The Dumb Ugly Cancer Bug in Pillow Form–For KIDS

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Here is how to make an easy Dumb Ugly Cancer Bug for you or your children.

The Dumb Ugly Bug is the name of one of my cancer picture books (not yet published) about going through chemo therapy.

Materials:  1 Pillow Case, Waterproof marker (Sharpee), 1 pillow, 1 rubber band, tons of aggression to take out on the “Cancer Bug.”


1. Place a pillow case on a hard surface to make it easier to color on. 

2. If you are worried your marker may bleed through place a newspaper inside the pillow case as you draw your face for your cancer bug. 

3. Allow your child to express how they think cancer looks to them on the pillow case. (Or make one for yourself.)

4. Place a pillow inside the pillow case and close the end with a rubber band.

5.  When you or your child feels angry about cancer allow them to take it out on the dumb ugly cancer bug.   (Punch it.  It feels good!)

Interesting perspective about my children’s story on The Dumb Ugly Bug:

I felt sick to my stomach as I sat around a table at an SCBWI Conference in NYC as a group of people, plus an editor critiqued our children’s book manuscripts. It is called an INTENSIVE and yes it was. I wore a hat over a nearly bald head of hair.  I decided to hold my head high, and go for it, even though I knew that presenting a cancer children’s book at the conference would be different than the happy bunnies or birdies read from the rest of the table. I was frightened when my turn came.  I was not full strength yet, but wanted so much for the story to be read with emotion and rhythm. When I got to the climax and the cancer bug was gone no one spoke.   The editor paused for what seemed too long, and then said her publishing house would not have any interest in this type of book.  That was all she said and opened it up for critiques from the others sitting around the table. 

One gentleman commented that I shouldn’t end the story so happily when, “You know, it might not end that way.” 

I asked the gentlemen if he felt HOPE was important to healing. 

He said, “Not false hope.” 

So, I said, “How should I write the ending to this story?” 

And he said, “Children should not have to read about such terrible things.” 

Yep, he was right about that!  But unfortunately mine did.  And I am going to bless them and every other person who has to deal with “such things” with HOPE.

So take your aggression out on that pillow and know that your mom, dad or you will be better VERY soon!

Just keep fighting and have HOPE!


Postal Packages and Human Beings


Please remember that I often look tough on the outside but feel fragile on the inside.

Please handle me with care.

Sometimes I am afraid.

Sometimes I don’t feel very well.


Sometimes I don’t have the energy.

Sometimes I just don’t care.

Sometimes I want to but can’t.

Sometimes I am embarrassed.

Sometimes I am weary.

Sometimes I can’t take it anymore.

Sometimes I just simply don’t have the energy to fake it.

Remember that I am a human and please, handle with care.


The Power of KINDNESS

What?  You never knew? 

 Random Acts of Kindness week is the week of February 13-19th. 

The power of kindness is immense.  It is nothing less, really, than the power to change the world. –-Daphne Rose Kingma, Random Acts of Kindness.

Focus outward if you have the energy, it will lift your spirits.

Quick list:   Say please and thank you, return grocery carts if you have the energy, be a good listener, plant a tree or have a friend plant one for you, bring a flower to someone who looks like they need it, leave a kind note for your mail carrier or someone that looks like they need one, write a note to your friend’s parents thanking them for your friend, send a greeting card to one of your neighbors, help people feel less worried in a waiting room, give a Popsicle to a gardener, answer the phone in a pleasant voice,thank the tree for giving you shade, put riddles on mirrors to make everyone smile, Hold a RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) party, do one kind thing each day for someone for an entire month, feed the birds, make someone’s bed without telling them, pick up trash, bring cupcakes to your doctor, save some worms on a rainy day, bring treats to your friend’s dog, send an anonymous letter to someone telling them thank you, smile more, buy a pack of gum for a child or adult, compliment someone and really mean it, buy a candy bar for someone or for the person checking you out of the store, plant some seeds, thank your dad and mom for working hard for  you, laugh out loud, tell your neighbor you love their garden, be a patient, courteous driver  and allow people to come in your lane, buy a soda for someone, do something around your house without being asked, offer a hug to someone who needs one, look around and notice where you can give kindness spontaneously, you get the idea… have fun and feel the rewards of giving. The secret is you don’t have to do these things only on Random Acts of Kindness week, but any day you choose!

Here are a few more in detail: 

1. Door bell ditch together as a family with a homemade treat left on your friend’s doorstep.  (It’s not just for Christmas anymore, its for RAK!) Hide in a place where you can see their faces when they get the surprise! (If you don’t feel up to it, just sit in the car and watch.  It will lift your spirits)

2. Go to your local ice cream parlor and treat your family to ice cream.  Pay for 5 extra people to receive  ice creams and tell the parlor you want to stay anonymous and sit and watch how happy the other 5 customers will be.

3. Everyone goes to their mailbox hoping there will be more than just junk mail. Sending a snail mail letter is a great way to give a gift.  Color the envelope or put stickers all over it. Write poems, or happy thoughts.

4.  Load your pockets with some doggy treats as you go for a walk.  When you get a “barker”, just toss the doggy a treat.  The dog will be pleasantly surprised!

5.  Invite a unique mix to dinner, perhaps someone you met at your cancer center.  Serve pancakes.

6.  On a cold day pop some  extra hand warmers in your pockets and when you see someone who is freezing, hand them some hand warmers for relief.

7.  My favorite:  Be a magic dragon.  A little boy who had lukemia would receive a surprise package every time he was feeling discouraged.  The family never knew who the packages came from; they were signed from the magic dragon.  Become a magic dragon to someone who needs you. (Old Post)

Many of these ideas were my own but a few were adapted from the Books Random Acts of Kindness. 1993, 2003 (Conari Press)

Let the beauty we love be what we do.  –Rumi

Ways you can help

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.       

  Luziano De Cresceno

A list to answer, “What do I do now,” as a friend.

1. Snail mail Letters or cards make me feel so happy and loved.

2. Send comics/jokes/uplifting short thoughts to me so I can laugh or feel good inside.  I often bring them to treatments, or surgeries to cheer me up!

3. Read and keep up with my blog/ or start and keep my blog because that will help me not have to tell my story over and over again. That is so hard for me. (Look in archives)

4. Set up calendar care (read archive post) This will make life so much easier for me. (This handles meals, childcare, rides, etc.)

5. Make a cross off treatment chart. (look at my blog post for the example)

6. Small meaningful gifts: scarves for cold neck or head, nail polish, pajama bottoms, music, books on tape, magazines, treats, candy, food, mashed potatoes, etc. Serve how you feel most comfortable.  I will appreciate anything.

7.  Go wig/hat shopping together.

8. Bring over surprise comfort foods without too much seasoning. (Burns my mouth) I love bread, soup, mashed potatoes, bland things like rice, smoothies, ice cream.

9. Bring over simple lunch (like soup) and stay for a few minutes depending on how I feel.

10.  Hand or foot massage (with or without lotion)

11.  Don’t try to sell a product to me unless I ask.  I have heard about them all!

12. Look up information for me when I am too stressed to read about it all.

13.  Send or record a sweet…mantra I can say to myself at treatments. I use scriptures from the Bible. Jesus Christ is my master healer!

14. Bring things that can calm my nerves (color book and crayons–this has known calming effects for adults too)

15. Make a quilt, afghan, or pillow case I can take with me to treatments or surgery.

16. If you want to make something for me, I will so appreciate your time as well as the thoughtful gift.

17. Offer your gook-luck charm.  I promise I will give it back. I need your strength to get me through!

18. Flowers always are uplifting.  Be aware of the ones that need care.  I may not feel up to it.

19.  Help me around my home. I will hate to ask but I need help. I have no energy.

20.  Help with my kids schoolwork, extra items I am too tired to deal with.

21. Help fold laundry. Or do my wash.  I will love you forever!  It keeps on coming…

22. Just visit.  (But be sure to watch my signs.  I may be too weak to talk)

23. Go to chemo therapy treatments, doctors appointments, and radiation therapy with me.  I will say no.  DON’T drop me off.  Insist you come in.   I will appreciate having support right next to me even though I present myself as tough.

24. Help drive me to other places, like the grocery store.

25. Shop for me.

25. Stay with me.  Sometimes being alone is not fun.

26. Watch movies with me while I lie on the couch.

27. Plant some flowers in my entryway. I may be too tired to take care of them, but it would cheer me up as I enter my home.

28. Supply warmth.  I am cold.  Cancer makes you cold physically and emotionally.  Warm microwavable rice packs or water bottles would feel lovely.

29.  Go with me to my information appointments.  I may not be able to handle all of the information.  Please take notes for me.

30. Offer to organize my medical stuff.

31. Place a sign on my door that says; ‘Please do not enter if  you are feeling sick, stuffed, or have a cough’  I must keep my home germ free.

32. Offer to keep the supply of hand sanitizer up to date.

33. Make a surgery basket or box that would cheer me up.  I most likely will have scary surgery and I need an uplift. (magazines, candy, card, etc.) Check on me after too.

34. Use your talents that you feel most comfortable to help serve. Someone once came and read children’s stories to me.  I LOVE children’s stories.

35. Do something for a local cancer center that offers ideas to do, for example: Bake for breastcancer, locks of love, shave  your head for…, run or walk for…marathon or bike-a-thon- for…Tell me  you have done for cancer and I will be speechless.

36. Be aware that I may not be myself and may not be able to talk to you during certain times of my treatments. Not because I don’t want to but because I won’t have any energy.

37.  Most of the time my white count is very low, which makes me very susceptible to getting sick.  Please keep your little ones at home. They have more germs that grown ups and don’t know when to cover and cough.  If I get sick it could be fatal.

38. Share music you love that can uplift me.

39. Share thoughts, recordings or stories that can uplift me.

40. Draw with me or for me.

42. I may not be able to read at certain times, but offer a good story.

43. Be a check-er-inner. (look at past blog post)

44. Be a shoulder to cry on.  I need to cry a lot!  Come to stock tissues.

45.  Do not be judgmental.  I am battling more than what is on the outside. I am very sensitive, but cannot be bothered by worrying if I have hurt your feelings.  It is too much for me to deal with.

46. Please take my kids.  I feel so terrible they have to see me like this. Could you do something to help them forget for a little while…

47. Please feed my partner or my family when I am having surgery.  They are so weary!

48. Please don’t think that after all my treatments are done that I don’t need any friends anymore.  I will always have to worry about cancer.

49. Love my animals for me. Take them to the doggy park, or whatever…

50.  Please remember that I am not Cancer.  I am a human with tender feelings.  I feel anger, fear, frustrations, loss, and so many other feelings. I want to have a regular life like you. Let me talk of other things.

51. Send me a text message every week, during treatments, at the waiting room, etc.

52. Send me an e-mail.

53. KEEP REMINDING ME, I CAN DO THIS!  I will get better!

54.  PRAY FOR ME! I need you my friend.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1 John 4:11

A MYSTERY–The Case of the Missing Nose Hairs

It was a surprise to me, that to face all the symptoms and adversities that I would go through with cancer, that I would actually try to laugh through parts of it and get my family to laugh with me!

When I began chemotherapy I participated on a blind study with the drug Avastan. Not only do you loose your head hair with the chemo, but you don’t have any nose hairs and the Avastan drug was known to create tender sores in your nose which also created the biggest boogies I have ever seen in my life.  And I have a house full of boys so I know about those things!  My nose bled and dripped constantly because the hairs were not there to hold it in and protect the inside. Your fingers, “Inspector Pointer and Lefty” and kleenex’s were always right there to help with the problem!

I want to make sure the world knows I did not become a nose picker! 

Only a nose-stuff catcher!

 Thus I wrote this goofy mystery…

  I wrote it for my kids so we could

laugh together

about the dumb,unfortunate symptoms

that their mom had to go through and it made life at that time, a little lighter.


#1.  The Case of the Missing Nose Hairs

 It was evident it was a crime scene when the bloody boogies were discovered!

Chief Inspector Pointer and his side kick, “Lefty,” were called in to investigate right away.  No one had seen anything.  This would be a tricky case to solve… tricky-picky indeed!

Chief Pointer and Lefty knew exactly what they needed to do first.  They were going to have to go “in” to the crime scene and take a closer look around.

Traces of dried blood stuck under their nails as they moseyed around the dark tunnels of the 2 nostrils, picking up traces that could be used for further study.

Speculation:  They knew it was not a sneeze.  Every hair follicle in both nostrils had completely disappeared.  No, this was not just your average hay-fever bandit.  This had been elevated up to a serious crime.  This actually could be categorized as a “nose hair murder.”

They were given a tip by a close neighbor.  (Close, but just how close?)  Mouth came forward.  She had a beautiful pair of lips.  Inspector and Lefty knew to be careful with her. No one, no, no one was innocent until the actual culprit had been found.  Mouth mentioned that she had heard others in the “Avastan Study” had experienced similar crimes in the past.   (And maybe in the present!  Hopefully not in the future.)

They took the tip and went to investigate.  Sure enough Pointer and Lefty had found proven documents of other people who tragically had been affected by this heinous crime!

Because of the loss of so much nose hair, Investigator Pointer and Lefty had to be vigilant to not allow the emotional aspect take over their lives.  They kept tissues with them to fight the emotional stress.

Next Tactic:  To wait in the dark of night to see if someone or something becomes evident.    (Why in the night?…That is usually when crime of this nature begins!  Have you ever heard of nose hair murder done in the day?)  They decided on “tactile” investigating; a highly sensitive form of investigation only known to chief investigators.

They also decided to call in two more sleuths to help with the investigation.  Tall man and pinky were just the men for the jobs.

The snoring began around 12 a.m from the person sleeping next to the victim.  Tall man and Pinky were assigned to the nose with the loud snore.  Strangely, all hairs were intact and full of debris. It was a dirty job but they were up for it.  But there were no traces of bloody boogies anywhere.  This was dangerous work.

This was very interesting that there seemed to be no trace of the ‘Nose Hair Murderer” anywhere near this snoring nose.  Here lying in the same bed as the victim.   What could this mean?

Had they hit a wall?

Who would actually want to steal nose hair from one victim and none from one so close.

What would be the motive? Why would anyone want to steal nose hair in the first place?

These questions kept Chief Inspector and Pointer up round the clock.  Inspector began to take the crime too personally visiting the site too often.  He continually blamed himself for not seeing something he was missing. He visited the crime scene again and again.  “Completely cleaned out of hair.  This is so odd!  What am I missing?”

‘Lips had no motive,’ he thought.  ‘No one likes hair in their mouth and certainly not on those beautiful pair of lips.  Eyes had no reason, hair makes them itchy and red.  And when eyes look closely at nose they get cross.’

“Who could have done such a thing?”  Lefty adds.  “Nose was innocently taking a breather, and BAM, someone comes along and makes him a victim of crime!  His life now is a constant run!”

Inspector Pointer and Lefty could NOT leave the crime scene.  They collected specimens constantly from nostrils trying to formulate what could have happened with no avail.  They could not find the culprit and both felt to be failures!

Unfortunately,  it got from bad to worse… The victim, NOSE,  filed for an invasion of privacy report on the investigators and they were instantly removed from the case.

It was a sad day indeed when Inspector Pointer watched as Tall Man and Pinky were placed in charge of the ‘Case of the Missing Nose Hair.’

He and Lefty simply washed their hands of it—they had to move on.  There were rumors of another case that may need close attention…we won’t mention where until we know for sure.  But I hear it may get stinky!

The End….

“Tee Hee…”

 What do I do now?

Write funny things about your cancer experiences. One day you will look back and laugh.

 I really promise!

You will not feel or look like this forever!

 “Have fun with it” is my other blog if you would like to see a simple approach to living an artful life.


The Roller Coaster Ride

My Chart

When my Cancer Center explained all of the treatments I was going to have, it was very overwhelming.  To help my children, my extended family, and me keep it all straight I made a chart.  I put in on a wall in our kitchen so everyone could see what was next.  We colored in each one when I was done with that particular treatment. I wanted it to be bright! I sent a small chart to my elderly parents across country so they could keep track too.  I made a little roller coaster car with my picture on it that I could move along the track to each new treatment. (I just put tape on the back) I wrote comments on it that reminded me of what I was feeling as I went through the different treatments.  I even named each treatment.  My first was chocolate syrup.

Was it hard to make…nope!

Take a white poster board and use something from your kitchen to make the circles. Make as many circles as treatments you will have.  I had six weeks of radiation so I split the circles in five for the week instead of making 30 more circles at the bottom. I made a simple track all around the circles to look like a roller coaster.  There was a big finish at the end with flowers and smiley faces. Be creative and make your own.  Have your children help you make it.  Allow them to be involved in the process.  Have them color in the circles and move the little car with you in it.  It makes the time fun.  Everyone knows what’s next.

My married daughter sent me thoughts each week and I placed those around my chart (above on the colored post a notes.)

The Monster Under the Bed

Dearest God,

How am I going to tell my children I have cancer? What do I do now?

Tell them when you are ready, tell them in small doses according to age, tell them the truth, but please, please tell them! 

Your children “feel” when something is wrong.  If you are talking quietly when they come in the room, and you put on a fake smile, they will know something is not right. They can see your red eyes. They can hear hushed phone conversations.  And they often conclude they are somehow responsible. Give them the power of knowledge.  Share this together. You will be grateful for what they can give to you as you battle the hardest experience in your life.  Children are strong and resilient. They deserve to know.

Here is our story:

It was the beginning of the Christmas season when I found out I had cancer.  Christmas was a big time for our family and an even bigger time for me, with expectations of creating the magical atmosphere I so loved.  But I was instantly swept up by the numbing news, appointments and scheduling to prepare for major surgery 2 days before Christmas.  I fervently wished the entire season would be skipped and I would wake up from this nightmare.

I remember the entire family was sitting in our boy’s room before bed. We were preparing to have family prayer together.  My husband spoke. They were watching me very closely, as they were aware something was going on with me.  My husband explained that the doctors found something inside me that did not look right. The doctors were concerned about it and felt it would be good if it was removed.  My boys asked when.  And we told them Dec. 23rd. We hugged them and told them all would be well.  And that we would need some help from them during this busy time. We said our family prayer and I was blessed in that prayer and every prayer after that.  It was empowering for the children to know what it was and that they were not responsible.  I noticed a positive visible change in them after that night.

We did not feel that the word cancer was appropriate for this discussion.   For this particular time and the ages  present, that was enough.  But that acknowledged the scary monster under the bed and opened up the opportunity to discuss it later in more depth.

CANCER was said later on.  It is empowering when you finally can say it and get the monster out from hiding.

What do I do now?  Say a silent prayer, go upstairs, sit on the bed, and tell them…

The next few posts will involve children and cancer.

FEAR:  What if I am asked if I will die…what do I say? You will have to answer that in  your own way but I said, No.  I believe Hope is something to hold on to.  Even those who may not make it, continue to have hope until the very end.  You will live and continue to love them! Hold on to HOPE.