Tea with Tonya

in Tonya

Look who I found!


Why, that’s my (former) neighbor, Tonya!  You may remember her – last spring, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor (Lost and Found in the Garden).  People were so touched by her story and strong faith that strangers from all over the world pulled together to donate over $20,000 to her family.  Pretty amazing; I often think about Tonya’s story when I am feeling sad – it really is proof that people care for and want to help others, even if they don’t know the person personally.  Anyway, after suffering through a horrible summer of dozen upon dozens of seizures and other complications relating to the tumor and her medications, she’s leveled out and is doing as well as she can be, all things considering.  She’s seen a ton of specialists, but her tumor is still inoperable and untreatable.  Thankfully, the doctors don’t think it’s actively growing right now.


Her husband and little boys are doing well, too.  The boys are such cuties.  Today was their last day of pre-school before summer break.

Tonya plans to write a more detailed update on HTP very soon – stay tuned!  But she says HELLO and hopes everyone is doing well.  Smile 


We had tea while chatting.  Tonya is Christian and just attended a Bible retreat that discussed mindful prayer – I’m not religious but I found the concept of mindful prayer to be very interesting; for a non-religious person, it sounded more like ‘intentional gratitude.’  I’m going to look into this one method that she recommended and may turn it into a blog post soon.  We could all use some more intentional gratitude in our lives, right?  I know that I definitely could; I get far too swept up in the daily grind and forget all the things that I need to be grateful for… my health, my family, my friendships, awesome and generous strangers… The list goes on and on.


It was a very nice work break!


Eats included a mid-morning snack of yogurt and cereal.  Breakfast did not hold me over.


And lunch was leftover casserole from Tuesday.


The casserole was definitely too dry after two days in the fridge, but a smear of pasta sauce was the perfect solution.  Yum.


Thought of the Day:


“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm S. Forbes



  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) May 24, 2012, 2:45 pm

    I was wondering about her… glad she’s doing well and that you’ve kept in touch.

  • Kim @ wonderings May 24, 2012, 2:47 pm

    I was just thinking about her the other day. She hasn’t left my thoughts since you posted about her.

  • Kelly May 24, 2012, 2:48 pm

    I was recently wondering about her! So glad to hear she’s doing well (as well as can be expected in such a tumultuous situation). Thanks for sharing!

  • Johanna B May 24, 2012, 2:50 pm

    So glad to hear an update on Tonya.

  • Bonnie May 24, 2012, 2:51 pm

    There is a really important documentary called Burzynski that I think Tonya should look up. Perhaps Dr. Burzynski can help Tonya along with all of the other people he’s helped.

  • Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete May 24, 2012, 2:52 pm

    So glad to hear she is doing well!

  • Sana May 24, 2012, 2:56 pm

    I was just wondering about Tonya! Glad to hear from her!

  • dana May 24, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I have thought about her several times since your last post about her. I’m thankful for the update!

  • Laura @ She Eats Well May 24, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I was wondering when we’d get a Tonya update. She looks amazing. Such a strong woman! Her story makes me take a step back … and breathe.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) May 24, 2012, 3:48 pm

    Hi Tonya! Love to see that smile on her face! I have really started focusing on the positive and being grateful for where I am. I’ve had a hard time the past couple of years seeing too much negativity, but that really just leads you down a bad road. Instead, I look at the bad as a lesson learned and move forward to be a better version of myself.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats May 24, 2012, 3:51 pm

    I like to make a thankful list in the morning, just to remember how grateful I should be!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See May 24, 2012, 4:14 pm

    Mmmm greek yogurt + cereal makes the best snack ever 🙂

  • Leslie May 24, 2012, 4:27 pm

    That’s awesome about Tonya. Those sweet kids have an amazing mother and such a string role model.

    This isn’t completely related to your post…but sort of. My husband and I are spiritual, but not religious, as well. However, our families are devout Christians who don’t necessarily agree with or understand our lifestyle. I was raised and still live in the south where our mindset is alien and often criticized. We have a 4 month old little fuel and have been asked constantly about how we will raise her in regards to faith, etc,. (the most common question seems to be “when are you going to get that child in church?”). I’m really struggling with how to deal with this. I’m open minded and accept that each persons belief system is different and would never try to impose my beliefs (or non-beliefs) on anyone else. But…I plan to raise my daughter to understand why her father and I think the way we do.

    How do you plan on handling any of those questions or is your family a bit more open minded than mine:)?

    Sorry to be so random, but for some reason this post made me think of it.

    • Leslie May 24, 2012, 4:29 pm

      That should say “little girl” not “little fuel”. Oops.

      • Caitlin May 24, 2012, 6:02 pm

        That sucks that your family is like that. It’s unfortunate when people don’t respect boundaries.

        Honestly… maybe I am just blunt, but the next time someone in my family asked me when I was taking my kid to church, I would just look them straight in the eye and say, “We are not planning to take her to church because we are not religious. I hope you respect my decision, but the topic is really not up for discussion.” And then never discuss it again. If they ask about it, just stare at them blankly and don’t respond. I’m pretty big on drawing boundaries with people, though. If you don’t do it now, they will give you hell the rest of your daughter’s life. It really is none of their business… They got to raise their own children whatever religion they liked, and now it’s your turn! I’m sure you’ve already been polite and aloof about it, so it’s probably time to be polite and firm.

        • Vikki May 25, 2012, 10:42 am

          The problem with that if Leslie’s family is evangelical is that they believe that it is their God-given task to try to bring her and her family back to the faith. Speaking from experience (I don’t have kids but I do have an evangelical family), if they don’t meet the boundaries that you set, you have to follow through with consequences.

          I am back in church (Not the one I was raised in which felt more like a cult than a church.) But I’ve found one that lets me be spiritual without necessarily feeling like I have to sacrifice my own moral compass. My parents still don’t approve. If they were to push, I’d have to say I’m sorry but I will not see you until you can respect my choice.

          Good luck!

          • Leslie May 25, 2012, 4:02 pm

            You both are right. I need to set more boundaries about it and be more firm about those boundaries. I’ve been trying not to step on any toes, but I’m never going to get the result or respect I want if I keep it up.

            And yes, Vicki, you hit the nail on the head. They feel like it is their job to bring us back into their faith and especially to bring our daughter to it. I honestly think they can’t fathom anything different and simply can’t understand where we’re coming from. But, I need to make sure that they know it is non-negotiable.

            Thanks so much guys!

  • Maggie May 24, 2012, 4:29 pm

    I was actually randomly wondering about Tonya the other day, I’m glad you updated us!

    I agree about taking time out for gratitude. At the beginning of this year I started taking time at night to write down 3 things I am thankful for from that day. Sometimes it’s silly (Trader Joe’s dark chocolate caramel sea salt bars) and sometimes it’s more serious (my wrist surgery went well), but I think it’s definitely made me more thankful and put a more positive spin on my life, especially on days when it takes me a little longer to come up with something.

  • Kelli May 24, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Thank you for updating us on Tonya! She has such a beautiful smile. I’m glad that she is doing well. I will look forward to her guest post!

  • Lindsay Loves Veggies May 24, 2012, 4:35 pm

    Over the last year I have worked very hard at becoming more intentionally grateful. It makes it so much easier to stay positive everyday. We all have things to be thankful for, even if you don’t realize it. Just think about those who have less than you. God really has given us all so much.

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) May 24, 2012, 4:47 pm

    Whoa, this is totally weird! I was literally just wondering about her but couldn’t remember who’s blog it had been on. I was sure that it must have been some other blog that I must not follow anymore! Strange huh?

  • Annette@FitnessPerks May 24, 2012, 4:50 pm

    I am so glad she is feeling better! Can’t wait to hear for updates 🙂 And YES to the intentionally being thankful. It TOTALLY is amazing what it will do for you and your life. It is amazing all the blessings we’ve been given, and are given every day. It makes the day SO much better when we’re grateful for it ALL 🙂

  • Jocelyn @ Peace Love Nutrition May 24, 2012, 7:26 pm

    That’s great that you’ve kept in touch. So glad to hear Tonya is doing well!

  • Earthy Nicole May 24, 2012, 7:27 pm

    I’m so glad to see she’s doing alright. I think of her often and I’ll be glad to read the more detailed update!


  • Shelley May 24, 2012, 7:41 pm

    Oh my gosh, i was just going to email you asking about Tanya! I think about her often and was wondering how she was doing, thanks so much for the update

  • Jacalyn May 25, 2012, 5:54 am

    I, too, was just thinking of her yesterday! So glad to hear she is doing well.

  • Jessica May 25, 2012, 7:29 am

    I love partaking in a gratitude meditation! I’ve done this a lot in yoga and it’s so wonderful. You don’t have to be religious or pray to anything specifically – you just sit quietly and think of all of the things you are thankful for. I usually start by thinking of my mother and go from there – all the way to the clothes on my back and the food in my pantry!

    • Jessica May 25, 2012, 7:30 am

      Also, Tonya looks fantastic! It’s so nice to hear updates.

  • Emily May 25, 2012, 11:39 am

    Can you please pass on my regards to Tonya?

    I remember reading your original blog post last year and filing that in the “that’s so horrible but it would never happen to me/anyone I love” folder and I’m sure you can already tell where this is going… My husband (29 at diagnosis 30 now) was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November, had brain surgery (an awake craniotomy) in January, the pathology came back malignant so he underwent 42 days of radiation/chemotherapy & is now on high dose chemotherapy for a year. Yeah, how’s that for humble pie!

    I feel like every where I turn these days I am meeting more and more young people who are being affected by this horrible disease. Please let Tonya know she is an inspiration to me and many others that she will never know about.

    Thank you Caitlin for using your “fame” to share Tonya’s store with us.


    • Caitlin May 25, 2012, 11:41 am

      I am extremely sorry to hear about your husband 🙁 xoxoxo

  • Laura May 25, 2012, 12:37 pm

    I’m so glad Tonya’s doing as well as she can be…she’s such a strong, beautiful person. Thank you for posting an update.

  • Amber K May 25, 2012, 2:32 pm

    I’m glad for the update on Tonya! I’ve wondered about her.

  • Ali @SeeAliEatSeeAliRun May 25, 2012, 3:24 pm

    This touches me deeply. I am a scientist working on new therapies for malignant brain tumors and I feel as though I can’t seem to work fast enough! Hearing these stories makes all the long days and frustrations and lost vacation time worth it-I will not give up trying to find a cure.

  • Hannah May 26, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing an update about Tonya. She is glowing! I look forward to hearing more.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point