My New Normal

My New Normal ~ A blog post by Bubblegum Sass

Maybe you follow along my life adventures on Instagram or Facebook, but for those that just read along here, I wanted to give you a quick update. Our lives exploded two weeks ago, when my father & I had to take my mom into the ER because of severe, unbearable pain in her back (a new area where her cancer had spread). After a very long night in the ER, she was admitted to an Intensive Palliative Care Unit and remains there now. Her condition has declined dramatically since then. It has turned our world upside down, to say the least.

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When Life Keeps Giving You Lemons

You either get sick of drinking lemonade or

choose to stop seeing things as lemons to begin with.

Small Upcycled Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass
On the outside, I live a fairly average life. Married. One child. A cat. A house. Stay-at-home-mom. Introvert. Passion for all things crafty & creative. Learning to be a green-thumb. Dive one layer deeper and you discover that I have a very close relationship with my family, keep a small, but tight group of friends, and struggle with all the insecurities & worries that come with being a parent.

Keep going deeper… you learn that both my hubby & I balance our own small businesses, along with that close knit relationship with our family. We’re working on making our big, long-term dream of living on a farm a reality. We have a passion for happy, healthy, locally produced food and a desire to share that with everyone we meet.

Dig deeper… I’ve struggled with the health complications of massive uterine fibroid growths since 2009. Had one, highly invasive, major surgery to remove them. Except they grew back and are now bigger than before.

Keep going deeper… I started my crafty business in 2011 after being laid off from my job in Calgary’s creative tech sector. That same year I finally found myself pregnant for the first time, but sadly miscarried. A couple months later my mom was diagnosed with cancer. A week later I was pregnant again. Five months after that, my oldest brother died.

Even deeper… I witnessed & experienced the heartache of watching my oldest brother struggle with the ugly disease of alcoholism for over a decade. More heartbreaking as each year passed. I’ve gone through the uncertainty of being able to have children (going through it again as we try for baby number 2). I’ve watched my parents suffer the terrible loss of a son (it’s burned into my eyes & heart). I’ve also been watching my mom courageously battle cancer for almost four years now. The joyous birth of our own son in 2012 was seen as a huge beacon of light in my family, after much darkness.

Deeper still… my mom isn’t winning her battle with cancer. This past year her physical & mental health has declined greatly. No more chemo treatments now. Doctors just want to make her as comfortable as possible, for however long she has left. And so, after well over a decade of “lemons” being dealt our way, we go into 2015 with this very real possibility, that it will be the last year I spend with my sweet mom.

Small Upcycled Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass ~ Vintage Buttons Shabby Chic Home

Maybe not quite such an average life after all.

A lot of people will read everything above (and even below) and question our sanity. Some might be able to relate to a few of the life challenges we’ve walked through. And I’m hoping, that others will see it the way I struggle to see it every day; a blessed life.

Dig deep to my core… you will find my belief in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. THIS is what keeps telling me to stop seeing things as “lemons”. I truly live a very blessed life. If there is one thing that I can walk into the future with, it is an appreciation for God’s timing, right down to every heartbreaking moment. I will trust in Him. Oh, how I WILL trust in him.

But you caught that part about it being

a struggle every day, right?

Every. Day.

I am by no means running through each day with the wind blowing in my hair, a smile plastered to my face, while I belt out praises and love with grace. I’m just a woman balancing her roles of mama, wife, daughter, sister, and now auntie; wanting to hold my family so close, but knowing I will have to let go one day. I love as best I can. I’m learning to forgive and ask forgiveness. But the greatest challenge of all, is learning to be thankful even in the darkest hours.

It’s how I’m starting to see things, not as lemons, but as part of His blessings. I can’t worry about what tomorrow or next month will bring, but only hope that I come right back to reading this post if I begin to see those “lemons” rolling my way. It’s mostly a reminder for me. I would love if it were a reminder for you too.

Small Love Catcher by Bubblegum Sass ~ Shabby Chic Country Kitchen Decor

Hair today…

Hair cutting donation
… gone tomorrow. I realized recently that I didn’t share with you what happened to all the hair that got chopped off during the cancer fundraising event. Well, it got bundled up and sent in the mail to be used in wig making for cancer patients. I was super excited that my hair fit the requirements for donation (no treatments or dyes, at least 8″ long and no more than 5% gray hair). It takes something like 6-8 separate donations of hair to make a single wig. Makes each and every donation that much more important. I’m happy to think that not only were we able to raise a good chunk of money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, but we were also able to help a cancer patient get one step closer to feeling a bit more beautiful again. If you’re every thinking about making a drastic hair change (aka cutting off at least 8″), consider making a donation to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.

Freshly shorn

Sarah After HeadshaveThings I won’t miss about having long hair, in no particular order:

  • Baby boy won’t be able to pull it, yank it, or rip it out
  • We’ll go through WAY less shampoo & conditioner now
  • No more shedding clumps of hair (I’ve been shedding more hair than our cat since Sam was born… hubby will be relieved not to have clogged drains anymore)
  • Super quick & easy morning routine
  • A shaved head is a great excuse to wear my crochet hats everywhere this winter

Off with her hair

By the time November 30th rolled around, Tina and I were pretty excited to finally get our heads shaved! Here’s a bunch of pictures of the event. Special thanks to my dad for documenting it for us and to the lovely gals at Pin-Ups Hair Shoppe in Bowness for doing the actual head shaving!

I went first (much to Tina’s relief):

Headshave Sarah cutting ponytailHeadshave Ponytail Sarah
Headshave Sarah shaveHeadshave Sarah done

Next up was Tina:

Headshave Tina cuttingHeadshave Tina shave
Headshave Tina Shave 2Headshave Tina done

All done (that’s my mom in the pic on the right, who inspired this whole journey):

Headshave Sarah & TinaHeadshave Sarah, Jan & Tina

Thanks again to all those who donated to our fundraising campaign for the Alberta Cancer Foundation & the Tom Baker Cancer Center! What an amazing experience, mainly due to all the support we encountered through the month!

Give up a little…

Sarah before the headshave…to give a little. The month went by so quickly, and the day is here. The fundraising my sister-in-law Tina and I have been doing for the past several weeks is about to culminate in a bit of an event tonight, when we SHAVE our heads! Not sure why we would do such a thing? Read about it here.

The results of our fundraising campaign far exceeded our expectations! Our original goal was only $1,000 which we raised in ONE day! We obviously underestimated the generosity of friends, family, co-workers, and teammates. Our second goal was $2,500 which we raised in THREE days! So we went ahead and set the next goal to $3,500 which we happily met & surpassed this past week. Last time I checked, we were sitting at $4,450!!! So unbelievable!

Tina and I have been overwhelmed by the donations, offers for prayers and kind thoughts & emails! Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have made this whole journey worthwhile! We’re super excited to shave our heads now! And we will be kept warm all winter with the knowledge that our little deed was met with such amazing love & support, and together we can make a difference in the fight against cancer in Alberta!

Wish us luck tonight! Hope to share pictures of the head shave with you in a couple of days.

To mom, with love

I heart momIt was with a heavy heart that we discovered in September that my mom’s cancer was still present, even after months of chemo last year. And it is still spreading. She has an uncommon form of endometrial cancer called uterine serous carcinoma. It is already far along at Stage III.

On Oct. 29th she started another round of chemotherapy, with a different drug. It’s hard to know how this whole situation will go. Will she become quite sick from the treatment? Will the chemo slow the spread? Will it eradicate the cancer? How long will this go on for? So many questions, and no real clear answers.

Another question that comes to mind is, what else can we be doing to help? Specifically, what can “I” do? I pondered this quite a bit and there are lots of ways I can support my mom during this time, but one new thing popped into my head this time around. It came quite clearly and confidently to me, as I sat rocking my baby boy one night. It was one of those rare moments when you have a sudden thought and know in an instance, deep down that is exactly what you should & will do.

I’m going to shave my head. I will go from long flowy locks to buzz cut in an effort to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation & the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Honestly, it’s such a simple act. Give up something for a time. Not forever, because it will grow back. I’m blessed to be able to make the choice when so many others don’t get to decide whether or not they will lose their hair, including my mom. It’s an inconvenience for me (since we’re headed into winter), but the symbolic support it offers seems greater than all that.

So come the end of November, I will shave my head (along side my most wonderful sister-in-law Tina). To mom, with love.

If you would like to donate to this fundraiser, click here. Every little bit helps us all. You could also help by keeping my mom, Jan, in your prayers in the coming weeks. Thank you for your support!