I am Leah and I have Bipolar Disorder. To make life even more interesting, my husband, Dan, has Stage IV Cancer. He was diagnosed at 37 and has  been in ongoing treatment for 4.5 years! We also have a healthy and rambunctious 7 year old. So follow along as we try to manage our life together and strive for love, gratitude, and joy.

Two Weeks in Photos 11/11 - 11/25


Look at these adorable nuggets! Raine had ten days with his cousins, Logan and Lexi, and major fun was had by all. They went to an indoor play center, played at our house, swam at their hotel, and played at the park. These photos were taken the afternoon that we got a package in the mail with handmade Ninja Turtle stocking caps by Pat LaPorte, the mother of one of Dan's childhood friends, Ed Kulzer. Raine was beside himself with excitement at getting a package in the mail (will he ever understand that most families/kids don't get so many packages!?) And so Logan and Lexi were SO excited for Raine; they were all wiggling and shouting as I opened the box. Of course, the hats were designed for Dan, Raine, and me, but instantly the kids picked their colors, wore them, and ran around like Ninja Turtle goofballs. If you are reading this, Pat, these special little hats went home with Raine's cousins to Illinois. I love that they are all a part of their special little cousin Ninja Turtle club. (We kept the green one for Raine!)



I continue to believe that I live in the most perfect, beautiful place in the world for me and my family. This view is from Anne Amie Vineyards, in Carlton. Like Dan, my father loved the yellow leaves of the vineyards in autumn, so I was happy to take him and the rest of my family with Hattie to this one in our hometown with such a gorgeous view. It took me 9 years to find my genuine sense of home in Oregon, and that view of the mountain range beyond our town here in Yamhill county is it. It is a view that brings me a sense of belonging and peace in a way that I felt as a child looking out at the cornfields. We have a little sliver of that view of the Coast Range from our bedroom and living room windows. I cherish it.



My LuLaRoe Trunk Show + Fundraiser with Republic of Jam was followed by another fundraiser by the owners of Barrel 47, a lovely little gastropub here in Carlton. I designed the posters and most of the businesses in town had them in their doors and windows. The day before the event, Carlton Growler Boys / Carlton Corners reminded everyone about the fundraiser by putting a message on their marquee. Dan shyly asked me if there was going to be a time (sooner rather than later) when his face and name weren't going to be plastered all over the place. I smiled and made no promises. Despite his reservation about being in the spotlight, we are so grateful for everything everyone here in our community is doing for us. To date, we have received donations from Barrel 47, Republic of Jam, Omero Cellars, Valley Emporium, Farmhouse Romance Boutique, Violet Rose, Ken Wright Cellars, and many, many kind citizens of Yamhill County.


Raine made a brief appearance at the Barrel 47 fundraiser. He used the iPad and ate a hamburger and french fries and then went home to play with his baby-sitter. Dan did well despite some moments of feeling dizzy and nauseous. We had good friends, Peter and Angela, make the drive from Milwaukie and bring along dinner guests for the occasion. I used the excuse to dress up a bit (dressing up for me really just means a skirt or dress and my Miz Mooz pumps) and drink a few glasses of pinot noir. KWC donated profits of their pours that night to our family and Domaine Serene provided me with a lovely Exquisite Oregon Wine Experience tasting package for four that we took tickets for with donations. By the end of the night, we had $3000.00 raised to add to our GoFundMe savings. Every single donation helps us be able to manage my leave from work and his medical bills. We feel extraordinarily blessed.



By his third week post-chemotherapy treatment, instead of feeling normal again, Dan began to feel worse. He slept as much as he did the first few days after treatment but became increasingly slow in his movements and some of his cognitive processes. I kept excusing symptoms as part of fatigue, but by Wednesday the 19th, I was afraid that something else was going on. He had vomited for the first time, and then didn't have an appetite all day so didn't eat. That night, after I put Raine to bed, I talked to him about how he felt and checked his notes. He writes little descriptions in a small notepad every day to keep track of any changes in how he feels. I wasn't concerned about what he wrote---I was concerned about how he wrote it. His handwriting was smaller than usual, the spacing was cramped, and full of errors and scratches. He told me it took him longer to write it than he expected, too. In light of a climbing temperature and these findings, I spoke with the on-call doctor and then took him to the ER in Newberg. He was admitted to St. Vincent's in the middle of the night and stayed until Friday.


This photo was taken when he was feeling much better on Friday, awaiting his discharge papers from the hospital staff. I used Facebook to request from friends funny videos for us to watch while we were stuck there Thursday night and I also sent out a request for non-hospital food for lunch Friday. Patrick, who isn't even on Facebook, contacted us to see if he could stop by because he thought Dan was there for his scheduled chemo treatment anyway. I told him about our change in plans but that we were still at the hospital and super hungry. He brought lunch from Dan's favorite Portland sandwich shop, Lardo. Thank you to Patrick, and everyone who continues to support us via social media and old fashioned phone calls and texts. Thank you also to Melissa for staying at our house with Raine Wednesday night. To Julie and Steve, who checked in on Rocco for us and did dishes. To Abbie and Bronwen for babysitting Raine. To Lorri and Carmen for letting me crash on your couch Thursday night and bringing us food. To Gayle who cleaned, picked up prescriptions, managed Raine, and cooked us dinner.

Did I mention that we feel extraordinarily blessed?

See, every kind thought you have for us matters. It is keeping us held together and taken care of by one another and our friends and family.

Thanksgiving 2014

Shine A Light Event Rescheduled