Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What to do when you have to do it all over again

Posting has been sparse over here, I recognize that. There's a reason for it. I'm not sure if it's a good reason. You tell me. I've been dreading posting because I don't like to deliver bad news. All my family and friends, new and old have been so supportive and happy for me after the news in this post, and I am so grateful for that.

The thing is, while the scan showed no signs of disease, when they went in to do surgery, my doctor found a whole ton more cancer in my chest wall. Which means we're back to the grindstone of chemo and radiation for the next 5 months or so.

The worst part of having cancer is telling people you have cancer. Or still have cancer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hair (pictures fixed)


A friend of Adam's Mom  (Collette) has a friend (Karen) who crochets and made this amazing hat for me. I was dashing out the door with the kids to our Trunk-or-Treat and snagged it for an easy quasi-costume.
"I'm a person with hair!"

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


These are the only pictures I got of my kid's Halloween costumes.
They were both adorable.
Lydia was a ballerina (her hair was even in a bun for one of the trunk-or-treats we attended), which was solely her idea and worked out great because we just bought all the pieces of her costume. I hope to sign her up for a dance class next year, so it's just an investment.
Rafe was a duck. His favorite snuggle toy is a big ol' stuffed duck, so it was super cute to see him dressed as a duck and toting around a duck. My Mom did all the work on his costume, so I basically didn't do anything to prep for Halloween this year. Score!

Anybody (Kim, Kayleen?) get better pictures of my kids in their costumes?

Both kids loved it, Rafe covered himself with chocolate, and we have found that Lydia is suddenly very cooperative when we mention that acting otherwise could result in a Halloween candy tax.
Happy Halloween!

Monday, November 18, 2013

What to do when you feel like a cowboy

All week I've felt like there's a holster at my hip. If someone jumped out at me and said "Draw," I'd counter with "Drain!" and pull out the plastic vessel that's connected to my insides by a plastic tube to strike fear into my opponent (obviously my opponent is cancer - I don't think anyone else wants to kill me). I'm toting it around in a little pouch that, when covered by clothing, makes it look like I've got a gnarly goiter. This is all a side effect of the surgery, and while the drains were annoying at first, it's not a big deal now. Except when Lyds accidentally sits on the tube and practically yanks it out of my chest. That's kind of a big deal.
In other news, here's me wanting to show off my peach fuzz. I kind of want to keep my hair this length permanently - it gives me something to do when I'm thinking. Nothing like a lucky head to rub...oh wait...I'm probably not what you would call lucky...

Drain comes out tomorrow and then it's down to the serious business of becoming accustomed to my new Amazon shape. Man, it's going to be so easy to draw my bow and arrow now! It's going to completely up my warrioress game. In truth, I'm mostly just dreading having to wear a bra again. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Past the point of no return

It's weird to be in the hospital without a brand new baby.

I'm here for a completely different reason. Yesterday I had surgery to remove my right breast. This decreases the likelihood of my cancer returning.
It's kind of alarming.
It feels like I'm in someone else's body.
I'm doing okay, but I feel like it's going to take a while to adjust to this and to feel at home in my own skin.

In other news, hospital food is gross and I have to take sponge baths for the next 2 weeks. So there's that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Opera going

When Adam performed in Le Nozze Di Figaro last month, I got to attend with a good friend of mine, Michelle, and her daughter.

Forgive the bad lighting - I think a finger ended up in front of the flash. Lydia was not attending, but obviously needed to dress up.

Adam said I looked like a pirate, with the dangley earrings, headscarf, and all. The effect was particularly pronounced when I put on my blue pea-coat with anchor buttons...  It's so easy to look like you're wearing a costume when you're bald. In other news, that's the first time that blouse has been worn since my older sister's wedding...5+ years ago.

Going to the opera is always a good excuse to dress up, but especially so when it's an IU production. They go all out. If you're interested in seeing a video clip from the opera, featuring Adam, check out his professional website Also, for those who were unable to attend, and missed the live web-stream (or if you just want to see/hear more of that amazing goodness), the recording is now up on IU's website, here. Just click on Marriage of Figaro (the picture should be of Adam) at the bottom.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Cute kids

Thanks to our wonderful neighbor for the great addition to our lives. Aren't these great chairs?
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The R word

Oh, that elusive R word that every cancer patient hopes for: Remission.

We've achieved it!

My lastest PET scan showed no cancer anywhere in my body.

So instead of facing another kind of chemo, we're in maintenance mode.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkins with the punkins

Growing up, pumpkin carving was a big deal. It took hours upon agonizing hours.
This was caused by a simple thing.
Sibling Rivalry.
Everyone wanted theirs to be the most creative, coolest-looking, out-of-this-world jack-o-lantern anyone had ever seen. So the night started with a bunch of people just sitting around not even touching their pumpkins, just brainstorming.
Seriously agonizing.

Anyway, I was pleased when this pumpkin carving session took a mere 45 minutes. Rafe pointed (very vaguely) where he wanted eyes and Adam went from there.

Lydia drew a face on her pumpkin and I tried to be as true to it as I could.

Hey, who knew family traditions were fun...
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The day I thought would never come

Rafe's curls got too long.

Cry with me, people. I truly thought that I would think his curls were adorable until the end of time, but one day they were fine, the next day they were so-so, and the third day they were definitely too long. So, with the moral support of my Mom, I cut them off. I also totally messed it up, but as my Grandpa Dalton used to say, "the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is three days."
He looks so old. :(

Monday, October 28, 2013

The more things change the more they stay the same

The cancer seems (in my head) so life-changing. I thought I would just be so loving all the time to my kids, more patient, more energetic, more enthused about life, but much of the time I still just want to sit, or nap, or not be touched by toddler hands.

There are moments where I remember how special this is, and how important each moment is. But those moments of remembrance are not as frequent as they should perhaps be.

It makes me feel like a person who has received a witness of the gospel, but has drifted away - forgotten their experience with the Spirit. Am I Oliver Cowdery - continually needing reminders of the preciousness of life. Am I "casting away [my] confidence?"

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The hair returneth!

Apparently I am not in the 10% of people for whom some or all of their hair does not come back. It's not really hair yet, but my head definitely looks brown instead of skin-colored (is ecru skin-colored? Everytime I do a crossword I wonder). Adam rubbed my head the other day and said "You're just peachy." It was sweet.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I have amazing, wonderful friends

Shout out tonight to my lovely Bloomington friends. Kayleen, Giulia, Nikki, Michelle, Kim, and Emma, you are the epitome of beautiful people. Thanks for making me feel like I've accomplished something.

They planned a night out for us girls at a local restaurant. We sat at a table for over three hours, talking, discussing, eating, laughing, etc. A "Victory" cake, complete with fondant breast cancer ribbons, made a spectacular entrance, followed by thoughtful gifts to remind me of how far I've come and to help me through upcoming trials.

In short, it was a perfect evening. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you all.

And to all my other friends who have done incredibly thoughtful things, you deserve shout outs as well. I will write them soon.

If I can get pictures of the festivities from other participants, I'll post them.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What to do when you're not feeling good.

First of all, take your meds. Number one cause of not feeling well for me is being late on my meds.

Second of all, laugh. When your CVS pharmacist calls and asks if you have any (more) prescriptions for him to fill, just chuckle at the humor of the situation. How many people get to be on first-name basis with their pharmacist? How nice to be considered a regular at the corner drugstore, missed when absent too long. Similarly, when your 3-year-old daughter mentions in a voice quivering with emotion that she loves you even though you're bald, let it tickle your funny bone as opposed to striking a nerve. She meant it as the sincerest compliment, but you're allowed to laugh till you choke when she's out of earshot.

Finally, fake it till you make it. It applies to playing in the marching band in high school and again when up against a serious illness. If you don't feel well, pretend you do. Get dressed (not-withstanding the beauty of your paisley pajamas), do the things you would do on a normal day, and turn the corners of your mouth up.

And in all likelihood, you'll still feel grumpy and gross. But at least you got a laugh and got some stuff done.

Balding Bonnie

P.S. I would like to clarify what I mean when I say "you're not feeling good." It is a distinctly different feeling than "feeling like death itself." If you are superwoman (or man),you should follow my instructions regardless of which feeling you have at that moment. If you are not endowed with powers beyond those of mere mortals, feeling like death itself definitely means "go back to bed and binge on Project Runway."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

You know what they say about desperate times...

This morning my Mom and I reached the point of desperation. Rafe has figured out how to get water from the front of our fridge. He finds a cup (any cup - if he can't find one, a bowl, or bucket, or shoe will do. Then he fills it as full as possible, pours it on the tile floor, and promptly slips, banging his head on the way down. As soon as he's done wailing and the floor is mopped up, he repeats. Enter the duct-tape/cutting board solution.
He's not too pleased about it, but he'll get used to it. We all will, because I'm pretty sure this isn't coming off for the next year.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Slow moving life

As I type this, I'm lying in bed. Rafe is napping, and Lydia (miracle of miracles) specifically requested her "quiet time" today. Sometimes quiet time consists of coming out eighty-seven times to complain or ask me for snacks, but today, we pulled out our collection of books on tape (yes, actual tapes). The whole collection (probably 50 books or so) was a Freecycle score from years ago. Each book and tape has it's own bag, and a portable tape player came with the whole shebang.

I'd just like to say that this is a rather pleasant way to spend an hour.

The first book she listened to/read was "Where the Wild Things Are." When she was done, I asked her if she liked it. "Dere were lots of Waurs (Roars) in it. Max wore a costume like me! It was kind of scary."

I really like her, and I like how she's getting so old and interested in things and articulate and capable, even if her stubborness, passion, and independence sometimes result in very emotional miscommunications.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cute hair

I am not great at getting Lydia's hair done everyday, but sometimes I try. I saw this hairstyle on a couple girls at church and on facebook and though I'd give it a shot. 

Cute, huh?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What to do when you are an extremely awkward human being

Had my first professional massage today.

It was...interesting.

I'm not sure I'll try it again, but I wanted to see if it's just that I don't know how to get massages and did something wrong, or maybe it's really just that I'm totally sociophobic (made-up-word, I know) and should never be allowed to interact with other humans.

I assume that even non-cancer massages have some paperwork involved, right? Liability and all that, in case they massage a nerve and paralyze you for life (tell me that can't happen)? My cancer massage had lots of paperwork and I felt like I was trying my hardest to pass a test, but I didn't know which answers would allow me to pass and actually get the massage. Like they were just going to say, "Nope, shouldn't have checked that box. No massage for you. Leave now." After the paperwork, which already felt test-esque, the massage therapist asked me a ton of questions about my cancer and my meds and where my pain was (the point where she asked if my pain was under control felt like a dealbreaker - like since I'm not in terrible pain, I shouldn't be taking up a valuable time slot where another actually in pain person could get their cancer massage. But apparently I can get a massage even if I don't hurt that much). So that was the oral part of the exam.

I decided to just get her to massage my feet and calves, since I've had some cramping in them - possibly related to chemo, but maybe just because my sedentary lifestyle became even more sedentary over the past few months (if that is even possible) and my muscles just want to be used. So I didn't think that I would have the issue of clothing or non-clothing. Because let's face it, that's really my concern about massages. But then she said that it would be easier if I were pantsless, unless I wanted her to massage my thighs through my yoga pants. That sounded weirder than being covered by a sheet, so I agreed, but really, I was thinking "Why are we even touching my thighs?" The answer to that question is probably something to do with circulation or other nonsense. And then I realized that maybe I should have gotten some non-religious underwear for this particular situation. But I didn't realize that until after she had left me to undress and slip under the sheet.

This is tmi, obviously. I'm just such an awkward human being. She dimmed the lights and turned up, for lack of a better word (synthesized extended notes vaguely reminiscent of ocean waves doesn't trip off the tongue that well). Then she started rubbing my feet and I had no idea what to do. Should I talk? Should I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep? It's kind of like the dental hygienist or the hair-stylist question. Do they expect you to chit chat? And what about? I have absolutely no idea what to do in those situations, but I especially had no idea about what to do in this massage situation. And then I just kept thinking about it and getting more and more weirded out by myself. About halfway through I remembered that I needed to be back in plenty of time for Adam to take the car to school and didn't know how long it had taken and was going to take and I wanted SO BADLY to check my watch. But I didn't. Aren't you proud? I just sat there like some sort of stuck-up queen with an underling massaging her feet.

So here are my questions. Will you guys help me be less of an awkward person in the future if I ever try to do this again (unlikely)?

  • Have you ever had a professional massage? Full body or just an appendage?
  • Did you enjoy it?
  • Did you talk to your masseuse? If so, what about?
  • Was it a clothed or non-clothed massage? Dare I ask about underwear or no?
  • Would it be weird to give them specific instructions about where you want stretched or kneaded? Or is that like criticizing their professional skills?
  • Should I give it another try? And should I stick with the feet or try something else?
Please help!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Taking loungewear to a whole new level

Guys. I discovered yoga pants this summer. I had seriously never worn them before. Amazing. My fantastic sister gifted me with a pair, as well as an even more amazing pair of yoga capris. I know, I'm getting fancy here. And then, I found this little gem at Plato's Closet.
In case you're wondering what you're looking at. Those, my friends, are an authentic pair of corduroy, paisley, pajama pants. I win at life. They were on sale for $1!

So now I spend virtually all my time wearing pajamas or yoga wear, supplemented occasionally by my fluffy pink bathrobe (c/o Adam's parents). This is the life. Feel free to tell me how jealous you are of my paisley corduroy pajamas in the comments.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tell me I'm not the only one

All you moms out there (there might be 3 reading this...), is it weird that I still get the urge to nurse my baby sometimes? Rafe has had a few rough nights in the last week or so where I have gone and comforted him multiple times during the night. Every single time, I feel like I should just settle into the rocker and nurse him back to sleep. He hasn't nursed in about 4 months. Does anyone else feel like this ever?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lydia's Fancy Nancy Bed

Given my (ahem) condition, my Mom spend much of the summer here in Indiana, taking care of us. On one of her last days here, Lydia woke up with the request that we make her bed fancy, like Fancy Nancy.
So, we took a trip to the local ReStore and found some stair ballisters. A few zipties, two lace tablecloths, and a crib sheet later, this is what we came up with.

She loves it. Thank you Nana!
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Friday, September 6, 2013

National Donut Day

One of our good friends mentioned casually one day back in June that it was National Donut Day. She even supplied some donuts for us. They were delicious. But not quite enough. It was National Donut Day after all.

So we bought more.

And ate them all.
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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why radiation treatment is like being pregnant, except for the important part

Both of my pregnancies were relatively easy. I have been blessed. Friends of mine were throwing up for all nine months, or were put on bed rest and had to rely on the kindness of friends and family in order to keep life in order for the duration of their pregnancy.

I would like to think that I now know a little bit how they felt. Let me explain my experience with undergoing 14 sessions of full brain radiation, as well as targeted radiation on my lower spine. My radiation treatments were last April and May, but I've been wanting to write down some thoughts, memories, and comments, both so that I can remember and reflect, but also to offer a guide to anyone going through anything similar.

When radiation started, I could barely move. Cancer had collected and created a huge mass on my lower spine, which had eventually resulted in a spinal fracture. It hurt to bend over, to put weight on my back/legs at all, to stand up, to lie get the picture. As I walked into the radiation center, I leaned on Adam so that I didn't have to use my walker. Like most days, we were the only ones in the waiting room. We filled out paperwork and I received my own personal card to scan when I came in everyday. The nurses in the back would then see that I was there and would come get me when I was ready. We had come in for prep a few days before, when they had made a creepy mask of my face and had discussed the whole procedure with the doctor.

I have to say that all the techs and nurses were amazing. The whole experience was not comfortable, but they tried as hard as they could to help in any way possible. It was a little bit odd, the whole thing. I saw these people 5 days a week for nearly 3 weeks, but we didn't really know each other, so we'd ask each other generic questions and make small talk, but I don't remember their names (terrible person here).

I always enjoyed sitting in the center's waiting room. Gossip magazines are my guilty pleasure, reserved for doctor's offices, and they had a goodly supply, as well as interesting National Geographics and Reader's Digest (Is your marriage healthy? Take the research-based quiz! Verdict: Adam and I are doing great, but we need to take vacations together without our kids. Darn). Adam probably thought it was weird, but I always wanted to sit by the fish tank. The first day I thought "what's the point of having a tropical fish tank if all your fish are tiny and black?" but in the coming days I noticed a large, brilliantly yellow fish who always lurked behind the coral. She (yes, I'm arbitrarily assigning her a gender) gradually became more confidant (or I projected increasing confidence onto her) and by the end of the 14 days, she would greet me at the front of the tank when I came in. Until that point, it was a fun hide-and-seek to keep my mind off the coming treatment.

Before my first treatment, I assumed that I'd usually just drive myself down, do the 15 minute radiation thingie, and go home. Easy as pie. But as soon as I was left alone on the slab, the stickers on my abdomen lined up perfectly with the red lighted lines coming from the machinery, and the blast doors had closed behind the techs, I knew that I would never come to do this alone. The loneliness in that room as the machinery made noise and twisted and turned around you was overwhelming. Lying there, I thought of the fact that what they were doing to me was so harmful to humans that everyone else had to lock themselves out via the foot-thick door. The loneliness never went away, although the panic that began to build after those first couple awful days eventually lessened.

Radiation has a smell. Or at least it did to me. It only happened when they were irradiating my brain, not my spine, so maybe it was just that somehow my olfactory nerve was triggered, but I can still conjure up a sickly sweet smell vaguely reminiscent of lemon cleaners and salty beaches. Still makes me nauseous.

I'm being melodramatic. It wasn't that bad, and it helped me a great deal. The reality is that those first few days were awful. I went through the treatment, felt fine, and went home. I spent the next 6 hours throwing up every hour or more. We did some research - people receiving full brain radiation sometimes get nauseated because of swelling in the brain. I was on some anti-inflammatory steroids, which was supposed to counter that, so the internet suggested playing with the timing of my meds, to see if we could manage the nausea. The next day was no better. Fortunately, that was a Friday, so I got a weekend off. Monday loomed in my mind and the anxiety nearly overwhelmed me. That morning, before I went in for treatment, I called ahead. "Is this normal? Do people just throw up for weeks?" They promised to get me some meds.

And then I was fine. Zofran, the best friend of pregnant women and cancer patients everywhere. Dissolving that tablet under my tongue was magical. Any nausea dissipated in minutes, and the future seemed much less bleak.

It became normal to hop in the car with Adam at quarter to one everyday to drive down to the center. It was our little date. We'd stroll into the waiting room like we owned the place, scan my card to check in, pick out our magazines of choice, get settled in front of the fish tank as I said hello to my sunny fish friend, and wait. It never took lawn for a tech to appear and usher me to the back rooms. I'd hop on the slab, expose my stomach stickers, and get all lined up. The techs would leave, the doors would close, and I would keep my eyes closed while the machinery did it's business. The doors would open, techs came back in and put my facemask on, lather, rinse, repeat. Afterwards, I'd go fetch Adam and we'd head home.

After a week or so, the exhaustion I'd heard would happen happened, and I'd spend my afternoons dozing in a lazyboy recliner. My hair started coming out in clumps on day 10, so we shaved it off to prevent our drains from having to do double duty. Getting ready to leave the house became incredibly easy without hair to do. Just grab a cap and go. And I could eat! It was fabulous, especially after being worried that I'd spend 3 weeks cautiously nibbling saltines. I ate anything and everything, and I think actually gained a few pounds over the whole period.

For some reason, the last couple of days of treatment ended up with some nausea that Zofran didn't beat, but overall, it was so much better than it could have been.

So, here's where I sum up the whole experience. Having whole brain radiation is like being pregnant because you start off by losing your lunch daily, doctors take pictures of your insides halfway through, and you want to sleep all the time. Of course, certain aspects of the whole experience are the complete opposite of pregnancy. Unlike pregnancy, where I ended up the nine months feeling like a beached whale, I couldn't move at the beginning, but by the end I was hopping on and off the table like a spring chicken (which, while not nearly as good as having a new, beautiful baby to show for your trouble, was pretty amazing to me at the time). Also, most people's hair gets thicker during pregnancy. Me, not so much.

As a postscript, I would like to mention that I don't think the nausea I experienced during radiation in any way equates to some women's horrific experiences with nausea during pregnancy. However, chemotherapy is a different beast and now I truly, truly empathize with anyone who have horrible nausea, regardless of the cause.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Like father, like son

Rafe loves baths. In fact, he has, on more than one occasion, decided that being naked was not necessary and plunged into the tub fully clothed.

I truly wish I had a copy of the picture of Adam at the same age doing the same thing.
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Monday, August 5, 2013


All my life, whenever I (or anyone near me) finds a hair in their food, I have been blamed. And I kinda deserved that blame. I'd duck my head and kinda sheepishly say, "yep, prob'ly mine." In fact, my roommates when I was a college freshman called me "Hairy Beast" because the hair - it was just everywhere.

NO MORE! If this isn't an upside to cancer, I don't know what is. I now have the internal satisfaction of knowing that when a mystery hair appears in my food, it is most definitely not mine and I can now begin casting blame. Yay!....right?

Friday, July 26, 2013

The things you learn...

Cancer taught me a new word:


which means, roughly, the state of being where you can't eat anything because nothing sounds good.

Fortunately, the month of July is National Ice Cream Month, and ice cream is one of the few things I'm not disgused about. Although, to be honest, I don't give a da(r)n about whether it's ice cream's month or not.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I have my third round of chemo today.

It's hard to update when I want to stay positive, because "I feel horrible most of the time" doesn't sound very positive, amiright?

Adam keeps saying "it's all going to turn out fine." When he says it I believe him.

Just put my head down and keep going, yes?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chemo and Kidlums

I started chemo yesterday. That just got real.
So far, I'm feeling okay. They gave me some steroids that gave me some energy yesterday, so after chemo, I cleaned my house. Somehow, that wasn't what I expected. In the evening, some queasiness and fatigue set in, but nothing like what I experienced in the first few days of radiation. They (doctors, nurses, the internet, random cancer books, etc.) say that the worst nausea happens 2 or 3 days after chemo. Clearly, I'm excited for the next few days...

But my kids are cute. These pictures were taken back during radiation, before I lost my hair, just in case you're wondering...
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Well that was a downer, huh?

Let's vary things up around here.

Radiation finished this week. The doctor, nurses, and techs said it went well, and I seem to have come through it relatively free. They did ask me to pay attention to how I feel and let them know if I have headaches, dizziness, or blurred vision, as that could be an indicator of some swelling in my brain.

One night a few days afterwards, I noticed my vision was doing funny things. I kept having to blink, squint, and shake my head to see things clearly. Not wanting to seem paranoid, I casually mentioned it to Adam, who wisely advised sleeping on it and re-evaluating in the morning.

Morning came and I cleaned the smudges off my glasses. No more problems.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What to do when your life can be split into B.C. and A.C.

Cancer is odd because the things that it takes from you aren't things you have, they're things that you were going to have.
You lose your plans.
You lose your expectations.
Your future is different. Altered.
It's a series of losses that aren't really losses. But we still mourn.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans, right? But who hasn't planned how many children they want to have? We had. And now we are incredibly happy and blessed that we have two beautiful, healthy, happy, perfect children. And when Rafe grows out of his crib we will turn it into a toddler bed with no plans to turn it back. We don't need our baby clothes back from my sister. The extra stack of baby blankets in Lydia's closet should probably be given away. Our baby gate is obsolete. The jumper in our basement takes up too much space, so craigslist is probably a good option.

We will never have another baby. I will never be pregnant again. I will never have that natural birth. I will never nurse another infant. Our vision of a home filled with many happily homeschooled children has been tweaked slightly to hope for Lydia and Rafe to be best friends and for us to have lots of great family of four adventures. So that's the new dream.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Taken about half a second apart. We sure like this guy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What to do when headgear is the new norm

So, people are incredible. Probably everyone who is reading this has already blessed our lives so much and I want to thank you each individually, but we're going to start with a shout out to everyone who has contributed to my new hat and scarf collection! My mom's sisters threw a virtual hat shower and SO many packages have been coming in from all over. I want to have a photoshoot where I take a picture of each and every hat or scarf. They are all so different and I have already found that I need different kinds for different days and situations, so it's perfect that we have such variety.

This particular specimen (and a few other hats) came on Saturday from Adam's uncle and aunt, Craig and Tanya, and their family. We love it!
Lydia, especially. When she came into my room this morning she said "Mom, can I wear your fun hat? The one with the banana?"

I'm not going to ask who wore it better, because I already know.
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

What to do when your hair is just...not good

"Your hairplugs look completely real."

Adam thinks he may be villified as world's worst husband for that comment. We laughed pretty hard though, not the least because we're Arrested Development fans and my current resemblance to Tobias is not too far of a stretch.

When my hair started coming out in clumps on Monday, the thought of cleaning it off all our surfaces and out of all our drains was an awful one, so we made a family home evening of it and shaved my head (which I will probably write more about later). Down to a very nice quarter-of-an-inch. But since then, the hair has come out in little patches and made me itchy, and I was starting to look like a leopard. So I took a washcloth into the shower and tried to really rub at it and get it all out, but...guys...not good.  Mangy cur is really an apt description.

But, good news. A quick google search by Adam revealed that there are two types of mange. Both caused by burrowing mites. We don't have burrowing mites! Huzzah!

Friday, May 10, 2013

What to do when you've been inducted into the Cancer Club: Laugh

Adam and I feel like we've been handed a pass to make all the completely inappropriate jokes we want. I'm not saying there are perks to cancer. The way I have felt for the past 3 days is, I'm sure, just scratching the surface of how I am going to feel. There are not good sides to this. But. We can now make cancer jokes. We can now laugh at cancer jokes. So if you've got one, I want to hear it.

Let's just say, that people who don't think cancer jokes are funny just don't have a sense of tumor.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Nice compliment? Or cruel irony?

"You have such beautiful hair." 

It was just a comment, and I don't mind, it was just an odd time. I'm awkwardly trying to get myself on this hard table without breaking my spine further, and the cute, kind, sweet technician comments on my hair. And see - I'm sensitive about my hair right now, because I know it's days are numbered. It's days are numbered by the very treatment I was lying down for today. After about 10 of these treatments, my hair will be no more. felt odd. I wish she had commented on I get to keep those.

And then I'm kicking myself for being sensitive about this - because it's just hair, right? I'm not vain, right? But of course I am. And my hair has been good to me. So I'm allowed a moment of sorrow when the woman with the hair she gets to keep comments on my normal, plain locks, that are being sent to deathrow.

It got real today. We started treatments to fight back. I'm getting radiation on my head and back for the next 14 weekdays. Side effects include sensitive skin, hair loss, and fatigue. I get to wash my hair with baby shampoo for it's remaining days - and no heat or scrubbing. No lotions with scents, or sunscreen. They said side effects won't kick in for a couple weeks, but I got home and was wiped out. I felt nauseous, in pain, and exhausted. So I took a four hour nap and feel a bit better. Hope this isn't an everyday thing...

Thank you for all your love, support, and prayers. I'm sounding like a broken record, but they're keeping me going.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What to do when you want to have a great birthday

You'd think that at age 26, I would know what kind of things to do to make sure my own birthday is off the charts. So, I'm going to put together a tutorial. You know me, so you know that this is totally my thing.

  1. You should probably start off the festivities the night before. Preferably, someone has planned a fun surprise that you weren't expecting. They tell you on your birthday eve about how marvelous it's going to be, and you lie awake much of the night anticipating the fun. Hypothetically, let's say that this surprise is a chipmunk. In your car. One who has made it his home and intends to stay. Aren't you lucky? You get to lie awake all night thinking about how cute it is that he's chewed stuffing out of your seats, left presents everywhere, marked up the dashboard in every way possible - and tried to dig a tunnel to freedom in the carpet. Isn't nature grand? Having a handy husband will come in...well...handy, today, as you'll wake up and find he's taken initiative to remove that surprise from your life. Possibly in a manner that gives you the willies, but that's not important right now. It's more important that it's your birthday! Yay! 
  2. Birthdays for adults are slightly different than those for children. Clearly. Having a birthday isn't an excuse for getting out of your responsibilities. But, just for fun, since it's your birthday, how about you add some new responsibilities? Like get a job! On your birthday! A 6 AM job! Your favorite! HAPPY BIRTHDAY (I am positive I just used up three lifetimes of exclamation marks in one line)!
  3. I know the fun keeps rolling in, and you're not sure you can handle more of it, but...don't worry - you can always handle more. You've had a couple health issues that you want to get checked out, so why not get a clean bill of health from your doctor for your birthday? What could be better? And even if it's not nothing - it's probably just an abscess (Men or women who are squeamish about lady topics, stop reading now). I'm sure it's an abscess. It just got a bit infected when the baby stopped being interested in that side...No biggie. Little syringe action, possibly minor surgery. You'll be good as new in a bit. 

Oh, the things we tell ourselves...or maybe that's just me.

Since that doctor's visit, when my extremely competent and kind doctor told me that she didn't want to alarm me, but it looked bad, I've had a slew of tests, scans, prods, and pokes. The verdict is clear. I have stage IV cancer, which is obviously a serious thing. It probably started during or before my most recent pregnancy, and the hormones and growth patterns inherent to that state sped up the cancer process.

No one was at fault, but it was not the best birthday. I had a much better celebration over the weekend when my in-laws were in town and Adam made chocolate cake.

Moral of the story: Take care of yourself. Do your self-exams, even if you're in your early twenties. You know when something's wrong. Get your yearly pap test. All these things are horrible, truly, but you will never regret doing them. You may not be in any high risk group, you may avoid processed food like the plague, you may have breastfed specifically because it lowers your risk of breast cancer when you're young, but you are not immune. Some one is that statistic. Take care of yourself.

P.S. I truly appreciate all your kind words, your support, and especially your prayers on behalf of my family and me. I will probably dedicate a post to this eventually (one that isn't quite so dark), but I have felt so buoyed up and full of peace and I know it's because of all the wonderful people I have in my life who are pulling for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will try to do some calling of people and stuff, but it might be a little while.

P.P.S. I hope this post isn't too whiny. It was just such a series of unfortunate events. Lemony Snicket and I should get together FOR SURE. And I do actually like my new job. It has been a blessing to be able to feel productive and get my mind of things without having to send my kids away. Every morning I earn some money from the comfort of my bedroom and do something that is completely un-cancer-related.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What to do when...

If the only reason you check my blog is to see pictures of cute kids and hear fun happy stories, now is the time to run for the hills. Don't come back for the foreseeable future. Life is about to change, as it has for our family, so get out while you're ahead.

Let's do it quick, like a band-aid, okay?

I have breast cancer.

It's amazing how in the blink of an eye everything is completely different. The way the light falls in our home is just ever-so-slightly odd these days. The thoughts that go through my head in the morning as I wake up bear little resemblance to those I thought just a few weeks ago. Relationships and friendships are colored slightly differently - they taste like there's a secret ingredient now. And my worries aren't so much about how to get a healthy meal on the table anymore. Fancy that.

In an effort to make a bit of sense of the tumult that is my mind right now, I'm going to start a feature on this blog called "What to do when..." It's open-ended enough that I can write non-cancer-related segments, but - let's face it. For now it's probably going to be mostly about cancer. Say it. It helps. CANCER.

Posting this in a public forum may seem like overshare, but the purpose is twofold for me. I think it will be therapeutic for me to be able to spew my brain mess out on a page, but it's also much more practical for us to post updates online than to call all the people that want to be in the loop every time we go to the doctor. Hopefully over the next few days I'll be posting what we know about my situation and how we've gotten to where we are. So...stay tuned for the exciting opening, entitled "What to do when you want to have a great birthday."

P.S. I hope you'll forgive me for trying to keep this light-hearted. It's really the only way I know how to deal with this. Please don't be offended or think I'm not taking this seriously. I'm serious as a heart-attack. Or cancer. That one.

P.P.S. I recognize that most of the people who read this blog are family and have already been apprised of the situation. If this is the first you've heard, it doesn't mean I don't love you, it just means I am incredibly overwhelmed. Everyone not related is in the same boat as you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reading with Dad

Both of our kids love reading. Baby Rafe just giggles and wriggles in excitement whenever you say the word "book."

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Friday, February 22, 2013