Tonight, October 27th, 2014 at 8pm Eastern you can hear me live on Stupid Cancer Radio!
I’ll be chatting with Matthew and Annie about the healing effects of art and craft on chemo brain. The short version is: pick up a pencil, bust out the guitar or crochet your life away. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you make something your brain will feel better. And who doesn’t want to feel better?
Tune in tonight at Stupid Cancer Radio or listen tomorrow in the archives. Either way, you won’t want to miss it.
Posted in Art, Cancer, Knitting, Sewing
Tagged art, cancer, chemo, Crochet, interviews, Knitting, painting, Sewing, survivor stories
I’ve had too much fun making more nodes from my crochet lymph node pattern.
Everybody say: “Eff cancer!”
I’m whipping up a bunch of brooches and larger nodes that fit into a pocket in preparation for my Etsy store’s grand opening in three weeks. Keep your eye on this page for more behind the scenes sneak peeks and some fun goodies.
For more FOs, check out Tami’s blog.
I’ve talked about my life with lymphoma and I’ve published a crochet pattern to make your own lymph node but what the heck is lymphoma and what does a lymph node do?
First, let’s take a look at lymph nodes.
Your lymph nodes are found all over your body, in fact there are over 600! There are two on either side of your neck just under your jaw. When you’re sick, oftentimes your doctor will touch them to feel if they’re swollen. You also have some under your arm pits, over your heart (where my tumor is located), in your groin and behind your knees. Basically, they’re everywhere!
The nodes themselves are covered by a fibrous capsule and inside there are thin follicles which house your white blood cells. When you’re sick, your white blood cells bind to viruses, germs and foreign bodies and attack them. Lymphocytes (the blue French knots) are a type of white blood cell that patrol your body in fluid called lymph. The afferent vessels bring lymph into the node. When the lymph nodes are ‘activated’ those lymphocytes exit the node through the efferent vessel and circulate around.
What is lymphoma?
There are two primary types of lymphocytes, B cells and T cells. Lymphoma is starts with a change to your lymphocytes (either one) where they start to reproduce uncontrollably but don’t exit through the efferent vessels. My B cells were the ones rapidly dividing and stuck in those follicles mentioned above. Much like an overfilled balloon, my mediastinal node (the one right above your heart and lungs) kept expanding and pressing against my heart and lungs. That left me with shortness of breath and I had some “B” symptoms like night sweats, a deep and dry cough, tiredness/dizziness and frequent nose bleeds.
After my emergency surgery and recovery, my oncologist Dr Anthony Mato, did a bone marrow biopsy. That involves a large needle to extract your bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside your bones that produces red blood cells. After an examination under a microscope and mapping of my genes, he was able to determine that there was neither cancerous activity in my bone marrow nor did I have any genetic reason for lymphoma. That and the images from a PET scan showed that all activity was above my diaphragm and isolated in two spots. I was at Stage 2 with B symptoms.
After staging, I was given a pretty good prognosis and we agreed that an aggressive chemo regime (Hyper CVAD) was my best bet at survival without possibly needing radiation or a stem cell transplant. Two years later, I haven’t needed any further treatment!
So what can you do for me right now? You can purchase a copy of my crocheted lymph node pattern and help me raise funds for Stupid Cancer. You can also donate blood and/or get placed on the stem cell transplant list via the Red Cross in the US. And for further information you can check out this free PDF about Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma published by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I’ve been a member of the FreshStitches kit club for some time now.
This month’s creature is Roosevelt the Monster! The added bonus (every package comes with a bonus!) is that skein of specialty yarn. It’s Shepard’s Wool Crazy yarn by Stonehedge Fiber Mill and Stacey made sure that we got a skein in our favorite colors. I like how mine is red, white and blue (with a bit of green thrown in as well) making my Roosevelt a very patriotic monster. There is another bonus but I’m going to keep mum on that until the big reveal day (May 10th) when everyone has their own kit.
Sign ups for the next round of the club begin in August and she’s unveiled a new monthly payment plan instead of paying it all up front.
For more WIPs, check out Tami’s blog.
Yes, this will be a post in two parts about Stitches South! Part one featuring the goodies I picked up will be up tomorrow. I had the pleasure of splitting a room with Stacey from FreshStitches (check out her blog post about our weekend over here) and she is a hoot! And a great roommate, too.
We had a delicious Southern home-style lunch at Folks‘. When I saw the giant rooster in front, I had to get a photo of us in front of it.
Vanessa and Stacey having fun
As you can probably guess, we were up to no good for most of the weekend. The food was amazing! And tasted so fresh and from scratch. For example, the gravy that came with my mashed potatoes had a strong beef flavor and not like it came from a packet. That taste only comes from making gravy from beef drippings.
I also had the pleasure of meeting (and purchasing from) the fine folks at Cephalopod Yarns.
Left to Right: Lisa, Sarah and Sam
As some of you may know, they were the Sanguine Gryphon and now operate as Cephalopod Yarns. They were hilarious and delightful to talk to along with (not pictured) Shannon Okey from Cooperative Press.
I found that I’m not the only knitter slash art journaler out there! Stacey Budge-Kamison, the owner of Urban Gypz was there with her art journal on display.
Stacey Budge-Kamison and her luscious yarns
Her yarns are super textured while still being soft. I like working with art yarns so I treated myself to some of her mini skeins, but more on that tomorrow.
I had a blast this year at Stitches South (I did last year too!) and I was pleased to see that there were more vendors this year. I still don’t quite fit into the ‘target’ market (I saw a lot more women who are older than I am by quite a bit) I’m glad to see that XRX is trying to lure in more young and independent shops.
I finally finished last week’s penguin! Meet Pepper the Penguin.
He’s all done and so cute. He’s about 10″ tall and quite chubby. I’m going to make him a hat and scarf later. He’s so cuddly. He’s the latest FreshStitches pattern, Pepper the Penguin. This pattern is a double whammy, she teamed up with Abby Glassenberg who designed a sewing pattern of Pepper.
I used scrap yarn I had laying about and my favorite 4 mm/size G crochet hook. I didn’t have any safety eyes in the right size for his head so I sewed them on with the last bits of black. I might change them out for buttons but I haven’t decided yet.
For more finished objects, check out Tami’s blog.
I can’t stop hooking! (Phrasing, boom!) The finished project is going live on Friday but here’s a small peek:
I tend to crochet smaller things so once I get started on a project, it’s over before I have a chance to take an in progress photo. I’m really excited about how this turned out and I can’t wait to talk about his back story.
Posted in Crochet
Tagged Crochet, toys, WIPs
Friday’s cute little guy is now for sale!
The pattern itself is $5.00 however, $3.00 of each sale will be sent to one of my favorite cancer charities, Stupid Cancer. Their focus is on young adults (like me!) living with cancer. We are an underserved group who have special needs and questions that pediatric and geriatric cancer survivors don’t have.
One of my frustrations with the literature I was given was that they never really covered the questions I had about sex, fertility, working/careers, my relationships with my husband and family. Having cancer at 25 and dealing with doctors and medical insurance wasn’t something that was covered in college. I never dreamed that three years after graduation (2007! We were the best class, by far!) I would have to sit down with my mom and husband and tell them what I wanted my funeral to look like.
The people at Stupid Cancer understood where I was coming from and they’re trying to make a difference and advocate for us. Donating a portion of my sales is the least I can do, I feel.
Many thanks to the Unique Sheep for yarn support. They are a great small company who also feel strongly about supporting their community and giving back.
I posted a sneak peek on Tuesday but everyone’s guesses were WRONG! I crocheted up my own lymph node.
It’s not anatomically correct but then again, I’m not a doctor. The little French knots up on one of the vessels are lymphocytes. I thought it made it look quite coquettish. I’m going to add a pin back to it and wear it as a hipper version of an awareness ribbon.
I’ve got the pattern written up, I just need three (3) people to test the pattern for me. If you are interested, please send an email to vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com. This is a very quick and simple amigurumi pattern, I’m mostly looking for assurances that everything is clearly written.
For more FOs, check out Tami’s blog.
I’ve been hard at work crocheting an amigurumi mystery. I don’t think any one will guess what it is so far:
I’ll give you a hint, it’s not a monster. I should be done writing up the preliminary pattern today. Later this week I’ll put the call out for testers. This will be one odd ball pattern and I love that!