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365 Days Stronger

It has been exactly 365 days since my final chemo treatment for cancer and receiving the news that I was in complete remission.  I’m happy to report that I continue to be in good health after my 1-year doctor visit at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center a few weeks ago.  I think back to the struggles that I had experienced daily and how much pain and exhaustion I endured while trying to maintain a decent size workload, juggling a family with young kids, and somewhat of a social life.  Once COVID-19 hit, I knew this journey down the joyous “cancer road” would be placed solely on me.  I found out later that I was on this road to recovery by myself even more so than I had once expected. 

Since my final treatment, I have set out to make small changes to my lifestyle that includes more yoga (bad visual, I know!), self-meditation, prayer and daily Downtown Greeley walks on my breaks at work.  I’ve found that these small daily rituals have helped with my mental state.  One shop that I continue to get my daily refresh from that has a simple message sign outside is Blush Boutique.  Daily I walk by this same message, “God’s Plans will always be greater and more beautiful than all your disappointments”.  I have found that you can’t control all of life’s disappointments, but you can control your own happiness and wellbeing.  I continue to be cautious, yet live life to its fullest in all aspects of my life.  It is difficult to look back on, but I would never take back what I was able to accomplish during this time.  Through God, I’m blessed beyond belief and I’m happy with the changes I continue to make both mentally and physically post-cancer treatments.  

My blood draws and checkups have now moved to every 6-months and soon they will be yearly.  Each time I enter the hospital I continue to have a queasy feeling of uncertainty, both from a medical and personal standpoint.  To this day I continue to tell myself, “I got this”, each and every visit.  I feel as if I am a “survivor” in many aspects of life and the disappointments will never outshine my triumphs that I was able to accomplish.

Here’s  to the next 365!

Rory

When we first arrived at Big Bones Animal Rescue it wasn’t our families intent to begin to look for a dog.  I knew I wanted a dog for our young kids, but not at that specific time.  Our goal was to drop off donated food, cleaning supplies and tons of paper towel rolls since they were always in need.  Big Bones is an animal rescue shelter just on the outskirts of Windsor, Colorado that generally takes in large breeds of dogs and helps place them in good homes. They also do an awesome job with fostering and the adoption of dogs as well.  Once we arrived and began to hear the howls and barks for attention, I knew we were eventually going to be taking a pet home.  I was very sceptical on a large dog, but to my surprise there was ONE cage of two extremely small mixed breed dogs that we fell in love with.  One of the dogs caught our eye – his name was Rory.   

Rory was rescued off of the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city known for euthanizing pets picked up off the streets that aren’t claimed within a specific amount of time.  He was transported to Big Bones Animal Rescue in hopes of finding a forever-home, even though the mixed-breed didn’t match the facility.  The owner let us know that he was a Dachshund – Spaniel mix and was roughly 8-10 months old.

From the get-go he was a bit timid but eventually warmed up and was friendly with both kids.  He ran circles around them in his chain linked cage and had that look of, “Get me out of here!”.  With the light snow from the previous evening and mud build up on the group, I could see why.  After only one other visit, he became ours and we became his “parents”.  We already assigned tasks for the kids to take part in that would teach them about the responsibility of owning a pet.  In the end, I knew I would be the food giver, water refresher and poop picker upper.  (….always fun!)

Rory has now been with our family for almost 7-years.  In those 7-years he has brought so much joy, happiness AND a bit of struggle.  As a puppy, we have endured him chewing up every phone charger, my work glasses, heals of expensive shoes and many other odds and ends things.    Recently he has also ventured into scratching and chewing up door frames whenever we leave our home.  This continues to be a struggle even though we know that it is a fear of being left alone and isolated.  He also adopted a habit of hunting down ANY of my sweaty workout socks from the bedroom and bringing them out to the living room to naw on.  Always fun to play “Find the sweaty sock in our house”.  With these minor setbacks, he has become such a great addition to our family.  

To this day, Rory continues to light up my day.  When going through chemotherapy sessions for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year, he was always by my side at home.  He knew exactly when I was about to take a turn for the worse and would nuzzle up against my bare skin in bed and push his body up against mine.  It was almost a sense of comfort for both him and I.  He knew exactly when I was going to get sick and he showed his affection in so many ways.  

These last few months, he continued to help me through life struggles.  He would lay with me on the couch during the early morning hours or in the guest bedroom with his chin on my lap with such a selfless expression.  He knew I was down in the dumps and continued to try and lift me up by pushing himself upon me.  I believe his sense of awareness is what has helped me through many of my emotional battles.  Rory was my pet therapy dog before I even knew I needed one.

As the saying goes, “Dogs are man’s best friend.”  I would have to agree and I would even go as far as to say that they are better than humans.  Dogs will be by your side through thick and through thin.  They greet you as you arrive home with a happy wagging tail and find a way to always pick you up when you are feeling down.  They keep you motivated to go on daily walks and protect you when they sense fear.  Dogs just know “how to be a good friend”.

Rory is still going strong and keeping me active.  We continue to walk daily, cuddle on the couch in the morning and play tug at night.  He still loves to chase squirrels and I still find random sweaty socks in different places around the house.  7-years ago I wasn’t expecting to adopt a dog, now I’m wondering how I have ever lived without him.  Not only has he been a great addition for our family, but he has also been such a great addition for my own well being.  Thank you Rory for being such a good friend.

Listen to your Heart

The world is giving me answers each day. Learn to listen to both sides. The good will always out weigh the bad.


Listening to the GOOD (no order)

  • Anika – dedicated, healthy, happy, sensitive, caring, athletic, beautiful
  • Andrew – smart, passionate, intense, innovative, spunky, funny, driven, handsome
  • Exercise
  • Devotion time
  • Creativity
  • My Mom and Dad
  • Time alone in the morning
  • A warm house
  • Great sex
  • Cars that work
  • Church and God
  • Coffee Tea
  • Morning cuddles
  • Weather changing
  • Friends that care
  • Having a savings, 401K, Pera accounts
  • Work and employment
  • Technology
  • Volunteerism

Listening to the BAD (no order)

  • Heartbroken
  • Times of despair
  • Not knowing the future
  • Not having trust
  • Needing to check her phone
  • Social Media
  • Early morning curiosity
  • Sleepless nights
  • Homelessness
  • Emptiness

One-On-One Time

“Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing dad.”

….and we are off! A very special date night that includes dinner and a special VIP father-daughter dance to top off the evening.

I can’t tell you how special this evening is for me to be able to spend precious time with Ms. Anika all to myself. These past few months have been extremely difficult, but she continues to remind me of how amazing life really is and how not to forget the simplest of things that make you happy. Time together. She cheers me up when I’m down and places a big-fat smile right back on my face no matter what the situation presents. Not only do I love her kindness and compassion she exhibits to others, but also for her heart that she shows for her Dad. (yes.. even when he tries to do a TikTok dance that isn’t remotely close to what she is doing)

Although she is growing up fast, I know that I will cherish these one-on-one times that we get to spend together. ❤️ you, Ani!

A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.

Charlotte Sophia Kasl