Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Gratitude...and an update


Hello, my friends. It's been a while since my last post bearing news about my breast cancer diagnosis. So much has happened since then. It's been rough -- still is -- but I can say so many good things have happened too...things I am thankful and grateful for. Because when I found myself in a truly dark place, I held on to the belief that I'd eventually see light and happiness again. And that when I was faced with my mortality, I learned to give up all control and be completely dependent on Jesus, the only one I truly believe can heal me. Every day continues to be a struggle but in the weeks after my diagnosis, I have been waking up thankful to God that I am alive and given another chance to be in the moment with my children and my husband, to make memories with them.

The photo collage of my girls and me...we took those photos last June 24, on the fourth day after my third chemotherapy. They took me out on a walk down our long driveway...we call our walks "mommy and daughters time". My oncologist put me on a dose-dense chemo treatment -- every 2 weeks beginning May 23. My hair started falling off on day 12 and I just went ahead and shaved it all off on a few days later. I didn't tolerate the first two chemo treatments well. I was fine the first two days and then I was pretty much useless starting on the third day. I had severe nausea, was barely able to get up and function and take care of my children, and I mainly subsisted on water and fruit juice. I barely ate that between my first chemo and third chemo, I had lost over 20 pounds. Then on my third chemo treatment last June 21, my oncologist lowered my dose by 20% (without reducing the efficacy of the drugs) to see if it would help manage the side effects and it seemed to do the trick. I have been able to eat full meals, spend more time with my girls, and go out on more walks with them like in the photos. I have gained a bit of weight as well. My fourth chemo will be on July 5 (on my birthday), followed by a mastectomy within 6-8 weeks, followed by 12 more weekly chemo treatments, and then hormone therapy for the long term.

My breast cancer was initially staged at Stage IIB, but a PET scan indicated it metastasized to my right pelvis. And so my cancer was upstaged to Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I had a bone biopsy done but it was inconclusive and my oncologist thinks another bone biopsy will simply yield the same result and so even without definitive result, he is continuing to treat my cancer as Stage 4...unless somewhere down the line we are able to determine if the lesion in my pelvis is not cancer. My treatment plan is palliative at this point -- the goal is to slow down the cancer's growth and keep it from spreading so I can focus on my quality of life.

And so it looks like things are not going to be back to normal around here for a while. I do wish to keep the store open, and continue to be part of the crafting community, no matter how small a part that is -- so I can still feel some sense of normalcy. The store is a source of income for my family; the bills don't stop coming just because I have cancer, and any kind of sale, no matter how small, helps.

The last couple of months we have been blessed so much with family, friends, and church family coming together to help us -- whether it's taking me to my appointments, watching and taking care of my girls for a few hours, bringing us food, donating gift cards and/or money to help ease our financial burdens, and so on. My family and I are not able to weather this time without the kindness and generosity of others.

Thank you to those of you who prayed, continue to pray, sent words of encouragements, mailed cards, and continued to support STAMPlorations up until the time I temporarily closed the store for orders. I have partially re-opened it, albeit it's set up in a way that orders can go out within a reasonable length of time and so that my husband can take over shipping when I'm unable to. If you have the time, please do check out our store. There are a few things in there that are available on sale, and I'll keep adding as I have the energy to do so. Please know that however way you support us -- through prayers, by helping spread the word about our small company, through our Meal Train page, by placing an order, or by donating directly I am eternally grateful for your help and generosity.

Faith has sustained me, and I continue to hope that the Lord will see me and my family through our cancer journey.

Thank you so much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

With love,

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Goodbye...for now.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Hello, STAMPfriends. Many of you are aware of my current circumstance (per my post here) and I wish I had better news. My biopsy 2 weeks ago confirms I have breast cancer (Stage IIB) and treatment starts this month.

In light of my diagnosis, I am temporarily suspending all activities here on the blog. The store will remain open until I know when my treatment starts (and I'm not able to work). Without going into too much detail (don't want to bore/depress you all!), my treatment plan starts with chemotherapy to shrink the tumors, followed by surgery, then radiation therapy, and finally hormone therapy. (Once I'm not able to fulfill orders for tangible products anymore, the store will remain open but only for digital products, as fulfilling those require no intervention from me and any income from digital sales will help us greatly.)

I wish I can write more, but at this point, I'm simply plain wiped out and all cried out. I will, however, update this post as I'm able, and share some of my breast cancer journey. Yes, I believe I will recover from this, because I trust that the Lord is giving me the best doctors and medical team. 

There is still one more post I hope to publish after this -- the winners post -- but once again, please bear with me...there's still a lot for me to plan and do on the home front, all to hopefully minimize the hardship/stress my family will soon go through when my treatments start.

Many of you have been following our blog and even playing in our challenges for many years...some since we started in 2013. I cannot thank you enough for being such loyal readers, followers, and players. I have "met" so many wonderful, kind, and encouraging women here and I am forever grateful for friendships formed in spite of the physical distance. I am so looking forward to reviving this blog.

For now, may I ask you to include my family in your prayers?

With love,

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

{Inspiration Project Post #366}

Hello, STAMPlorations Friends! The Inspiration girls are back with a helping of projects showcasing stamps, dies, stickers and ephemera of their choice.

We'll still randomly draw a winner from all the comments left on our Inspiration posts, have a look and leave a comment for your entry to win a $15 prize code to the STAMPlorations store in our monthly prize draw.

 





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You can check out all of our current promotions, giveaway and freebies here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

{Inspiration Project Post #365}

Hello, STAMPlorations Friends! The Inspiration girls are back with a helping of projects showcasing stamps, dies and stencils of their choice.

We'll still randomly draw a winner from all the comments left on our Inspiration posts, have a look and leave a comment for your entry to win a $15 prize code to the STAMPlorations store in our monthly prize draw.

 






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You can check out all of our current promotions, giveaway and freebies here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

{Inspiration Project Post #364}

Hello, STAMPlorations Friends! The Inspiration girls are back with a helping of projects showcasing stamps, dies and stencils of their choice.

We'll still randomly draw a winner from all the comments left on our Inspiration posts, have a look and leave a comment for your entry to win a $15 prize code to the STAMPlorations store in our monthly prize draw.

 





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You can check out all of our current promotions, giveaway and freebies here.

Friday, April 08, 2022

{CUTplorations Creative Cuts} Carol Re-Visits the Eclipse Technique

Happy Wednesday, STAMPlorations friends! CUTplorations Creative Cuts is back to putting the spotlight on the thin metal dies we carry in the store. STAMPgirl Carol is sharing projects that showcase CUTplorations dies.

  

    

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

{Inspiration Project Post #363}

Hello, STAMPlorations Friends! The Inspiration girls are back with a helping of projects showcasing stamps, dies and stencils of their choice.

We'll still randomly draw a winner from all the comments left on our Inspiration posts, have a look and leave a comment for your entry to win a $15 prize code to the STAMPlorations store in our monthly prize draw.

 




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You can check out all of our current promotions, giveaway and freebies here.

Friday, April 01, 2022

{April Stencil Challenge}

Hello crafters! We are so glad you are joining us for the STAMPlorations April Stencil Challenge. We loved your stencilled projects in the March challenge gallery, and hope you are as excited to play along with us this month. Do check out the challenge rules and prize info here. If you play along with our challenge, don't forget to check in on the 10th of May to see if you are the winner of the $20 prize code to the STAMPlorations store ($25 if you used a STAMPlorations/ARTploration stencil) or one of two randomly drawn crafters to win a $10 prize code ($15 if you used a STAMPlorations/ARTploration stencil).

We love to see your beautiful projects but to keep it fair and fun for everyone we have a few simple rules which you can also find at the end of this post. In addition to using a stencil on your project, we ask that you link up no more than three (3) projects per challenge. As always, our stencil challenge is anything goes as long as you use a stencil somewhere in your project. Also, remember that your project should be shown in its full glory on your blog post or Instagram, sneak peeks are not eligible to take part. Please don't forget to link back to this blog post via text link, and to include the challenge graphic to be eligible for the prizes (if linking from a blog). And above all, we hope that you have a lot of fun when you get creative with your stencils! 


If you play, make sure you include the graphic below in your post and link back (via text link) to this challenge post in order to qualify for our prizes :o) Please also read our simple rules, which you'll find toward the end of this post.


Link back:

And now it's time to see what the talented design team have come up with to inspire you!

      

    
          


{April CAS Challenge}

Hi CAS crafters! Welcome to the STAMPlorations April CAS challenge. Thank you for joining us for the March challenge and for being here with us again today. We hope you feel inspired to play along with us. If you feel you just need to tickle your inspiration muscles just a little bit our talented design team has once again outdone themselves to help you get started.

Do check out our updated challenge rules and prize info hereAnd if the fun of playing along isn't enough, we also have great prizes each month. One of the DT members will pick their favourite to win a $20 prize code to the STAMPlorations store ($25 prize code if you used a STAMPlorations product as the main/focal point of your card). Two randomly drawn crafters receive a $10 prize code ($15 prize code if you used a STAMPlorations product as the main/focal point of your card). Join us on May 10th to find out the winners. 

We have a few simple rules and we ask that you follow them so that playing along will be fun and fair to everyone. All the rules are summarised at the end of this post. Your challenge is to create a clean and simple (CAS) card with or without the optional color twist which this month is blue and purple. You may enter up to 3 CAS cards. Remember to link to this blog post (via text link) and display the challenge graphic to be eligible for the prizes (if you are linking from a blog post). You can use any craft products you want, but if you have STAMPlorations stash, we would love to see what you create with it. And of course, the most important rule - have fun and be creative! 

If you play, make sure you include the graphic below in your post and link back (via text link) to this challenge post in order to qualify for our prizes :o) Please also read our simple rules, which you'll find toward the end of this post.


Link back:

Let's see how the Design Team was inspired by this month's colors.

    
   

{April Theme and Photo Prompt Challenge}

Hello crafters! Welcome to the April Theme and Photo Prompt challenge. We are very happy that you are with us here today and hope you will enjoy this month's challenge. We were so impressed with your projects last month and can't wait to see what you share with us this month. As always, the ladies of the design team are sharing their stunning creations to inspire you.

Do check out our updated challenge rules and prize info here. As always, we have prizes for grabs if you play along - one of the DT members will pick their favourite project to win a $20 prize code ($25 if you used STAMPlorations products as the main/focal point in your entry) to the STAMPlorations store and two randomly drawn crafters will win a $10 prize code ($15 if you used STAMPlorations products as the main/focal point in your entry). The winners will be announced on May 10th, so don't forget to check in on that date if you play along.

Our April theme is Stamps and Text. As usual, we also have a photo prompt you can draw inspiration from. You can use the theme, the photo prompt or both to inspire your project. To be eligible for the prizes we ask that you follow a few very simple rules to make it fair and fun for everyone. You can link up a maximum of 3 projects (any kind!), no more, even if using different platforms. Your project is required to involve stamping of some kind (rubber, clear or digi stamps are all permitted). We love to see you use your STAMPlorations supplies, but any crafting supplies are allowed. Also, your project should be displayed in its full glory on your blog/Instagram/other platform, sneak peeks are not eligible for our challenges. Last but not least, don't forget to link to this post (find the link below) and make sure you add the challenge graphic to your post to qualify for prizes (if linking from a blog). All the challenge rules are summarised at the end of the post. And the most important rule is of course to have fun, get messy, inky and creative!


If you play, make sure you include the graphic in your post and link back (via text link) to this challenge post in order to qualify for our prizes :o) Please also read our simple rules, which you'll find toward the end of this post.


Link back:

Now let's see how the design team have interpreted this month's theme and/or photo.