Chemo Round 3

I have been sort of waiting to feel better before I write about it this time, but the truth is that it’s getting harder.

After the first round, when I realized that I wouldn’t be barfing my face off or have horrid bone pain, there was a moment of relief. But as it came time to do it again, dread set in anyway.

This third time has been the worst so far.

I have some major chemotherapy depression.  (Don’t worry, I have an appointment this week with my therapist and an appointment with a specialized oncology therapist coming soon too)

As my chemotherapy approaches, I get a horrible sense of dread. I cry. I get tired. I don’t want to put myself in that chair of poison.

This time as I sat there, I wanted to barf or sleep. It made me nauseated to think about this shit being pumped into my veins.

I hate my bald head.

Thursday I barely made it until the boys were picked up before falling asleep. I used to love naps. Now I lose DAYS to naps and don’t feel better after.

Friday didn’t exist because I slept through it.

Saturday was more of the same, but more depression set in because it starts to feel like I will never feel better. Ever.

And I hate my bald head. I hate it.

I know that is shallow and it will grow back and it’s a sign of being a warrior or whatever, but I hate it. I want a ponytail. I want to be able to at least LOOK like nothing is wrong even though it is.

I’ve completely lost interest in fun because I just assume I won’t have any. I’ll be thinking about my stupid head. I’ll be worrying that I am tired or nauseated. I’ll be thinking about getting enough rest to deal with the children the next day.

Just typing that makes me cry.

I’m just so tired all the time. Part of it is chemo, part of it is depression.

I only have one of the dose dense chemo rounds left. The next drug they give me (up to 12 rounds) is not supposed to be this difficult, but it’s hard for me to believe that. It’s hard for me to believe I will want to go back to work because right now it feels like there would be no way. I feel unable to do my life at all.

And I hate it.

My positive attitude is waning.

3/16 done.

Ode to My Mother

If I have a regret from my teen years, it’s that I didn’t insist on pictures of me with my parents. We weren’t exactly a family of huggers, and my parents usually took pics of us kids, but rarely got in the shot. Now that I am adult, I hate that.

Today my mom is 65–which is awesome by itself–but she is also retiring today from a job she has worked incredibly hard for over the past 30 years. And when I flipped through my albums for pictures, there just weren’t many.

So she gets what I have (sorry, not really sorry, mom). If you’ve ever wondered where I get my drive and determination from, look no further.

I think we can both agree this is better of her than of me

When I was writing my essays to get into college, I had to choose someone who had an impact on my life. The choice was simple: my mom. Looking back though, her impact back then was so tiny compared to what it is now.

Today she retires from her job of 30 years, which is a big deal for anyone, but to me, it’s the culmination of years of modeling for me what it looks like to be a successful working mom.

I come from a long line of really hardworking, passionate, humble women. My great grandmother, Katherine, had 14 kids. My grandmother, Grandma Jo, pushed through a terrible marriage to an abusive drunk and was a single mom to four girls. She took in laundry, cleaned houses, and collected welfare. She worked hard, but was so loving and compassionate to others.

My own mother, Patti, worked part-time while being a stay-at-home mom for my early years. When the tiny grocery store she worked in since age 15 closed, she had two school-aged kids and wanted something more. She took typing classes and began to take in typing work for the company she is retiring from today. When I was 12, she decided she wanted to do more than just type invoices, so she went back to college for her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

It took her about six years to get her degree because she was working part-time, momming and wife-ing full-time, all while putting in 100% for each class she took. She was still involved at church. She still brought us to all the things and showed up for all the things. She still cooked full meals 5 days a week and vacuumed (seemingly) every day.

At the time I very much took advantage of everything my mom did all at once. Now, as a working mom going to school myself, I just shake my head. I swear she had superpowers.

My mom was never late.

Our house was never trashed.

No one ever missed an appointment.

She got groceries and meal-planned and we always had a full meal on the table Mon-Friday.

She never missed a deadline.

She got straight A’s in all her classes–even the literature and composition ones that she claimed were “hard”.

She moved WAY out of her comfort zone for her physical education classes and group work and readings she would have never chosen on her own.

We still had family vacations.

We still went to church every Sunday (twice because RCA in a small town, yo) and youth group on Wednesdays.

She is 40 in this photo and I can honestly say that between the two of us, SHE has the better haircut at 40.

She was the budget-keeper of our family. The one who kept the calendar. The maker of school lunches and appointments and reservations. She kept us going so smoothly, we didn’t even realize the work involved.

And she never complained.

Or if she did, it wasn’t in front of any of us.

And she graduated from Hope College in the spring of 1996 the same spring I graduated from high school.

She went from just typing invoices to becoming the controller for the whole company. She has so much responsibility it has taken literal months to train her replacement. She is trustworthy and responsible. She is kind, but fair. Above all, she is a hard worker. I don’t think my mom has half-assed anything in her whole life. And people know that and count on her.

My mom worked hard her whole life for every goal she set for herself. She made time for volunteering and charity. She spent time with her kids and husband. She made a happy home for all of us.

She is exactly who I want to be as a working, schooling mom and wife.

(by the way, she still takes her role as mommy very seriously and checks up on me after chemo and brings me donuts to help me feel better.)

And now that she is retiring, I am so proud of what she has built. I’m excited for her for what she can do next.

I’m excited that she will be home during the week to possibly do fun things with her grandkids. I’m excited that we can invite her along to the park or the zoo or the beach. I’m excited to just stop in for coffee. I’m excited for the adventures she and my dad can have now that they are both retired.

She has always been my role model for being an awesome, loving working mom and wife. I have no doubt she will become my role model for retirement too!

Congratulations and Happy birthday, Momma! You deserve all the love and appreciation sent to you today!

PS. Let’s take more pictures together!

Chemo Round 2

Wednesday was my second round of chemotherapy. It took a couple hours extra because my port was blocked. Apparently my body was trying to heal it by putting a scab over it. It took a couple hours and some different meds to dissolve the scab. Gross, but necessary.

The bonus to having to sit in the chemo chair an extra two hours was that I was there when my friend the RN (with a bunch of other important letters after her name plus she’s getting her doctorate next for even more letters because she is a crazy school nerd like me. Boom.) came in to the clinic. I like the RN because she is sassy, knows my family well, and loves Pearl Jam. I love the RN because she is like best friends with my brother and still likes me.

Anyway, when you’re going through something like chemo, it’s one of the biggest blessings in the world to have someone like the RN on your friend list and in your contacts. She “gets” to answer all of my fun questions like, “is this (fill in the blank with something weird) normal?” and “can I take a bath?” and “should I keep my lip wax appointments during chemo?” The answer, by the way, to all of them is “yes”.

The last picture taken of me with hair.

The rest of chemo went pretty much the same as last time: Fluids and anti-nausea meds followed by the Red Devil chemo drug and then the bag of other chemo drugs. My hair had started thinning out the day before, so we talked about shaving it and head wraps and wigs.

Thursday the boys were home with me for the morning and early afternoon, then they were picked up for a sleepover and pool fun with some of their best friends since birth. They lived their very best life Thursday to Friday.

Thursday afternoon I started getting super tired, and I bottomed out on Friday. Just like last time I had trouble being awake for more than 20 minutes. It was good the boys were gone and Alice was at daycare because I barely woke up to even eat or pee.

Saturday was still pretty drowsy, but I started to come around a bit by evening. I had more nausea this time, but I think that is because I didn’t do as well drinking lots of water as I did last time. It’s hard to drink when you’re sleeping. And I only woke up enough to take another pill and fall back to sleep, so I am sure my body had a harder time bouncing back. I haven’t had a ton to eat either, so I’m sure that is not helping. Nothing sounds good.

I also had Cortney shave my head on Saturday.

My hair started falling out in clumps and it was getting unmanageable and sort of traumatic for me. I’ll write more about the process I’m sure, but there was crying and hugging and Cortney will say he did a terrible job, but it was quick and painless. I don’t love my buzzed head, but it is what it is for now. Charlie loves to touch it because it’s soft.

Today I’m still dragging a bit, but I haven’t taken a nap yet (although my yawns are getting long). Tomorrow Charlie will be home with me and we have one appointment in the afternoon we have to make, but other than that we can lay low. Which is good because the heat index is well over 100 and my body is NOT a fan of that (as if anyone’s is).

While this all sucks and I hate feeling so run down and depleted, I will say tears of gratitude sprang up numerous times during this round. From having a friend on the inside, to having friends love our boys so unconditionally, to having a place where Alice feels love and routine, to having so much food we actually skipped getting groceries this weekend–we are very blessed even in this time of trial.

2/16 done.

Peace in the Storm

I know this may come as a shock, but I would rather be the helper, then be helped. I’m not good at asking for assistance with anything.

In my marriage, I have had to learn to ask for things because, surprise! Cortney can’t read my mind. I’m still not always good at asking because many times I don’t like to admit I can’t just do things myself. Since having kids and going through depression and anxiety, I have learned strategies for knowing when I am getting overwhelmed and need to reach out. I still battle with feeling shame and apologizing when I ask for help.

Even in my career I have a tendency to take everything on. I love planning and scheming up awesome things to do, but when it comes to doling out responsibilities for making it happen, I will usually do it all (or most of it) myself. I know this is not just bad for me, but bad for my relationships with my colleagues too because we need to have a trust that we can rely on each other to make the awesome happen. I’m working to be better in this area, and honestly I have some of the best teammates in the world, which has made it easier.

When life turns crazy, and we journey through a storm, I get even worse. When other people are going through hard times, you can count on me to send cards, gift cards, and meals. I want to help. I want to make the storm less stormy in some way.

I am learning to accept–and even ask for–help during our storm.

Because as positive of a spin we are trying to put on it, chemotherapy is definitely a storm. I’ve only had one treatment, but having it wipe me out of commission for at least 48 hours is no joke. I lose energy quicker than usual, but can suddenly find myself dealing with insomnia. I can get sunburned while it’s cloudy and raining (ok, maybe that’s hyperbole), and my immune system is not as hearty as it used to be.

This affects my whole family, not just me, as you can probably guess. I would say other than me, Cortney is probably affected the most. He has to navigate how to pilot our family through the storm on his own for those days when I am pretty much just sleeping. Those waters can be rough, friends.

It means feeding the children, getting them to childcare so he can work, making sure my needs are met, and managing all his other normal obligations to our team. It’s a lot emotionally.

The kids are also affected. Mom looks normal (for now), but can’t stop sleeping. She seems normal, but needs to be careful of public places and germs and being outside too long.

I can’t speak for Cortney or the kids, but I have found peace in this storm in a way I didn’t think I would: the help of others.

Cancer takes a ton of control away. It feels like it should be life stopping, but the thing is, life does not actually stop. It keeps moving even when you want to push pause to be able to work through what cancer and treatment all mean. Life laughs at stopping.

So a storm brews.

And the only way to weather it is to reach out and know there are people there who will love you right through it.

My close friend, The Pastor (not to be confused with the Pastor’s Wife who is not the wife of this particular pastor. Follow?), said to me, “Create a meal sign up. Ask for help. If you take charge it will be empowering for you.” She was right. Naming the things that would help, helped me to feel at peace.

But it didn’t stop there. People saw those requests and went beyond.

We have received meals, yes, but we have also been blessed with

  • a prayer shawl from the knitting ministry
  • books and devotionals
  • coloring books
  • treats for the kids
  • treats for the adults
  • head scarves
  • gift certificates to food the kids like
  • gift certificates to get frozen yogurt
  • bluetooth earbuds for chemo treatments
  • notebooks
  • and other care package items you are all so creative to think of

I have been daily learning the power of reaching out and the power of letting grace and love surround you. They bring peace.

While our life is anything but calm, leaning on others and letting their prayers and good thoughts wash over us has brought soothing waves of peace.

Thank you.

We feel you standing, sitting, and walking with us.

 

 

Support my classroom or my classroom library

Nine is Just Fine

My dear, sweet Eddie, how are you possibly nine already?

showing off your fishing badge you earned with grandpa

This past year has been maybe the moodiest since your colicky days as a baby. I can tell you are starting to grow out of little kidness in some ways, but not in others.

You are getting “too cool” for things your brother and sister still love like watching Curious George before bed or Paw Patrol at lunch time. You get a little bossy with your siblings and we have to remind you that while yes, you are their big brother, you are not their parent. You would LOVE if you were able to hand out consequences to them for various infractions. The problem is they–Charlie especially–rage against you as a machine.

 

 

 

In other ways you are still my little dude. You love to snuggle at bedtime and read Harry Potter with me (we are currently in the home stretch of The Goblet of Fire). Your stuffed animals and toddler pillow still have a prominent place in your bed, and you love to be wrapped up in a blanket (who doesn’t!?!).

Speaking of Harry Potter, that is probably the biggest thing that happened this year: you (and ok, I too) became obsessed! One of my most favorite things is our bedtime reading sessions and discussions. I love that you think about the books all the time and bring up plot points and theories out of the blue. We have been watching the movies after each book, and hearing you compare them critically is…man, I don’t know how to do describe it. I’ll say this: when my students really get something we are doing and they start taking off on their own with the learning and connecting and analyzing, I am known to get welled up and tears fall. It’s about a million times bigger watching it happen with you.

You conquered third grade this year. It was by FAR your best school year since Kindergarten. You’ve never had a rough year, but you loved your teacher this year, you made really close friends, and you learned so much. You’re still working on your social control (you tend to interrupt and chat rather than get work done), but you come by those things naturally (sorry, not sorry?) and you are kind and respectful when redirected. That is important.

Your classmates voted you to get the LOL (laugh out loud) award, and none of us were surprised. A girl your age at church once commented, “Everything is fun when Eddie is there!” It makes my heart smile to know you bring joy to those around you.

3rd Grade Folk Dance Night

This year you were a Bear Scout. You did a ton of work this year and earned a couple elective badges. One was your fishing badge with grandpa. You found out you enjoy doing badge work on your own, so when you crossed over and got your Webelos book, we dug in to see which badges would be fun to do this summer and next. And of course, you even crossed from Bear to Webelos scout with your own personal flair.

This year you played both soccer and baseball. You didn’t really love either. Soccer was too early on Saturdays for you and baseball this year was Little League and you felt you were bad at it. I’ll tell you what your dad and I have told you over and over: you are actually quite good…if you practice. You can pitch and hit and field, but you don’t practice. When you don’t get something right 100% of the time, you feel you are bad at it. This could be a good, motivating trait, except rather than use it to want to be better, you quit.

I was the same way at your age, but I don’t want to tell you that right now. I don’t want that to be an excuse. I want you to do better than I did. You are more interested than I was in sports. You like being part of the team. You just have to learn that you can’t be good at things without a lot of practice.

You still love Pokemon cards, drawing comic strips (your own original character, Sargent Socks, which to be fair is really just Captain Underpants meats Dogman fan fiction, but whatever), and watching all the TV you can (which we have had to pull the plug on, so to speak because it was getting clear you couldn’t manage yourself).

Your relationships with your siblings are, shall we say, passionate. Especially with Charlie. You guys can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies. You play nicely together, plot together, and even have after bedtime chats about school and bullies. He looks up to you and wants to be like you. You often say Charlie is stronger and better at things than you, but when I ask Charlie who he wants for a teacher he says, “whoever Eddie had.” And when I ask him what sports he wants to play, he answers, “whatever Eddie does.” He thinks you are the coolest. He sees that people love you at school, and he wants a part of that too.

Most of the time, he goes about it wrong by tackling you or picking fights. We are working on that. But behind all of it, he just sees how confident you are and wants to feel that way too.

Alice loves you unconditionally. You two rarely bicker. Sometimes she is a little annoying–she is three and you are nine and you don’t always want to have a tiny tot watching your every move. But mostly she knows you will help her or read to her or play with her.  You two have very similar personalities, so she is drawn to your silliness. This keeps us all chuckling pretty much nonstop.

My Eddie, my Bear, I can’t believe you’ve been here for 9 years already. I look at your adorable freckles, your almond-shaped blue eyes, your long lashes, and your crooked smile and wonder where did you come from? How did I make you in my body? Where were you before you were here? Your long legs and expanding feet are proof that you are growing from baby to little boy to now that weird tweener age that will soon geek-a-fy your whole body until you burst into adolescence and puberty to becoming a man.

It’s wonderfully weird to watch.

I’m so thankful you ask me all the questions that come to your head from who gets to have a godfather? How does 911 know which emergency service to send when you call? and what is suicide? I love that you still trust me to have answers and to be truthful with you. I promise to always be as truthful as I can with you.

I hope you will continue to show kindness and compassion to others. As you get older, it will be easier to just be sassy and whiney and ignore those who are in need. It’s easier to think about your own wants and what people think of you. Don’t give in to that. Think about the feelings of others. Be generous with your thank you’s and your let me help’s.

I love you, my dear boy.

Happy 9th birthday.

Love,

Mom

Lucky 13

Nothing about our story has gone as expected.

Nothing.

Admittedly, many of those unexpected turns have been unwanted.

We have had our fill of sadness, loss, disappointment, rage, and grief.

We have gotten more than our share of bad news.

For some reason, “lucky 13” can’t be any different.

I know you want me to stop staying “I’m sorry.”

But I can’t help myself because I am so very sorry it is happening this way.

I know it’s not my fault,

but damn.

Our anniversary is always wrapped in a weird cancer ribbon anyway,

white for lung cancer,

celebrating the birth of our marriage in June,

the death of your dad in August.

We sat in the pew where he sat to witness our vows,

to witness his memorial.

And now a pink ribbon is being woven into the fabric of our life

and I hate that it’s my ribbon.

I hate that my trauma is yours.

But I am thankful that you stay.

That you stand.

That you take my hand and walk.

That your words are, “you will never be alone.”

Some of the unexpected turns have been beautiful:

Edward

Charles

Alice

Our friendship that has grown deeper.

Finding a church family

and friends who are happy to be family too.

Throughout all of it,

we have woven our own threads of

trust, friendship, love, humility, generosity.

And finding it every single day for 13 years

is nothing short of a beautiful miracle.

But I think that is what good marriages are: beautiful miracles.

Ours is still so young,

but I promise to keep holding your hand,

seeking your friendship,

laughing with (and at) you,

and appreciating all you give and do for us,

for our team.

Happy Lucky 13, my love.

Chemo Round 1

Yesterday was the first round of chemo out of 16 total, but 4 total of this booty-kicking dense dose. So 25% of the way done with the worst, and 6% done with all of it.

This first round was, dare I say it, pretty easy. So far.

Getting the chemo was anticlimactic. I had blood drawn and my temperature taken, then I chose a seat. They accessed my port, and as much as having it in me drives me nuts, it was amazingly painless to get hooked up using it.

They gave me a bag of anti-nausea medication and a bag of fluids. Cort sat next to me and was fairly bored.

Then I got two syringes of what my friend, Mindy who stopped by, and another patient just getting comfy called “the red devil.” It made my pee pink. And it’s the one that is supposedly the one that make my life awful for the next two months.

Then I got a bag of another chemo med.

All in all I was there for about 3.5 hours.

When I got done, I was hungry, so we had Zoup. Then I was tired. I’m not sure if it was the chemo or the fact that I didn’t sleep well the night before and had to be up by 7am. Either way, I let Cortney know he could go into work and I would be fine, and I promptly fell asleep.

I had some hot flashes. Again, I have no idea if those were side effects of the drugs or if it’s because our house gets weirdly hot during the day because of the south-facing ginormous window we have.

Then I took my first anti nausea pill and felt dizzy and weird, so I took another little snooze.

I also ate dinner even though I wasn’t super hungry. It was good. I have to brush my teeth often and swish a mix of salt and baking soda after to avoid mouth sores, so that is fun. Or not, but it will be worth it.

I have Ativan to take a night. Again, it helped.

Today I am home with Eddie. He let me sleep until after 9am, and he’s doing an excellent job of letting me rest. I’ve noticed that all my anti-nausea meds make me dizzy and foggy, but I don’t have any pain yet, and much to Charlie’s disappointment, my hair has not blown itself from my head in a mass exodus (that will take a least a week).

So I am taking it one day at a time. One step. Just waiting on side effects and trying to maintain them as well as possible.

I’m good, for now.

Thank you for all the love pouring over us. We feel it. I feel it.

1/16 done.

Wigs and Ports and Another School Year Over

The past week was a blur of preparations and endings.

It all started with me not having to go to work, but the boys still having school for the week. Monday Alice had her first dentist appointment ever. She was brave, but hated the water squirter thing because it was “too cold, mamacita.” And it turns out she has 3 cavities. Her brothers have had zero, so I guess she’s making up for it? Ugg. Cortney gets to take her for her filings next week.

Cortney and I also had our “education meeting” for my chemotherapy treatment this week. We got the down low on all the drugs they will be pumping into my body, prescriptions for all the things to make me feel better after they pump me with those drugs, and a tour of the facility where I will be receiving said drugs.

For my Big Four rounds of chemo, they will be pushing Adriamycin (which will turn my pee red–fun!) and Cytoxan. This will take me about four hours every other week. And they can do it that frequently because I also get a fun body injector thingy of Neulasta to help stimulate the growth of healthy white blood cells in my bone marrow. All this stuff is going to make me very fatigued and nauseated, so I have scripts for Compazine and Zofran AND Ativan to fight anxiety and help me sleep. Basically I’m going to be Drugs Walking for the next eight weeks.

Oh, they also gave me a script for a fun little numbing lotion to put over my port an hour before I go in so I don’t have to feel needle poked every time.

So then in August, when I start my weekly rounds of chemo, that will be just one drug: Taxol which takes only an hour to push in. So weekly and shorter starting in August.

Of course because they are going to pump me full of all the drugs there ever were, they want to make sure they don’t kill me with those drugs. Since, you know, keeping me not dead is the point of the drugs. Therefore they need a baseline heart echo, and then other ones as we go along with lab work.

The weeks I don’t have chemo, then, they will be poking me and looking at my blood and hear to make sure they aren’t doing more harm than good.

I also had an hour-long baseline heart echo this week.

OH! Also, my doc gave me a prescription for a wig! So I took one of my best friends and picked out a wig this week. This is what it looks like on the foam head we named Felicia:

This is what it looks like on me (yes, I am wearing a wig in this photo):

I’m super happy with it! Plus it was way more fun to pick out than I thought it would be. We laughed and laughed and talked about keeping the wig out of the range of extreme heat because it would frizzle up.

I also made sure to spend an hour and a half getting pampered and not talking about cancer or chemo or radiation at all. I had a gift certificate for a mani/pedi to cash in from Christmas, and since I can’t get them during treatment, I thought I should enjoy it now.

Friday was the boys’ last day of school. It was also the day my port went in. I really struggled with how their last day of school didn’t end up very special because mom felt tired and sore after having a port sewn under her collarbone.

Both brought how glowing report cards though. Eddie also brought home the LOL Award (voted on by his classmates; basically Class Clown) and no one was surprised. He loved it and was so proud. He was also sad to leave 3rd grade because he loved his teacher this year, and he has two friends who won’t be back next year. One has been in his class every year since Kindergarten and the other is his comic book making buddy. Fourth grade will definitely be different without those pals.

Charlie brought home a GIANT marble that he earned with his better behavior and ability to talk with the before/after school program coordinator whom he really bonded with this year. He was so proud to show it to me, and told me he was sad to see Kindergarten go, but he knew he would still be in the same hallway next year when he’s in first grade.

I didn’t take any last day of school photos. I wasn’t there to take them out to lunch. I didn’t pick them up. I was on the couch sleeping when they got home, and I fell right back to sleep once they had their lunch.

And you know what, life moved on. They were over it by dinner.

Tonight at dinner we reviewed what is coming up this week (last baseball games and chemo) and decided that tomorrow we would go to the library, get Charlie his own library card, and then get donuts.

I’m anxious about everything starting this week. Today has been rough. I expect this week to swing from feeling like a fricking cancer kicking warrior to feeling like a ball of “I can’t do it” mush.

3 days until treatment starts.

Preparations

We are one week away from chemotherapy starting.

We are two months out from my biopsy day when I knew (even before the results came back), that I had breast cancer.

Parts of this still seem so unreal. But the endless phone calls (and endless time on hold) and appointments tell me that this is very real.

Cortney bought us a big calendar to have up in the house that we could color-code and the boys could look at and know what is happening and coming up. It actually starts in July, so drew June.

I’ve been working overdrive this week making phone calls (which you know I hate), making appointments and crossing as many t’s and dotting as many i’s (and lower case j’s) that I can find.  I’ve been asking people for help (which you know I hate) to make sure the summer is great for our kids–for our family.

I’m setting up a birthday/retirement dinner for my mom. I’m trying to make sure Cortney gets something from the kids for Father’s Day. I want Eddie’s 9th birthday party–Harry Potter themed, naturally–to be wonderful.

I have an appointment to try on wigs tomorrow because the kids want me to have “hair” to put on and because I know it will make me feel more confident in certain situations.

I have a heart echo tomorrow as well to get a baseline so my oncologist can make sure chemo doesn’t give me heart failure.

Cortney and I had a meeting today to learn all about the drugs they will be putting in me, the side effects, and the procedures for treatment days and lab days.

I filled prescriptions.

I confirmed my surgical procedure for Friday to have my port put in.

I changed around dental work (can’t do it during chemo), hair appointments (won’t have any during chemo), and childcare.

I had a manicure and pedicure today since I can’t have those during chemo either and it was a good way to get some self-care in. I chose pink, by the way, because it felt like the right thing to do. It’s Alice’s favorite color, for one. But it’s also the breast cancer ribbon color. Although I picked a sassy bright pink, not a passive light pink.

I know some of this is my anxiety and OCD working in overdrive to compensate for my fears about how my kids will do with all of this. Not to mention my own fears. I keep telling myself everything will be fine (regardless of the cancer stories other people seem to have the need to tell me that do not end well. If you have a cancer story that is not uplifting, please know that my family and I don’t want to hear it right now. I get that it might feel good for you to tell, but I am not the person you should tell that to), and I do believe everything will be fine.

Every single question I have been able to come up with either gets answered before I can ask it, or is something totally normal to ask. I have been provided with resources and options and an abundance of professional medical advice. Every nurse, technician, and doctor has been able to anticipate my questions and my fears and assuage them as much as possible. I have full confidence in my team.

As I mentioned, today is exactly two months since I found out. Besides the prayers and cards and kindness you have shown my family, please PLEASE make sure the people in your life who you love who also have boobs go get them screened. Early detection can save lives.

I am proof. I will continue to be proof. And I want those boob-wearing people in your lives to be proof too.

One week to go.

Being Brave

Cortney and I often tell the kids, “being brave doesn’t mean that you aren’t scared; it means you do the thing you have to do anyway.”

I often tell my students, “being brave doesn’t mean doing stupid stuff for glory; it means doing the right thing even if you are afraid.”

Doing what you have to do. Doing the right thing. Even if you are scared or don’t want to.

Everyone lately seems to be telling me that I am brave. I keep denying it. No, no. Not me. I’m just doing a scary thing because I have to. It’s the right thing to do. I want to be around for my kids for a very, very long time. I don’t really have a choice.

I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve been dealt: cancerous crap in my breast and lymph nodes–all gone now, of course, but I don’t want that junk back.

I’m just doing what I have to do because the doctors told me to, you see.

Nothing brave to see here.

But then I heard myself, again, telling one of the boys that they are braver than they think. That just doing the necessary thing is brave. Being afraid, but doing it anyway.

Chemotherapy is necessary. I am definitely afraid. But I am going to do it anyway.

So I guess I am being brave.

Although just like my kids tell me, this is not what I thought bravery would feel like.

10 days until chemo starts.

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