Monday, April 26, 2010

Of All The Things I've Lost, My Mind Is What I Miss The Most

On a lighter note... I think I'm seriously loosing my mind. Case in point-last Sunday I opened the refrigerator and there was my box of plastic wrap. Oh, the dismay! I wished I had a child living at home so I could blame it on them. Unfortunately, Bill was standing there when I did it and he looked as bewildered as I. Guess I couldn't blame it on him either.

The next one is worse. Definitely, worse. Last Thursday when I got to school I realized I really didn't want to stand and "teach" all day. I had extra loaves of bread and extra eggs in my foods lab. Aha! Teach them how to make French Toast and Cinnamon Toast. (Would you believe that only 1 or 2 per class had ever made cinnamon toast? I was shocked! What has happened to childhood?) Anyway, just before the bell rang for lunch I surveyed the situation and realized I needed more bread. Those rascals were really loving the cooking and eating of such treats. When the bell rang I quickly grabbed my purse and told the teacher across the hall that I was running to the grocery store and would be back very soon. The grocery I use for school is only two blocks away and I had 30 minutes for lunch. No one would ever miss me. So I ran to the store and walked back in my foods lab about 15 minutes later. Ah! Time to spare. I thought I had time to spare. WRONG. There sat my small third period class of all boys playing games on the computers! "What are you doing here?", I asked with great confusion. "We've been really good, Mrs. Stegall! Really, we have!" Suddenly, the light dawned on me. It was third period- not fourth! I had just walked out of the school and left my class of ADHD boys totally unattended. The loved it. I was humiliated.

Last but not least, I've got too many birthdays for me to remember the dates. I know both Bill and my parents birthdays. I certainly know our children's birthdays, as well as all of their mates birthdays. I know most all of our combined brother-in-law and sisters in law birthdays (that adds 12). I even know a few random friends birthdays. However, it appears that when it comes to our grandchildren I'm a bit of a nutcase. I focus and pray for months about a new baby coming and can tell you during any given pregnancy what the baby's due date is. It's set in my mind. However, somehow those little ones don't seem to come on the date I have set in my mind. Recently I planned very well for JEB's second birthday. I picked out just the right things, brought them home, and wrapped them. They have been sitting on the hearth for a couple of
weeks. I waited to mail them so they would arrive on the exact date of his birthday-the 27th.
I was quite pleased with myself. I was talking to one of my children on April 24th. She mentioned JEB's birthday being the NEXT day-the 25th! Oh brother!!! At least at age two, he won't realize his Mimi is a dingbat. We are expecting grandchildren numbers eight and nine in the next five months. Whatever shall I do?


I went to UAB today for a check up. We were supposed to check-in at 6:50am. (Very hard for a sleepy head who has an hour's drive/ride from Gadsden.) I had a PET scan, mammogram, and blood work and then saw the doctor. In October I had four tumors. The two in my abdomen are COMPLETELY GONE!!! The one in my back and the one in my butt are still there but getting smaller. (Cancer is still absolutely a pain in the butt!) We are so thrilled! Praise the Lord! We headed back to Gadsden very relieved and grateful. Whew!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

He Takes A Licking and Just Keeps On Ticking...

Do you remember that old Timex commercial? I know, I'm showing my age. However, that's the way it has felt around here the last few days. For several weeks Bill has been having some heart symptoms that have left us both somewhat rattled. We went to see his cardiologist March 11 and he concurred and scheduled a PET Scan for Wed, April 7. Easter Sunday am he woke up at about 6:30 with slight chest pains and a slightly sore left arm. His response,"We'll just tell the doctor Wednesday." (I don't think so...) In church he started sweating from his head to the point that his collar was getting wet. This got my attention-and his! When his stents closed after his heart attack in Oct. 1999 the main symptom was sweating profusely from the head. Other friends at church even noticed it. Still he said, "We are going to Sarah's for lunch. She is expecting us there."

SO, unbeknown to him, I quickly grabbed a few essentials and stuck them in the back of the car.
When we finished eating I called the doctor and told him Bill's symptoms. He asked to speak to Bill. When Bill came back from talking to him he said,"He wants us to go to the ER now." (Totally a side note- I have fought hard for the last 26 years against being controlling. That is my default when stressed. I've made tremendous progress. This was a notable exception. I felt like his life was at stake).

We went to Brookwood Hospital and they took him back immediately. When he was in triage he had another "episode" (symptoms). After testing, watching, praying and waiting a while he was admitted to the hospital. Yesterday he had an arteriogram, with the strong possibility of another stent. When he and the doctor came back to the room we had such good news! All of the 5 bypasses that he had 10+ years ago were still open and flowing well. What a relief!! Also the cause of all of his symptoms was due to the fact the one of his former blockages was leaking a small amount of blood into his bypassed vein and that was causing symptoms. The doctor gave him a new medication and adjusted the amount of another so we hope that will "fix" it. We go back in a month. Whew!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Quick Update

We just got an email from an old friend wondering how I'm fairing these days. Very Well, thank you! Would you believe that there are days that I don't even think about having cancer? At least I don't think about it until I have to take my cancer medicine just before bedtime. I feel normal-like me. My energy has improved a lot since mid January. It seems that the side effects have "worn off". I'm so thankful! I go back to UAB the middle of March, then back to MD Anderson May 4-5. I'll have another PET scan in Houston to see how my tumors are reacting to the medicine. I feel very hopeful that they are continuing to shrink. Thanks for your continuing prayers and concern. It means so much! I'll post about my health again after I go to UAB.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black History Luncheon

Today at school we had our Black History Program. The students do recitations, dance (Michael Jackson this year), and sing. I heard it was the best in school history. I didn't get to go. I was busy (madly working) getting ready for our Luncheon. The "lunchroom ladies" prepared a DELICIOUS feast of Turkey, Dressing, Sweet Potatoes, Turnip Greens, (fabulous) Rolls, and of course Gravy. Since that wasn't enough (ha ha) teachers added their homemade goodness to the bounty. Here's a list of everything else:

Pinto Beans
Black-eyed Peas
Butterbeans with sliced sausage
(more) Turnip Greens
2 Pans of Cornbread
Potato Salad
English Peas
Macaroni and Cheese
Creamed Corn
Platter of Sliced Tomatoes/Onion
Chicken Necks
Chocolate Cake
Lemon Cake
3 Sweet Potato Pies
Blueberry Trifle
Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
3 bakery cakes

Are you ready to hear what is shocking about this bounty? There are thirty four (yes that's right, 34) people on staff. Do you need to reread the list of food? And the dishes they brought weren't just little wimpy one quart casseroles. No mam. They were the turkey roasting sized aluminum pans of goodness. I might weigh 467 pounds by tomorrow. I'm afraid, I'm very afraid.

THE Most Important Class in School

For anyone who doesn't know me well, I'm a teacher. Not only am I a teacher, but I teach THE most important subject in school. I teach Family and Consumer Science (previously known to the uninitiated as Home Economics.)

I teach kids how to sew and they actually love it. They have to make an "A" on the parts of a sewing machine before they are allowed to sew. They have to thread the machine and put the bobbin in, ready to sew in one minute. The timed test always stresses them out, but they all can eventually do it! Would you believe my boy students are consistently better at sewing ? I teach them to iron a men's dress shirt. They have to bring one from home and iron it at school for a test grade. I don't mention the fact that I send Bill's shirts to the laundry ;-)

They learn basic cooking skills. You can imagine how much they look forward to cooking and EATING. Tomorrow is our first foods lab and we are starting out easy. We'll be making banana/blueberry smoothies. How well do you know how to set a table for any occasion? They know how to do it-properly.

They learn how to write a check and reconcile the bank statement.

They are fascinated with prenatal development. They can all draw and label the five parts of the woman's reproductive system and can tell you how it all works. After that hurdle, we discuss child development and disciple of children (called "guidance " in the text).

Students are able to recognize the color wheel and all the different color schemes.

They can drive through a neighborhood and identify housing styles as well as roof styles, pilasters, gingerbread trim, etc. They make a portfolio of furniture styles. (I had perfectly delightful students tell me "Mrs. Stegall, you've turned me into a housing nerd! I went to a party Saturday night at this guy's house. He soon came looking for me and my friend from class. "What are you doing", he asked? "Oh, I didn't realize that you had Chippendale chairs and a double pedestal table! Look your sideboard looks great with those sconces above it!" He just stared at us and said, "Y'all are weird!" and walked off.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Lease On Life

I feel like a new woman. I got a call today from Dr. Valero at MD Anderson to give me the results of a blood test done last week. Apparently, cancer cells can circulate through your blood stream throughout your body OR they are confined to the tumor sites. He had told us that this was a VERY important test. It seems it is a strong indicator of movement of the cancer. Dr. Valero said the best case scenario would be for the test result number to be 4 or under. Mine was -O- ZERO!
To say that we were thrilled would be an understatement. We practically danced a jig!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

All the News

Today started out slowly. I had no appointments. There was nothing scheduled to do. I had been told that I would have genetic counseling at some point. However, when I checked my appointment schedule on the MD Anderson website nothing was there. I called the scheduler about 10:00 and she confirmed-nothing today. She called back about 10 minutes later and said , if you can come now you can have your genetic counseling. Yikes! Neither Bill nor I had taken a bath or dressed. Can you say hustle really fast?

We got there and were ushered in. We met with the counsellor for almost 2 hours. I had blood work and will get the results in about 3 weeks. The next option that we considered was storing my DNA. It could prove helpful for me, my daughters, or nieces if the need for such information should ever arise. I don't often think of bargains and health care in the same breath. However, this is an exception. It's only $103. for DNA storage for 10 years. What a deal!

After all of this we went back to my scheduler. She said I was scheduled for my last appointment next Monday at 5:30pm. UGH!!! That would four days of nothing. We were certainly willing to wait, but hated to at the same time. We begged for mercy. Finally at 3:30 we were told that if we were willing to wait that the doctor would try to work us in. We were more than willing. At 6:50 we were called back! By this point the lights in the aquarium were turned off. The carpet cleaner had been through the department. Lights were off in schedulers offices and at check-in desks. We were the last people around-for a while.

You'd have thought that he had been waiting all day for us. Dr. Valero had already seen 23 patients that day. He was through, patient, and encouraging. That's a great combination in my book! He told me my blood work looked perfect. Yea! Then he showed us on his computer a comparison of my PET scan from October and the one from this Wednesday. With them side by side you could see a noticeable shrinkage in all four tumors! Praise the Lord! That was much better news than I expected. (The Hallelujah Chorus just started playing on NPR as I began typing this! Amen.) We are still awaiting results of a blood test that takes a few days to complete. It's an important one, he said. It will tell if the cancer cells are circulating in my blood or if they are just in my tumors. I'd never even heard of such a test. I'll probably hear about it by Tuesday at the latest.

This may be WAY more detail than you ever wanted to know. I had hoped to blog more frequently, but just couldn't make myself do it. The week has had it's highs and lows. God has been faithful the whole time.

My husband has been a wonder to behold. He's an amazing man. I couldn't imagine one better.
Yesterday was my rough day. He was there encouraging, being quiet, trying to kid around- whatever he felt like would help me. I had to fast most of the day. I had blood work at 11:30 and at 12:30 I started the process for my PET Scan. That was way too many sticks for one day in my book. I felt faint. I felty nausous. I had a low grade migraine that I couldn't take medicine for. We arrived at our hotel about 4pm and I was grumpy and yuk and still hadn't had anything to eat. All I wanted was a nap. After migraine medicine and a two hour nap I felt like a new person. We went out to eat at a great Greek restaurant and had a delicious, relaxing meal. When we got home he collasped on the bed and said "Life just doesn't get any better than this." I started laughing so hard I nearly fell off the bed. What a guy!

I have some great pictures, but unable to load them here. Later.

Your prayers and encouragement have meant so much. Thank you!!!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Christmas was full of family,fun, food, and memories.
The tree that I thought would never get decorated, finally did! You may see front and center the Golden Gate Bridge ornament that Will's family sent us. Just below it on the right is one that Em and Mark gave me this year. It was a breast cancer awareness silver ornament that spelled out HOPE. Very appropriate, I thought.
I'm glad Jenny Stegall talked me into buying this pan when I was in San Francisco during Thanksgiving. I made the gingerbread houses with Elle and Evelyn. This was my second round of making them on Christmas morning. They were easy and fun to make.

Isn't it great when you get someone a gift that they are genuinely thrilled about? That was the response of all four of the kids and their families when they opened their Wii this Christmas. They are SO into them. Some also got the Tiger Woods golf game while others got the Wii fit. We never let our kids have video games when they were growing up. I really wanted them to play outside and ride their bikes. All of their friends thought the Stegall kids were deprived. They surely are making up for it now! Annie Stegall, age 5.5 had 5 strikes in a row on bowling!
Below you see KC practicing his golf swing as Mark and David cheer him on.

Emalee, with Elle and Evelyn.
They love their Auntie Em (as well as their new baby cousin in her tummy).
Sarah made this puppet theater for Evelyn.
She had several puppets for them to perform with.
I envision hours and hours of creative fun with this.
Mimi (me) with Mary Beth and Elle sharing a laugh.
Emalee and Mary Beth showing off their new Stella and Dot necklaces.
Caroline looks like she already has the piano figured out.
She loves it, thanks to her Ely grandparents.

We have had a long standing tradition in the Stegall extended family of ice skating at Christmas. Leigh Ann and Bert hosted us again and everyone had a great time. It's always a fun time to see the family. Three of the girl cousins are expecting babies. Jessica in May, Emalee in June, and Hillary in July. How exciting is that? We are a prolific group.

Mary looking on as Brittany Stegall (George's wife), Grace Stegall, and Elle Squires make the rounds on the ice.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Deck the Halls-Sorta

We live in a lovely small town. As a matter of fact, we live downtown in the Historic District. Folks here are rather proud of the neighborhood. Many of the homes are very old with huge moldings, multiple fireplaces, and wavy glass windows. I know you have a picture in your mind right? Our house is one of the newest in the area. It was built in 1972. It may be our favorite house ever. I like living around all the beauty and history, but I really like have walk-in closets, a 3 car garage, and all those sorts of "frivolous things".

One of the fun things that we do as a neighborhood is decorate the area for Christmas. This is the roundabout right beside our house. Isn't it lovely?

This year we decided to put a Christmas tree in each yard with white lights. We are on a circle, so it's very pretty to drive through and see all the trees and decorations. Lots of people drive through. We are one of those "must see" places for those in the city to visit during the holidays.

I'm telling you all of this because I want you to fully appreciate the work of my husband. He hung the wreaths on each window, the swags from fronts porch lanterns, the wreaths on our front door, and the tree in the yard. He went to the trouble to put "anchors"(I'm sure that's not the right name) on the tree base that went about 6 " into the ground so it wouldn't fall over. Nice. Well done. However, a tornado came through and knocked it over at 2am. Understandable. A couple of days later, it was on it's side again. Oh, brother. He set it up again. The next day it was down again. Do we have vandals? Well my husband, the engineer decided that he could and would fix this problem. OUR tree would no longer be on it's side during the holidays. Below you will see his handiwork. Think this will work? It's been effective since Wednesday. He thought this was a perfectly WONDERFUL solution to our situation. Can you imagine how much our neighbors like it? I laughed and shook my head most of the night. He wondered if maybe we should swath it in red bunting or something. What do think? (I personally think the guy is losing it!!) Quite the attention getter wouldn't you say?

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! Ride around and enjoy the Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Today I went to Dr. Forero at the Kirklin Clinic. He felt the tumor on my back and said it seemed smaller. I'm to continue my medicine and see him again at the end of March! That seems light years away. He reminded me that hormone therapy is much slower than chemotherapy, but it does seem to be working. So, that's the good news.

The above are the facts. Here's the way I feel-somewhat unsettled. How the heck does he know that the tumor has shrunk? He felt the tumor in my back for less than a minute. How does he remember how it felt on Oct 15th? How many people has he examined since then? Why didn't he order a scan to see what difference there really may be? I want something measurable, concrete. I don't want "It seems smaller", I want "It is _% smaller. At this rate there should be no evidence of disease by ____(this date)". Call me impatient, you'd be right.

We leave Jan 4th to go to Houston for an evaluation at MD Anderson. They will do scans there and will have all of my scans from Kirklin Clinic to be able to determine measurable differences. They told us to expect to be in Houston for at least a week. It could be an interesting week on several levels. We'll be in Houston when Alabama and Texas play each other for the National Championship. Totally different thought, does anyone know a great church to visit while in Houston? I have heard through the years of some good ones, but they don't come to mind now.

Thank you for your prayers, calls, care, and concern. It means more than I can tell you!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I go to UAB for my evaluation. They expect to be able to tell me how effective the Femara has been on reducing my tumor size and number. I'm a bit nervous about this. I'd love them to say there is no evidence of disease. There's no chance of that tomorrow however. We can still feel the tumor on my back. It gives me great comfort to know that I'm in the hands of a mighty God , and he knew all of this long, long ago.

House Ready for Christmas? Yikes!

It seems that everyone is ready for Christmas. I see postings of beautifully done rooms, impecably decorated trees and on and on. Well, that just hasn't been me-so far! Normally the weekend after Thanksgiving, I get out the Christmas china and we have at least got the lights on the tree by the Sunday after. Welcome to a new time in our life! My house is a mess! We did get the tree in a few days after we got back from San Francisco. Friday afternoon Dec. 11th!!!! I got lights on HALF our tree. I got up Saturday morning bound and determined to get the tree done.
Little by little it finally happened. Hooray! At long last...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

San Francisco

We had a great week in San Francisco visiting Will, Jenny, and the kids. We did a little bit of sight seeing, but primarily focused on being with the family.

We got to San Francisco Sat night. Will and Jenny had gone to Louisiana to be in a dear friend's wedding. We took over for the babysitter. We were glad when the kids woke up the next morning glad to see us. We managed to get them fed and dressed and almost on time to church.
After church we ate at Crepes and Coffee then back home for naps. After naps we took the kids to a great park We had a view of the skyline of the city from the park. So fun! Will and Jen got in later that night.

We were thrilled to get to go to Annie's Thanksgiving program at school. It's the first time we've ever had the chance to go to any of their programs, games, etc. We were quite impressed. The five year old classes had memorized several songs and a poem. it went off without a hitch. Annie had a speaking part and of course we thought she was the best.

After the program we went to William's flag football game. Envision this-flag football at age three. It was fun to watch as all the little kids scrambled. William made 4 touchdowns! Will told Mr. Rudy (the coach) after the game to keep an eye out for William. Both of his grandfathers had played in the SEC at Auburn. Mr. Rudy was dutifully impressed. Jenny's dad, Jim, was actually Mr. Football in Georgia his senior year in high school. Jim told us he had already done a play-by-play of William's running-haha.

That evening we went to an early Thanksgiving (covered dish) dinner at a ministry called New Door Venture. Will is on the board there and seems to think they do a very good job. The group strives to find young people who have had major problems in their lives and train them in job skills, place them in a job, and teach them about the Lord. I'm not giving a great description, but that is the gist of it.

The next day I crashed. I think I slept 14 hours that night/day!