift guides, holiday outfits? Let me know!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Widow Wednesday--Stomach Cancer Warning Signs

In my earlier posts, I talked about Ray and how he was feeling and some of his symptoms. In most cases stomach cancer doesn't have any signs until it is advanced. We knew his signs seemed to say cancer, but we didn't know what to ask for. We trusted that the doctors were doing their jobs and doing the right tests and treatments. In today's post I hope to just bring awareness to the signs and symptoms and remind everyone you are your only advocate. If you aren't feeling better ask for tests to be done. We were under the impression he was having the testing done that he needed. If we had known a scope from the throat down would have found the cancer it could have been found months earlier.

Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer can include:
  • Indigestion, heartburn or ulcer-type symptoms
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain or vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel
  • Nausea and vomiting and/or bloating after meals
  • Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Sense of fullness after eating small amounts of food (also called early satiety)
  • Symptoms may mimic other conditions, such as GERD, gastritis or peptic ulcer
  • Ascites (buildup of fluid in the abdomen) 
I found the above information on, but they were all experienced by Ray. These signs and symptoms could also mean other things, but if you do experience these please don't just take that it is IBS as an answer, especially if after treatment it doesn't get better. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Thanksgiving Outfit

Ok, before I even talk about the outfit can I talk about the photos!? Summer took these! My little 11 year old. She even chose the angles etc. to shoot. I didn't even direct her! I needed to do a post and she had 1/2 a day at school, so I asked if she would shoot a few. Not expecting much, we set out to take them before I did a little boy's session in the location. I couldn't believe when I uploaded them what a great job she did! Maybe I should hire her?

Onto the outfit. I wanted something comfortable, but still a bit dressy. I had to have something WARM because I am always freezing. This outfit fits the bill and can also be worn on other days and not just Thanksgiving. It would be a perfect outfit for work or a night out. The pants and top are made of a super soft fabric and are warm. I like that the turtleneck is fitted and can be tucked into the pants and have worn it with other pants. I actually sized up in the pants so I had a little extra room to tuck (or maybe room for desserts?) and for them to hang a little. My normal size fit perfectly. I had the outfit paired with black heels and a black leather jacket for a classier look, but when I took the pictures I actually had on my Zara slip on furry flats. I think they made the outfit more comfortable and less dressy.

Do you have any plans for Thanksgiving? How do you prefer to dress? I will do a post next week with my outfit from last year since the pieces are still in store.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Stomach cancer awareness month

This month is stomach cancer awareness month so I wanted to take time to give statistics, warning signs, and also how this has impacted our family. Over the next few posts I hope to bring some awareness to this disease.

If you are like me, stomach cancer wasn't a cancer I had even heard of. It is the 3rd leading cause of all cancer deaths and the 5th most common worldwide, yet I had never really heard of it. When Ray was diagnosed there were so many questions, the obvious being why? and how? Did he do something to cause this? Luckily, this was answered for the family. The answer came months after he had already passed. This is one thing I had always wished he had known. I will cover all that in another post.

Today's post I just wanted to bring awareness to it and give some statistics. Next week's post I will give some of the warning signs. I wish we had known them and knew what to ask for when he was in and out of the doctor's appointments. That may have made a difference in the outcome. Not being in the typical age range of a person to be diagnosed, the opportunity was missed to be accurately diagnosed in the earlier stages. I plan to do a post on how the disease still impacts our family and can in the future.

Monday, November 5, 2018

What to wear to cheer on your favorite team!

In Michigan, we are a huge sport's state. I am sure everyone owns at least one item supporting a team. Growing up we were huge Michigan fans. My Dad graduated from U of M and had season tickets for 40 years and then I went to U of M and had season tickets. Every Saturday meant throwing on our Michigan gear and heading to the game or cheering them on in front of the tv. As I got older I wanted items that could be worn to other events but still supported our team or the game. I now own lots of just Detroit gear that I can wear to any of the games I go to.

I found this outfit while browsing Target one day. I love the sports theme, but it doesn't scream one team. Maybe a good outfit to wear to an away game to avoid heckling haha. It can be worn for college or NFL games. I paired it with my favorite denim from Nordstrom. They have just the right amount of stretch. The shoes were online only but of course I loved the leopard print so I scooped them up. I always had to run to and from the stadium to keep up with my Dad and his long legs, so comfortable shoes were a must. These shoes would have been perfect for those days! I also wear leopard as a pop to outfits, so these shoes will be worn with lots of different outfits to give it a little something more.

What do you prefer to wear to a game? Do you like team items or more versatile ones?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Getting ready for the holidays

Now that Halloween is over, I can't help but start thinking about my holiday looks. I featured this shirt in my post on Monday (which I wasn't planning to do) but I love how versatile it is and planned to wear it in a few looks to show different ways it can be worn.

I had it dressed down in my post from Monday with tennis shoes and my teddy coat. Perfect for running errands or a casual day. 

My first look in this post I dressed it up with glitter boots. If you haven't checked out Call it Spring you should. They are owned by the same company as Aldo and have stylish choices with a lower price point. These boots are super fun and add just enough to the outfit to make it dressy without being over the top. Although I probably was a little extra at pickup at school that day in this outfit. 

The last look is a full on party, going out look. I paired it with this sequin, fur jacket. For me sequins and fur just scream the holidays. The black faux leather leggings take it over the top. I happened to score these at Nordstrom Rack recently after the zipper broke on the pair I had. These are super soft on the inside and a little thicker, so they are a little warmer. They also just pull on and have a nice stretch to them. 

I have a few other holiday outfit ideas planned to share including last year's Thanksgiving outfit (pieces are all still in stock!) and the one I plan to wear this year. What are some other things you guys would like to see on the blog as I plan? I love to hear different ideas! Leave me a comment below or contact me through one of my other social media sites.