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 Our baby gate is obsolete.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.