Friday, October 28, 2011

Doing a Drive By

Seeing as life is sucking up all my time, I thought it best to stop in with a quick hello rather than wait for time to write a proper post. Life has become the whirlwind it once was and I'm doing my best impersonation of a sprinter in my efforts to keep up. That is NOT a complaint! Life is more than good! Here are but a few of my latest reasons to shout Woo Hoo!:

  • The writer/publisher LOVED (her emphasis, not mine) the photos so I'm working hard at improving my photography skills. So excited! So, so excited!
  • I'm working out again. Although I worked out throughout the majority of my treatments, I had to tone things down a bit. At the end of radiation, I hit a wall and my energy was gone. Zapped. Drained. My gas tank was on empty. I have never felt so helpless in my life. It has taken months to reclaim a "pep in my step" but I'm getting there. I worked out 3 times this the same level I worked prior to my diagnosis...AND...I didn't immediately fall in the bed and stay there for 3 days! YAY!
  • The clinical trial at Duke is a no-go. There were complications with registration prior to the trial closing. Everyone has been concerned I would be upset. But I'm not. I simply see it as God closing the door. He is SO good to do things like that!
  • I'm working longer hours. While that may not sound like something to celebrate, for a work-a-holic like is definitely a good thing. Those 40 hour work weeks feel much better when you add another hour or two... or three or four... here and there.
  • I'm finally getting my scrapping groove on! After my time on various design teams ended, I suffered major burn-out. Try as I might to scrap, I just couldn't find my mojo. Lately I've been dreaming of layout ideas... of paint and paper and scissors..Oh My!
  • My social life is back in full swing! Time with friends, friends and more friends! I've even gone on a few dates. Yes. Yes. There could be possible future posts coming on this subject. ;-)
Although that doesn't cover everything, it covers most things....lots and lots to be thankful for!

So tell me, what are you celebrating or most thankful for today?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Photography 101

Last night I had the opportunity to use my camera in something other than auto mode... something I've rarely done. Seems my mother has been promoting herself and one of her friend's decorating skills for publication. Both have filled their homes with primitive antiques. Both have magazine-worthy homes.

An author whose focus is on highlighting primitive antiques is interested in featuring their homes in her upcoming publications. Sample photos were needed to decide if their decor was in keeping with the theme and feel of her books. I quickly volunteered to use my less than stellar photography skills to capture the sample images.

These are a few of the photos taken. (click on the photos for a larger image)

I was ever so grateful these are only to be used as samples and the focus is on content, not the quality of the photos. I've noticed the images are darker when viewed on my work computer than when viewing on my home computer. Leaves me to wonder how they will appear when viewed by the author???

Not to make excuses, but I was shooting in very low light in most rooms and I was digging deep to remember all I've learned in Photography 101 about shooting in such conditions. Trust I will be studying and refreshing my memory on the subject. If the author/publisher likes what she sees, I will be photographing both "J's" house and my mother's house at Christmas. They both decorate for the holidays in their incredible vintage style.

If chosen, the photos...yes...MY photos... will be published in a 2012 Christmas publication!

Wish me luck.

Mom and "J" have their part in the bag.


Well...I'm off to practice. For as they say...practice makes perfect! And I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stirring Things Up - The Season Premiere

Here we go folks! We are back to our regularly scheduled program. I'm referring to the "show" that is my life. Although we recently took a break from broadcasting the shenanigans of our mixed up, messed up leading lady (that would be me), we are now back in action!

Last year our season finale took an unexpected twist when our heroine (I so love that label) faced serious, life threatening illness. The writers of this not-exactly-ready-for-prime-time drama struggled to generate captivating episodes on the subject for the new season. It was simply too humorless and often times grim...not exactly in keeping with the flippant and sometimes inappropriate main character they had worked so hard to create. There was even consideration given to cancelling the series altogether. The intended story line was no longer there.

However, meetings were held, story lines were pitched and negotiations were made resulting in the network honchos agreeing to another season. The writers have been collaborating over how to reintroduce our protagonist. Obviously the character we all know and love (it's my story here so I am going with the assumption we all love our diva) has changed. Still wanting to tap into her spirit and spunk, they have been working diligently to craft stories that meld the two sides of her personality...the old, naive, believe-life-will-go-on-forever side with the new, more-aware-than-ever-life-can-bite-you-in-the-ass-and-end-tomorrow side.

One aspect of seasons past that will be carried forward into the new season is what we will call the "curve ball effect". Just when you think our heroine is safe and you are sure of her intended course, a curve ball is throw in to stir things up and the plot begins to thicken. As with all good dramas, the viewers (and quite frankly the heroine herself) are left wondering what will happen next.

When we last left our warrior princess, she had just come face to face with her worries regarding her recent health battles and the fear of a recurrence. Knowing she would no longer be visiting her team of medical doctors on a monthly basis, she felt she was stepping into uncharted waters without a life vest.  As the scene came to a close, we were left with the impression she would be venturing back into the world of "normal" where medical issues were not the pressing order of the day. She was choosing to speed forward with a renewed sense of living life to the fullest, leaving her fears in the dust all the while shouting "Cancer be damned!"

But our writers found that boring.

It was time to up their game and interject more frenzy and fuss to the picture. It was time to stir things up.

 Here is a recap of our most recent episode:

  • Our opening scene begins with our leading lady making a four hour drive to the infamous Duke Medical Center for a second opinion regarding continued treatments of her life-saving drug Herceptin. Duke's resident expert, Dr. "B", strongly encouraged her to discontinue Herceptin. The benefits of continuing were not proven yet the risks to her heart were great. A suggestion was made to consider enrolling in a clinical trial for a new drug, Neratinib. This drug would offer many of the same benefits of Herceptin without the heart risks. The downside is the drug is not yet approved by the FDA and the protocol of the trial only allows a 50/50 chance of receiving the drug over a placebo.
  • Very little thought was needed before the decision was made to follow Dr. "B's" advice. With her mother and friend, "K", to keep her company, our heroine embarked on a day of scans and tests to verify her eligibility to participate in the trial. The trio of characters arrived at the Medical Center at 7:30 am and didn't leave until 11:00 pm. It made for a long, exhausting day. An enormous amount of information relating to the prevention of another encounter with the "c" beast was also offered up by Dr. "B". It was overwhelming but reassuring. As we cut to commercial, the women set out on the long trek home in the wee morning hours with a sense of hope and peace that only comes from hearing what you want to hear.
  • The next few days were a whirlwind of phone calls and online searches. Decisions needed to be made regarding an additional procedure and the changing of a maintenance drug. More tests were to be performed on the original biopsy and a nutritionist needed to be contracted as a new member of the show-cancer-who's-boss team.
  • Things seemed to be going well until... all hearts stopped and the background music swelled as a phone call came suggesting changes had been found on the recent MRI! What had been the source of her most recent fears could quite possibly be reality...the cancer may have returned. With a weekend to wait for the final results of the current MRI, our heroine made the decision to dig in her heels and not let fear control her. She had given cancer the finger once...she could certainly do it again.
  • The episode ends with the news that all is had been a false alarm. No significant changes were found in the MRI. We fade to black as our star lifts her eyes to the sky and offers prayers of thanksgiving.

Tune in next time to see how the clinical trial affects our champion (another word I'm loving) and to witness her fate as she begins her new life as a survivor!