Tuesday, February 17, 2015


This post is to tell you this is the last post I will be making on this website. I have moved over to a new page that you may access at the below link:


I am very excited about how it turned out so please take a peak. Do not worry, all of my posts have moved to the new page and you may go back and read them if you have not done so.

I made the decision a bit ago for a handful of reasons. I started working on a new site with a dear friend and it is finally ready to launch. Please notice a few new things that can be found. Feature links to both my hair shaving party and my participation in the  Pink Portraits project.

IMPORTANT: If you are currently signed up to receive my blog to your email account, you will need to do this again on the new site. The option may be found on the top right side. If you have a question simply contact me. I am happy to help.

Thank you again for reading, following and sharing. Please know how grateful I am. If you have shared my blog with others, be sure to let them know where they can find me now.

See you on my new page,
Love Kristina

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I am strong

I spent the rest of my day Monday and Tuesday trying to feeling better. After adjusting some medicine, and applying a steroid cream for the rash on my head, I was on the mend. By Wednesday morning the rash was fading and my body felt more stable. It took about one full week after chemotherapy before I started to regain my strength....

I would love to say that I am getting the hang of the chemotherapy song and dance, knowing what to expect and anticipate but that would not be true. This treatment round was quite different than the first. The fatigue and tired hit me at different times. I have heard from quite a few others who have undergone chemotherapy, that the unknown, the constant ebb and flow of the side effects are hard, but knowing and accepting that it will be different and that it is ok is half the battle. So this next round, number three, hopefully I can do just that.

Friday evening, I attended a fundraiser my roommate put on. Knowing my counts are low I did not stay too long but wanted to be there to support her. After standing to the side watching as everyone boot scotted to a local Western folk band, someone leaned over and asked if I was Kristina. I said that I was (I did not know him). He went on to explain that he is friends with one of my girlfriends and he had heard about my story. He saw pictures from my hair shave party and that he wanted to wish me well. He said he has heard about me and that he knows I am strong.

My goodness I thought, what an honor..... as my eyes pooled with water.

Is strong crying in front of a stranger? I thought.

Don't cry I coached myself.

Just say thank you and it was nice to meet you, and walk away.

So I did.

I walked away humbled, overtaken by my story, this story and most of all by all of you.

The word strong is not something I often use to describe my cancer journey. Many of you use it, but I do not. I think it is because I have misunderstood the meaning of the word strong.

Maybe strong is not doing it all yourself, but allowing others to do it for you. Maybe strong is allowing this story to not just be mine, but something I share. Something that invites others in.
Maybe strong is being vulnerable enough to believe that God works and heals when we are honest. When we are open. When we allow others to care for us. When we surrender the strength that we do not have.  Maybe that is what he intended life to be all along. That when we are weak, he is strong. He provides. That strong is allowing yourself to feel, to grieve and to be with all the emotions and thoughts that meet you. Allowing them to just be....

That evening, I went home early and crashed in my bed. I was still pondering this notion that I am strong. Still trying to understand why someone would describe me that way. I began building my case for why I am not. All the times I cry. All the times I am anxious and afraid and stopped...

That's just it. So often I try and tell myself what I am not, and don't believe in what I am.


Just yesterday, I spent a large part of my day looking out at Pikes Peak, the sun coming through the clouds and the horizon lined up with mountains far in the distant. It was a beautiful day. A very perfect Colorado day. One filled with day dreaming about traveling, three flavors of wheat thins, jump starting a car, Thai food, Beer, Hugh Grant, bourbon and ice cream.

A friend months ago said to me ..... I believe that you are today more alive and living than any of us ever will be.

I am indeed living. Everything matters to me. Every face I see, every conversation I share. It all matters. A diagnosis of this magnitude, that makes you grapple with life in such a way that it appears to be taken away at any moment has allowed me to live in the very present. To be so fully present that everything matters. I have the tremendous privilege of knowing how very precious life is. Cancer gave me this.

God is using this cancer to teach me how to live more fully. More alive. More intentional. And to know him more. To start trusting him as my shepherd. That he is working and moving all around me, I just need to listen.

I certainly will celebrate when this part of my story is over but for now I will continue to enjoy the very preciousness that is this time. A time when everything is so very real to me... when moments are not wasted. When time and energy is spent in company and doing the very things that make me feel alive.

May this Sunday find you feeling strong, alive and investing the very things that matter to you. That remind you that you are very much alive.

A very special Congratulations to the my cousin Vance and his wife Whitney as they welcomed two precious twins this week in California. I was met with tears at the picture of them and honored to be little Avi's godmother. As we can never say enough, God is so very good.

Love Kristina

Pikes Peak

Monday, February 9, 2015

To the Little One on Her Bike

I have tried to sit down and write a few times but I can't seem to muster the strength to do so. My intended plans to go to work today have me at home. For the past couple hours I have found myself buried under blankets with a heating pad. Praying the shivering and achy will pass.

It is miserable.

My fingers do not have any feeling at this moment, so I have been trying to warm them up. But I am writing not because I want to complain about the side effects (I mean I do want to complain) but I reckon you all are tired of hearing it. Atleast thats how this breast cancer battler felt on Sunday.... tired, discouraged and hurting. 

I just want to share a story.....

Sunday afternoon my mom and I decided to get out of bed (after laying in it for three hours watching Scandal) and take a walk at the park. Denver has had a beautiful few days so it is hard to not want to be outside the entire time.

We joined the other thousand people (it was very crowded) or so that were at Washington Park enjoying the 70 degrees and found our way on the walking path. Feeling very achy we still managed to make it the entire loop. At one point we were walking and a family was coming towards us. Their little girl with long brown hair and big brown eyes  was on a bike with training wheels. As we walked towards them the little one stopped in her tracks. Her big eyes made contact with mine and she just stared. She looked in wonder as though a million questions were being asked in her head. 

Just as we passed, her mom said, "Go on, keep riding". Completely unaware of the staring contest her daughter had just had with me.

As we walked by, the little girl innocently announced, "Mom that girl didn't have any hair on her head!" 

I gently smiled and then lowered my head.


Dear one I thought......

You are right. I do not have hair. 

If you were to ask Why? (as so many children do) I would tell you:

 I am not well. I have been sick. But you wouldn't understand and in so many ways I wish you never ever have to understand what "no hair" means. 

I used to ride my bike with training wheels alongside my parents,  just like you. They picked me up when I fell and they told me to keep going. Just like you.

 Like your big brown eyes, I have big brown eyes too, that so often stare at strangers in wonder. 

But today, I walk alongside my mom. She walks with me and sometimes holds my arm in hers. She wipes my tears and rubs my head because I am not well. Because there is this heartbreaking thing called cancer that causes people to be sick. And then there is medicine that makes you even more sick, before you are well. 

But then again, why should I explain. I hope you never have to know. I hope you never have to understand why someone, "doesn't have hair". 

Dear one, what I do want you to know is that you should keep riding. That life is full of ups and downs but in the midst you may find great joy. That often the greatest joys are found in grace when we least expect it.

And that while I do not have hair, my heart hurts and I physically hurt. I am still living. I am still riding my bike. 

And Dear one, I may not have hair today, but soon my hair will be back again, but even if it never ever came back just know that I matter. That you matter. Know that we are children of a God who loves us dearly. Who delights in our highs and lows. 

A God who knows the number of hairs that adorn our head.

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows - Luke 12:7 


I do not know what conversation that mother had with her daughter, or if they even had one at all. We kept walking and enjoyed the sun. But if I had the chance I would have loved to give that little girl a hug, cheer her on and tell her that she mattered.

I am struggling quite a bit today, not feeling well at all. My mom has since flown home to Kentucky and I am trying to get strength to make it to work tomorrow. Thank you all for cheering me on. Praying for me. I hope you know how much you matter to me.

Love Kristina

Me, and my big brown eyes.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Round 2 Halfway

I had tears in my eyes as I looked at my mom and said "Round two is done".

Two treatments down and two treatments left.

This temporary relief and celebration would soon be taken over by the next week or so of dealing with the side effects. But in that moment, was reason to smile.

The chemotherapy room was very quiet compared to my first round. It was a nice change. We mostly sat and talked. I read a magazine and rested. I went ahead and soaked my arm in warm water before the nurse attempted to place the IV, so I could avoid the "stick, poke, prying" that happened last time. The nurse got my IV in on the first time.

After about three and half hours, the machine administering the chemo beeped and I was told I could leave. Feeling energized my mom and I joined Rachel to look at furniture for her new house. Moving around and walking felt good. One of my pre-medicines (anti-nausea) can make you hyper and I would say this was true. Hence why our shopping adventure took place.

In good news, I slept through the night Thursday night. Which is a huge accomplishment in that this is something I have struggled with. I am taking Melatonin which is a supplement to help sleep. Thank goodness for good vitamins.

Yesterday, my mom and I spent most of our morning in my bed reading and resting. It was beautiful yesterday so we went to the park. With little to no energy I couldn't even make it around the entire park before we rested on a park bench. My tired and weary body was not having it.

We came back to my house and I took a two and half hour nap.

So this post is pretty accurate in the excitement of the last few days. Not a lot happening.

A lot of resting. A lot of patience being tested.

Last evening after waking from my nap, my mom took a look at me and knew I was not feeling good. After taking my temperature we learned I had a fever. The doctor asked that if my temperature exceeds 100.5 I must call the hospital. So we did.

A little concerned that I have an infection or that the night would lead us to the hospital, my doctor asked me to monitor it and take ibuprofen. If my fever did not break or I continued to hold one I needed to call back.

Thankfully it broke and it did not stick around. I slept the entirety of last night and am back laying next to my mom in my bed. The sun is already shining and hopefully we will be able to make it outside for a bit.

I wish I could write something profound or inspiring but when your body feels like it is failing and it is as though you have been knocked down multiple times it can be very discouraging. Chemo medicine has an unbelievable way of taking you out. I am developing a mild rash on the back of my head and feeling pretty achy.

Although this beautiful Colorado day I would much rather have spent on my road bike, hiking, orrunning I am reminding myself that I am where I am for a reason today. That days of warm weather will be in the near future and resting is ok today.

Jesus Calling this morning could never be more appropriate, "Come to Me for Rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are boneweary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life. Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different."

Waiting for the IV.

Testing out furniture for Rachel's house.

Resting at the park.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Missing the Normal

Maybe one of my least favorite things about Chemo day is that I cannot have coffee until I have started the infusion. This probably sounds funny to you, but coffee is one of those things that brings simple pleasure to me. Drinking it while I get ready in the morning, the warmth of the mug... the smell of it brewing in my house.

When I lived in Honduras coffee was the necessary part of our morning. We did not have a coffee maker and we brewed by pouring hot water over the coffee beans into a large plastic pitcher. The coffee never stayed in the pitcher long enough before the pitcher would melt, we always had our cups ready on hand. How funny this is to me today and how normal is was for us then. 

The coffee in Honduras is something that I have yet to find an equal to in the States. But a month ago a dear friend from the town where we lived sent me two bags of the finest. This morning those beans sit on my shelf, calling my name but alas I will wait.

If you remember last time the nurse had trouble sticking my vein, despite the copious amounts of water I had drank. Unfortunately coffee, with the caffeine does not help that situation, so I will have to wait until I get settled for infusion.

My mom is currently getting ready and I am laying in bed on my heating pad. (my new favorite thing). Just last night I picked up my mom and she got to see me with my nearly bald head for the first time. We will head to breakfast this morning and then to the hospital. Hoping today goes a bit faster than it did last time...

My thoughts and emotions today are quite scattered. Chemo day feels a bit surreal almost. Despite my scars and bald head it is still difficult to wrap my head around all of this. 

We do not have plans for this weekend but are looking forward to the warm weather Denver is planning. Hoping for some time in the sun, and vitamin d. 

If I am honest I am just ready to get today over with. I hate saying that, never wanting to wish time away but that is how I feel. Days like today make me long for the normalcy (what I thought was) that existed before cancer came in. Makes me wish I were planning adventurous trips, that I could go out on a date, go skiing or meet friends for happy hour. Simply doing life as though I did not have this large narrative of cancer in the middle of it. 

Do me a favor and find something that seems utterly normal today, and be grateful for it?

Can you rejoice in the mundane.

Nothing about my day seems normal to me, and not drinking coffee first thing in the morning is just the very start of that "not normal".

I must go get ready, although that looks more like just putting on makeup these days. The "getting ready" part of my day is so minimalist without having to do my hair.

May you find yourself today in the mundane rejoicing and grateful. I long for that so many days as I am often left wishing these days to pass quickly. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Two Strangers

Friday evening, I headed to Breckenridge with some dear friends to get a way for the night. Eat yummy food, play games, and spend time together. That evening we climbed in an SUV to head in town for dinner. The snow covered the slopes and the town was beautiful. It was still lit up with Christmas lights. It looked magical.

Mountain towns seem to hold secrets that only they know. They have such a mystery that I have fallen in love with after living in Colorado for so many years.....

Upon walking in to the restaurant I removed my beanie hat. So much better I thought. My head is very sensitive and is often irritated by the touch of fabric. So not wearing anything often feels best. My nearly bald head just covered in baby hairs was exposed for others to see. The onlookers glanced, a few smiled.... I carried on. Over laughter and conversation we had dinner. For that moment I tried to forget. Be there in the moment.

I can do this I thought. Be present and not think of the reality that is ahead.

As I have often spoken of, that is what I fight for. To be present in what is today. Not to worry about what the coming days bring. But yet my little gentle heart forgets sometimes... and I am reminded. I drift to a far off place that only I know how to get to. A place that reminds me of what this journey has been. Of what lies ahead. If I really get carried away I remind myself of my fears. I let my fears overshadow the present..... A wonderfully powerful thing the mind is.

I am learning to embrace these little mind drifts I have, but am having a hard time letting them be OK.

While amongst friends I drifted to that distant place and someone asked, "Are you OK? What is going on."

I nodded. Then said, "Everything was fine."

I lied.

The truth I just couldn't bare to share. But the fact of the matter is, these people have been with me. They know. They understand. They have showed up, loved on me and don't expect me to "be fine". For that I am so grateful. To be given the space to not have everything together. A safe place to share my emotions and my heart in this journey, have been some of the greatest blessings I have been given. (so many of you have given me that).

Sometimes everything really is just fine, but other times it is not. That is just the way it goes.

A friend (I am calling her that now) someone whom I have mutual connections with from Louisville was was just diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She has a family. A husband. A new baby. Today she went in for her first round of chemotherapy. We have messaged back and forth a few times, because I simply just wanted her to know I was thinking of her. That I wish I could go with her and hold her hand during chemo. Because although are diagnosis are different. I kind of know. I know what it is like to yearn to see God working in the midst of heartbreak. Or what is like to have fear that is so real it feels like it will suffocate you. Or to be bombarded by individuals who tell you everything will be fine. That God is with you. Because while that someday may come when we both may very well be fine, our present reality is hard. It hurts, and loving God in this, is hard, but oh so worth it. And oh so good.

It is a very strange  to be connected by this cancer "club" that I never wanted to be in. That someone I do not know ,but a sister in Christ, I can ache with her. That we can say things and just know.

Another friend of mine from Colorado, flew home Sunday to be with his sister in Michigan. His sister paralyzed from radiation done to remove cancer found in her spine, has now discovered that the cancer has moved to her brain. She has a family. She has a husband who is also battling cancer. They have two young kids.

My thoughts today are for these two women and their families.

All three of us have very different diagnosis. Three different treatment plans and outcomes....

But my prognosis is good. Really good. I am cancer free now (as far as the doctors know). My chemo is insurance. Insurance for it to not return. For these two women their chemo and radiation is their chance at life. I am not angry, but it does make me wonder why. My heart hurts for them.

I think it is a bit easier to choose joy when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you get answers. When doctors tell you that it will be over soon. That is what I get to hear. That is what my doctors tell me. It will be over soon. I will get life beyond this......

So when my moments come, and I drift away to that place that only I know how to get to, I pray I can find myself back in the midst of the hope that I have. That I will get to live beyond this. If anything not just for me, but for so many that may never get to know life past cancer.

I pray that I can find God's goodness in the hard, in this. And while our three stories are being written with cancer weaved into it.... I can believe that God is still really good.

If you could take some of your time praying for me and pray for Jenna and Shelby I would be so grateful. Both of these women that I have become connected to, are in desperate need of your prayers....

I am working until Wednesday this week and my mom flies in that evening to be with me. Tomorrow I go to acupuncture and I have already boosted my water intake in preparation for chemo dehydration.

Hope this finds you well. My weekend even with my mind drifts, was still really special. I even went on a dark night run at the park on Saturday... it was wonderful. I also got to see my best friend from college Sam and her family. 

Monday came a bit too soon. Will write soon.... 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Almost Bald

Before we started. Ric my dads best friend giving a toast.

I am not even sure where to begin. I just finished cleaning up the hair that is scattered about my bathroom and am getting in bed, but felt I should write something..

Just yesterday morning I left for work, leaving my bath tub covered in my hair. I didn't have time to clean it up or Drano. So I just left. Just as I am typing this there is a small piece of my hair in my keyboard. That is how it has been, since Sunday. My once short buzz is thinning out and there is little left.…. I would expect to be fully bald come Monday morning. 

I don't want to tell you that it is OK, because that would be a lie. It is just different. A different that meets my eyes as a stranger. That tries to find the words that say I am strong. That I am beautiful. That this is temporary. That my hair will come back. Or as so many like to say, "It is just hair". Unfortunately that is something you would only say because you are not the one with it falling out all over your house, at your desk at work, covering your pillowcase each morning and clogging your drain. Its not just hair. 

The "just hair" that you tell yourself that doesn't matter… is not just hair. As Katie said in her blog post, it is my reminder. Of this something that is outside of my control. That I had cancer, that I am battling cancer. Just this evening I went to have my makeup done at the mall. A woman looked me in the eyes, looked away, then back again and then looked away. I met her eyes with love and grace. Wanting her to know that although my head makes me appear sick, I am still me. I am just another woman who is living and trying my best to soak the goodness of out of this world. Even if that means I look different.

I am back to work full time and have been working hard this week to get some to do's finished up in anticipation of a short work week, due to my 2nd round of chemotherapy treatment. My mom flies in on Wednesday and my treatment is Thursday. I hope to maybe try some new things with my acupuncturist on Tuesday before to help reduce the fatigue and muscle ache, as well as boost my immune system. My base level counts of 5300 for white blood, dropped to 1340 hence my infection. Anything to help get my system jump started sooner would be appreciated.

Overall I am physically feeling very good this week. Today, while working on a project in the office I kept finding hair in annoying places. Important documents, in my tea… I decided I had had enough. I walked to the bathroom and began to rub my hair, making more fall. As I rubbed I began to cry. Bald. I thought.

Bald is different from the pixie cut buzz. Bald is bald. I walked into my bosses office to check in on something and she asked what was going on. I said amongst tears "My hair is falling out!" (as though she did not know or that my already buzzed hair was not enough proof) I began to cry and nod my head and she looked in my eyes. She knew. It is a lot. This is a lot. It is difficult to process. I wiped my tears and took my heartbreak back to my desk… 

I am heading to the mountains tomorrow evening with some friends and look forward to seeing the snow capped mountains. It is supposed to start snowing tomorrow so I cannot wait to sit and watch the flakes fall. 

So many of you have commented and shared the pictures of my head shave party and I want to say thank you. I have looked at them so many times..... they are my very favorite pictures. As you can see my family watched from afar on the computer. A lot of laughter, and tears were shared. To see her full tribute please visit here. If you have not done so, you should!

I hope to write some this weekend, it has been an emotional week to say the least as I meet this new reality. Thank you for your sweet words about my little head. It is pretty cold up there.

Looking forward to sharing more about the little ways God has been meeting me in the midst of this... as well as share more pictures that are my favorite from Sunday.

Looking into the mirror for the very first time.

Wednesday at work.

Today at work, thinning out.

After having my makeup done.