Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a break.

finally. after months and months of spending most of my time in the river house we are heading to kentucky tomorrow. and i love kentucky. i only lived there for a little bit. but man it has a special place in my heart. we were not anticipating being able to travel with cancer. did not want to risk it. but my doctor said its cool. as long as i feel up for it we are good. he did give me a little antibiotic...just in case. and i can not wait to get out of here for a bit. we are going to celebrate the season with family. mostly justin's family. but my sister lives there now too and my other sister is making the drive from michigan. its going to be great. we will bring in the new year together and have another very important party. miss ava is turning one. not until next week but we are going to party a little early. i have chemotherapy on the 6th so i will probably not be in any condition to host a party. so sara offered. and we can not believe she will be one. but that is for another post.

its been a busy few days which is strange since i was snowed in until this morning. i had not left the house since friday. but for some reason it has been real busy. mostly because ava is not napping as much and therefore i can not get anything done. she likes to be attached to me as much as possible. which is sweet. really it is because i love that little girl. but it slows everything down. so i am done for today. we are packed. ready to go. crossed off everything on the to do list. best feeling ever.

almost time for top chef all stars.

i feel pretty good. tired. but i am learning to handle tired. and we are off...

little ava after her bath. thanks leslie b.

Monday, December 27, 2010

our own little christmas miracle.

yup. it happened. i enjoyed christmas. not only enjoyed it. but loved it. i did not miss a thing. i even went to church on christmas eve. are you kidding me? it usually takes me three days to shower let alone get ready and actually leave the house. but its true. we did it. and sweet ava was definitely that child in the back row who randomly squealed and possibly yelled when she saw another baby in the congregation. she loves babies. its precious. and i was that mom who did not think it was distracting at all. i thought it was adorable.


chemo was its usual self. i threw up and i slept. came home and slept more. i actually can barely remember thursday at this point. i was sick. but not as horrible as last time. oh, i forgot we opened a few christmas gifts thursday morning before chemo. just in case i was too sick over the weekend. ava got a cabbage patch doll from her daddy and loved it. it was a nice way to start our chemo day. we decided to stop at starbucks and pick up coffee for my nurse and for ourselves. i started crying on the way. but tried to hide it. justin clearly noticed. and i told him that i was sorry for how i have been acting. i just get sad sometimes. depressed too. i am insecure. i am gaining weight and my hair is falling out. and we are about to go to kentucky to see family and i am a little nervous to see everyone. he assured me that i am beautiful.  which is nice...but still. i cried at chemo too. my first time crying there. its just sad. and i thought about an email i got from my good friend the night before chemo about how proud she is of me for even getting out of the car to go to chemo. i never thought about that because we were not given a choice. so we drive there. we get out. and we get chemo. and we go home. but we only have three left. we got this.

friday i got up and felt pretty good. we went to starbucks. and opened more presents. watched movies. played with new toys. went to church. ordered carrabbas to go. it was perfect. really it was a miracle. seriously. thank you to those of you who prayed specifically for that. it happened. justin even said to me in bed that night..."babe, you looked stunning tonight. seriously beautiful. so good that maybe people think we are lying about you even having cancer." we are not lying about my cancer.

christmas day. opened presents. i felt ok. when ava napped i napped and woke up feeling sick. even when justin came into our bedroom with his arms full of christmas gifts (someone dropped of five bags full of gifts for us...unbelievable. we do not know who you are but thank you). i was too sick to open them. i was the most sick on christmas day but still better than normal. so we were real thankful for that. ava liked her gifts. but still seems to prefer to play with our laptops, cell phones, and anything she is not supposed to have. later that night while watching a movie we were given the gift of a white christmas. which is rare for chespeake. and the snow did not stop. it snowed and snowed...

we were snowed in on sunday. since chesapeake has like five snow plows for the entire city we were encouraged to stay off the streets. so we listened. and stayed inside. it was a relaxing day of playing, eating, napping, reading, movies, etc. justin even made homemade marinara sauce for our pasta at dinner. and it was good. i gave ava a bath while justin cleaned up dinner. since giving her a bath takes less energy. and there is nothing like walking out of your daughter's bedroom after reading, singing, and saying prayers to see your entire house. yes the entire house cleaned up. there were even a few candles lit in the kitchen. which is my favorite. there is something special about ava being in bed, the day is done, the house is picked up (for the most part), and we head upstairs. knowing that not much else is required of us for this day.with only the christmas tree lights on. i make some coffee and we eat peppermint stick ice cream (which i had forgotten we even had!) and say to justin that this weekend was a dream for me. in lots of ways. mostly because i was not too sick. and because it was our first christmas with ava. and i love being with my family. just us three. and that we were snowed in so justin could not leave. which makes him stir crazy but i love it. and he really handled it very well. it was nice to be home. because i love our home. and it was nice to not fake it. but genuinely feel well enough to enjoy everything christmas as to offer.

and we documented it. see link below.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

it just sucks. (sorry mom you hate that word).

my mom hates the word sucks. but since i am 27 and an adult i feel good about it being the title for tonight. since that is the best way to describe how i feel right now.

tonight was awesome. well today too. it was family day. running last minute christmas errands. getting lunch. just being together. then we took sweet little ava to see this christmas light display at the botanical gardens. it was precious. she loved it. we took her out of her car seat so she was up front with us. oh, man she is such a big girl. we were going 5 mph. so do not worry. we were going to do presents tonight but i fell asleep on the way home so we will do them at some point this weekend. i was just too tired.

4 more. and man this is the saddest one for me. i hate that i will be sick for christmas. i seriously hate it. i have never prayed this much. as much as i did today. just begging the Lord that i would not be miserable after this treatment tomorrow. it could happen. i know it. there is just such joy for me during this time of year and chemo just has its way of stealing that joy. not all of it. but some of it. i even thought today...what if we just did not show up tomorrow. what would they really do to me? but i decided that would not be the best choice. so we will go. i will do it. we will do it. me and justin. we will endure treatment number nine tomorrow. together. because that is was what we do. we do this thing together. and its good and its hard. and sometimes we mess up. but we are in this.

pray that tomorrow we experience a little miracle. one that includes me not throwing up at treatment. and then not throwing up and feeling horrible for the next five days. without being cliche...that would seriously be the best gift ever. and i mean ever.

enjoy this season. this amazing time where we celebrate jesus and his birth. and his life. the life that changed everything.

Monday, December 20, 2010

i like monday.

on mondays we always get a ton of mail. and i love it. so thank you.

we had a fun and restful weekend in the outer banks. it was nice to get away for a little bit. and shop. and eat. and play games. and talk. some of my most favorite things. minus games. just kidding. and ava liked it too. even though she slept in the bathroom. she is so good. and is getting so close to walking!

justin and i went out last night. saw black swan. and he hated it. but before the movie we talked on the way and at dinner about our marriage. and how in august when everything happened we were so in sync. and in love. and on the same page. but it has not always been like that since. besides that we have never stopped loving each other. its been so so good. and so so hard. so last night we talked about some good stuff but was tough too. respect. listening. leadership. being kind. serving. compassion. and how we both saw august as the one of the sweetest times ever in our marriage. so we apologized. and both shared what we would work on. and where we want to go from here. so now its about doing that. and today was good. and i am thankful for that. i do not want to ever be married to anyone else.

tomorrow we see the doctor. and thursday is chemo. we hate that. but thankful that we are going to have a relaxing and restful christmas with just the three of us. praying i am not as sick this time so i can enjoy it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

it feels a little crazy here. but in a good way.

since wednesday i have been back to me. feeling good. tired but that's normal. its so nice to feel well enough to really play with ava oppose to laying on the couch and simply supervising her. we have been staying inside the past few days. which i love. justin gets a little stir crazy. but the weather was actually not so good here yesterday and he was able to come home early. love it. but christmas cards has been my major endeavor since they arrived a few days ago. overwhelmed to say the least. but good. i kinda like it. last night i finished about 150 while sitting upstairs with justin listening to christmas music. something else i love. but i took the time yesterday to go through every card we have been given since i got sick. wow. i have saved everything. and i wanted to count them but i forgot because i ended up reading each of them again. and i was overwhelmed with emotion. it brought me back to august. when everything seemed so scary with so many unknowns. what would having cancer look like? feel like? how would it impact our lives? could we do it? what would it all mean for ava? and for justin? and for our marriage? and for our life? i think i like how it is now much better. now a few months later we have the answers to some of those questions. and they are good. not everything has been good. or easy. or even fun. clearly. i still have cancer. i still have 4 more treatments. and until we get the results of my pet scan in feburary we do live with some unknowns. and that is not easy. but we did not sign up for easy. nothing about following Jesus is really easy. but good and hard are okay. and we get that more now than ever. but mostly cancer really has been such a gift. its changed everything. something not everyone gets. but we did. and so i see it as a real gift. not all parts of it. but most of it. and i think that is how it works most of the time. you get some or lots of bad with the good. but it makes the good that much sweeter and that much more precious. so i am thankful for that. thanks for reading this blog. and walking in this valley with us. its made all the difference.

and this week i have received more emails than i have in a while. and i appreciate it more than i know how to express. thanks for sharing your life with me. it is so humbling. really it is.

off to the outer banks for the weekend with some dear friends. i love that in the midst of cancer. we are still living. really living. and in some ways feel more alive than ever. not everyday. but today i do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a little something we wrote.

a sweet girl emailed me and asked if we would write a little something for a newsletter. she is the campaign coordinator for the Hampton Roads (area where we live) Light the Night walks which raises money for blood cancers. Its through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

so here it is... 

had never worried much about my health. I don't think many of us do until we have to. For me it started with leg cramps, night sweats, and pain in my right rib. Pain I assumed was my body changing post pregnancy. My husband, Justin and I had welcomed our sweet little Ava into the world in January 2010. I figured the pain I was having was normal and I was not very concerned about it. We were headed out of town for the month of August so right before we left I figured I should at least get a physical and maybe get some pain medication for my rib and leg pain. That doctor appointment started what would become a whirlwind of appointments that would lead to a diagnosis we never imagined. After a day of ultrasounds, x-rays, and blood work we got that call. The one where my doctor says, "no rush, but can you come into my office by 5pm (its 4:30pm) and be sure to bring your husband." I dropped the phone and began to weep. I had held it together all day never imagining anything serious would come out of this. It was just a little pain. Well for us the diagnosis was Lymphoma (nodular sclerosis hodgkin's lymphoma). Justin and I walk out to our car and look at each other and say," we will beat this," but we are numb. We know one thing. God is good and we trust His plan for our lives not our own. Within the next few weeks we find out its stage 4 due to the cancer being found in my chest, right rib, and hip. Chemotherapy begins two days later where I will start my 12 rounds of treatment. Every other Thursday beginning in August and ending in February 2011.

Days after my diagnosis I woke up in the middle of the night and started a little blog. A way to keep our friends and family involved in this new journey. Within days we received an overwhelming outpour of cards, emails, flowers, gifts, and phone calls. It was honestly incredible. It was such a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. For many people, near and far that did not know what to do or what to say our dear family and friends (some strangers too) in Kentucky and Tennessee rallied around us and raised money, made t-shirts, created team libby bracelets, and walked in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Night the Light walk. As we received pictures from the walk. A giant card from our family in northern Kentucky with pictures from the race. Money that was raised. T-shirts mailed to us. We did not feel alone. People were in this with us. And that has made all the difference.

I have completed eight treatments and I have four more to go. At this point we have been given news that my chemotherapy is working and the cancer in my body is not only not growing, but barely exists! God is good. We have experienced much fear and heartache and still do today. As this has been a scary road for us. In the midst of it all we have experienced the love of God in a way we never knew existed. I see life differently now and I think that is a gift. Our marriage is different. The way I love our daughter looks and feels different. Everything has changed. In such a short time. And I am so thankful for that. I did not know anything about Lymphoma before I was diagnosed or about the Light the Night walk. But its such a beautiful picture of family, friends, and strangers coming together for a common goal: to fight this deadly disease.

From my husband, Justin...

What can you say if you have an amazing and extraordinary wife? Not much. You can just be thankful and hope not to mess it up. Many of you husbands know what I'm talking about. As a spouse with a wife who has cancer, I have felt powerless. As a husband, I have felt overwhelmed. As a caregiver, I have felt inadequate. As a Christian, I have felt ALIVE. It's amazing what God will do through our weakness, and He has done much. He has showed me, for one thing, what an amazing wife I have been blessed with.

Mostly I am in awe of Libby. She has endured through pain upon pain, triumphing over despair by continuing to read, pray, dream, and well... blog. Her blog and the attention has reminded her of what I always tried to remind her -- that she has a voice. Her voice includes words and experiences that are being used by God to affect people in transformational ways. I don't have much advice for spouses out there, but if I could say anything, it's this: remind your wife/husband that in the midst of feeling run down, beat up, sick, and tired, that they still have a shot of using cancer. That is can be used for the greatest purpose of a human life: to Glorify God Himself.

Libby's cancer has not been wasted, and darling, I have never been more proud of anyone in my life who was able to transcend a situation and use it for good. Well done Lib -- I could not have done it as well as you with such profound beauty. (Also, you really do look amazing in your hat :) (i have a bald spot that justin just informed me off as i am in hair loss now i wear hats).

We do have cancer -- but we have each other, and we have Jesus. So in that, we have everything. God Bless you cancer patients and spouses this holiday season. Regardless of where you are at, EXPLORE, O please explore the idea of how not to waste this disease, though terrifying as it is. And may you feel the grace that is yours in Christ this Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

its snowing here.

i am sitting in our bedroom in bed. my favorite place. well sorta. we decided that when i am done with cancer we are getting new bedding or something. a new fresh start. but i am looking out our windows onto the water and its snowing. and its beautiful. since i am from Michigan i am used to snow. but having lived in Virginia for a few years i enjoy the small dusting that we get here oppose to what Michigan has to offer. i kept bringing ava up to the window this morning to show her the snow and even caught her on video. but she did not seem to really care. i tried.

it was a tough tough weekend. the worst weekend with cancer yet. i do not recall feeling this miserable since my meta port was put in back in august. i am not sure why this round of chemo was so bad. but for whatever reason it was and it was hard. and i got sad. thankfully rose was here and she was a huge help with ava, laundry, and cleaning up. we needed her. i muster all my strength for ava. to lay her down for her nap. or feed her lunch. or give her a bath. or lay on the couch while she plays. and put her to bed at night. my most favorite thing. thankfully her little bug only last 24 hours. it was the first time she has been sick since she was born. and now i get it. i understand why its so hard for moms and dads to see their kids sick. you are so helpless. you try whatever you can to comfort them. or take the pain away. but she is doing fine and has since saturday. so thankful. its tough when we are both sick.

seeing ava sick on friday did give me a little glimpse into what this must be like for him. justin that is. watching me get chemo. get my blood drawn. my hair fall out. my throwing up. and the constant discomfort i felt this weekend. i hate it for you. and i know you hate it for me. when i am sick in bed and everything seems a bit foggy post chemo. i always have vivid images of you coming into bed and asking me how i am. if i need anything. almost begging me to think of something. so maybe. even if for a minute you can help ease the pain. thanks for being here. even if being here is all you can do. its enough.  so thank you.

last night i went to bed early. but before falling asleep i went on the internet for a bit. thought i would check out matilda jane. its clothes for little girls. and started to pick out a couple dresses for ava. then thought about it some more. buying ava clothes will not make me feel better. or will it? i came to the conclusion that it wont. i do love there clothes. and i may still buy her some for christmas. but its more than that. its more about the absolute loss of control that i/we have been given since august. the hardest thing about my cancer. the absolute hardest thing (minus me dying. since at this point we have every reason to believe that my chemo is working and come february i will be cancer free. yay). is that nobody asked me. nobody asked me if i wanted cancer. but mostly its the physical and emotional roller coaster. feel good one week. then horrible the next. totally feel like myself. then the next day too sick to get out of bed. it is hard. and this weekend made that real clear. i feel like we are really experiencing what its like to not make plans...too far in advance. or how often we have to cancel things. or think we are the ones running the show. i am not wanting to be dramatic here. i just think justin and i have really realized how this aspect of cancer has been trying for us.

he came into our room last night and i told him about my matilda jane dilemma. that really had nothing to do with clothes for ava. but how i have seen in myself how easy and how temporary it is to want to fix everything with stuff. and do not get me wrong. not even for a second...there is joy in it. and the gifts. the flowers. the packages. the meals. the money. the pictures. they have made a very difficult time joyful. to feel loved by people. by family. friends. and strangers. who care enough to take the time to send something. it has been one of the greatest gifts in getting cancer. but last night i caught myself looking to things. maybe a dress for ava would make me less nauseous. but it wont. the feeling is fleeting. its not deep joy. not eternal joy. so we prayed. something i am embarrassed to share that we have not done a lot together. sometimes its all a little too real for us. i would rather pray alone. just me and God so no one can hear what i am pleading and begging for. because the pain is too deep. but last night as my husband knelt beside me in our bed and prayed. i was given a glimpse of his heart. and what he is asking for. and what his pain looks like. and saying it out loud is hard. because then you know its real. but thankful that we have a God who wants to carry this for us. we simply need to give it to him. and last night we did.

Friday, December 10, 2010

8 down and 4 to go. and two sick girls in the house.

to help with my anxiety and throwing up before, during, and after chemo my dr. prescribed me some medicine. and its magically. i only threw up once at chemo and in addition i slept through most of it. perfect. chemo itself was fine. and it went fast. and its one more done and out of my life forever.

when we arrived home from chemo...lots of fun things were waiting. justin's mom had arrived safe and sound from ky. she will be here until monday to help with ava and to celebrate christmas together a little early. and she has been a ton of help as i am feeling much worse than normal. oh, back to the fun things. some flowers has been delivered. thank you. and ava's new pink anywhere chair arrived in the mail from her papa and oma. and her new car seat from pop pop came too. big day for little ava! and she was sound asleep when we got home and then decided to take a 2.5 hour nap. perfect. the rest of the day is a bit foggy. but i do recall rose bathed her. and i put her to bed. and then we all rested upstairs.

today has been hard. ava has decided to throw up both her bottles. one when she woke up. and again after drinking some water and eating some cereal. and then one more time during her morning nap. ahhh. she ate lunch fine. i went to bed and rose played with her upstairs. but she said she wanted to be held and  was a little more fussy than normal. two things about that. ava rarely likes to be held. and she is rarely fussy. but she has no other symptoms. so praying praying its just a one day upset tummy. its just a sick place. my stomach is killing me. i am so nauseous. and i have taken every medication i am allowed to take. so sleep is my only relief. and i am off to do so. this is just hard. its hard because i need to rest and recover but i want to be with my baby too. and although rose is here to help it is hard for me to lay in bed if i hear ava crying. so i got up to bath her after she threw up. and read to her and sang to her before her nap. got up to help with lunch. and then held her and laid her down for her afternoon nap. its hard for me to allow people to help sometimes. but i need to. because we need the help and i know that. its all just hard today. and i just want ava to feel better. honestly that is all i want.

off to sleep. praying both the girls in the ryder house wake up feeling like new.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

there is something about this time of year.

my aunts had to head back to chicago. but many memories were made. it was restful and peaceful. i had to get a shot as my wbc count was a little low. 420 and normal is like 5000. but it was painless. mostly. there is something so interesting about this time of year. it brings something out of me. deep inside. in the midst of the joy i feel a little sad. not sure why. maybe because emotionally i am in a thousand places. but its still good stuff. well mostly good. my aunt mary bought ava a little christmas lullaby cd. ava sings to it. and i do too but with actual words. but something moves inside me when i hear...oh, holy night and what child is this...and it makes me happy for our life. our family. and without being selfish my own life. mostly because i have never really thought much about my health. and the immense gift that it is to be healthy and strong and young. and although i am still those things i am not as healthy as i thought i was before august. and that brings a lot of tears. some are sad ones. and some are fearful ones. and some are happy ones because i love this time of year. i love how our upstairs feels. i love that ava has a stocking. i love the garland that is wrapped around our banister. and i love my christmas wreath from target. it was a little treasure i found in the towel aisle. someone had clearly changed there mind about purchasing it because as i went to grab a navy hand towel for the bathroom...huh a christmas wreath in the same aisle. and snatched up.

the timing of me getting sick is so interesting to me. started in august and ending in february. so many special times fall in those months. justin's birthday. my birthday. thanksgiving. christmas. new years. and ava's birthday. and like everything else in our life they will all forever take on a new meaning. and because we are still in the midst of it all i am not sure about a lot of things. but i see the timing as a gift. just another way we see christ in all of this. every year we celebrate my birthday and i am cancer free it will always call for a party. same for justin and for ava. we now see health as such a gift. something we are never guaranteed. so when we have health cherish it. i did not even know i had to before. but all this... did something big in me.

i tried to explain to justin how i am feeling tonight when we were giving ava a bath. because during her dinner i turned on the christmas cd. and i sat in front of the sink. looking out our window where it was dark. so i could not see anything. and as some tears streamed down my face while listening to what child is this...i knew tonight would be etched in my memory forever. and if not at least i wrote about. but my soul feels tender and weak. but in a good way. like i can't do this without you. this little child. jesus. wow am i glad you were born. so as i think about christmas. and think about jesus. i turned around to look at ava and thought to myself...i am really glad jesus was born. and that because of him i am not alone in this. even when i feel so alone. so tired. and so done. done with all of this cancer stuff. i hold tight to what is true. and that even though i hate everything about thursday. i am trying to be thankful for it because if it is doing what its supposed to than after febuary 2011 i will never have to do it again. and that sounds real nice.

we are upstairs now. and about to watch a movie. time for date night. at home style.

Monday, December 6, 2010

our birthday tradition. a few weeks late.

justin got home last night from camp. all us girls picked him up and we headed to high street for italian. we celebrated our birthdays a little late and kept ava up a bit later than usual and she did great. we sat at a table near the christmas tree so she was a bit mesmerized by the twinkly lights. last year we spent my birthday in chicago with my two aunts that are here visiting us now. we ate a little italian place there for my birthday too so now its a tradition. but last year our older italian server personally sang me happy birthday. but first imagine an exaggerated italian accent. a man with a larger belly (not judging). singing...."haaaapppppy birrrrthday dear lllliiiibbbbbbyyyy..." loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear. it was classic. we still talk about it. since he could not be there with us this year...justin improvised. it was perfect. and before we left for dinner i decided to imitate it myself...but instead sang happy birthday to little ava. well she was not too sure what to think of it. so as i held her and sang she buried her head into my chest as deep as she could go. not laughing. not crying. just not sure what to do with it. but either way it was hilarious to us. oh, sweet ava.

it was a relaxing weekend. lots of coffee. pajamas. meals out. a little shopping. and a few movies. i love our upstairs at night when the lights are off and just the christmas tree lights up the room. its comfy and cozy. and its nice to feel good. like myself. but today is more or less the last day of that. shot tomorrow. chemo thursday. but i am okay. as the end is beginning to be in sight for us. but we will enjoy today. a little walk through the chesapeake arboretum is next on the agenda.

and so i do not forget how i am feeling today...i am thankful for my energy level. not thankful for my thinning hair. but i got a few hats to keep me warm.

and there are a few of you out there who have not sent us your address. please feel free to do so.

Friday, December 3, 2010

a girls weekend.

my aunts from chicago are here. and its been great. justin is out of town for the weekend. so its just the girls. and ava is loving it. more attention for her. on monday night when justin was at yl club and ava was asleep. i decided to work on something i have been putting off for months. i am not sure why but i have. when ava was born i was given a calender for her to document different milestones for each month of her first year of life. i did a real good job from january to july. july 20th to be specific. but then it stopped. because our life stopped right about then. or just shifted focus for a bit. so when i opened the calender and saw the blank pages. august. september. october. november. my heart sank. and i wept. hard. i just hated that i felt like i had missed those months with ava. i didn't. i know that. but i hated that i could not remember the exact day she crawled. or when she first waved. or the day she said "dada" for the first time. but i pulled it together and just started writing. trying to remember everything. when it happened (ish) and i am okay with that. and thankfully i really did not miss anything. because i am with her everyday. and that is a gift in itself. i just hate how quickly you forget the little things. and man i love this little girl. and i swore i would not forget anything. and i would nurse her until she was one. and i would make her homemade baby food. but life happened. the way it does sometimes. things go differently then you planned. or things happen that you never would plan in a million years. but that's life. things change. they do not go the way we thought. but in our fear and despair...we are surprised. and God moves through it all. and everything is different. but its good. not all of it. but some of it. justin and i were talking last night over dinner. and because we were connecting and i wanted to keep talking i unknowingly gave ava more graham crackers than any person. let alone an eleven month old should eat. but he said...."babe. we never thought we would spend half of our daughters first year of life going to chemo every other thursday. and thinking about death. and experiencing what we have. but in the middle of it all we now know how much God loves us. how he is for us. even in all the darkness and pain. he is so for us." and its true. 

the ryder family of three has officially decorated the river house for christmas. our stockings are hung. the tree is up. its fake and its too small for the room. but we will be purchasing a new larger tree at an after christmas sale. but until next year our little tree will work. and i love it. ava found an ornament in the pile of decor and it was a bell and she rang that thing. and she loved it! so we are ready for the season. and this season we are grateful for many things. but mainly that my cancer is shrinking. and that i am not bald...yet. and for ava. and that i love my husband more than i ever thought possible. really. 

and we have a little family adventure coming up...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

we have a little favor to ask.

needless to say our family has been overwhelmed with emails, cards, packages, money, gifts, meals, texts, babysitters, housecleaners, a golf outing, visitors, flowers, phone calls, etc since i got sick. wow! it has been unbelievable. really. our little family would like to send you something. not that we could ever repay you, just a christmas gesture, something for the season. to thank all of you who have done one or all of the things listed above to bless us. we want to do this. so to make it a bit easier on justin and i could you please email me at with your name and address. and please put address in the subject line. this would be such a gift to us. thank you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

something peaceful.

there is something peaceful about me sitting in bed on our laptop and justin asleep next to me with the nbc rockefeller special on tv. his cold has gotten a lot worse tonight. so after some night time medicine he was out. but ava. well little ava on the other hand was put to bed at 7:30pm and i totally thought she was sleeping until i looked at the monitor only to see her little hands waving in the air. she has not cried. not once. but now i am worried her little cold is getting worse because she has not fallen asleep yet. ok i just looked over and i think she is sleeping...

i have been thinking about august a lot today. a girl emailed me who is in the midst of her own lymphoma diagnosis. same age. married. and with a two week old little boy. my heart broke when i read her email. i started crying as i wrote her back. it brought it all back. all the emotion. the fear. the pain. the anger. all the unknowns. wanting answers. begging for them but being asked to wait. august was by far the hardest month of my life. and even as i type this out. i am realizing that i was a different person then. i literally do not feel the same anymore. and i can't explain it. not in a bad way or even a good way i guess. it just does not seem like what we are living right now is even our life. and august. well that seems like a hundred years ago. and certainly it did not happen to us. i bet this sounds strange. because i am actually processing this as i type this. or actually not really processing anything, but maybe just beginning to for the first time. what this means. how i feel. what has changed. where we go from here. and then i remember. we are still living it. we are 7 treatments in with 5 more to go. we are just over halfway. i think in many ways since hearing that the chemo is working its been easier to not take all this so seriously. because i am "fine."and i guess tonight when i was driving home i we are still in this. in the middle of it. and this is still real. and we still need to be on our knees. how easy it is to lose sight when your prayers get answered. we prayed and prayed. we begged and begged for the chemo to work and for the cancer to stop growing. and it did. and its working. and i still want to live with the deep dependence on christ that i did before we knew if the chemo was working. and tonight i realized that i have not. that since we heard the news from my pet scan things have looked and felt different. but i desire to trust and depend on the lord regardless. not only when its good or when its really really hard. but no matter what.

we are sick.

ava and i are sick. she had a runny nose this weekend and has passed it on to me. but along with the runny nose i also got a sore throat. headache. and overall achy feeling. thank you sweet ava. we kinda like when she is sick because then she cuddles with us. we do not really like it when she is sick though. and justin may also be getting it as well. we are drinking lots of orange juice and eating lot of soup. and we have tissues available in every room. just in case. not sure what it means when you catch a cold and you have cancer. i know i am more susceptible to getting sick and maybe it takes me a little longer to get better. i will email my nurse today and find out.

i am feeling basically back to normal since chemo. just the usual exhaustion and now this little cold.

i wanted to buy a new christmas tree on saturday. but that never happened. so on sunday i tried to decorate the house. but all i got done was some garland on the banister going upstairs. and then i got too tired. so i laid down. but we decided thursday night we will decorate the house. and i am in search of my first real wreath for the front door. this house deserves to be decorated well for christmas and with everything going on we need a little holiday cheer around the house. and along with that i did a little christmas shopping online yesterday. it was cyber monday and i got some deals. got a few little things for ava and something for my niece and three nephews. i like shopping for them. its more fun than buying for adults i think. i do not shop online very much...but it sure has been nice since i spend a lot of time in our bed.

justin just texted me. he is in dc for the day. "crap...i'm sick as well. feeling better?" so now officially the entire ryder family is sick. great. at least ava has remained real happy and sleeping great despite her little cold. she is awake now. and she is yelling...momma....momma. wow. there is nothing like that in the world. those sweet words from your child. now its time to begin the day.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

7 down 5 to go.

chemo went fine yesterday. my mom came for a little bit so she could picture where we go. it was nice. i got sick right when i got there and then when we left. but its done. five more to go. i can do this. my parents had to head back to michigan when we got home. so i went to sleep and justin took ava on a little dinner date. he loved it. my parents made for a wonderful thanksgiving. sitting on the porch was a dream. and the food was good. and it was pretty healthy too. except that my favorite part of the meal was the stuffing. wow i never knew how much i loved that stuff.

chemo days are always a bit of a blur. but justin got home with ava around 4:30 and she took a nap until 6:30pm. good girl. thought it would mess up her schedule but she went down fine for justin at 8:30pm. thank the lord for ava. she will always have a special place in our heart because of this time with cancer. she has been the greatest part. our bedroom is right off the hallway so its pretty central. i cracked my door open so i could listen to ava and justin while he made her dinner. its precious. there is nothing like it for a mom to hear her husband loving their child the way i heard justin last night. it was a peaceful night. a somber night. no guests. it was dark. the house was cleaned up. thanks justin. i was resting and justin was in the midst of a perfect night with his dear ava. it made me realize how often i steal that from him. without even meaning too. that time with her i mean. its easy for me to just do it. because i want to. but he does too. and when i am resting from chemo and justin gets to take care of her. just him. there is something real special about that time. i could feel it last night. and maybe because its the holiday season and there is something different in the air. but in the midst of our sorrow. this has been a sad chemo round for us both. i felt at peace. and i know last night was a night i will i never forget. even though i had no physical part in it. but i laid in bed just listened to the two people i love the most on earth share a very special night together.

i heard the bath water running and was in and out of sleeping/closing my eyes and i heard justin yell..."babe, i forgot how does twinkle twinkle little star go again? which i burst out in song for him to hear from our bedroom. and i trail off as i hear him pick up where i ended. then i hear the water draining and he gets her ready for bed. such a special time of the day. if you have kids. try not to rush that time. is precious and a day will come when they do not want you to tuck them in. so i will not rush it. even though i often do and i hate that. i see him grab the ipod speakers from the kitchen. i know what he is doing. he is about to dance with his other girl. the first of many. ava goes to bed. justin bursts in our room to which i say..."babe, why do you do that? you never sneak in. or even attempt to be quiet in case i am sleeping. its always like you barge in. lets work on that." he says..."oh, sorry ok i will."

i could tell he was going to post on the blog last night. its been a while. i realized it when i got up around midnight and saw some blog comments had come through on my blackberry. i cried through the post and the video. cancer is sad. and we are young. trying to figure this out and sometimes we fail. but we sure are trying. thanks justin for being real and honest and showing me your heart. lets never stop doing that.

i was reading 2 Corinthians this morning. chapter 4. i read 16-18. which i have read many times. but this morning it struck me in a new way. therefore we do not lose heart. though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  so we will keep our eyes on christ. if not we will not make it. seriously. we will not be able to handle this emotionally or physically. its all too... too... too much for us. but we are not alone. and we will focus on what is unseen. for what is seen is temporary. and this little temporary part of our life with cancer is not forever. oh, how we pray it is not forever. but justinjustin and that sometimes its hard to even talk about. let alone express on the blog. but its big. its life changing. and marriage changing. and family changing. so there is the gift. in the midst of the sorrow and the pain. because man i am in pain today. we will keep our eyes on christ.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's been a long time, baby, I love you. (from justin)

At some point when Thursdays roll around -- this time Chemo was a Friday -- I realize that something is about to steal my wife, and I hate it. I feel so powerless right now, and so sad, thinking about how Libby feels. This is the worst Chemo so far. And it's so bad that I cannot avoid it, which sadly, I think I have been doing lately. It's easier not to emotionally give yourself to cancer. This is my mistake. Libby, I'm sorry for doing that lately. I know I have. One reason I know I have been doing it is because I haven't cried lately about it, and it is the thing I have cried most about in my entire life. I said that I am 100% in this with you from the beginning, and I still mean it. This is not old news. This is us! How can I show you? You are hurting bad tonight. I feel like an idiot. At least, I just made you toast.

 It's weighing both of us down. Where as in the beginning, it was easier to say, "this is our story" and live it, now it hurts and often feels sour. I am seeking God tonight for help, because it all seems so colorless. But it's not. LIBBY ITS NOT. There is a reason this is happening, and Christ is still your treasure. Nothing can change that. Think of the different lives that we have now! We know each other better, we love each other harder, we love Christ harder. We don't care about anything but that! We know our families better -- we know we are loved. It's just hard right now, but I'm with you.

Ava, someday you will read this. Thank you for tonight, I had a blast with you. It meant the world to me tonight to see you laugh and live your little life.

Tonight, for the first time, I played Ava my favorite classical song, "Air on Strings in G". I danced around a little, and she watched the ipod the entire time, mesmerized. She looked at me, as if to ask if it was ok to like the song. It's a sad song -- I told her -- but it's ok to like it. That's how I feel about cancer right now, I love the Lord, but it's a sad song right now. I KNOW we will rejoice in Him. Goodnight my darling Libby. Hang in there.

also, here's an update on life with home movies

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

marriage. and our life.

i have been thinking about my marriage a lot. someone asked me recently about being a spouse to a young life staff and what was good and what was hard. i do not know marriage any other way. right when i got sick we talked about moving home and justin not being on yl staff anymore and maybe doing something different. in those brief days we talked about what would be different. what would be easier. what would be harder. all of the variables that go into a huge decision like that. but after a week or so we both felt very certain about staying in chesapeake. and continuing our lives here. we just felt like where ever we would go or be... there we would be. i would still have cancer. and it would still be hard. but thankfully we have a huge family here in chesapeake and throughout virginia who love us so well. so for now we are here. and will stay here. although i often think about the joy it would be to live closer to family and for ava to be able to play with her cousins. and maybe at some point that will be become a reality. but not right now.

and for the first time. maybe since we have been married. i feel very in tune with justin. in the midst of cancer so many things seem easier. nothing about cancer is necessarily easier. its actually been harder for me recently. it is less about the physical pain and more the emotionally pain. its like i was so numb for so long. it all seemed fake at first. and then when chemo started i just went through the motions of what i needed to do to get cancer out of my body. and now i am half way. and i still have hair. and i now weigh the most i ever have in my life. minus when i was pregnant. and that is hard. but i will take it. it could obviously be far far worse. and i know that. i just think its all settling in for me. and maybe because its thanksgiving tomorrow. and then christmas is right around the corner. and then ava's first birthday right after that. that in the midst of such joy. a season i love so dearly. i am a little sad. i am grateful for so many aspects of my life right now. back in august i envisioned myself dying. i never really said that. but i thought it. and now i am not as scared. we have every reason to believe that after six more treatments i will be fine. and our life will continue as it once did. but everything will be different. and i am okay with that. just hard to get used to. change is so good. and still so hard. so in the midst of everything i am thankful for...i am still trying to figure out how to live. really live in this season of life and after this season has passed.

i love my husband. and i am so thankful that after three years of trying to figure it out. marriage that is. not that we got it nailed down or anything. please. we have only just begun. but its a heart thing. schedules get busy. life overwhelms you. but you have a choice. everybody for the most part has a choice. to stop working and come home to eat dinner with your family. and put your daughter to bed. and really connect with your wife because you chose her. out every women on the earth you chose her. and before you know it  life will slip you by because you want to be someone important.  being successful is not a bad thing. not one bit. but it can be if you lose sight of your life. and your sweet wife. and your kids. and what brings you joy. for my husband its reading. going running. drinking starbucks. taking our kayak out on the river. we as a family have been forced to find out what it means to rest. and i pray. oh i deeply pray that what we have learned since cancer will not be forgotten. even when cancer does not exist anymore for us. i know its easy to change when you have to. but i hope we keep changing and growing not because something big and scary happens but because we cherish what God has for us. and what He is teaching us. if only we would be willing to listen.

i like being with my family. but i miss my sisters. all three of them. but my parents did arrive on monday night. and we will celebrate thanksgiving on our screened porch if the weather allows it. that would be a first for us all. thanksgiving dinner outside. we do have a big heater out there if necessary.

Monday, November 22, 2010

getting ready for the holiday season.

britt is back in ohio. justin is home from camp. my mom and dad arrived tonight. its been good. justin took the day off and we spent it relaxing and hanging out with ava. we did make one run. to starbucks. my new drink is the carmel brulee latte with skim milk and no whip. its good. and feels like the holidays to me. i prefer justin home rather than away. which i guess makes for a better marriage. i mean the fact that i like to be with him. but really i am looking forward to a week of feeling good. being with family. justin taking some much need time off and resting before chemo. i bought my first thanksgiving turkey last night. my dr. was nice enough to let me have thanksgiving and then i will get my chemo treatment friday. i am really looking forward to cooking. and learning how to cook better with my mom and dad helping me. i am shocked too because a few months ago i never would have imagined i would be helping cook thanksgiving dinner with cancer. God is good.

i am getting into the holiday mood too. thinking about new traditions we will start as a family now that we have ava. christmas gifts. decorating. buying a larger christmas tree (we do fake). finding matching stockings. and how our kids will get new pajamas for christmas the day after thanksgiving to begin the excitement of the season. i like pajamas so i hope my kids will too. oh, the thought of it all makes my heart really joyful.

i still have my hair. its taking its sweet time. and maybe it will not end of falling out. which would fine.

on a final note justin and i decided we are going to go to new york city once i am cancer free. stay in times square. go to a broadway play. dress up. eat good food. go shopping and experience life. and we are going all out. that means different things to different people. but it will be going "all out" for us. and i love having that to look forward to. this season will pass. and the idea of that fills my soul in a new way. i feel like i am learning a lot right now and trying to put my thoughts together. but that is for another day. i am real sleepy. when ava gets up in the morning we are making breakfast for the family.

finally. one of best friends had a baby today. its an extra special occasion. we love you already little jonah.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

sometimes i feel different.

the past few days i have been feeling good. pretty much like myself. but i am so exhausted. but its strange because its not like i always need to sleep. its like i do not have the energy to real be present with people. and invest in people. and really be available. and be like myself. that is hard for me. thankful that i do feel good. just hard that i feel like this. not one hundred percent. i realize its normal. and its part of the deal with cancer. its just difficult to accept the fact that i can not live my life at the pace i am used to. it many ways its a gift. and i am thankful for it. but other times i am secretly annoyed with myself. i for sure have an internal battle going on. i went out for dinner on thursday with four girls that mean a lot me. i have not spent time with them in a while and i was so thankful the last minute dinner plans came together so well. but as i thought about that night with them i thought a lot about how i acted. and how different i felt. i guess i am different. not in a bad way. i sometimes feel distracted when ava is with me because i could not ask them all about their lives. and how they are doing. and what's hard in their lives. and what is joyful. and how they are growing in christ. and what is new with  school, friends, and boys. i just sometimes feel "off." mostly i just feel less engaged and i hate it because that is not my heart. its not a reflection of who i am and how much i love them. but maybe for right now that is okay? or maybe its not. i am not sure. but either way it is what it is. and life is about seasons i think. and this season just looks a little different for me. that's all.

enjoy the party sweet ella. have a berry good time! baby ava loves you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

things are good.

things are good right now. thanks for all the birthday emails, texts, phone calls, flowers, gifts, and cards. i feel so loved. the nausea from chemo has subsided. the exhaustion has not. one of my roommates from college is here. britt. she is great. she loves to clean. so right now my house is beginning to smell like bleach. in a good way. when she planned her visit we thought i had chemo today so she was coming to help with ava and whatever else we needed. but my schedule changed. so instead we actually get to hang out, shop, run errands, and hang with ava. i really do not have much to say today. just kinda felt like i should blog.

justin has done a good job maintaining my birthday week.  we saw a movie on tuesday night. which was only $10 total. we had no idea. our movie theater offers that special every tuesday. so we will do that every tuesday we possibly can. we love movies. and tonight britt is watching ava and we are going out for dinner. he is going to rockbridge this weekend. a young life camp. its the best weekend. my heart aches not being there with high school girls. next year i guess.

we all went out for breakfast this morning and we were talking briefly about cancer. what we are learning. and how we are doing. justin said sometimes when tough things happen its quick to be is God not in this? where is he? why would he allow this? normal questions. and questions that are okay to ask i think. but we so beyond thankful. like not sure how to express how thankful that we see God more now in our lives and around us than we ever have in our entire lives. my friend and i were talking yesterday about the whole idea of beauty for ashes in Isaiah 61. and through her own story of pain and through my own story of cancer. we get it now. that in the darkness. in the ashes. were its lonely and hard there is a promise from the Lord. that from all of that...he will bring beauty. and joy. and we are living that promise. we would never for a second wish this never happened. cancer i mean. i still hate chemo and hate throwing up and hate being tired. but i see the beauty of Christ in the horrible disease of cancer. and i am thankful for that. not everyone gets to see life how we see it now. and it really is a special gift. so that is where my peace comes from.

well i guess i do have something to say this morning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

my birthday gift from justin.

all photos taken during a secret photo shoot (i was pretty much the only person who did not know about it) thanks justin. matt benson. and oma.

bittersweet. but mostly sweet.

so today i am 27. and in theory it should be a little bittersweet of a day. i mean i have cancer. that is sad and hard and we hate it. but instead i have chosen to think about all the sweet things about this day and this year. first is justin. he set up a secret photo shoot of ava. our friend matt captured everything about ava that makes ava...ava. i love it. then he made a mini version of the photo collage for next to my bed that says..."momma you are half way there." and yes we are. halfway. thanks for loving me and for you all you do. this is not fake, babe. this is my heart. promise. then comes ava. this is my first birthday where i have been a mom. and words can not even begin to express what she has done to my heart. she is starting to say more and more words. and last week was a big week for her in terms of her vocab. she is growing and she is a joy. (took a little break in my post...jus and i needed to chat a bit...we are back on the same page). actually i am a little sad right now. its hard to celebrate my birthday feeling like i do. but i am trying. really. i promise. from my dear family...thank you for my new hoodie. that i have not taken it off since friday night. kinda gross. but i love it. thank you for our new prints for the bedroom. they are not officially hung yet, but they are resting on the headboard waiting for there permanent home. thanks for my uggs. my favorite clothing apparel of the winter. thanks for my new clothes and my nook gift card and for my nook (not book. its nook. its the barnes and noble e-reader...there was some confusion about that). it is not even 11am and the birthday wishes have already been pouring in since midnight. thank you. this will always be a memorable one. as justin walked out the door for a little lunch meeting he said..."can this be your birthday week?" and i happily replied..."of course, babe."

Friday, November 12, 2010

half way. not that cool of a post.

i am half way done. i like that. but in some ways i feel like i should be further along. six more seems like a lot. but yesterday went fine. did not see my doctor. just went straight from blood work to chemo. i got a little sick so i got some medicine that helped me sleep. actually i am getting incredibly nauseous just typing this post. so i will try again later. but all in all doing okay. just nauseous and exhausted. makes me more thankful than ever for how great i felt this past week. off to sleep...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

a thousand emails deep.

i should be sleeping. but i'm not. instead i am sitting at my laptop which feels like my second home. seriously if justin ever takes this mac away from me i will cry. no joke. randomly i felt the urge to go through my email inbox and respond to emails. i realized i am 1,092 deep. and keep 'um coming people. they are such a source of encouragement. i can not even explain it in words what it does for my soul to hear from people. from friends. and mostly from strangers. its such a joy. it goes back to mid august. i decided right away after getting sick that i would not delete one email. and i would attempt to respond to every email i was written even if it took me months. so this morning after putting ava down for her morning nap. i went back to august. and re-read a few emails. i did not get very far. because i was weeping. it brought me back to august and all that month had for us. a time full of fear. pain. so many unknowns. two surgeries. lots of anger. a cancer diagnosis. and my first chemotherapy treatment. but in the midst of that it was also a time of love. support. joy. strength. rest. and jesus. but he was in all of it. he is in all of it. he is in the joy and the pain. that is why jesus is perfect. he is not just for the good days or the really bad days. he is for all of it. and i am so thankful for that. like the word thankful seems so lame because i can not find the words to articulate my heart. i so wish i could. but i guess that is the mystery of our hearts. so instead i will keep it between me and jesus. because he knows. even when i can not express how i feel to justin. or my mom. or my dad. or my sisters. or my friends. but he knows the depths of me. the parts i do not talk about. because i do not know how. or the parts that i did not even know existed until cancer became a part of me. like when i became a mom. i did not even know that this part existed. this part of me that would love my sweet ava the way i that do. it touches me in different way. like nothing before. and cancer has done that to me. those microscopic cancerous cells that are inside me. although i hate them. i also am thankful for what they have taught me about jesus. my life. a voice i never knew i had. and strength that could only come from jesus. because this is too big. and too scary to do on your own. and thankfully i have not felt alone. maybe in some dark moments i have felt alone. but i think i know more now what is real and what is true. and what is true is jesus. and what is real is jesus. and that life is hard. but not too hard. not too hard for him to handle. i may not be able to handle any of this. i am usually faking it. being strong i mean. because when its just me. i cry. and am sad. and wish i did not have to go to the doctor today. and leave ava. and probably get a shot. which i hate. but because jesus is the strongest i am even given a chance at having an type of strength in this. because i am openly admitting that i can not handle this. but he can. so i will rest in that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

best weekend. ever. seriously.

really it was. i do not remember feeling this good in months. i was able to go to yl leadership for the first time this semester. it was nice to regain some sense of normalcy this weekend. some friends of ours offered us there beach house in nags head. so we went there for the weekend. we left around 9pm so i had to wake up ava and we were a little worried about how she would do. since we had never done that before. but she was fine. she feel back to sleep after a little bit. she is so easy. we are so thankful. i had thought earlier in the week about not taking her so justin and i could really rest. what a crazy idea. it was so fun with her. justin and i talked the whole way to the beach house. it was nice to really connect. we definitely feel like we were on the same page. which is always the goal. when we arrived around 10:30pm ava was a little mad when we woke her up again to put her in her pack n play. but after a few she settled. we had a view of the ocean from our bedroom. it was gorgeous. although it was a little cold. i loved it. i love the fall. everything about it. everything smells different. its crisp. and the outer banks is one of our most favorite places to go and rest. and wow did we rest.

in the morning we went out for breakfast. one of our most favorite things to do as a family. we found this great little pancake place. and justin talked about that meal for most the day. he loved it. i did too. came home and ava napped so we watched college football. well pre-game stuff. we read our nooks and napped. got ready and when ava woke up we all went to the outlet mall. one of my favorite things to do. i have noticed since having ava that is way more fun to shop for her. stuff is way more cute on her than me. justin got some stuff and i did get a couple things (early birthday present from my husband). ate lunch. ava napped again. we watched an amazing game between u of m and illinois. and u of m won. and up until now i had been feeling so good. not like fake good. but actually good. randomly in the afternoon i got a horrible headache and threw up a ton and then felt fine. it was strange. after ava got up we went to the outlets to return one thing and buy a couple more things. and ate dinner at one our most favorite places...the outer banks brewery. it was a good night. ava did so well. we love that we can take her pretty much anywhere and she behaves so well. hopefully this will last. we put ava to bed together. something we are trying to do more. we really want to create memories early on with ava that her mom and dad are real partners. and this weekend was such a glimpse of that. i really love my husband. and appreciate how well he has loved me and served me since getting sick. i see a change in his work schedule and how he is home so much more. its been essential for our marriage and parenting ava. its been by far one of the greatest gifts to come from cancer. and justin said over and over how good i looked. how i have my color back. and i look like me. not cancer me. but pre-cancer libby. and that meant so much to me. because i am insecure a little. especially because so many people have not seen me in a while so i am always nervous about how they might react when they see me. its like because i have cancer people maybe are anticipating the worst. now i could be in denial (justin said i'm not) but i do not think i look that different. i can tell my hair is way way thinner but no one else seems to. and i know about my extra 10. but hopefully if people are smart they will not comment on that. its kind of like when i was pregnant and people would say on my gosh you are huge or you look like you are going to pop. its like come on people. i know i am big. but you do not need to tell me that. its been the same thing with cancer. its like either tell me i look amazing (and maybe lie) or do not say anything at all. i am sorta joking here. i am just happy i still have hair. and i like my short hair now. i have come full circle with my hair. because i left the salon mad. like seriously angry. but not anymore. not at all. just needed some time.

i got up around midnight and checked my phone. i do that randomly throughout the night. i got this email. well two really awesome emails. one from a sweet women in kansas and the other from a fellow cancer survivor. her story was awful. in terms of what she had to go through to beat her cancer. chemo monday thru firday for 8 hours. every other week. its been such a gift to hear from other cancer survivors. it has helped me to gain perspective within my own cancer experiences. and helped me to be thankful for my own story.

we got up. packed. cleaned up and headed home. we wanted to go to our church since i have not been there in months. avajustin and i we checked on her only four times. that is not that bad. and she was fine. it was way more about me than her. it was nice to be back at church. we came home and ran some errands. and i bought two pairs of comfy pants. simply trying to embrace my new body. justin and i put ava to bed. and we fell asleep yet again to football. nfl this time. who am i?

p.s we love you sweet isabella. and hope that your pink little cast is not bothering you too much. ava sent you some mail. hope you get it today. its the perfect thing if you want to lay on mommy and daddy's bed and rest. (our sweet little niece. who is almost three broke her arm on saturday).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

good day.

today i forget about cancer. these days are nice. i got up at 7am no problem. was not super tired or nauseous. so i grabbed ava's bottle and we hung out. i made coffee. and it tasted good. since i have been sick coffee has tasted weird. but not this morning. justin came home at 10am. surprise. we loved it. he made me breakfast. but not make it sound like we have it all together all the time. first we got in a little fight. just a little guy. after we both stated our sides. i got quiet. and took ava over to her toys and read her book. and was stubborn. but then i walked through the kitchen where he was making us each an omelette and he stopped me. and we hugged. so moving on...i put ava down for her nap. we ate together. then he stayed him with ava while i ran some errands. it is now officially cold enough to wear my uggs. my favorite. since being car less i have missed the freedom that a car brings. bought ava some bows for her hair from a cute baby store. and did some boring errands. then got my nails done. got my new fall drink first. starbucks skim chai latte with three pumps of chai (thank you gift cards). i have been getting my toes painted in a dark gray recently. but never my fingers. i always go subtle. but this time i did dark gray on my nails. and i love it. like seriously love it. jus and i ate lunch together too. thai food. our favorite. no spice for me. and the most spice possible for him. he napped. i rested. and now ava is up. its been a good day and its only 4:47pm. i am so very thankful for days like today. i like it when my family is all together. and i love how my nails look as i type. sorry that is strange i know. but there is nothing about today that has to do with cancer. and i am so happy i could cry. i actually just teared up about it. this is a precious day. and its rainy too. which i kinda love since living on the water.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

no title today. could not think of one. so instead i will just write about today and my heart and how i am doing. justin said to me this morning that he wants to hear more from me about how i am doing...more of my heart he said. so i said...stuck in the house, lonely, and tired. stuck in the house because his car is getting repaired and he is using my car so i am car less for the week. and the lonely is really my fault. and the tired. well that is because i am chronically tired. and to all of you cancer patient, fighters, and survivors i commend you for working and raising a fmaily while being sick. i do not know how you do it. but i applaud you. the more and more chemo effects me the more and more i realize how thankful i am that i am able to stay home full time with ava. thanks justin for making it possible. i love being home with her. she is my little partner. it is nice to be in my comfy pants and my robe all day if i want to. but sometimes i get sad about it. like i have nothing to do except keep ava alive and maybe do some laundry. which is sitting in a pile in the hallway. i like the laundry in the machine part. but not the folding and put away part. but in the midst of my own thoughts i struggle with not having a lot to do and not rushing around and having all this stuff going on. i mean i for sure could think of some things i would like to do and then go do that. and usually i do when i feel up for it. but since i do not have a car this week i have thought a lot about how i spend my time. and how i often times find my worth in how much i do. or how many different things i have going on. like its embarrassing to say to someone who you know is super busy...well today i am not doing anything but caring for ava, reading, laundry, and napping if i get a chance. and by the way of course i will "get the chance" to sleep. i try and sleep with ava does. and i am backspacing a lot while i write this because i secretly do not want anyone to know that i am not that busy. but i want to remember this day and how i feel and what is going on in my heart. and my heart is tired. and i want to rest. i want to take this season in and not miss it. i am so accustom to moving through my day from one thing to the next and in some strange way finding my identity in that. which is a lie. i know my worth is not found in anything of this world. but i struggle with that lie. i battle back and forth in my head about it. but since i got sick my prayer was that i would take this season. this cancer season and be still. not miss a second of it. but take time to read. i love to read. and rest. for the first time in a long time. maybe ever. to really rest and allow my body to fight. to fight this cancer real hard. and so far according to my PET scan its working. so i will try to ignore that little voice in my head that tells me i am lazy and i should do more and keep busy. and instead rest. in whatever way that looks like for me. and cherish these days with ava. that i hear go by real fast and try in the midst of it all to see this as a gift. some of the people i love the most have a lot going on and i feel like i can only really see it now because i am not running crazy busy alongside them. but instead i am the one when asked...what are you doing tomorrow? i sometimes reply with..."well nothing". and i am trying to be okay with that. i also realized that i am my own worst enemy and hardest on me. but i think we all do that. and its silly. and its a lie. so today i will be thankful that i do not really feel like i have cancer today. i only know i do because i am still in my comfy pants and rode and about to read my nook to help me fall asleep while ava naps. and that internal battle about how i spend my all okay.

Monday, November 1, 2010

another side effect of chemo...maybe

i have gained weight. about ten pounds. and i am not sure if it has anything to do with cancer or everything to do with cancer. but either way i am ten pounds heavier. people have been real nice about it though. with some select people i have mentioned this fact. not sure why. almost like i want to mention it before they think in their head...oh, libby has gained a little weight. and they are kind because they step back and have not. you look great. and it is very nice of them. oppose to them saying...yup, you sure have put on a few. but the reality is i have gained ten pounds. and because it is winterish here in chesapeake i can hide it with jackets and over sized sweaters. and not to mention the fact that i live in comfy pants. i can not keep enough clean. its not that ten pounds is really that big of a deal. but i did have an eating disorder for most of high school and college and therefore i am a little insecure when it comes to my weight. so i decided at our last appointment to ask my doctor about it. and he of course said it could be lots of things...chemo. my metabolism slowing down. stress. not being as active (that is for sure). anyways i think secretly i was looking for him to blame it all on cancer. that would make me feel better. but really its so hard because i am constantly nauseous. so i will eat something hoping that will help. well it doesn't most of the time. so i try something else. or i will go a few days without really eating and then its like for the next few days i make up for lost time. now i do understand that now is maybe not the time to worry about it. considering my body is trying to fight a disease that is inside me. its more or less needing to process this out. like how its making me feel. i mean there is no way around it...its a bummer when your favorite jeans are just a little bit too tight. that's it. that bums me out. and i am trying to eat healthy. i swear. and i do joke about it because its just easier that way. but honestly in my heart its hard. i am already a little insecure about my hair thinning. i lost a ton yesterday in the shower and cried the whole time. not just about my hair...i had just watched a you tube video from blacksburg young life and that started the tears. but its just hard when your insecurities come to the surface and you have to face them. and my weight has always been that for me. so instead of just talking about with my sisters and complaining i think i will start running. but i am not a runner. never have been. not even for one day. and justin even said to the doctor...i have never seen her run a day in her life (its true). so out of feisty-ness i am going to start running. so i say to justin this weekend all i want for my birthday is a jogging stroller. maybe if i have a jogging stroller i will run. we will see. so today because i do not have a jogger yet i take ava for a walk. in my head i had mapped out where i wanted to walk with her. well we only made it half way. and i was only walking! but seriously i was exhausted. not lazy at all. honestly. i have never known exhaustion like this. i mean i can walk. i have always been capable of that...not sure what the deal was today. i will try again tomorrow. but i still want a jogger stroller from justin. if we get it off craigslist and i only end up using it a few times i will not feel as bad about it. and all this to say maybe i will deal with my weight gain after chemotherapy...that's a thought. and also real thankful that i am not bald yet. totally thought i would be by now.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

sweet ava's first halloween.

ava. she is precious. i made her costume. i am so proud of it. not because it was that fancy or even that much work. but because since i have been sick i have been trying desperately to do everything like i would have had i not gotten sick. somethings i cant help...but i try real hard when i can. so there is she is...our sweet little bumble bee! poor girl is teething and her finger was in her mouth all night. but she never cried. she is a champ. she even stayed up 2 hours past her bedtime. and since she is allergic to eggs and peanuts she did not get any candy. but she did not seem to mind. oh, she also had a little stinger on the back of her tutu. so cute.  justin was real proud of me too. everyone we saw tonight he would say, "libby made it....can you believe it?" and in the car he said, "babe...seriously it is the best costume i have ever seen. i love it." so thankful he appreciates the little things i do.

 happy halloween.

it was a rough weekend. felt pretty sick. laura helped a ton with ava so i could sleep. mostly just nauseous and exhausted. but today i started i feeling better. i was so happy i felt good enough to take ava out for halloween. i hope i always appreciate good health. i never did before cancer. but i will from now. i have some things to say...but they will wait. i want this blog to be about ava and halloween and the joy of tonight. we love our little bumble bee. and our little family. and tonight we decided we want to start family traditions with her for every holiday. we want to make a big deal out of the little things. we want her to know how to party and how to celebrate...just for the sake of celebrating. and to experience real genuine joy. we want to create anticipation and excitement around the big things and the little things. so even in the midst of it all...sweet ava yet again...will not remember that her mommy even had cancer on her first halloween. because tonight the ryder family was about dressing up, eating candy, and being with people we love. who all made such a big a deal about ava costume and how cute she looked. thank you. it meant to much to me. and justin too.

Thank you thank you thank you for Libby's Golf Tournament in Lexington! (From Justin)

For a week I have been trying to write this post! In an incredibly busy couple weeks with Young Life, I flew home to Kentucky to play in Libby's Golf Outing. The memory is still giving me hope and thankfulness. In my life, I cannot remember being so thankful to friends and family for organizing something that so honored Libby. I tried to thank people that day by shooting a video, and telling them, you have NO IDEA how this is going to make her feel. Lib felt so loved, supported, hoped in, and encouraged. This golf Tournament helped her to continue enduring the emotional pain and physical exhaustion. It also blessed us by helping us pay for her treatment, and the Lord has provided. To us, its a miracle, and I think the team would agree! I am so thankful to my friends. The years we have known each other, the years we have battled together, the loyalty they have had to us. I can't help but cry when I think about them saying, "We don't care you moved away, we are going to do this for you." This was such an incredible weekend for me. THANK YOU. Thanks to everyone who sponsored, who put in effort and energy, who drove out to play, who brought food for people, who organized, who networked, who fund-raised themselves separate of the tournament. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly thank God for you, and will continue to do so -- you have refreshed our hearts. It is impossible for me to really convey how I feel about this, so I will leave it at that. I will never forget this.
Here is a video of the day!

Friday, October 29, 2010


babe. sorry. i totally forgot to blog about you and your birthday and how much i love you. lets blame it on the fact that i got chemo yesterday and i am currently on medication. but thanks for being the only person i could ever walk through cancer with. or have a baby with. or move to virignia with and barely know anyone but you. thanks for getting me skim chai lattes with only three pumps of chai because it is too sweet if i get four. and you always remember that. thanks for not turning on lots of lights in the morning because it will wake me and and possibly ava up...because if she sees just a glimpse of light under her door she thinks its time to wake up. thanks for being romantic. and for writing letters. and for always coming to each and every appointment with me. no matter what. and thanks for being willing to shave your head even though i would prefer you did not do that. also i am not bald yet so no rush on that. thanks for working less. and for playing so hard with ava and for always praying with her before she goes to sleep. and for chasing her around the upstairs. oh, she loves it. she loves you. i promise she will start calling you da-da before we know it. thanks for texting me throughout the day. and for making me laugh. you are for sure the funniest person i know and i got to marry you. thanks for pointing me to christ more and more. and for caring for me just the way i need to be cared for. and cooking for me a little more. that is real special to me. you just said to me in the car on our way to the outer banks..."can you imagine if you married anyone else? wow that would have been terrible." you are right justin. we are meant for each other. and we both know that now more than ever. what a gift that is. i promise that your next birthday will not revolve so much around cancer. so happy 26th birthday. we are the same age for seventeen days. you are a gift to me and to ava. we love you.

post chemo 5 and my husbands birthday

yesterday went well. my wbc cell count was just over 2,000 so the shot i got on tuesday worked. so that was good. today was the first chemo day where i actually felt prepared. packed my bag with a blanket (chemo room is always cold), some candy to help with yucky saline taste from iv, my nook, and my medicines. i even remembered to eat breakfast. this post might be short because even typing about chemo makes me nauseous. but my dr was super encouraged about my pet scan. so that was great. basically the cancerous spots that showed up in my last pet scan are not here anymore. so the chemo is working. however, i will still have seven more treatments because there are still cancerous cells in my body that the pet scan can not even detect. but either way we are joyful. but just as that appointment ended we headed into chemo. where i proceeded to throw up right before chemo and then did again when she put my iv in. not sure what my deal is. i asked my nurse to give me some drugs to help me sleep during chemo and that was real great. some sweet ladies always bring lunch but yesterday the sandwich i ate made me so sick. so just went to wendy's for me because i wanted a frosty. he returned with eight of them. i asked him what happened and why he had brought so many frosty's and he said he was not sure. it was cute. so he passed out frosty's to the nurses, our p.a, and the sweet old lady sitting next to me at chemo. it was a long day. longer than usual. mostly because we waited an hour to see my doctor. got home and cliff and laura were here. justin and cliff are doing yl program at a camp near us for the weekend. i was exhausted. but i hate being in my bed alone when everyone is hanging out. so we watched the office and then i went to bed. i was tired. not really sick, just tired.

ava got up a little earlier than usual. but i got up with her and we played. well sorta. if me sitting on the couch counts. today is justin's birthday. he is 26. we all ate breakfast together and then all talked in our bed while ava slept. justin and i rested together for a bit...he fed ava and then the boys headed to camp. laura helped a ton with ava today. i have felt sick and just beyond exhausted. but tried to help with ava as much as i could. now just laying on the couch and will sleep until the boys get back later on. i got justin all his favorite things for when he gets home. so we will have a little party on the porch. with our new fancy heater (thanks mom and dad) since it is officially fall here in chesapeake.

its been interesting for justin and i since we got the pet scan results. we are so joyful and thankful. but still struggling. just struggling to continue to walk down this path. but at least...for now...we see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

one more time today...

had to write this down. amazing mail day. it was almost a joke how much came today. perfect timing. justin came to hang with us before he had a meeting tonight but as soon as he walked in the door i asked if he could hang with ava while i ran to the fabric store. i have known for a few weeks what ava was going to be for halloween and i have everything i need for it but i had not made her tutu yet. and i need to today because chemo tomorrow, sick for the weekend, and trick or treating is sunday. so i made her tutu. but needed a little more tulle. i got in the car and backed out and quick checked the mail before i left. it was crazy. so because ava was not in the car i decided to open it all while driving to the store. not safe. i know. a few special things came today. mostly from strangers. which brought the tears. a little dress for ava. lots of gift cards. some very sweet cards. and a check from a church in lexington, ky. and it was crazy because last friday justin got rear ended and the driver is supposed to pay. obviously. but he is being difficult. so we will pay our deductible and then our insurance with reimburse us after they deal with the driver. well when we were coming home obx and talking about it. he said...i pray the lord provides the money. and the check we got was the exact amount of our deductible. crazy. then i got this gift from all the young life ladies in virginia. some on staff and some are wives...its this adorable book entitled...libbys little book of love. full of scripture, songs, and real sweet letters from some women i know real well and others i barely know. i cried as i read each and everyone. so i will never be alone. i got a huge group of women praying for me, justin, and ava. so thank you. then i came home and completed the tutu. fed ava dinner. she is so healthy. she only wanted vegetables tonight. we will see how long this lasts. then she feel asleep in my arms as i rocked her. she rarely does that so when she does its so special. just drinking her bottle and holding her little baby real tight. i am in love. that is for sure. i am in love.

top chef just desserts is on tonight. so if i can stay up until 10pm we will watch that too. i definitely feel a new burst of energy. not really physically as am exhausted. but more in my heart. like my heart feels full.