BRCA Journey Part 1

On July 4th 1998 I stood on the front porch of my parent’s house in Maysville, KY and cut off my 46 year old mother’s thinning hair. Earlier that year Mom had been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She fought hard for the next 10 years, taking every chemo treatment available until the treatments ran out along with Mom’s time here on earth.

Mom's haircut

I’m not sure what spurred it on, a nudge from her doctors or just her own curiosity, but Mom started researching our family history of cancer and found that her father’s side of the family was drenched in breast cancer, ovarian cancer and stomach cancer (most likely ovarian as well). Years later her half sister, Sandy, was also diagnosed.

In 2002 Mom underwent BRCA genetic testing to see if our family’s history of cancer was indeed genetic. Mom tested positive for two gene mutations confirming her genetic predisposition to cancer. Because Mom was a carrier of the mutations, there was a 50% chance that my sister and I were also carriers. We were both tested; my big sis got the luck of the draw and tested negative (yaaaay!) while I tested positive for one of Mom’s mutations (booooo!).20161124_133441.jpg

I want it to be noted that I don’t hold any negative feelings toward my sister for stealing all the good non-cancer genes. Sure she also stole the ‘I look 15 years younger than I actually am’ genes and the ‘I can multitask like a bad mamma-jamma’ genes, but I’m taller, I don’t sunburn, and eating ice cream has never thrown me into an asthmatic attack so… I call it evens. Besides, we both got the ‘derpy’ genes.

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I’m sure you’re thinking, “Afton, all of the Mutants I know have really incredible super powers. Does your mutation give you super strength or the ability to over consume pizza and still fight crime?” Sadly, the answer is no. While my pizza consumption is on the higher end for someone my size I have not acquired any super powers. I guess you could consider me more of a ‘Rogue’, because let’s be honest, her mutation sucks too.

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What the BRCA gene mutation DOES give me is:

A 55-65% chance of developing breast cancer by age 70.

A 35-70% chance of developing ovarian cancer by age 70

*Men who carry the mutations are also at a higher risk for breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Guys, I KNOW!! I’m totally being a Debbie Downer,

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but I want you to know this stuff because:

A) If your family tree has a crazy amount of breast, ovarian and or prostate cancer, you might have a greater risk, but you are not alone! And there’s something you can do about it. Get tested! Take control of you future.

B) There’s no good screening method for ovarian cancer. By the time most women start experiencing warning signs, if ever, it’s too late in the game.

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C) The risk involved for those of us with the BRCA mutation is just too high to ignore. This is why most women with the mutation opt for preventative hysterectomy and double mastectomy. (If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow. That seems pretty extreme.” You’re right. It is extreme. And I pray that someday this won’t be the norm, but for now these preventative surgeries are the best options the medical community can provide.)

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D) I will need your help! Meals, encouragement, support for Josh and the boys, maybe a hair wash.  And prayers, lots of prayers.

DD) If I look different (ahem) the next time you see me you’ll know why.

So, here I am, 4 days away from my 36th birthday. In 3 days I have an appointment at the Women’s Oncology Center in St. Louis to schedule my preventative surgeries and discuss my options. I’m not 100% sure what that will look like. I’m not afraid, a bit anxious, but also really ready to start on this journey. If these surgeries will provide me the opportunity to someday sit on the back porch with old man Josh Nordean while we watch our grandkids play in the yard then I’ll take it, all day everyday.

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Thanks for reading friends! I covet your love and support. And cheesecake. If you have any cheesecake, I covet that too.

 

Baby Cousins

Amber Afton Volner Lindsay Bohnert

 

When I was 7 years old my baby cousin Lindsay was born. This is a photo of me holding her with my big sis, Amber. She was so sweet and I loved her. A few years later she developed a bit of sass, charging a dollar for kisses and referring to everyone as ‘Little Missy’. But she was still adorable in her flouncy 90’s dresses with her beautiful big eyes. Fast forward 20 something years: she’s married to a handsome tall drink of water named Tim and they are soon expecting their first baby!

As luck would have it I already had the perfect quilt top finished in my WIP (work in progress) pile. 20170213_102605.jpgI found the cutest grey hearts fabric for the backing and I got to work quilting it.

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I did a double row of quilting and really like the way it turned out.

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Look at those hearts! (insert all the emoji heart eyes)

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I was short on time so instead of making binding, like I normally do, I just used the backing as the binding. It’s sort of unconventional, but turned out pretty darn cute.

I can’t wait to meet baby girl. She’ll probably have a little bit of sass and a whole lot of sweetness just like her momma.

A Little Loominous

When we found out that baby #3 was a boy I immediately set out to find the perfect fabric for his quilt. Boy fabric is tricky to me. I could spend millions on all of the pretty florals out there but I’m just not that into a lot of what’s offered up for boys. But when I saw Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous collection I knew I’d found a winner.

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Aren’t these patterns yummy?! And those colors? Gaaaa! 😍

I had originally planned on using a random half square design, but once I got all of the blocks sewn and up on my design wall it all just looked too messy for my liking. After moving the blocks around in a few different designs and with some help from my good friend Jennifer I finally settled on a design. Unfortunately some of the fabrics I purchased didn’t make it into the final quilt, but I’m sure I’ll find good use for them in another project.

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What do you think?

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I’m loving it.
Here’s an in process shot.

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Taken after Jennifer helped with the design and obviously before I cleaned my house.

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I think he likes it.

New Addition

I have to admit that I haven’t done as much sewing as I wanted this past year, but we’ve been a little busy.

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We welcomed brother #3, who we lovingly refer to as ‘Coons Loons’, to the family in October. Big Brother started calling him that while I was pregnant so Coons it is.

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He’s pretty darn cute so we decided to keep him.

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And his big brothers adore him.
When Big Brother met him for the first time he said, “He’s so sweet. His feet are pruney.”

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Here he is perfecting the ‘mean mug’.

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I couldnt help but make a side by side of newborn pics of all three boys. Can you tell who’s who?

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He doesn’t look much like his big Bros now though. He’s definitely got his own look.

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And I finally got a good shot of the whole family on Mother’s Day.

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And just for fun I thought I’d throw in this year’s Halloween costumes.

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Aren’t they ridiculously cute?! Big Brother loved trick or treating while The Hoss basically played the iPhone in his stroller and tried to take his mane off. But we got these adorable pics so it was well worth it.

I did manage to sew a couple of quilts in the past 9 months. Hopefully pics will be up soon.

Travel Baby

There’s this super fun, outgoing, sweet and cool girl I met about 8 years back when I first moved to Oklahoma. I had just started a new job and Sarah was our weekend receptionist; she was also a student in the youth group Josh and I volunteered at. Over time Sarah started working with me more and I began to just adore her, I mean, she’s literally the most fun. In exchange for being my friend I bestowed on her the great honor of bringing me KitKats while I was pregnant. I would also sing to her on demand (I’m a super good friend). 

So this girl I met all those years ago has grown into this incredibly smart, capable woman and now she has added ‘Mommy’ to her list of accomplishments and I am giddy. I really love it when my friends have babies, because I love babies…and you know why else? Yeah, you know why…BABY QUILTS!

Sarah knew the general idea of what she wanted for her sweet little guy. With the fabric she picked I cut out the squares and arranged them in different patterns so she could choose her favorite.  

I love how different each layout looks.    
   

After much deliberation😉 she chose a winner.

 
  
 Backed with Minky 😍

  
How great is that aviator fabric? Swoon.  
So glad I got to make this precious gift for such a beautiful friend.

Bonus leftover Minky burp rags. Jackpot.

  

Granny Volner’s Cream Cheese Apple Pie

It’s the night before Thanksgiving and I’ve just sat down. My day has been full. I’ve conquered a trip to the grocery store with the 4 year old, repeatedly removed the 1 year old from the kitchen (my teaspoon and Tablespoon have disappeared in the process. I’ve checked all of his favorite hiding spots to no avail), helped my husband as he bought us our first van (I’m a van mom now ya’ll), took a 3 hour nap (because new baby) and made some very delicious smelling pies.  Cream Cheese Apple Pies and they are as heavenly as they sound.

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Granny Volner’s Cream Cheese Apple Pie, bottom left

I’ve been asked for the recipe, because cream cheese…and apples…and pie. My Granny Volner always made this pie at holidays and she passed on the recipe to me a few years back. It just wouldn’t be very Christian of me to keep it to myself, so pull out the Kitchen Aide and let’s get cooking.

Granny Volner's Cream Cheese Apple Pie

  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 8oz. package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups diced apples
  • uncooked pie crust of your choice

Mix flour, salt & sugar together. Mix in egg, cream cheese, & vanilla until smooth and well blended. Add apples and mix until coated. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes. While pie is baking, make the topping.

Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with topping. Bake an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Die and go to heaven

Let me know how it turns out for you! And Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

Simple Strips

I love a simple strip quilt. They are fun to make and always turn out so cute.  

 
 I started this little gal a couple of years back. That’s right, I said a couple of years. I got the top pieced and then folded it up, put it away and let it sit for waaay too long. I have a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed with anything bigger than a baby quilt, but about 3 months ago I decided to pick this one back up and get her quilted. So glad I did.   

I’ve recently started making my own binding and I will never go back to using store bought. It’s way easier than I had initially thought and gives me so many more options. How cute is this little floral detail?

 
I’m in awe of the uber talented quilters who have mastered the art of free motion quilting. And while I like to play around with it a bit here and there, I’m just a sucker for a straight line. Symmetry is my lover.

    

  

  If you can’t live without her, she’s up for grabs. Twin size, roughly 63’x82′. $225 and she is all yours. Let me know if you’re interested.

 

  

Plus One

Do you guys know Matt and Emileigh Vasquez? If you don’t, you should. They are two incredibly compassionate people working toward eradicating human trafficking through prevention, action and aftercare. Check out the work they are doing at The Cause Tulsa. 

Matt and Emileigh are also expecting! 

  
Look at how cute us preggos are. Isn’t Emileigh glowing?

Josh and I have known Emileigh going on about 8 years now and we’re feeling a little old considering that Josh was one of her high school teachers! She’s always been such a sweet, creative and fun gal and I don’t think we could adore her more, so when she asked if I would make their newest addition a sweet little quilt, how could I refuse?

Working from a picture they found online and some fabric they picked out, here’s the final result.

  

  If you like the pattern, you can find a tutorial here.

  

  

 

I love the way it turned out. Hopefully sweet Baby V will love it too!

Random Rectangles – Lauren is a Mommy!

What do you do when your college best friend/roommate has a beautiful baby boy? You make them a quilt, of course!

But let me slow down here and give you a little background info on the new mom. Lauren is an excellent sushi eating partner, she has killer dance moves, she does not like it if you fart in her bedroom and she only gets slightly irritated if she slices off part of her finger with an exacto knife, at God knows what hour of the night, and you won’t wake up to go to the emergency room with her. Don’t ask me how I know these things…especially about the farts.

  

Ohmygosh. Look at how cute we were. 

But Lauren is so much more than a great sushi date, she’s also an amazingly talented photographer and graphic designer.

  Here she is doing something super graphic designery at her computer. Hey Lauren, remember how I kept freezing up your computer because I didn’t know how to use it correctly? Yeah…good times. I was a Theater major, ok. (Let’s not even talk about what Adam did on your computer.)

Lauren’s design skills are off the charts so picking fabric and a pattern was cake for her. She gave me a couple of different options for a pattern but when I saw the Random Rectangles Quilt in 1-2-3 Quilt by Ellen Luckett Baker I became giddy. This was the one. Lauren chose a stack of beautiful fabrics from Hawthornethreads and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Soooooooo, without further ado:

   Are you swooning? The colors! The patterns!

  It’s so much better in person. I just want to swim in it.

  

  I had so much fun with this one.

  Curley Qs.

  

  But seriously, those fabrics are so yummy!

  

 I hope it sees years of cuddles and love from sweet Baby G. With maybe a couple of crazy college stories thrown in.

Old Quilt, New Year

Well it’s about time.

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No, really. I started working on this pretty little girl so long ago I can’t even remember starting.

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I had all of these fabrics left over from a couple of baby quilts I made when my sister was pregnant with her first daughter…who is now 9. And At some point about 4 or 5 years later I decided to use up those scraps. I started cutting a piecing aaaaaaaaand 5 years later here she is in all her glory.

Why did it take so long? I thought you’d never ask.

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This piece of floral delight is the culprit. See, any cotton headed ninny muggins knows you shouldn’t use stretchy fabric when quilting because it stretches and shifts and moves and bunches and does a lot of other things you don’t want fabric to do. So most people would have taken one look at this fabric and thought, “That would make a cute skirt, top, turban, (fill in the blank with practically anything but ‘quilt backing’).” But not me. NoooooOOOooo. I was all like, “Imma turn you into a quilt!” SMH. To make a long story short there was a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth when I pinned the quilt layers together.

I literally have no idea what I’m doing.

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But it’s finished now! And look how cute it turned out!

I couldn’t get a full shot of the front in the picture (I need to raise my clothes line a couple feet) but this is a twin size, 7ft 4 inches x 4ft 6 inches.

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And, lucky you, it’s for sale! At some point I will get the website set up for purchasing (hopefully it won’t take as long as this quilt did) but until then: Email me @ aftonjanelle@yahoo.com or PM me on Facebook for more info.

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Leave a comment if you are interested in purchasing this quilt! $175 + $10 S&H.

Coast To Coast Central™

Home of the #CoastToCoastChallenge™ - © Lindsey Eryn Clark & Lauren Palomares. All Rights Reserved.

Coast To Coast Central™

Home of the #CoastToCoastChallenge™ - © Lindsey Eryn Clark & Lauren Palomares. All Rights Reserved.