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Happy Halloween from Heritage Makers

October 30, 2009   

No tricks, but lots of treats at Heritage Makers! From all of us at the home office, we wish you and your ghouls and goblins a very Happy Halloween!

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Rebecca Parker, Bergen Fairbanks, and Linda Noack

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Brit Murdoch spreading peace and love.

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Brytt Cloward, aka one half of Bill and Ted.

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Elvis has taken up residence in Chris Lee’s office.

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Ian Parker landed long enough to take some CS calls.

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Marshyl Cloward looks so studious as a nerd.

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The spooky Heritage Makers office.

Stay safe, have fun, and most importantly…take lots of pictures for your next storybook! Happy Halloween!

My Breast Cancer Experience by Kim Decker… Part 2

October 27, 2009   

Cancer Sucks:

My head was cold. My menses stopped—one plus, if it was temporary. Will I be fertile after? This cancer had really interrupted my life! Treatment and recovery really forced me to have a more inward focus. My sense of taste had changed to bland everything. I didn’t care about receiving holiday presents; I just wanted to feel normal again.

I thought of chemo as the “big cleanse” but toward the end it was like torture. The anxiety and dread were overwhelming. If I hadn’t had friends who had taken off work to drive me, I would not have made it to my treatments.

Keep Living and Celebrating:

I was determined not to let my treatment prevent me from the celebrations that had been scheduled long in advance. Ethan and I went to New York City for my friend Katie’s wedding to Timothy. I brought my Julie wig as an option, but found a big, beautiful, fancy, black hat to wear with my outfit.

The city did overwhelm me, and I couldn’t do all the walking around that we would normally do. But it was a great trip to have before I started my second chemo drug, and it worked out that I was feeling good that weekend.

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Extending My Hobbies:

I’d done a triathlon, but something was still missing: music. I joined a local women’s choir. It has been wonderful to sing with over 100 women each week. It has even improved my breathing when I swim.

Since having a baby was postponed, I really enjoyed playing with my friend’s newborn, Sebastian. Seb and I got hair together.

My friends Lisa and Dave got married and the Komen 2005 Race for the Cure happened again in October. Alicia and Debbie made it to walk with me.

I got to visit with my brother’s family fall 2005, and captured a few days in the youth of my niece and nephew. Getting back to my photography hobby helped me to feel normal again.

Will I Live?

Thanks to improved screening and treatments, breast cancer is not the death sentence it once was. Still, my cancer journey was not all flowers and snowcapped peaks. Will we have a family together; will we grow old together? Life after cancer is uncertain and you need to keep living.

Many tears have been shed and many more arise as the 3 month checkups come and go. “Suspect areas” on MRI’s elicit more biopsies. Even though I feel great, there is still a lot of emotion and stress surrounding doctor visits and test results. Currently, I’m all clear. I keep going day by day.

The Unexpected:

I didn’t expect to love Ethan even more. We make conscious efforts to love each other in small ways every day. We know that the proverbial forever is not necessarily a given 50+ years.

Storybooking is a celebration of life. Celebrate yours today.

Need help getting started? Choose a cancer awareness template: Cancer Survival Story (feminine) or Cancer Survival Story (masculine). Or pick from our wide selection in the Template Gallery.

My Breast Cancer Experience by Kim Decker… Part 1

October 26, 2009   

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Changes:

No one plans on getting a chronic illness. When you are faced with “the news,” you have a choice. As singer/songwriter Holly Near asks, “Do you pick fascination or fear?”

I certainly had a lot of anxiety and fear. However, I found that getting curious and understanding more about my illnesses helped me. In reflection, I now realize how much I have forgotton and how much I have chosen fascination.

As I’m writing this book, I notice that an orchid, was given to me when I was diagnosed and it is finally re-blooming, a year and 10 months later. Hopefully, no matter what changes we go through with cancer, we will bloom on the other side too.

Summer 2004:

I was celebrating being stable mentally after experiencing a manic episode in the fall of 2002 and finding out I had Bipolar Type 1 disorder. My husband, Ethan, and I were talking more seriously about starting a family. Then we found a lump on my left breast. I was told to watch it, assured that I was young with no family history. I was happy to ignore it. Later that summer a lump under my left armpit got my attention and within four days both lumps were removed and it was confirmed that I had all receptor negative breast cancer.

In shock, because I felt really healthy. In shock because that is how I deal with trauma. I had a lumpectomy and axial node dissection which showed that five of 21 lymph nodes removed were infected with cancer. I was diagnosed stage 2a, faced four months of Faxotere and A/C, had another re-excision in January, and had radiation in February and March for six weeks. Those are the medical details. To follow is my personal journey.

Off with the Hair:

I didn’t want to wait for my hair to fall out. I donated my 10 inches of hair to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes wigs for kids and adults with hair loss. My friends Esther and Josh had just bought a pair of shears to use on Josh’s head. Esther “practiced” on me first, since I wanted it all off.

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I learned the true meaning of Take Care:

With my hair off and wig and hats waiting and ready, I felt prepared for chemotherapy. I was very scared heading into the first round of chemo. I attended a breast cancer support group and it helped to hear other women’s stories. I met with a doctor that specialized in holistic cancer treatment and recommended a slew of supplements; I found an acupuncturist; I signed up my girl friends to drive me to my chemo appointments; I scheduled massages every 2 weeks.

Taking care of yourself comes in many forms and often can seem overwhelming. I so appreciated Ethan’s ability to let me be however I was feeling at the time and take care of himself too.

To be continued…

Storybooking is a celebration of life. Celebrate yours today.

Need help getting started? Choose a cancer awareness template: Cancer Survival Story (feminine) or Cancer Survival Story (masculine). Or pick from our wide selection in the Template Gallery.

Welcome to the new My Photos

October 26, 2009   

Now you can do so much more with your Heritage Makers photo storage system. Not only can you upload photos and store them into albums, but now you can organize those albums into folders.

When you enter My Photos you will see a screen that looks like this.


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To the left of the screen is where you can organize all your photos. Make multiple folders and multiple albums. Plus, you can do so much more.

  1. To view an existing album, simply click on a folder. The albums in that folder will drop down. Just click the one you want to view.
  2. To create a new folder, click the button “new folder” located above the photo organizer. Then name the folder (ex. Summer 2009) and click “create folder.”
  3. To create an album, click on the folder you want the album to appear under. Click “new album,” name the album (ex. Lake Michigan), and click “create album.”
  4. Share albums with friends and family by clicking on an album and on the “share” button located below the photo organizer.
  5. Double click on the photo to add a title or caption. Ex. Title: Saving the Easter Bunny. Caption: Brian thought dad really ate the Easter Bunny and was ready to use the plunger to save him.
  6. Also download a high resolution image by double clicking on a photo.

 Plus, you can do all this all from within Studio Editor.

Using My Photos has never been more simple or fun. Try it out for yourself.

My Sister by Darcie Toom

October 23, 2009   

My sister, Chelsea, had waited until a little later in life to find love. She was 35 when she started dating Matt. They quickly fell in love and a few months later, were engaged. Chelsea felt that for the first time, things were really falling into place. She had a job that she liked, a man that she loved, and soon would have two new step daughters and a new home for them all.

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Right after they moved into their new home, and a month before they were to be married, I got a call from my sister. She was crying and blurted out, “I have cancer.” I said, “I’ll be right there,” and rushed over to her house.

We were all in shock. My mom and dad were there too, but none of us knew what to say.  The timing seemed like some kind of cruel trick. But at the same time, we all knew that God has a plan for each of us.

After finding out about the cancer, Chelsea questioned whether Matt still wanted to get married. He had buried his first wife only a few years before and was understandably shaken. He said of course he still wanted to get married, and the wedding plans went ahead, along with a schedule for chemo.

Exactly one week before her wedding, my sister started to lose her hair. She decided to have a head shaving party and we all took turns cutting out chunks of hair. She even tried out a Mohawk before shaving it down to bare skin. I was quite impressed at how good she looked bald, and even more impressed with the way she handled it.

 

One week later, she was getting ready for her wedding. It was a bitter sweet moment—my mom helping her with her dress and wig. She’s always changed her hair so often that no one would have known the difference. But, of course, they already knew what had happened. I was sure that she would pull the wig off during the reception, (you’d have to know my sister to understand) but to my surprise, she didn’t. It was a beautiful night!

After the wedding, they decided to postpone their honeymoon until Chelsea was feeling better. Then came more rounds of chemo, radiation, surgery, reconstruction surgery, losing fingernails, losing her job, gaining weight, growing hair back (even if it was curly and black).  All this, plus settling in with her new husband and his two daughters, in the first year of marriage.

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So far, the cancer has not returned, but she’s not out of the woods yet. She had a very aggressive type of cancer, and nearly all the risk factors that make it worse. I know she’ll continue to worry as each check up rolls around. But even if it does return, I know she’ll be ready to fight again. She has stayed strong through this whole process, and it has changed her forever. I’m very proud of the way she’s handled herself, never losing faith that God would pull her through this. I hope that if I ever have to face my own battle with cancer, or any other illness, I can do it as well as she has.

Holiday Shipping Dates

October 22, 2009   

It’s beginning to feel a lot like…Holiday Shipping Dates!

Order your Heritage Makers gifts by the date below in order to receive items by December 24, 2009.

 

Canada

 

Storybooks:

November 30 (First Class)

December 3 (Standard)

December 7 (Express)

 

Other products:           

November 30 (First Class/Direct Ship Cards)

December 3 (Standard)

December 7 (Express)             

 

United States

 

Storybooks:                

December 2 (Ground and Priority)

December 7 (Two-day)

December 10 (Next day)

 

Other products:           

December 11 (Ground and Priority)

December 14 (Direct Ship Cards/Two-day)

December 16 (Next day)

Teague’s Story by Candace May…Part Two

October 22, 2009   

The second evening in the hospital, you were watching TV with Dad and you said that your eye felt funny and that you couldn’t see out very well. I reported it to the nurse and within a few minutes it was like an emergency room. Doctors were there and they were discussing what to do. You were losing sight in your left eye. They decided to start chemo early as your tumor was a very aggressive one.

Mommy and Daddy asked our bishop to come say a special prayer with you. In the morning you felt so much better and I said, “You know why you are feeling so much better don’t you?  It is because of these nurses and doctors…”

You cut me off and said, “No, Mom. It is because of…” and pointed to the heavens. You inspired us through this whole struggle. You led the way with your ability to believe.

Daddy hated to leave you and Mommy each night. He had to go take care of Ryleigh and go to work to earn money. But as he left each night, he said something that also inspired us: “Teague, remember that you have the heart of a lion, the strength of an elephant, and you are my hero.” At age six you loved animals and I think this helped you to know just how strong you were.

After about a week you were again well enough to get up and play a little. There were bikes you could ride for fun. We called you “Fonz” as you were the only one on the floor with hair. The chemo treatment seemed to be working as you started to breathe through your nose again!

So many people were kind to us. Cards, gifts, money, and even shaving their heads to support us! We posted a blog at caringbridge.org so loved ones could stay in touch.

I will always remember how you were hooked up to your pole. You didn’t like that and would complain that I couldn’t keep up when you rode the bike and you preferred dad to follow you with your pole.

You stayed in the hospital for about a month before you were allowed to come home. You usually were home for a week and then you’d get an infection and be back in the hospital again. We lived about 40 minutes from the hospital and if you ever got a fever we had to have you in within an hour.

You played hard when you were home! We would need to go in to get you a blood transfusion and you’d be running all over the playground!

After having a really hard six weeks of radiation the Yankees came to town and life was good again! Daddy & Uncle Ron made it possible for you sit in the dugout during batting practice! You met all the Yankee greats. They signed a ball just for you. It was the best day!

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Daddy’s friends joked, “How did Trent qualify for Make-A-Wish?” Your real Make-A-Wish was a wonderful playhouse. We were so grateful for all the wonderful experiences you were given.

Storybooking is a celebration of life. Celebrate yours today.

Need help getting started? Choose a cancer awareness template: Cancer Survival Story (feminine) or Cancer Survival Story (masculine). Or pick from our wide selection in the Template Gallery.

Teague’s Story by Candace May… Part One

October 21, 2009   

This is a story of how Teague became our hero in 2005.

Here he is at the end of his journey with cancer. A survivor! A hero!

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Teague,

Someday you will want to know the story of your fight with cancer. We will celebrate it in these pages and hope that as other trials in life occur, you will remember being six!

How your journey began…

We had just finished the Christmas holidays and then celebrated your sixth birthday. It seemed you had a bad cold. Right after Christmas I took you to our doctor in Seattle. He gave us an antibiotic. That didn’t help your stuffed-up nose, so we went back and he gave us more medicine. That didn’t help, so we went back again.

He said, “Lady, what do you want from me?”

I said, “My boy is not well; maybe he needs to go to the hospital.”

Then the doctor looked in your mouth and saw your pallet had dropped and said, “Go to the hospital right now… Go straight there!”

I called Dad and we went.

It was Jan. 12th, 2005, the day we found out you had cancer.

I have often wondered what I would do if I was ever told that my child had cancer. I thought I would fall to the floor and faint, but on that evening in January I didn’t faint. I don’t know what held me up, but I looked back at the doctor who gave us the bad news and said, “What can we do? Let’s get started.” I guess something in me realized that in order to have a healthy boy, I had to believe it could happen.

You were diagnosed with rabdomyosarcoma, which is a soft tissue tumor in the nasal region of your head. They said you had about a fifty percent chance to survive it. They would start chemotherapy in a few days. The chemo was to last 11 months and you would also have six weeks of radiation.

They put a central line in your chest. It was called a Hickman line. The man who invented it actually went to our church!

They also had to check your bones and lungs and make sure that the cancer hadn’t spread. We got the results of the tests and it was great news that the cancer had not spread. We all said a prayer of thanks and we all started praying, harder than we have ever prayed, that you would get well. So many people prayed for you from all over the US, Canada and even Ireland where you were born.

Storybooking is a celebration of life. Celebrate yours today.

Need help getting started? Choose a cancer awareness template: Cancer Survival Story (feminine) or Cancer Survival Story (masculine). Or pick from our wide selection in the Template Gallery.

Important Webinar Announcement

October 20, 2009   

All beginner and Intermediate Webinars are canceled this week (Oct. 25 – Nov. 1). They will resume again Nov. 2.

Also, the link for the Master Webinar in Studio is incorrect. Go to the following link to register for Thrusday’s Fun Foldables class with Studio Project Manager Lynda Angelastro and Studio designer Rachel Resler. Join them as they demonstrate easy foldable albums from Heritage Makers 12×12 scrap pages.

When: Thursday October 22, 2009

Time: 7:00 p.m. MDT

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/740304929

…The Road Less Traveled by Natalie Unga: Conclusion

October 20, 2009   

Radiation and Life after Chemo

After Hawaii, it was time to start radiation. I put a robe on and went into a room with a big machine and then lay down. I had no idea what to expect so I just waited for something painful and long.

The tech left and I laid there as a laser moved across my chest. He came back, he changed everything and once again the laser moved back and forth. He told me I was finished and that I would see them tomorrow.

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I was in shock. “That is it?” I said. They laughed and told me it would most likely take longer for me to change than to get my actual treatment. After chemotherapy, I couldn’t have been happier to be doing radiation. The only painful thing was them tattooing small dots on my chest for the leasers to be lined up. After that the usual discomfort of three men staring at your breasts day after day… that was the only drawback to radiation.

I wore my wig for radiation and, looking back now, I don’t know why. I was the youngest patient in almost every place I went. I felt unique in some degree and then at the same time I felt misplaced. No one had an explanation as to how I got my cancer. It took some time, but I began to realize there was a reason why I had cancer; it is so I can help others.

Life was changing and my focus was not on cancer, it was on building my life. I felt like I could simply leave the whole experience in the past. I began to see my life in a linear fashion instead of stair-stepping to higher views.

In December, I was approaching my one year reunion of the discovery of my cancer. My arm began to hurt; I became very alarmed because this is how it had felt when I found my tumor. I just knew the cancer was back.

I went to my doctor and she sent me to an occupational therapist. He told me I Lymphedema. With the combination of my surgery and my radiation, I had very few lymph nodes remaining in my left arm. The swelling and pain I was feeling was due to the inability of my arm to handle all the excess protein being distributed by my blood. There was no cure for Lymphedema and would be something I had to take care of for the rest of my life.

Why couldn’t’ I simply move on without breast cancer continually interrupting my life? After thinking about that question, it came to me that breast cancer will forever be a part of my life. I had to accept that. It was at this time I decided I wanted to do more than just accept it; I wanted to help others accept it.

I know it is not possible for me to sum up the experience of breast Cancer in my life. I don’t think it is even possible for you to truly understand what it was like. But I hope this book will help you to know that cancer does not equal death. Cancer is a great learning experience. If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know and having gained such a clear picture of my life, I would.  

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Storybooking is a celebration of life. Celebrate yours today.

Need help getting started? Choose a cancer awareness template: Cancer Survival Story (feminine) or Cancer Survival Story (masculine). Or pick from our wide selection in the Template Gallery.