Sunday, January 13, 2013

Resolutions! It's that time of year again...

With the new year beginning there seems to be this inevitable need for change. I think it’s great that people are so driven at this time to reflect on their lives and the past year and want to improve upon it, but sadly most of the time we fail.


Because we’re human. And we’re flawed.

And despite these past failures we make these resolutions, these promises to change, year after year.

I don’t usually make resolutions. Of course there are aspects of my life that need improvement and I want to continue to grow and mature, but I don’t think making huge goals for the year is necessarily the only way to go about it. So instead I decided to pick an area or 2 and start with small goals that build upon each other, like a stair case. That way it’s not an all or nothing kind of deal, but rather laying a good foundation of behaviors that result in a new (and improved) habit.

And this year one of the areas of my life that I want to focus on is food. Don’t you just love food?? I sure do! So much of our day, our lives in fact, is focused on food - it’s amazing! So I thought, since I love food why not dig a little deeper into what I’m (and most Americans) eating. And the results of my research have been quite astonishing.

I never knew the amount chemicals, additives, and artificial junk that I have been consuming for years and years. Some of you reading this might be thinking the same thing…or maybe you’ve never even given it any thought. I was the same way. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer (the reason this blog began) that I changed my diet. I cut out all sugar, drastically increased my veggie intake, and took horse pill size vitamins daily. This was when my fascination with food and it’s affect on my body started!

Now almost 4 years later and I’m still learning about the things you and I consume on a daily basis. My change in eating habits began to slide back to the way they were before I had cancer, once I was in remission. And although I still consume a large amount of veggies and don’t drink soda, I eat way more packaged and processed foods then I would like. Ideally I would like the number to be 0, but knowing that isn't possible at the moment, being a college student and all, I figured I might as well start somewhere. And that brings me back to these small and achievable goals I mentioned. I want to start by eating 1 meal a day that consists of truly real food and track my success and failures of this endeavor along the way. To know what I mean by “real food” check out this link. This site is one of the main blogs that I read on a daily basis and she makes eliminating processed food not seem so daunting.

I encourage you to consider a real food challenge this coming year as well. And if 1 whole meal is to intimidating to start with, try 1 snack a day for a while and then up it to the meal. Maybe instead of having those chips from the vending machine after lunch everyday brink a sliced apple with peanut butter (that only contains peanuts and/or salt) twice a week. And I would also suggest getting educated about what you’re eating. Pick something from your pantry and read the ingredients label. If there is something on it that you can’t pronounce or just don’t know what it is, google it. You will be amazed at what you find out!

I’ll end this rather long post with a quick update. I’m currently 42 months cancer free and in my first year of the online Bachelor’s Program for Psychology at the University of Wyoming. I am eager to see where I go and what I learn in 2013!

I wish you all plenty of sunshine and smiles in this new year!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Teen Impact Retreat 2012

Last Friday I graduated from school and recieved my AA in Social/Behavioral was such a fun night and I am so excited to see what God has in store for me as I begin attending CSUN! I left home super early to attend the Teen Impact Retreat the next morning because it began Friday afternoon but since I was graduating I had to go Saturday, and I had the most amazing time!! The Lord always blesses my time there by allowing me to meet, and catch up, with so many truly inspiring people. By the time we all leave on Sunday we are one huge family because when we're there, no one is the odd one out - the one who has to sit out of events, or has to wear a wig, or has scars, or a disability - we are the same, and that makes it one of the most comfortable and rewarding weekends ever. This was my last year as a camper, but I am so excited to return next year as a co-counselor :) Now that Summer is officially here, I am all set to continue preparing for the Miss Rodeo California pageant in October. For anyone who lives in AV area, I am having a fundraiser on Friday June 8th at the Leona Valley Comm. Bldg at 5pm and a Horse Play Day on Saturday June 9th. Encouragement for the Day: Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. This verse is not only encouraging but also convicting, because it can be difficult to always exhibit joy, patience, and faith but this reminds us to continue working out those qualities when we face struggles. Have a fantastic summer and God Bless! Sunshine&Smiles -Carlene

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Catching Up...

So it has been quite a while since I last posted something. Alot has been going on, in a good way though! I have only 5 weeks left before I graduate with my AA in Social/Behavioral Sciences!! It seems so weird to think that I am going to be a college graduate - absolute crazyness!! I am of course beyond excited to finish up school...just to go to more school :) I will begin pursuing my Bachelor's in Psychology in the Fall. I had my check up back in March. I had a CT Scan and thankfully this time there was no problem with it filling up my arm instead of my entire body. Everything came back completely normal which means that I am fast approaching 3 years has a cancer survivor!! God is so so good! I don't go back again until September. While I was there I picked up some applications for retreats this Summer and I am very excited to maybe be a part of them :) In other-other news I am also excited to finally have Summer just around the corner so I can seriously begin to prepare for when I compete for Miss Rodeo California this coming October!!! Words can not even begin to describe my excitement :D Quote of the Day: Preach the gospel at all times, use words when necessary - St. Francis Love this quote so much that it is written on my bathroom mirror so I see it every morning while I am getting ready. -Carlene Don't forget to check out my dessert blog at

Friday, December 9, 2011


Losing someone is hard, losing someone to cancer is like adding salt to the wound, like being kicked when your already down, and it just, well it just sucks.
Back in 09 when I went to that retreat just for teens with cancer I was roommates with this girl, Jessica. We became friends (like everybody does at those things), saw eachother at other events and kept in touch. I knew a while back that she was having some problems, but didn't know the extent of them, and I knew that she was back at Children's more than usual. Sadly, I lost touch for the most part with school and work these past few months and I found out on Monday that Jessica had passed away. I couldn't believe it and was shocked. She was loved and will be missed so much!
It was one of those moments when I realized just how blessed I truly am. We can so easily forget - yes, even cancer survivors can forget- just what God has done in our lives. He has provided me with so much, yet it is often easier to see what I don't have. God is so good and faithful to provide everything we need - not want, a key difference that I seem to overlook a lot of the time. I am so humbled and blessed and grateful for my life and the life that God has provided for me. Since he gave me life, and sustains my life, in return, he should get all of me, every aspect of my life should be for Him and His glory.

These are some of my favorite verses about rejoicing in the love and goodness of Jesus that I hope encourage you this week to come to Jesus with a grateful, thankful heart-

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philipians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Psalm 103: 1-2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

-We miss you Jessica-

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Check Up Time :)

I had my 6 month check up this past Monday...and everything is still fantastic! I had blood drawn and a chest x-ray done..I don't go back until next March :) It was such a good day and I am so blessed to still be in remission!! It was also my first trip to Children's by myself...and I never got lost :)

1 Corinthians 2:5 - So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power!

God is so good!!
-Sunshine & Smiles :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Yesterday, July 27, marked my 2 years of being CANCER-FREE!!! I am sooo blessed and humbled to be healthy again. It is the most amazing feeling in the world!! God is so good..sometimes we overlook all the good He does for us and just focus on the negative..but despite all the negative going on in our lives...His good out weighs it all because He sent His son to die for our sins...that in and of it self should make us get out of bed with a smile and look for the best in each day. I have probably put this verse up before but it is just so amazing...
John 16:33 You will have trouble in this world, but take heart! I have overcome the world!
I love the message that it makes me smile :)

Sunshine & Smiles

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Research Study

Last week I participated in a research study at CHLA to see the effects of radiation on the lungs. I was told about this back in March at my Gaynon appt. I figured if I can help future children who have to undergo radiation then what ever I had to do was worth it : )
My sister and I drove down there...and since it was the first time I drove to CHLA w/o my mom it was a bit scary (I don't like LA drivers)...but I made it! After signing all the release forms I gave blood from my radial wrist...and it hurt! They poked me twice and both times they got nothing..thankfully they didn't poke me again. Then I got to sit in this glass box and blow into a tube that measured my lung capacity. It was pretty awesome..I felt like an astronaut. All the people conducting and helping with the study were super supportive and encouraging. Then I had to go on a I warned them that I don't exercise and am a terrible runner..and they said it was okay. So I attached all the wires to me and started walking on the treadmill. I had never been on a treadmill before so it was really strange. Then I began jogging and then running..after about 7 and half minutes of being on the treadmill they told me once again that the speed would increase..but I was really tired so I had them stop it. Then I had to sit in the glass box and breathe into the tube at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes after...I also had to inhale a medicine to help with any problems that could occur. After all that...I got $50 :) Overall it was fun experience and hopefully helpful.

My next Gaynon appt. is not until I have a while to wait. I've been reading through Romans recently and wanted to leave you with a verse that spoke to me.

Romans 5:3-5 We can rejoice,too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

This verse is just so encouraging. It tells us to rejoice even in our struggles because even in our darkest hour we will always have this hope of salvation because God loves us soo much and will never let us down.

Sunshine & Smiles
Carlene :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Adventures at Children's Hospital

Today was supposed to be just an easy uneventful day at CHLA..but of course uneventful days just don't happen down there. Instead when I was recieving the IV contrast for my CT scan something happened with inside with my vein so all the contrast swelled up in the upper portion of my left arm instead of traveling throughout my body. When the nurses noticed this they immediatly rushed me out of the CT and began asking "does your arm hurt?" "can you feel your fingers?" I could feel my fingers and I had no just felt very funny and it was huge!!! They made me stay there for an hour...monitering me and seeing if the swelling would go down with a cold pack or if I experienced any loss of feeling or pain. After an hour, it was about the same and I could still feel my fingers and had no they let me go saying that they have no idea when the swelling will go down. Then after that ordeal I had to have blood drawn still (since they really couldn't do anything with the other IV) and that was another 30 minute wait. When they finally took me back into the room I showed the lady the 2 veins that I had put the numbing cream on and she said "oh well its a tiny needle" and poked me in the vein that was NOT numb. I was sooo mad I didnt even cry!!!! Finally, my mom and I went and got lunch and then got Rite Aid ice cream....the best ice cream!!! We then returned to the hospital to meet with Gaynon...which was pointless because the scan was no good because there was no contrast!!! So instead of rescheduling to redo it he just scheduled my next 6 mth check I am taking no news as good news!!! So even though today was interesting to say the least...I still feel very blessed to be in really makes me thank God when I see all those children and their families going through a much harder time than I did...I am soooooo Blessed!! -Carlene -I hope the swelling in my arm goes down soon...its not painful- just annoying

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Desserts :] since I am a huge dessert fanatic, I decided to create a blog for all things dessert. So please check out
My Gaynon appt. is in 6 days....I just hope that it goes quickly and we leave with good news :]

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength!


Hope you had a good and green-filled St. Patricks Day :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My 18th Birthday!!!

So this past Saturday the 5th was my 18th birthday!!! It was a super fun day!!! My family surprised my by taking me to the Magic Castle (a huge old mansion where magicians put on shows). All the acts were absolutely amazing..
For my birthday I decided to cut my wasn't long enough to donate but I just wanted it short..not as short as my buzz cut but short and off my neck :)
My CHLA appt. is 3 weeks away...and it is going to be an extremely looonnngggg day with my CT Scan at 930 am and then I meet with Gaynon at 230pm...I guess we will have to find something to do with all that down time..maybe we'll act like crazy LA tourists for a day :D


Monday, January 31, 2011

CHLA Appt.

So I finally have my next appointment down at CHLA scheduled. I only have to go down every 6 months instead of every 3 now :) This coming weekend my sisters and I are participating in a rodeo for cancer awareness. We get to run flags....and of course I'm having the green flag!!! I am sooo excited =]
Today I was listening to Air1 (a Christian radio station) and they read Isaiah 43: 1- 2 "Do not be afraid , for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you!" It is so know that God is with us even through those moments when it feels like all is lost - He is right there, holding us close


Friday, January 14, 2011

Ear Appt.

I went to the audiologist today and had a hearing and balance test. The hearing test was easy but the balance test made me dizzy. Luckily it only last for about a minute but I had to have it done twice..once for each ear. Afterwards the doctor said that my dizziness is definetly caused by the balance part of my ear, specifically my right ear. He doesn't know if it is related to chemo or not and if it is what he thinks it is, the severity of my dizzy spells should begin to lessen..not because it's getting better but because my brain will realize that it is inaccurate information. So he will send the results to the ear,nose, and throat doctor and then we will go from there. I am just so thankful that it is my ears and not my heart or my blood :)


-God Bless

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2 Years

This past Sunday January 9th was the 2 year anniversary of when I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I can't believe it has already been 2 years. I feel so blessed and humbled to have that all behind me but I wouldn't take it back because I no God has a plan for me.
Jeremiah 29:11
I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I want to send out another THANK YOU to all my friends and family who supported me and helped me through it!!! And of course a THANK YOU to God who I most certainly would not have made it through without.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

A lot has changed in these 2 years but at the same time a lot has stayed the same. I am so thankful for my health and I will continue to be grateful for everything that God so faithfully provides for me :D

Sunshine & Smiles

God Bless

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Years =]

Wow...I can't believe it's 2011 already...that's crazay!!! I went to the ear specialist and he definitely thinks my dizziness has something to do with my ears so I have to go in for a hearing test and then that may help him decide which ear it is. He also said that the best way for him to figure it out is for me to have a dizzy spell again...which I really don't want to have one again..and then come in when I am having it. I just hope they can some how figure it out before i have another one :) It's also time for me to go down to CHLA yet again, even though I never went down again to see Gaynon after last time, but its the 3 month mark for my scan. I called twice this week with no reply so I will try again this week, at this rate I prolly wont be seen for a while :P
Well I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Years :)

Hebrews 12:14 'Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life....'
-a perfect New Years resolution :D


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the Good News Continues...

I finally remembered to call the doctor's office today to check on the results of my echocardiogram that I had back around Thanksgiving. Good news...everything is still good and normal with my heart =] So now I have to schedule an appt with an ear,nose, and throat specialist to see if my dizziness has something to do with an inner ear infection. I also need to call CHLA and schedule my next re-check which should be sometime this month, but will probably be next month because I am so late in calling...I still have not gone down to see Gaynon after my last appt but as far as I know I am still in the all clear :)
In other more exciting news...I have finished my first semester of college!!! I am soo excited that I have 2 mths off for Christmas break before I go back for the spring semester. I have been baking almost everyday...I made mint-chocolate chip cookies, shortbread brownies, banana-chocolate chip mini cupcakes, and holiday almond bars. They were all delicious =] I have also been riding Levi because I have decided to do youth rodeo again starting in March.
If for some reason I forget to blog again (which I will try to remember ) have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

-Jesus is the Reason for the Season :]


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving :]

Before I go into everything that I am thankful for...I had my echocardiogram on Tuesday. It was really nice that I was able to have it here in town instead of driving down to CHLA. It took about 10 minutes and I'll probably have the results next week with the holiday and all :)
Now on to Thanksgiving...I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my health, and my God for providing me with all of my blessings. Today my family and I had a day at home where we ate amazing food and play WII Fit (which is awesome) we are getting ready to watch a movie and eat some more amazing food for dinner..
So I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving :)

-God Bless

p.s. What are you thankful for??

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today I just found out that my blog has been keeping track of pageviews since about May of this year....I stumbled across it by accident but what I found was just amazing. I always wanted to put some type of view counter back when I first started the blog but couldn't figure out how. But since May 2010 to now my blog has had about 1,575 views...which to me is just mind blowing...and it makes me feel so humbled and blessed...and it also showed me all the countries that have viewed it and there were some from Japan, Germany, Lithuania (idk on spelling), and others but that is just crazy...I hope to all of you who read this...whether you know me or not...I hope it has and continues to provide you with inspiration and hope in all things :]
-So this a huge thanks to everyone who has viewed my is truly amazing...soooo..
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!
It would have been even more mind blowing if this page viewer was available back when I started but in any case...thanks so much for your continuing support :)

-God Bless

Blood Work Results...

So the good news is that my blood work came back completely relapse of nothing :] Since it did come back so good I have to get an echocardiogram next week to take a look at my heart and then compare it to the last one I had down at CHLA...but for this one I get to have it done here in town...and then probably in a week or so I'll visit an ear specialist in case it is an inner ear infection that wouldnt cause me to be sick but it could cause me to be dizzy and off balance...
I am extremely happy that my blood work came back good so now I just hope they can figure out whats wrong :)

sUnShInE & sMiLeS =]
God Bless

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Absolutely-Positivly Favorite Time Of Year =]

...Yep....its that time of year again...the time of year with some of my fav holidays rolled into a small 2 month window...but im lovin every minute of it!!! I love the smells of fall...all the delicious food...seeing friends and family...hanging out by a cracklin fire (still waitin on that)...and of course Christmas music :)
So I still have yet to rescedule my Gaynon appt that is like 2 mths over due....but i did get my blood drawn today at my doctors up here becuase ive been havin these dizzy-nausous-extreme fatigue my doctor guessed that its probobly anemia...but we will find out in a few days
My verse for today is John 16:33 'In this world there you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!' That just brings a smile to my face and peace to my heart :]

Sunshine & Smiles
God Bless

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CHLA Gaynon Appt. Postponed

So today I was supposed to go down to Children's today for my check up with Gaynon about my CT Scan last month. Instead we have to reschedule cuz i got sick... so i just hope i dont have to wait another month to go down there... ill post again when i know when ill be goin again..


Sunshine & Smiles