Grin and bear it

grin_and_bear_it.jpg

I took the time to very carefully read through all the comments on my last entry. Wow, I don’t even know what to say. It is a beautiful thing to know that I have had such an impact on so many. I always say that I really just thought I was keeping this little on line journal that a couple people would read. In the last several days nearly 1,000 people a day have been reading the innermost details of my life. And as I anticipated the stream of guests is now constant. When my friend Rachel entered hospice she said it was like having a 12 step support group but it was all about her. I loved that. My situation is a bit different. I still need to focus on Kelly and the kids, as well as assuring my friends that I love them. Assuring my mother that she is loved too. I am not sure why everyone seems so vulnerable right now.People are apologizing for not being “perfect”. Who wants perfect? Not me. I only want perfect from the Lord. I am pretty into imperfect. So if you are one of my friends that think you have failed me in some way…get over it. We’re all good.

I have seen my hospice social worker and nurse.Those visits took a good bit of time. I was thankful that Naomi and Tamara were here to help me. I feel fuzzy and overwhelmed at times. My dear friend Jen 21 has been here a lot as well. Helping me get through the day. Which is a big job really. I am still in good spirits. I am still laughing. We took the kids to see the new Adam Sandler movie.I felt a little sleepy but I was able to enjoy it. The fact that I can do these things is such a wonderful gift.I am a bit leery of leaving the house. The neck cancer makes me look like I have a huge double chin. And the lymph edema makes my left arm look 10 times the size of the other one. It causes me a certain amount of embarrassment. My appearance is still very important to me. I hope that doesn’t sound shallow. I feel less and less like myself all the time. Just as I did early in treatment when I was bald and gaining weight. It is hard to look in the mirror and see a different me. Especially since I had just lost a lot of weight, regrew my hair, and adjusted to my flat chest. The cancer in my neck is uncomfortable and rather disturbing as it seems to grow daily in size. I know that this should be the least of my worries…but it is one of the unexpected things cancer does to you. You expect to feel sick, not look sick. Or distorted.

Beyond this my pain is slowly getting under control.At least some of the time. I am still a bit limited in my mobility. I tire more easily. And I feel sick to my stomach more often. I drink mint tea. I take pills.One day at a time.The nurse from hospice is consumed with making my pain lessen,but the pills are hard on my stomach. And I would rather have some pain and be present, than no pain and be out of it. As I type my arm is swelling and my fingers are cramping. I can’t do much more. I just want you all to know that I am feeling happy quite a lot of the time. I feel like hospice a way to feel control over my life and death. If that makes sense.

So now is the time to visit. I pick up the phone when I can. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring about me. And thank you for all your support. You have made this last year so much more bearable.

60 Responses to “Grin and bear it”

  1. leah says:

    you know, i think if there is a “way” to do this you hit the nail on the head! strange as it may seem, you have paved the way on how to be graceful during all this. i love and respect you so much, and everyday i am blessed that i know you.
    and i always say it, you are beautiful, inside and out!
    how about some pepcid ac for your stomach? they have chewable ones maybe chew one before taking the pills.
    i love you!
    ~leah

  2. Deb says:

    Andrea…dear girl….thank YOU for being such an amazing and brave inspiration to the hundreds of people reading your words and sending love and prayers your way.
    I understand about feeling a little self-conscious about the way you look…we are, after all, allowed a little self-indulgent vanity…it’s perfectly normal. But please don’t let it stop you from going out with your family if you feel like it. The heck with anyone that stares or judges….your family will remember with love and appreciation the effort you made to go to the movies with them, no matter how you looked. That’s what counts.
    We’ve never met but you are on my mind so much….I find myself thinking of you all throughout the day and saying prayers at the same time, praying for you to not have too much pain and discomfort and thanking God for letting me “know” you.
    Deb in AZ

  3. jenni bender says:

    maybe it’s silly i’m commenting, as i just left your house… but i had so much fun at the movie with you guys and then just hanging. you are wonderful and i love you so much!

    xoxoxoxo

  4. maryellen Nerz-Stormes says:

    I have been bald for seven years. NOw I have a little hair, but basically I look like a 75 year old man (I am 49). I have lymphedema too. Not as toyghas yours, but I have had real issues with people staring at me and making comments.

    I know a little of where you are coming from because even after seven years I will look up and see people gawking. I have had people move – thinking I have some contageous disease.

    One funny thing. I went into my sons school and this kid was gawking at me and I thought Oh dear God and felt very self conscious – then he said, “ARe you our substitute math teacher.” I just cracked up at myself.
    I feel kids dont’ see it which is good.

    Our society is obsessed wtih looks. I get very depressed about this issue, but I will tell you, one day this lady came up to me at chemo and she said,
    “you have beautiful skin, you have beautiful eyes you are beautiful” She saw me in a different way than everyone else. She saw through to my soul or something becaus on the outside I look thirty years older than I am. I thought she was special. She made me smile. Where did she come from, I wish she could live with me and say that to me every day.
    I wish I could send that person to your house right now.

    My children don’t see it – the baldness. So this is the thing. your goodness will shine through because you are good person and a shining person.

  5. Andrea,
    I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now. I cannot get you and your family out of my head. I want to tell you that I understand a little bit of what your are going through with your body image. I have MS and went through Chemo for it. I gained 80lbs which I cannot lose. I also use a cane which bothers me when I am in public. What I try to remember, and my kids remind me daily, is that I am still the same person inside. You too are the same strong, brave, inspirational Andrea on the inside. You are in my prayers daily.

    Love and God bless,
    Shaun

  6. Victoria says:

    I have been reading your blog for while now and never said hello before, but I feel compelled to say adieu, just so that you know that even over here in a corner of England your story has been read and listened to. Your blog has helped me enormously understand things and put to bed certain fears. Sending you a very gentle hug across the waves, love Victoria xxx

  7. Boulder says:

    I came to your blog today for the first time through one of your friends. I am struck by the honesty and pragmatism that you’ve written.

    I hope when my life comes to the point where your life is now, I will have the perspective that you have so beautifully communicated.

    Your words are full of grace. I wish you peace, your family strength, and pride in the knowledge that you’ve touched so many people in such profound ways.

  8. Donna4kids says:

    As one of your silent faithful,please know you make a difference to so many…let hospice help you on. your. terms… and spend your energy on what you feel is important. I lost a baby in 1993 and she is being sent to you regularly. We all need a little angel sometimes… especially at night, or when feeling dark please know that your children will be cared for, and Kelly will find the strength. May God smooth the road for you and yours.(by the way I always checked on you even on the weekends~)andrea that soft whisper in your ear is all the love that is being sent to you…love..another mother named Donna

  9. Gin says:

    Have a safe journey and tell the Good Lord we all say to take good care of you. Thank you for showing the world a graceful way to handle cancer and death.

    I can’t negate how you feel about your body. Just that you shouldn’t feel a need to justify it to the world 😀

  10. Ruthie says:

    Andrea,
    I am glad that you took the time to read over the comments. I am glad that you realize that you have had a positive and everlasting effect on those of us who have read your blog and listened to your heart. This is in addition to those people who you know in the flesh! You have been Christ’s witness and have been an agent of reconciliation. You have taught us all to love fiercely, to forgive fully, to bestow grace, and to not sweat the small, and large stuff. WOW is right! You will leave behing a huge legacy of LOVE, Andrea. I hope that you are blessed by reading the comments on your own blog, for you have been a blessing to so many.

    I wish you a wonderful day.

    Ruthie from California

  11. Sarah says:

    Dear Andrea,
    I hope you get to read this I just want you to know, I think everything you’ve done in this last year must have been the hardest thing anyone should do and that is to get ready for the end of this journey.
    I will keep a small light lit everynight in my hall in your memory, to remind me that thru all of the darkness there will always be a light that takes us home.
    You are amazing. You and your family will be in my prayers, and in time when I look up at the night sky you will always be one of the brighest stars.

    Love Sarah

  12. Nat says:

    Hi Andrea,
    There is so much to reflect on, so much to be learned from your serenity, compassion and love for the world.

    I hope your family find solace in the tremendous woman that you are. Through the tears, I sense a life fully lives. And That is what matters.

    All we have in love.
    Nat

  13. lizz says:

    love you… i’ll see you in a little bit. i’ll be wearing regular clothes so bailey doesn’t make fun of me for being a “fishtowner”.
    … p.j’s are just comfy! jeeze! lol.

  14. Thinking of you today.

  15. Juanita says:

    Thank you, Andrea, for teaching me what is important, and what is not. For being an awesome example of where I should expel my energy and love. Hoping your pain lessens, and all the love continues.

  16. Aja Beech says:

    I’m so glad to hear your ‘shallow’ remarks. I thought about giving you a pedicure/manicure while I’m there Monday- but I thought the same thing. “Is that shallow?” So F**k it! I’m bringing a foot massager and polish (if you can tolerate the smell) and some cold thai peanut noodles. And some other things to lighten the mood. . .

  17. Sarah S. says:

    Your post was so touching. I am glad that you are able to go out and enjoy life and your family. You are doing it with such grace and class. I am bald and have gained lots of weight during my chemo. I know how it feels to not feel good about the way you look. Your family does not see you that way. They just see the person that they love. That is all that is important.

    I hope that you are pain free and everything is joyful and happy for you in these hard days ahead. ((HUGS))

  18. Mare says:

    I read and I thank God you have so many friends to support & love you. And I also thank God for the hospice workers. Yes the initial meetings are so overwhelming but that will even out. I had hospice with my Mom 2 years ago who was dying of emphysema,this was before I even knew I had cancer. They not only gave me a break but my Mom told me it was a short relief when they were there. Mom was a sweet and gentle woman but had no trouble speaking out and to put in blankly, I was being a pain in the beeeehind “hovering” over her all the time. Having them there gave us both a chance to live in the moment, enjoy a spring day. It taught me not to “hover” 😉
    God bless you & all that love you sweet lady.

  19. Amy says:

    Andrea,

    It is absolutely amazing what one disease can teach us. We learn to stop and cherish those “little” things in life. Cancer taught me that and by reading your entries it only validated it. Enjoy those little things regardless how simple or shallow they may be…..

    Seeding you enduring love and compassion from lincoln, ne

    Amy Sherwood

  20. melanie says:

    Andrea,
    I am a friend of shannon shipton who posted a blog on my space about you and a fundraiser up and coming. I must say after I read it I came to your site and read just about every blog you wrote. I am touched ,shallowed, inspired,sadden, and happy all at once. I just finished reading your last one and I have to say . I have laughed and teared up through many but I am now a changed mother ,wife, friend,sister , and daughter because of you. I admire “YOU” for everything you fight for and beleive in . I wish you complete happiness, peace, and joy . you will live on in all of your children and your husband as well you are to good of a person not too. every picture of you makes me smile. I wish I could just touch you, see you. THANK YOU for inviting me in your life for a short time. may god bless you and everyone around you.

    Hug
    Melanie (from bridgesburg)

  21. I find myself checking your blog several times a day…Your words inspire me…

  22. Mary*Ann says:

    Andrea and family, it’s hard to know what to say to you. I was sent here by a friend who lost his wife a year ago to breast cancer. I’ve read your words and am so humbled. Just know that I, along with so many others who perhaps can’t find the words, are thinking of you, praying for you all, and sending you love.

  23. Michelle Wienke says:

    Andrea, Kelly & kids-

    Just wanted you to know that I was thinking of all of you today, as I do every day-and wondering what kind of day you are having.

    My daughter (14) had her dance recital today and I was thinking how fortunate I was to see her, and watch her, and be so proud of her.

    They did a tribute number for one of her teachers who died in a car accident last year-her parents were there today to get the word out about organ transplantation, as they gave the gift of life to over 100 people all across the US with Denise’s organs…..unfortunately, she didn’t get the “bonus round” of being able to tell people how much she loves them-you, on the other hand, are savoring each sweet drop of live, squeezing each bit of fun and laughter into your family’s day’s-you are truly a remarkable person-we will never meet now, but someday we will, and it will be a glorious day!

    Denise reached over 100 people, you, I’m sure have more than 1000 praying for you-probably more-I think it is our responsibility to touch the lives of others in positive ways-you have more than done your good work, a sucky way to do it, but you have touched so many people with your candor and wit-

    I wish you Blessings for a wonderful Saturday night and Sunday filled with friends and love-

    Love from me-
    Michelle

  24. Michelle Wienke says:

    Sorry Andrea-

    I almost forgot- some of the meds to get rid of the pain can be taken “bucally”- absorbed through your cheek-I have had patients who the meds made sick to their stomach, but it was better when done through the membranes of the cheek and not dumped into the stomach- if this continues to be a problem, you may want to check with your nurse to see if they would be appropriate for you!

    love-
    Michelle

  25. Emily says:

    You are truly an inspiration. The way you are choosing to live makes me want to be a better person, a person that doesn’t take one minute for granted, a person that looks less at people’s imperfections and more at the amazing attributes that everyone posses. Thank you for being an open book, thank you for sharing your life.
    I have so enjoyed looking at the fantastic pictures that you have captured with your family. They are a treasure! God bless you, you are in my prayers!

  26. Elizabeth from West Chester says:

    Dear Andrea,

    Everything I want to say sounds trite, so although there are no words, please accept my prayers, admiration and love,

    Elizabeth

  27. lizz says:

    i loved today. it was a wonderful day. i still have water pourig out of my ear from the water gun fight! lol!!! i hope that the vitamin C is helping with… things… i’ll see you tomorrow, i will bring gifts of money and health (from my mommy and friends), and love from me… the necklace is beautiful, chris thinks it’s sexy. wink wink… thank you

  28. Angela Maresco-Palumbo (Jesse's former teacher) says:

    Andrea,

    I have been thinking about you and your family. I have been out on maternity leave from Meredith and I have “out of the loop”. Through neighbors and faculty at Meredith, I came to learn about your illness. I felt compelled to tell you that after reading your blogs I have become inspired by you. You are amazing and I respect your courage and bravery while you endure this painful experience.

    Your children are wonderful and respectful which is a credit to you and the values you have taught them. Jesse was always so sweet and such a pleasure to have in my class. I hope he is doing well. Please tell him I was asking for him.

    On Thursday, I was talking to Bailey who has such a sweetness about her. She always hugs me when she sees me and always has a smile on her face. She came into my classroom to say “goodbye”. She told me that she was leaving Meredith and she was attending a charter school. I will miss seeing her.

    Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I wish you nothing but peace and love.

    Sincerely,

    Angela

  29. A Friend says:

    I think you are absolutely amazing and I thank you for your honesty during this journey. I only recently discovered your blog and I simply can not express the many thoughts I have had while reading your words. At the risk of sounding incredibly corny, you make me want to be a better person.
    Bless you always~

  30. Sarah says:

    Andrea I think of you often, and your family. And I ask god to keep a special eye on your mom, I can’t seem to get her out of my mind. Iam a mother of a child that also had cancer, and I know the how scared she is, I wish I could do more for your family they are incredible people.

    XO to all of your family

  31. Bridget says:

    You are an amazing woman. I’m sure it’s a tough road to take, but you seem so strong and brave. I think about you and your family on a daily basis, and check your blog a few times a day for updates. My father lost his mother to breast cancer when he was a teenager. So it hits close to home. I pray for your relief from pain so you’re able to enjoy your time with your loved ones. I pray for your family and friends to find comfort.

  32. Linda, Palm Harbor, FL says:

    Andrea,
    You are a blessing to me and so many others as I have said to you many times before. I am glad that hospice is doing their best controlling your pain. I know what you mean when you say you would rather be in the now with some pain than be without pain and “out of it”. The Lord is watching over you today and always and when He calls you home, as all of us will eventually (that is the ones who believe in Him), I know you will be ready for the wonderous homecoming! God has blessed you with so many friends and your wonderful family and know that He will keep them all well and tended to. You have done well and they are blessed that you have been the best Wife, Mother, Daughter, and Friend anyone could have had. I wish you a wonderful Sunday. Enjoy the day, Love you and God Bless.

  33. Helen says:

    Can’t think of a single comment, it’s all been said already. Prayers and hugs to you and your family. And congrads on raising wonderful kids, congrads to them on their accomplishments. I agree with your parenting philosophy…once mine hit 18 and seem to be competent adults I breathed a sign of relief. BUT they are always still your babies, no matter what age, right? Just know you have a wide circle of caring around you, in real life and on the internet.

  34. Jessica says:

    Andrea,
    It’s funny, when I left after delivering dinner last night, I told my husband, “Wow – she is so pretty! The pictures on the website don’t do her justice (sorry JonO)!” I was really amazed at how beautiful you truly are – outside as well as in. So from a vanity perspective, you have nothing to worry about!

    xo,
    Jessica

  35. Maura says:

    You are beyond amazing, inspirational, loving etc. Webster’s does not have a word to define you. Your children, Kelly, mother & mass of friends
    have learned so much from you. They will truly miss you but, will NEVER EVER forget the person you are. You will be forever on their hearts and souls. There will never be another to replace you.
    YOU ARE A SHINING STAR, TRUE ANGEL, MOTHER TO 6 FANTASTIC BRIGHT & RESPECTFUL CHILDREN, WIFE TO KELLY & DAUGHTER TO DONNA & FRIEND OF MANY.
    I have never met you but feel you in my heart & soul each and every day wether I am checking your blog or doing nothing. Your words of wisdom, truth & honesty are so compelling that there is not a day that I do cry for all of you.
    I PRAY THAT YOUR PAIN WILL BE RELIEVED SOON & YOU WILL BE AT PEACE.
    Maura

  36. Renee Khan says:

    Andrea.

    Thank you so much for letting me love you. You really are a wonderful gift. It is my honour that you have allowed me to care about you.

    I completely understand the hospice and you having control to the extent possible over yourself.

    One day at a time.

    Love Renee

  37. Jo says:

    I have been following your blog for a few weeks now, and have not yet commented. I would just like to say that you are beautiful, wise, graceful, and kind. I will continue to follow your journey, and when your time on this earth is through, I will miss you. I can tell that you know this already, but it is worth saying: Some people leave this earth without a trace. You will leave a legacy of love and joy that will be passed on for generations through the incredible children you are leaving behind. I hope the pain soon subsides and you can live your last few days as pain-free as possible.
    Sending prayers and lots of love,
    Jo

    If you get a chance, search for the following on you tube: The Rankin Family Rise Again – the lyrics remind me so much of you.

  38. Tracy says:

    Andrea,

    I just learned of your blog yesterday. I wish I could give you a hug. I will be praying for you. Andrea, look to Jesus. He is your righteousness. Cast yourself upon Him. He will wrap you in His righteousness, and you can look forward to an eternity with Him in exquisite happiness.

    He is your hope.

    Thank you for sharing your life with strangers.

    I love you,
    Tracy

  39. Chrissy(Jenny Ball's sister) says:

    Andrea,

    I just wanted you to know that you are in my prayers every minute of every day. I think you are the most courageous woman I have ever met. I remember meeting you for the first time last summer during Vinny’s b-day party. You are such a beautiful person inside and out. Also not to mention a wonderful mother. Your children are in one word AWESOME!!!!! I have a friend who is also dealing with breast cancer. She is a fighter just like you. I tell her your story and it helps to comfort her. I told Jenny that if there is anything I (Chrissy) or my mother (Debbie) A.K.A (Memaw) can do please don’t hesitate to ask.

    With Love,
    Chrissy

  40. shari says:

    Andrea,
    Words do not begin to express the admiration I feel for you. Your wisdom and grace are amazing. Even though we have never met, I feel as though I know you so well. I was in Tahoe yesterday sitting on the sand near the water and thinking about you and your family. I began to pray for you and your children when suddenly, the most beautiful sunset came into view. The colors were vibrant, the clouds the most unusual color I have ever seen and the rays of sunshine mixed with the coming darkness were awesome. It was almost as if I was being given a sign of the beauty that awaits us. It was so peaceful. I wish you strength and courage in this time of sadness. You have proven that you have wonderful, caring children and a loving husband. You have had more love in your short time on earth than many people will experience in a lifetime. May God bless you, Godspeed my friend. Shari Moore

  41. Sarah says:

    Andrea Iam waiting for your Sunday blog, please let us know how you are feeling, your like family to more people then you are aware.
    I hope your on your sofa cuddled up with your honey enjoy your evening.
    God Bless

  42. Joi says:

    Thanks for being so open and honest. I am a first time visitor to your blog and read the entire things tonight. I have no words that can amount to much but I wish you and your family peace. God Bless.

    You are an amazing woman.

  43. Lori J Barthe says:

    Dear Andrea,
    I’m not sure where to begin… I’ve been reading your blogs and praying for you for the last year. I wanted to write but it had been so long since we had talked…. I’m not going to make excuses. I just want you to know that I am so glad to know you. I think you are an amazing brave woman. I cherish the time we had together in Philly, when our boys were all so small. Hanging out at your house, going to the park. I will treasure those memories of you.
    Thank you for sharing yourself and your journey in this blog. I am so glad that you found love with Kelly. He seems like such a good man. I have laughed, Cried and prayed as I have read this unfolding story. Your ability to communicate your heart through words amazes me. I am so inspired to cherish each day.
    My heart breaks for you and your family. This is so damn hard! I want a different ending. I understand your decision– you have fought a hard battle. I will continue to pray for you and your family and treasure the memories I have of you. You are beautiful and I love you!
    Lori Barthe from Vancouver, WA

  44. Brian Baughan says:

    Andrea,

    37 comments. Proof that so many people love you and are thinking about you.

  45. Cheryl says:

    I was told about your site many months ago by my bestfriend Shari inCA. I have lost many family to cancer so read what she had to say but never visited your site.I didn’t know if I could handle it. Today for some reason I was lead to read your blogs. First let me say that you are am amazingly beautiful person inside and out. I admire you for your strength and courage and for your faith. You never know what you will do in a situation such as this but your honesty, and grace and love for your family and friends radiates through your messages. Those who love and know you are truly blessed to have you in their lives and they will forever be changed for the better for having known you. You are in my thoughts and prayers take care and God Bless.
    Cheryl Ross

  46. brenda says:

    Andrea and Family –

    i just recently discovered your story/blog from another message board and have spent the better part of my weekend reading your journey from start to finish. your story has touched me in so many ways. we are alike in someways (second marriage to my best friend, 38, baby named Clayton, totally in love with a man named Jesus) and different in others (suburban mom, grew up in a traditional christian family) but more importantly, i can only pray and strive to be more like you in the most important way – to grow not only in faith, but in the pure, unhypocritical way you LIVE Jesus everyday to everyone. i know that i am “late in the game” for giving you support, but please let me encourage you in this last step of you journey. i dread/look forward to you last post knowing that this world will be one less true and honest soul, your family will feel so much pain, but knowing that there is no WAY you would ever want to come back after you get to be with your Savior. i am not sure if any of this makes sense, or even if it helps, but i just felt i need to let you and your loved ones know that there is one more family lifting you all up in prayer, now and as long as you ask for it.

    i am walking in the atlanta 3day in memory of my Mother- In-Law whom i never had the honor of meeting, and would like to also walk in honor of you. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better example of true Christianity to others.

  47. Michele says:

    Andrea, I check your blogs so often and find great peace in your words. You are truly an inspiration to me and I wish you peace and love.

  48. Jill says:

    God bless you Andrea!

    You are such a blessing to us all on this earth, God must need a good woman now. Take care of YOU and know that we will all be praying for your family and friends to get through…..

    All my love and prayers for HIS will and your peace and comfort.

    Love,
    Jill

  49. tbird says:

    Hey Andrea,

    I only met you once last summer and I didn’t start reading your blog until recently. I wish I had talked to you when we met. Anyway- you seem like an amazing person with a wonderful family and a zillion people that care for you.

    I also think your blog should be published and all royalities should go to your family. I wish someone could make that happen for you. I think your story should be something tangible, something everyone can hold in their hands for years to come.

    I don’t pray but my thoughts are with you and yours- so often throughout the day.

    Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  50. Amy says:

    I have been reading your brutally honest words for over a year now and don’t think I have ever commented. You seem to have so much support and love in your life that I couldn’t fathom why you would care that a perfect stranger felt blessed just to read your words and see the world through your eyes.

    Now, I feel like I must at least say goodbye.

    You have taught me so much in the last year, more than I could ever share. Your life lessons and mottos pop into my head while I parent my own two year old.

    Your story has moved my in ways that no text book or informational literature ever could. Your blog has helped me enormously understand cancer and the things that go through a cancer patient’s/survivors head.

    You really are a beautiful person Andrea. Inside and out and I know many people here agree with me. I really am blessed to have stumbled upon your site and to have travled the journey with you. And I mean that, I feel that I have been with you for some time.

    I hope your pain ends, you go forward with no fear and remember that you have made your mark on this world.

    I send you peace, comfort and love.
    Thank you for sharing your journey, the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

  51. Jenster says:

    The peace and joy in your words leave me speechless. Everyone else has said it, but I need to say it, too. You are amazing and such an encouragement. I’m so sorry I didn’t find you earlier – especially because I live so close and I find myself in Philly quite often.

    You don’t sound shallow in the least. Why shouldn’t you care what you look like? I can tell you what you sound like, though. Simply beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing this journey. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  52. Barb G says:

    Amy put it so well – she wrote exactly what I’ve been thinking but have had trouble putting into words. I’ve wanted to write something for the last week, but I just didn’t know how to say thank you and goodbye.

    Thank you for the privilege of sharing your journey. Thank you and also your family for allowing me to understand the impact on everyone. Thank you for reminding me of the really important things in life and not to take them for granted. Thank you for making me a more compassionate person.

    Because of you, I will never feel the same way about cancer fighters or survivors again. You are all warriors.

  53. Oh, sweet mama. I pray for you and your children and all the people who love you so very much. I don’t know you IRL, but I love what a light and loving spirit you have, and the gift you’ve given to us by sharing it so bodaciously. Along with so many others, I’m thinking about you.

  54. Emily says:

    we love you and your family. we are thinking of you all the time. i just checked back 3 times between checking my email hoping to read of summer fun at the collins-smith residence. sending love your way

  55. Stephanie says:

    Ive read your blog for a long time now. You and your family are so often in my thoughts. I love the pictures of you and your family at the shore. If we could all live as you do, with love, honesty & faith, the world be just about perfect. You are a spectacular angel here and Heaven will indeed be blessed to have you. I love you. Thank you for sharing your life.

  56. Jill Aldrich says:

    Andrea,

    You’re one tough, beautiful chick. If there’s a world beyond this one, and I now believe there is, I’d love to be your roomie 🙂

    It looks like you are loved and have loved deeply. You’ve done an absolutely fantastic job in this life.

    I’m in awe.

    Jill

  57. Dear Andrea, I don’t think you know me, I am one of the mums on the new ‘motherswithcancer’ blog. I have stage 4 colorectal cancer and have been told I have an absolute maximum of 3 years left but probably less. So far I have already beaten the odds but I have recently had to face the fact that I am dying and that I must look at whatever time I have left as a gift. A gift that will allow me to write letters, prepare my Will, say the things I want to say, take photos, etc, etc. You are the first blog I have read of a woman accepting her demise and saying no to more chemo. I am incredibly touched by you and somehow you help me believe that I can cope when my turn to say no more comes. I don’t want to leave my kids, my youngest is only 6 but you don’t either and yet you are doing so with such grace. I guess I want to thank you for sharing how to be brave and do such a tough thing with grace. I have been so terrified and now, reading your story, just a little less so, thank you. Love and healing to you. Jen B xxx

  58. Sara says:

    Hello Andrea…..I just have to tell you that you are an amazing woman!! I know everybody is telling you that, but it is the truth. You have touched thousands of lives….changed how people think about their own life…..talked about what REALLY is important in life…lovingly caring for your children and family….making sure their future is secured….YOU are doing all these things while you yourself are preparing to leave this “earthly” life as we know it. And you are doing it all so gracefully…so naturally. I keep you and your family in my prayers. Your blog is beautiful….I agree with the above tbird….in that it should be published…..It is just so inspiring..and so “real” to read. Many lessons to be learned. Enjoy your time with your children.

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