Not tidy.  Not wrapped with a tiny little bow.  

And so I write…

Today was such a roller coaster of emotions.  

I didn’t shop for Christmas until today.  I just couldn’t.  Everything about it makes me cry.  Makes me angry.  And just fucki== hurts.  

This morning I had to help the Middle get tires on her car.  So I basically kidnapped her for the next three hours as she waited for them to be done.  And we shopped.  Briskly.  

thing is….when you are out and about amongst the chaos of Christmas, because let’s face it…that’s what it is.  Chaos.  You kinda get the energy of it all…..until you look at something to buy and realize you are only buying for two children now.  That honestly is a really shitty part.  The constant reminder that there are now two.  

So as I sit here tonight….debating if I can even wrap these said gifts that I bought.  Sipping the new wine that came today, I just take what I can.  Unwrapped gifts.  Seems fitting actually… kidding, Z would wrap about 80% of the gifts I bought for the past couple years.  I’m just not wrapping them.  So there.  

Life is chaos.  But most the time we bring that shit on ourselves.  

Today three of Zayla’s good friends brought up a car full of toys to Comer’s Children Hospital….her hospital.  She would be pleased.  

“I bring Comer Cheer….for our friend Zayla who loved giving gifts to all the children.  We wanted to continue her tradition!”

And as I tried to navigate this eve before Christmas eve….I was able to get through the day with the love and support from so many.  The Kankakee County Correctional Officers Association chose Team Zayla Foundation to receive one of their donations…..$500! We are so thankful to receive all the support…..we are just trying to make a difference.  In memory of our Z.  Thanks Rich Ball for all you do….it was great to chat with you on topics that mean so much to me and our family.  Childhood cancer robs many families of years with their loved ones.  I know way too many children who have died from cancer.  It changes who you are.  forever.  

I ended up making 118 signs to presale orders.  It was so therapeutic for me to have this to focus on.  Because honestly, the more I can keep busy, the less time for my mind to keep running.  I will be making signs again come next Fall….was a great way to keep me focused and raise money for a great cause.  

This year, St Jude’s Children Hospital is the recipient for all the money raised.  I don’t have an exact total just yet….but I know it is well over $2500 that the signs raised, plus the Mary Gierke family donated over $1400 to our cause as well….Mary just recently passed away from colon cancer. I can’t put into words how touched I am to have others reach out and want to know how to help children with cancer.  

Motivates me to keep going.  She may be gone from this earth….but she will continue to make an impact.  I promise.  


Some things never change….

Some things never change…..or do they?!?!

Social media has a way of making us see things.  For me?  I feel like I am seeing things with a different lens.  A foggy lens.  A lens that I have to wipe tears away from in order to somewhat see.

Lately I have been seeing the battle language.  Now, when you are in the thick of battle this language can be inspiring….uplifting….and often gives hope.  Words like….Stay Strong, Don’t give up, or Fight!! This battle language has a different meaning to myself.  Now.

Oh yeah, I use to raise my fists and want to fight with the best….Hell, Zay’s mantra forever was, ‘Fight Like a Girl’.  But when Zayla passed away, I often thought to myself….do other’s feel/think that she gave up? Or that she didn’t deserve to beat the monster? Or that there was something that we just didn’t do right?  Didn’t believe strong enough??


I would find myself getting angry….not only with myself, and the circumstances but the audacity of others to make the statement stay strong, or fight harder…..Like the cancer patient isn’t going to try like hell to survive??!?  Or the grieving parent isn’t going to keep breathing? or stay strong? Because we don’t have a freaking choice!!! …..I know there are moments that I thought this could be true, but a broken heart does indeed keep beating.  Thing is, we all have a shelf life.  Everyone is going to die someday.  We just never think we are going to outlive our children.  It’s not natural.  And it is so unbelievably unfair.

Today my FB memory from last year was a long post about Childhood Cancer (imagine that).  I am going to share it today, because some things never change…..the heartbreaking thing that changed since last year was that my daughter isn’t here anymore.  She “won” her forever cure….just not the way we all had hoped.

*****************************************************Not sure if all my Childhood Cancer Awareness posts have “lost” any of you….September is especially hard and emotional for me. You see, I can only vaguely remember what life was like before. Before I heard that terrible 6 letter word. Cancer.

We coasted for several years without the constant “bad” thoughts of cancer…but yet, it was always still there. Always in the back of your mind. Other cancer moms/dads get it. Once you have been forced to endure this new normal….everything changes.

That boy I posted about last week…whose story was so similar to Zayla’s. He died. At home. On hospice. 14 years old. And that could be ANY of your children/grandchildren/godchild etc… Cancer strikes 1 out of every 285 children. Scary. (And now we know it was also our sweet Zayla’s fate as well)

That being said, I am going to let you all in on something. I am at times selfish. There are a lot of things that I just really don’t give two shits about. But I am recognizing my faults and taking the advice that we attract who we are. So if you are angry, you attract anger. If you are happy, you attract happiness. Deep, I know.

My goal is to strengthen myself by defining positive traits that I value most and want to see in others. So, from here on out, if all you do is bitch and moan about this and that….I will have to say farewell. I want to attract positivity, so therefore I must surround myself with positiveness.

Most posts that I find myself reading on Facebook that are mean and hateful are things that mean NOTHING compared to a family burying their child too soon. Get over yourselves people. Be grateful that your family is intact. Start taking the mantra that somewhere, someone has it much shittier than you. Because it is true. It can always be worse.

I will continue my awareness and action posts for the remainder of this month. It IS what I care about. In ten days Ms Zayla will be having her MRI. We are accepting any and all positive prayers, juju, pleasantries….you get the picture. This is an important MRI (as all are really) but this is one year later. One year is a big deal in the brain tumor time frame.

And if you have been challenged to do the Whipping Childhood Cancer….Zayla LOVES to watch these videos. Call it inspiration sprinkled with some humor. It is support that helps her get through the “crappy” days. I just want donations for research. A gentler treatment that cures would be nice.

Miss you baby girl.


A Letter to you……

Dear Zayla…..

Woke up this morning to your sissy cutting and prepping the quilt she is making.  This one is of your favorite t-shirts.  She actually is going to make three… for each of us girls.  I picked my favorite shirts that you would wear…..

I only woke a couple times last night…..still try to wish myself back to sleep and to dream of you.  It didn’t happen….or if it did, I don’t remember.  Either way, it sucks. 

Today is September 1st…..your favorite day!!  You would look forward to this day.  Always making your gold ribbons and sharing them at school….or trying to sell them to raise money for research.  I loved your passion….it’s what pushes me everyday.  Was contacted twice yesterday about two local childhood cancer events.  You would be so proud!!  People are listening….not only are they aware, but they are doing something!!!  The Herscher High School volleyball team are having a Go Gold event October 4th.  You know that is because of you my sweet child……your impact. Your sweet sweet smile and the way you changed lives.  Including mine.  And the Herscher kids football league is also hosting a fundraiser event for childhood cancer.  

So we push on…..because like the song verse by  Lord Huron states, “What good is living the life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place?”  Keep moving forward.  

I have the next six days off work…..sure wish you were here to help me prepare for our 1st Annual Bag Tourney.  I can see you making your cake pops….or helping me cut vegetables….or yelling at your sisters for not helping  more.  Ugh.  Can I just have the chaos back???  Tired of the loneliness…..

Love you baby girl.

Miss you terribly. 

I have contributed to……

…..Slacktivism.  What is slacktivism??  It is the illusion that you are helping a charity or cause in some way by performing a task that is easy and that requires no real sacrifice in either time or money.  What the real problem of slacktivism is… leads the person to believe they have genuinely carried out a charitable act…..which can lead to the person less likely to follow up this act with an actual charitable act.  (Taken from the website ).

What does this all mean?!??!?  In the world of social media I am guilty of asking all of my ‘friends” to Go Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Many, many, many of you have done so.  And we all get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that we are actually DOING something.  Reality? Not much is really being done.  And I am guilty.

What can you DO???  Take ACTION!!  Donate.  Join us in the Walk to Remember and Honor Saturday September 12th in Bourbonnais, thanks to the AshleyCan Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Go here to register:


Do you want to know what a donation or participation to AshleyCan gives you???  A non-profit organization that truly IS non-profit.  There are no salaries to Presidents or CEO’s.  Can the American Cancer Society say that?  Nope.  How about the Susan G. Komen?  Nope.  In actuality, 95% of all non-profit organizations can NOT say that they do NOT pay their CEO’s or workers.  I’m confused.  I guess I just don’t understand properly what the term non-profit means. Because someone is profiting off these organizations.  AshleyCan Foundation gives to cancer families in need.  Do you realize the impact financially to a childhood cancer family??  It is devastating.  And truly, that should be the last thing families have to worry about… and bills.


May I also suggest others way to take ACTION???  How about donating to a reputable organization.  Here are my suggestions:  St. Baldrick’s, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, St. Jude’s, and Noah’s Light Foundation.  The last one is close to my heart.  Noah’s Light Foundation is specifically raising money for research to cure pediatric brain cancer……in ways that are innovative and new.  I am going to be participating in the Disney Glass Slipper run in February 2016, and I am participating for Noah’s Light Foundation.  Please consider donating at


I also want to suggest that I realize many people do not have the resources to donate.  How about donating your time?  Sign up and do an Alex’s Lemonade Stand at a local store.  Ask your schools what are they doing to help find a cure for children fighting cancer.  Ask your communities to go the extra step.  And continue to share the Gold.  The more Gold we see, the more Awareness our kids get.  Talk about childhood cancer to anyone and everyone.


Finally, we are still awaiting what is the next plan for our sweet girl.  Lurie’s Childhren’s Hospital in Chicago will be our new treatment place….we are just awaiting their review of Zayla’s medical history and MRI scans.  It has been almost two months since Zayla has had any treatment.  This gives me mixed feelings.  I am grateful to see her feeling so good.  Going to school everyday.  Feeling normal.  Doing normal teenager stuff.  On the other hand, I am worried.  We have gone almost two months of not fighting this beast.  I want answers.  I want action.  I want a forever cure for my girl.  Is that too much to ask for????

Take on the day…..Go Gold….and do something for the kids fighting cancer.