Thursday, November 19, 2015

Viva Las (we are tired) Vegas!

Monday was our last full day in Vegas. We had signed up to go to the Pawn Stars set and to meet the stars. The one thing for those who have not been to the shop, is that it is actually really small! We were so surprised, TV makes it look so much bigger. We were able to walk around and look at the items they had for sale and then we were able to go in the back where they had items that had not been priced yet. We didn't get to actually meet any of the stars, which was a bummer but we did get a picture with Rick.

Later that night, we got dressed up one more time for a dinner at a very nice steak house and then we went to another show. We saw Terry Fator perform. He won Amercia's Got Talent a few years back and then signed the biggest contract in Vegas history at the Mirage for 100 million dollars! He was so funny and it was a great way to end our trip to Vegas. Josh and I again went back to the hotel room and had club Hearndon turned to the max. We packed and then were in bed by 10:00, haha.

The next day was a full day of flying. We had our Thank You brunch and then boarded the plane back to Maryland. It was an awesome weekend.

I am so lucky to be able to do this with Josh. It was a Salute to the Troops trip, but it was an experience for this wife. Josh serving in the military always made me proud, but it was so nice to see how many people support us. Every place we went to, every time we got off of the bus, every time we entered a hotel, we were welcomed. There were people holding signs, yelling and cheering for us. It was nice to see such support.

Day in and day out our lives revolve around this cancer. I can't say "it's like we live at the hosptial because we are there so much" no, we actually do live at the hospital. Though Josh isn't confinded to a bed, I can look out my living room window right now and actually see the hosptial. Day in and day out it's appointments, cancer treatment, medication, being poked for blood draws..on and on. It was nice to get on a plane and leave it all behind. Yes, I was still his caregiver. Yes, he still had to take pills. But aside from me asking him a few times, no one knew anything was wrong with him. Everyone focused on his service. No one knew he had cancer. All they saw was a man that devoted his life to his country, a man who signed his life away knowing the consiquences. All they saw from me was a wife that was completely and utterly in love with her husband. Who is eternally grateful for all the sacrifies he has made and for the commitment he has made to his country.

Fore the first time in a long time. we were normal.

Viva Las Vegas....part two!


Sunday was  by far my most favorite day. We got up early for breakfast and then loaded up on the bus to take a helicopter ride over the strip. Now, I have flown my whole life. I have never had a fear of flying nor have I ever shy'd away from doing something new. However, this helicopter ride had me nervous! I was shaking the moment we walked into the hanger. Josh kept telling me over and over that it will be fine, he would be next to me, that they do this all the time..don't worry. I was fine until the lady came up to me and said "Okay Jenna, you're going first and you're going to sit up front." I almost passed out! I could feel my body moving towards the helicopter, but my mind kept saying "no no no no no" haha. I was so nervous I couldn't even strap myself in! Eventually Josh boarded and he was seated behind me. I looked at the pilot as they were closing the doors and knew there was no going back now! I mustered up the courage (while holding Josh's finger behind me) and decided to just have fun. Take off was easy and once we were flying in the sky, I forgot how scared I was. It was amazing! It was a 20 minute flight but I honestly could have stayed up there all day, it was so pretty. 

After the ride, we went back to the hotel to find out what we wanted to do next. When we first found out we were going to Vegas, I set only two goals. One was to get Josh to gamble (check) and one was to go to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant. I figured we wouldn't be able to eat there because of it being Gordon Ramsay's resturnant AND the fact that it would probably be packed to the brim. I figured we would have to have a reservation or something. But damn it, I was determined to at least stand outside and get a picture! So we did. Then for the fun of it we walked up to the hostist where she asked how many was in our party. Uh, two please! I have a huge crush on Gordon, not only because I love Hells Kitchen, but also because I have read all of his books and have watched all of his shows. I think he is an amazing chef and an amazing person. So yes, I was fangirling so hard! Josh was excited too, but not as excited as I was. I was terrified to look at the prices but figured, what the hell we are in Vegas! 
(this was me just happy with a picture..before we walked over to be seated)


If you are ever near one of his resturants, GO. I'm not just saying this because I love the man, I'm saying this because this was probably the best sandwich I have ever had, lol. We would have gone a little more adventurous, but we did just do a helicopter ride and were still feeling a little queesy. However, everything down to the ketchup (which I am almost certain they make their own) was amazing. And, the prices were not toooo bad. For the both of us, plus a beer and dessert, it was around $75. I honestly thought it was going to be more.

His signature dessert, Sticky Toffee cake with ice cream. 
We were so full by this point but we had to get it!

We then met back up with the group to go to the Belliago for dinner and then to see Cirque du Soleil the "O" show. Josh and I had the pleasure of seeing one of their shows while we were in Italy, but it was entirely in Italian and a very small production. The "O" show was absolutely speckatular. There was so much going on that if you blinked, the entire set had already changed and there was new people out. After the show, we decided to walk around on the strip. We really wanted to do the Observation tower, that we found out earlier that morning was the tallest in the world. We walked over there and went on the ride. The ride itself was 30 minutes round trip and it was amazing at night time. All of Vegas was lit up. 

Viva Las Vegas!

There are times in your life that you consider to be your one in a life time experiences. For me, it was meeting Josh, our wedding day, and I a few years, it will be the birth of our first child. Along with those "normal" experiences, I can also add the five day trip to Vegas!

First thing you must all know is that Josh doesn't gamble. Since we have been married I have only been able to get him into one or two casino, and that was to only do penny slots! I don't gamble much either, but I am no where near as bad as Josh. He hates it. Along with not gambling, we have also slowed down on drinking..weird right?! We were the party house in Sicily! But since being diagnosed, we have to watch him, which means I watch myself to make sure I can still take care of him if needed. We rarely drink. We rarely gamble. All of this is funny because we just spent five days in Vegas! 

We received the phone call a few months ago from Josh's Neuro Oncologist nurse case manager. She had zero details. No idea what we were doing and no idea where we were staying, all she knew was that it was an all expense paid trip to Vegas. Most people would have passed, but Josh and I signed right up. We have been talking about going out west since moving back because Josh has never been past Texas, haha. We were literally the first people on the list. Besides our parents and a select few, no one knew we were going. I do this for two reasons. One, I don't know if in a few months Josh will be able to do it so I don't make a big deal about it. We try to not plan in advance, so I keep everything on the down low in case Josh can't go. It's easier to not have to explain than have a million people asking what happen. The other reason I don't talk about it is to surprise people. If I just say "oh on Friday we will be doing such and such" then people can give us an honest response.."oh wow, I'm so happy for you guys." If I talk about it constantly, people tend to get know? So yes, we knew months in advance and just kept it to ourselves. 

We had to go to a meeting a week before our trip to get the run down of everything. First off, I must state this trip was COMPLETLEY free. I'm not saying flight was free and we had to pay for food, or that the food was free but we had to pay for the This entire trip was free. I think in the beginning there was a total of 140 of us on the trip..I know towards the end that number had grown though. The flight, the hotel, the food, the entertainment. all of the trips and adventures we did, was free. The whole trip was put together by the USO. Along with them, they also had American Airlines that donated the plane. Yes, we flew on a chartered plane with only the people on the trip on it! As well as many supporters that donated money, time, and effort to make sure we had a memorable trip. 

Friday morning we met at the USO to get chartered by a bus to Reagan airport. Once we were there, we were introduced to the welcome that we would become so accustomed to. There were people standing outside, with signs clapping and yelling for us. It was overwhelming! Once we were checked in, we received a TSA escort to security where we experienced THE FASTEST security check! I was floored, lol. We walked to our gate where they had a band playing, food and refreshments, and more people thanking us for our service. After a few speeches, we then boarded the plane where Josh and I had the whole row to ourselves! I was so excited! Josh didn't sleep much the night before and since it was going to be a long flight, he was able to stretch out and catch some z's.

Before flying out, we received a salute from the Airports fire department! This is usually used for diplomats and very important people, so now we are apart of the few that have received a water salute. It happened when we landed in Vegas as well. 

(I stole this picture because obviously I was on that plane!)

The first night was a fancy night so we downed our fanciest attire! I actually wore a dress...something I probably haven't done since my wedding day! Josh actually wore a tie, one that he tied all by himself..that's how fancy you know it was! It was basically a night for all the donors to get together and welcome us to Vegas. We had an amazing dinner and I was even able to drink a little, yay! It went on a little longer than I wanted. With being jetlagged and the time difference I was exhauted. Most people went out after and partied it up.. Josh and I went back to the room and had club Hearndon which consisted of a shower, a snack, and sleeeeeep! 


The next morning, we ate breakfast and headed out to our tour of the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. We had some time to kill before boarding on the bus so I asked (more like told) Josh if he wanted to gamble a little. He said he had to, he was in Vegas after all! We put in $20 and split it between us both. He put $10 in his machine...played literally 5 minutes and won 90freaking dollars! I was absolutely floored (and kind of annoyed, lol). He decided to test his luck and decided to play until he hit $60. That was his limit, he was going to cash out if he didn't win by then. It was almost down to $60 when he hit it big again! He ended up cashing out with $85. Meanwhile I was losing everything. Grand totally I lost about $30 the whole trip (we only played penny slots, so I wasn't to bummed). Josh still has some money left over from his big winnings. I want to call it beginners luck...but maybe that's just me being bitter lol.

We then loaded up onto the bus and headed to Mandalay Bay where we went to a Shark Reef. Being aquarium nerds, we loved this! Afterwards, we went to the Siegfried and Roy Tiger exhibit and they also had dolphins. We then decided to walk around a little while waiting for our bus. I honestly love just to walk around the hotels, each one of them is so unique with their own atmosphere and restaurants. It nice to just walk and appreciate the beauty of it all. 

Dinner that night was at Bubba Gumps and it was amazing! We were able to meet Gary Sinise, who played Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump. He is a HUGE supporter of the troops. He has his own foundation, The Gary Sinise Foundation that does amazing things. It was so surreal meeting Lieutenant Dan, at Bubba Gumps, surrounded by movie movie memorabilia. It was truly amazing and Gary is really a nice guy. Josh and I were nervous to ask him to sign the hat because we had already met him in the line when we first arrived. But he made his way around to every single table and I'm almost certain he didn't want to leave the restaurant until he had met everyone there. He took time to talk to us and to take pictures. 


I'm not entirely certain, but I think they had shut down the restaurant for us. There may have been a first floor but I know we had the entire second floor to ourselves. They had set up menus for us, which contained SO. MUCH. FOOD! They also kept pushing alcohol onto us, so we happily accepted. I will say, Josh and I got really buzzed that night and I even woke up with a hang over! Honestly (mom) we only drank two or three drinks, I have no idea when we became such light weights, lol. We then were bused off to old Vegas at the Golden Nugget where we watched Gary and The Lt. Dan Band play a free concert on Freemont Street. It was amazing but SO cold. Josh and I really didn't plan on it being cold, it's Vegas which is in a we didn't pack a lot of winter type clothes. That night, we froze our butts off. By the end of the night I swear my toes were ice cubes!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015


I love fall time, but what I love more is the start of hockey season! We started off October with Chemotherapy. Josh did SO great that we actually forgot he was on it, oops! Aside from the normal fatigue, he made it through like a champ. Because of this, I figured I would treat him with hockey tickets. Our first game of the season was a total bust, we lost 0-5. Because of this, we decided what the hell and splurged on tickets for the next game, which was won! Lucky for our bank account, the team went up north to play three games in Canada so we are on a "game break." Along with the tickets, we splurged (and I mean, realllllly splurged) and bought two jerseys of our favorite players. I was completely in love with how excited Josh was. Seeing that made all the money spending a little less important. Money will always be there. It will always replenish itself one way or another. The memories however, will last a life time. I will go out of my way to just put a smile on his face. For in that moment, he is not a cancer patient, he is just Josh. A guy who loves his country, love his wife, and loves hockey!

Josh also had his 3 month check up MRI. He does two MRIs, one with contrast and one without. He has done so many of them, we have lost count. However, Josh did ask his oncologist for a slideshow of all the MRIs he has had, which I thought was a cool idea to see how things have changed. Speaking of change, the doctors have seen some in Josh's tumor. It's not dramatic, but basically Josh is responding well to treatment. The MRIs have shown improvement since moving here. Tumor is stable, not growing yet not shrinking. For now, we are doing great. He will never say he is a survivor, but stable is just as great. As long as it is maintained and hasn't grown, that is music to my ears. His blood work came back normal. Because of all the traveling we are doing for November, he was cleared to start Chemo the last week of October.

This month, we also had the pleasure of speaking on the panel at the Warrior Symposium for Navy Safe Harbor. I am forever grateful for this organization. They were the first people we met when we landed in Maryland. They were with us every step of the way the first few months. They sat with me during Josh's brain surgery, they help file paper work for my parents travel expenses, they took care of everything when dealing with Josh's old command and checking into his new command..basically they took care of everything. We have developed a friendship with our non-medical care team, a Master Chief who get's along perfectly with Josh and I. He has always helped us and stuck up for us when needed. We actually spoke on the panel as a favor to him. They asked us the general questions, what was his diagnosis, how has it changed our lives, and anything they could improve on. We are so thankful that we were placed in this organization, it has definitely helped us in time of need. We had nothing but good things to say on the panel. An added plus was I got to see my sexy Sailor in uniform, hubba hubba!

Wrapping up my October post...Halloween! Since Josh was on chemo, I wanted a simple costume for him. Out of the blue he said he wanted to be Waldo. Lucky for us, Target had his shirt. I toyed around for a little while on what I wanted to be, but at the Halloween store I found out they actually make the female version of Waldo, Wenda haha. So I bought the costume and tah-da, Waldo and Wenda was born! I really didn't think people would know who we were, I didn't think Wheres Waldo was as popular as it was when we were kids. But there were many adults who loved our costumes and one little boy said, with the biggest smile on his face, "Where's Waldo is my favorite book!" Success! We went to my brothers house to celebrate because trick or treaters were so minimal last year. It was a ton of fun handing out candy and seeing all of the costumes.

While I am sad to see October go, I am SO excited for Novemeber! It's going to be filled with tons of traveling and making ever last memories!