Saturday, June 25, 2016

Like Sand Through the Hourglass ...

It’s 2am, or something like that.  I am not really sure because I tip-toed ever so quietly downstairs to the computer to write this -- not wanting to wake anyone (including the dog).... The point is --- I can’t sleep.  My head is full of replaying memories and my heart is happy, and full of anticipation.  Like the night before a trip when you were a kid.  That feeling.  Well, sort of.  

I met Jeanette in college, maybe second semester of my freshman year.  We don’t need to do the year… then my kids might ask me again if we had phones.  Of course we had phones, but the kind that are plugged into the wall.  You know back in the days when a “hashtag” was a “pound” even further back than that.  Ok, 1995.   We were both Alpha Phis, and though that “made” us sisters… it wasn’t until the following year we became friends.  We were the most unlikely pair.  I can’t help but giggle a little recalling our stark differences.  She was an accounting major.  Honors college.  She is going to kill me for this-- but she knows it is all true.  She was quite serious.  As President of the sorority, she would look down the line of exec board to me to do the devotional, only for me to look back at her with “big eyes” and “wing it” because I had forgotten, yet again, to pull something ahead of time.  My only job as Chaplain. And I was sure beyond any shadow of a doubt she was thinking “That was your only job???”
But it worked… I winged it, and she smiled- and I knew she got me.  Even then.  It was that summer that the two of us attended Alpha Phi Convention in Scottsdale, AZ that - fate as I call it- took over.  An English teacher would point out foreshadowing --- as we would meet years later in the same town just before Jeanette and Mike (her husband)  were going to have their second child.  

I was President after Jeanette- and that ‘required’ us to be roommates.  The memories flood me - but all with smiles… laughs… pure, simple friendship.  We were addicted to Days of our Lives, and in fact I must confess-- scheduled our classes around it.  Yes, well, b/c it was live TV WAY back then.  :)  And Bo and Hope were true love.  And I really don’t need to explain the rest do I?  Or sure Marlana was the Devil…   We would race from the second floor apt….to our classes… running and talking about the whole way there.   The Fashion School and the Honors college were not right next door…. So as we split … we would still be screaming to each other about what had just happened…. Every.  Single.  Day.  By the time I got to my seat in class I was still laughing or smiling about the ridiculous conversation we just had about ‘Days’ and how many people along the route thought we completely insane.  Or they just smiled too.  Friendship is a gift.  Even when you are a stupid, self absorbed college student- you know that.  

We had formals, and date parties, boyfriends, and graduations.   It turned into internships, jobs, and engagements.   She married Mike just a few months before I married Ben.  (17 years ago)  And I was there as a bridesmaid in her wedding , as she was in ours.   We discussed the important things in life that year, flowers, cake, dresses, dresses, dresses.  As they moved  around the US - Ben and I traveled to see them.  Beach vacations, and trips back to AZ.    Then came babies…. They had a girl, we had a boy, then a girl, then they had two more boys.  Life was good.  
Jeanette was the first friend I called when I found out I had breast cancer.  The first one.  

And as I write this through tears… I believe  I was the first friend she called too.
That was just a few months ago.

It shouldn’t be this way.  Is that what you are thinking?  You’re right.  How can this be?  
My mind just kept saying … “But I was the one in eight.  I was. “

She has breast cancer.  

I did as any friend would- I went to see her as soon as I could.  It was for her MRI appt.  Of course my first hand experience played into my heart beating a mile a minute as I entered the hospital that morning up in Cleveland.  I couldn’t recall the last time we saw each other… it was a fun weekend with college friends.   This, this was such a contrast it made me shake a bit.  But, as soon as I heard her voice at the registration desk- everything changed.   There were no tears- only laughs that morning--- that poor lobby witnessed two old friends that couldn’t stop each other from laughing, and talking a mile a minute.  Friendship is a gift.  

A couple weeks ago- I mailed her my wig.  My heart sank.  We shared clothing, makeup, even a baby crib… but a wig?  While at the post office I had to get insurance on the box and I told the lady what was inside.  I started to cry.  Out of nowhere.   She looked at me and said.  I am a 12 yr survivor.  I smiled- the tears stopped.  

Jeanette had her 5th round of chemo on Thursday.   And she and her amazingly supportive husband Mike are joining us for Velvetonia tomorrow evening.  Our conversations now consist of pathology results, side effects from chemo, and how kids adapt.   As I celebrated my 5 year mark- just a month before Jeanette was diagnosed.  I am once again reminded.   Cancer is a sneaky bitch.  And it is personal.  I am reminded that it can happen to you,  or me.  I have no doubt Jeanette has already kicked cancers ass.  And her brave journey will be one that she will look back on and remember what she took from cancer rather than what it took from her.  I know she is the ‘glass half full’ girl, and I believe in her.  Same as I did in college.  In her marriage, and as a mom.  She’s got this.  And I am continued to be be inspired by her.  

I could fill this blog with my many memories… of our friendship… my mind keeps reminding me of more.  I can’t wait to see my lifelong friend, Alpha Phi sister, and now pink sister Jeanette tomorrow.  ( and Mike too)  What’s that saying?--People come into your life for a reason…. Oh ya…. That.  

** This Pelotonia Ride 2016 if for Jeanette.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

January won't be the same.

*** This Post has little to do with cancer, but more to do with me, and someone very special to me -my Papa- who passed away peacefully this past Sunday night.   I happened across this... below... as a Happy Birthday - as he turned 90 last year.   The writing assignment was " Here we Go Again..."

Here WE go again.

I didn’t have a twin.  But I always shared my birthday.   As far back as I can recall.  And I was always happy to share it.  Truly.   Maybe it is because I share it with my Grandpa, or Papa as I call him.   I am Jan. 10th, and he is Jan. 11th.    It was fun to see how many candles we could get on the cake.   I suppose it was sometime in my teenage years I realized I wouldn’t always be sharing my birthday.   I put that thought away.   It became a little more special every year after that. 

This Friday we celebrate my Papa’s 90th Birthday.   He is the Papa who built me a doll house when I was 5 yrs old.  We are not talking just any old dollhouse.  It has a wrap around porch with a swing.  It has hard wood floors and wall paper.  Real drapes, and little framed pictures on the walls.  The front door has a stain glass window.  Every detail down to the toilet paper on the toilet paper roll. .  It is my dream house.  It will always be my dream house.     All done by hand.  His hands.  With love, for me.    I watch my daughter play with it, and even my son.  They are transformed as I was. 

As soon as I could ride a bike we would go for rides.  Papa rode his red bike with a big horn that he would gladly blow at anyone in our way.  We rode down what now is a huge four lane highway, and I wonder how in the world he was brave enough to take a wild child like me with him.  We would ride 4 miles.  That was a lot.  And now I get it.  He was trying to tire me out!  We would arrive home to a home cooked meal and table set by my nanny.  It was always good. 

It was the teenage years I recall receiving  the beginnings of his many newspaper clippings.  I will never forget the one he sent me on teenage driving and speeding.  I still think about that article.  It was the first time I actually thought- “maybe I don’t know everything, maybe my brain is impulsive”   These were pretty deep thoughts in a time when all I could think about was driving my parents car, and that included driving fast.  And being stupid.    For a longtime-  I thought about that article everytime I put on my seatbelt.   He made me think.  When I wasn’t doing much thinking.  

He wrote me letters while I was in college.  Real letters.  Through the mail.  He wrote them in cursive.  Catholic  School cursive, and I keep every last one.  He wrote me one when I graduated that I still can’t read without tears about how proud he was of me.  He isn’t a sap my Papa.  But he loves me a lot.

He loves me enough to say a Hail Mary every night while I was going through chemotherapy.  I am not sure if I said a word when he would call me to see how I was doing during those months.  I would listen. He was wise.  Calming.   He told me he hasn’t said that many Hail Marys since The War.  Now he was thinking ‘who would he share his birthday with.’  No, he never said it.  But I knew. 

This Friday WE will celebrate our birthdays.  Again.  It never does get old, even if we do.

Happy 90th Birthday Papa.  I love you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Cleaning out my desk today - I came across my Velvetonia Speech (I gave this June).   It was fitting to read it in my office only to look out our front windows and see the many October Breast Cancer flags in the neighborhood....And on the eve of Pelotonia's last day for donations.... I find it more fitting to share- so here you go:

Everyone who has been diagnosed with  cancer… has “a date”… the day when you heard those words…..

Mine was Friday May 13,2011.  

I was 35.  Healthy.  Happy.  A wife.  A mom.   And just a day before I didn’t know I had a stage 3 tumor growing in my left breast. 

But that’s cancer.  It’s sneaky.  It’s unpredictable.   And it was in MY body.

My bi-lateral mastectomy was scheduled two wks later.   I woke up early that morning in anticipation.  It was the last day of school for our son.  He was a first grader.   As I walked him to the bus – we saw a pink balloon tied to our mailbox.  Deep breath I thought.  No tears.  Keep it together.     I did.  Keep  it together that is.. until the bus pulled away.   What a simple balloon can do.  Knowing it was tied there with love  and support.    It wasn’t until my husband Ben and I drove out of our neighborhood that we saw the hundreds of balloons… Pink balloons… tied to street signs, trees… all the way down the street.   As we made our turn onto the main road into town… There it was…a sign that simply read: “ IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO CURE CANCER”   This support is Granville.  It is why people stay here.  It is why they come back.  It is community.  And to me on that morning it was the reason I had a smile on my face and a strong sense that all would be ok.  Because, I had a village behind me- with me.   


Another sign - downtown Granville  read  “HEY CANCER – YOU PICKED THE WRONG CHIC”  It did!  That was the sign I was talking about when they wheeled me into the operating room.  Though my voice was shaking as I spoke from uncontrollable nervousness- I still recall telling Chase the transfer nurse about my morning.  About my family.  My friends.  My town.  And how WE were going  to fight  this cancer.  Together.   I don’t know… it might have been the drugs, but I am sure he was ready to join “our team” and as he rolled me to OR room # 24- I might have convinced him that we were in a looker room gearing up for the biggest game of our lives.  Our opponent though was almost undefeated., and didn’t play by the rules.  Still looking in his eyes as he was the last one I recall seeing before my deep sleep- I could tell he believed we could win. 

That is the thing for those of us( newly diagnosed, in treatment, in remission…) for those of us that have “a date”… we hold on to the HOPE we can win.    It is given in so many ways.  Cards, meals, playdates for the kids.  Countless phone calls. Anonymous  Flowers left by my doorstep.  All delivering hope, and inspiring us in a way that makes curing cancer seem closer rather than  the distant future. 

Pelotonia was that hope for my husband.   Ben may have had the toughest job on that day in May of 2011.   Hearing your highschool sweetheart, your wife and the mother of your children has cancer is inconceivable.  But Ben did as Ben always does—He fired up – and took action. The  Irony was, he was already signed up for Pelotonia.  He had riden in Pelotonia in 2010 as an individual rider.  But now – well now – it was personal.  What can you do when your wife is in chemo?  Train for Pelotonia.  Talk to your friends about Pelotonia.  Raise awareness.  In 2011- in a couple short months Ben organized our first Peloton: Brett Jump’s Bicycle Brigade  The support was overwhelming and we grew fast.   Totaling 28 riders for our first year, and raising over 46,000 dollars.   I had shaved my head a week before Pelotonia that summer.  And had chemo the Thursday before the ride.  I promised myself that morning- I will ride in 2012.  And I will ride every year until we find a cure.

It was a gorgeous morning in 2012 when I rode my first Pelotonia- 50 miles to New Albany. We renamed the Peloton Team Granville.       That year,  our Peloton had grown to 43 riders and we raised over 78,000.  `100% of the funds directly used for cancer research@ The James.  Hope.  I have never known hope like I did that day.  It was empowering  to see so many so passionate for ONE GOAL.  And it was moving to ride along side so many that carried me though one of the toughest years of my life.

So – tonight I stand up before you and Thank you for supporting Team Granville- WE ARE Peloton of 80 members strong.  That’s right.  80.  That’s HOPE.  I can’t wait to ride again this August –  hearing the cheers of people holding signs that read  “you are my hero.  You saved my life”  

Thank you for riding.  Thank you for being part of the journey.  For joining the fight.  Gearing up for the game and being passionate about our ONE GOAL.

That's it... and that was June... two months later we rode through Granville.... through the best town in the world.  There were cheerleaders, church bells, and people at every corner.  I do believe I cried from the moment I hit Broadway until stopping at Hugh Prices' office..  Greeted by my family, my friends, and my amazing husband that continued to Kenyon that day.   It was a day I will never forget and one that words can not describe.  I rode the entire way with my daddy- it was - a gift.  

This year-Team Granville has raised $116,092.07 as of this afternoon.   That is this year alone.  But we won't stop.  We can't stop.  This cancer has continued to invade our lives, or families and our friends.  And we are fighting back.  WE are strong and WE will find a cure.  ONE GOAL.  END CANCER.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear Me,

All right all right... no news is good news... good news indeed.   I am updating my blog, doing as I am told so to speak.  I hear about it a lot- you see... and it is .. well.. very flattering to know so many of you care.  Thank you.

It is the eve of my last treatment.  My very last.  Sounds like we have done this before... oh yes we have.  I thought Nov. 17th 2011 was my last chemo... and it was until the wonderful Cleveland Clinic re-ran my pathology last March and found I was HER2 positive.  So, now I am writing after nearly 2 years from feeling that little bump in my breast.  After a bilateral mastectomy.  After 5 months of Chemo. And 37 radiation treatments.  Then an additional year of Herceptin via IV.  I am writing this blog post.  With tears.  Such happy tears.  Because- tomorrow is my last, very last IV treatment for Breast Cancer.  The fight is over.  And I have won.  But not just the battle.  So, so much more.

I found the picture of me from my second blog post- You know the one-  There I am in that crop top of a gown at the Plastic's Office.  So many things run through my head as I look at that girl in the photo.  Blondie with her thumbs up.  Has she any idea what the next few years would have in store?  No.   She didn't.  So much so I am dedicating this blog to her.
Dear me......
I know you are scared.  But it will all be ok.  
I know you think you have it all under control.  You don't.  You never did.  It's ok.  God will take it from here.  You can trust him.  He is better at the control thing than you.  Really.
You can't hide your pain - so don't try.  I know you will.  And what a terrible actress you will realize you are.  It's ok to have bad days.  It's OK to let your kids know you are having bad days. 
That man behind the camera, ya, you know the one you met in high school and fell madly in love with.  Well, you haven't felt anything yet.  It gets better.  You have no idea what kind of love you two share as ride the roller coaster cancer ride.  It is like nothing I could ever explain in words. 
Your friends and family will embrace you continually.  Meaning - it never stops.  They love you with food, flowers, books, pictures, letters, cards, and phone calls.  They lift you up in ways you had no idea human kindness could.  It is powerful.  It is overwhelming.  And at times it is the only reason you get out of bed. 
Your body is healthy.  I know I can't convince you now because you are still angry at your body for letting this cancer grow.  But - you will soon see that your body is healthy.  The surgery is the single hardest physical (and emotional) thing you have ever gone through.  But you get through it.  And your body is healthy. 
Losing your hair to Chemo is not as hard as double taking when you catch a glimpse of your bald head in the mirror in the morning.  Looking sick- is harder for you than being sick. 
OH, and get this- when your hair comes back-- it is dark... I mean we all know you're not a "real" blond, but even your own mother is surprised at these dark locks.
You will ride in Pelotoina- 50 miles you will bike.  It is more than meaningful.  And you know those little voices you hear in your head that tell you -" you can't do this... you can't bike all that way"  well, they are gone.  All I can hear is " you can , and you will!"
You will learn more about your drive and will than you can ever imagine now.
And most of all - You will LIVE IN THE MOMENT... each and every single day.  Find yourself "freeze- framing" moments with your kids.  Enjoying their laugh.  Listening to them talk to each other.  Simple joys, otherwise passed by. 
Each Season will be your new favorite... until the next one comes along to take it's place.
And soon, very soon you will have a close friend call you about her lump, her pathology, her chemo, her wig and her sadness.  Her deep sadness. 
So, me... I see you sitting there with your two thumbs up.... but I know your sadness...
I am here to tell you.  Your sadness turns into an appreciation for living.
And you win.  And continue to win each day you take more from cancer than it took from you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Touch of Grey

"Every silver lining's got a.... touch of Grey..." - Grateful Dead 
I can't help but sing along.  It is 6am, and I feel on top of the world.  I am on my way to Cleveland Clinic -it's Thursday April 19, 2012.  I have a 8:30 apt. with Susan, the Head Trial RN who has in every possible way become one of my biggest cheerleaders along the way.  

We met less than a month ago when I originally went to Cleveland Clinic as sort of a 3rd opinion on if I should get a hysterectomy.  See it's like this, breast cancer is fed by something... and in some breast cancers it is fed by estrogen.  So, the obvious thing to do (to me) is to get rid of any estrogen in my body, or anything that produces it.  Hence, a hysterectomy.  But, not without the proper research, and Doctor opinions.  My OB/GYN Dr. Miller, (as you might recall me talking about her as my angel... after this post you will certainly not forget that.)  she discussed my case with my oncologist at the James as well as two other Oncologists in Columbus, and when she couldn't clearly make what she called an "informed decision" on how to proceed, she suggested we go to Cleveland Clinic to talk to Dr. Halle Moore and oncologist who might be as I would like to call "our tie breaker" opinion.  And what a change of events that decision has made. 

After meeting with Dr. Moore in mid March many questions were answered.  It was confirmed that I HAD stage 3a breast cancer.  She discussed at length my prognosis and what to do to improve it.  We discussed a plant based diet, no alcohol, and exercise.  And ... cue the music... we discussed a clinic trial they had that I might qualify for... All things to keep this cancer from NEVER returning again.  I was jazzed, excited and think I might have skipped back to the car that day.  I felt so empowered.  It was good to hear there was something else I could do to improve my odds.  It was better to know from another oncologist that I was truly on the right path.  As Ben held my hand that day, he gave me that extra squeeze as if to remind me "we got this."  It was a very good day. 

The one thing Dr. Moore couldn't completely answer that day was should I go ahead with the hysterectomy.  This because my original pathology (from my mastectomy surgery) showed my tumor was inconclusive on if it was estrogen positive.  Riverside's pathology department had classified my tumor as ER positive, PR negative and HER2 negative.  However, OSU's path dept. had me classified as triple negative, meaning I was ER negative, PR negative, and HER2 negative.   I know, I know, what does that all mean?  Trust me, it felt like another language when I was diagnosed.  In a nutshell, these are the tumor markers.  The estrogen and the progesterone are hormones (obviously) and are fed by those.  The HER2 is a marker as well and is another way to help define the tumor and help treat it.  Since these two depts had discussed their findings and basically agreed to disagree, Dr. Moore requested that Cleveland Clinic run the pathology to make a final decision.  My tie breaker... yes, I would like that!    Dr. Moore had thought that the Estrogen marker would most likely come back negative and a hysterectomy would not be a good option.  But she wanted to see the final results before making a decision.  I was fine with that, and waiting is... the name of the game folks... so we waited...

I had some other things to do- like have my reconstructive surgery done-April 3rd, and while waking up from surgery Dr. Moore was leaving me a message regarding my pathology results.  Honestly, I couldn't write this better.. it's just how it happened..sware.   The surgery went well, I came home that day- and it was later in the day when I finally got to ck my voice mail.   I saw the phone number and knew.  It is amazing how easy I memorize hospital phone numbers, for a girl that doesn't like numbers - I sure can do those.  So, I dialed Dr. Moore and got the news.  The news that changed everything.  Dr. Moore said "Brett, I didn't see this coming" no kidding Dr. Moore, I didn't either.  She shared the news that I was ER negative, and PR negative, BUT- I was HER2 positive.   My heart dropped.  I knew what that meant, HER2 positive meant I should have had Herceptin with my chemo, OMG- how could this be happening.  My heart was beating so fast I could barely talk.  I immediately ask Dr. Moore, if I was right... should I have had Herceptin?  Yes, she explained, then she calmly told me of trials and studies that show Herceptin's use w/out chemo after chemo where the benefits are still there.  Hold on, my head is spinning.  Can this really be happening?  We talked more, she recommended Herceptin, via IV, every 3 wks for one year.  I hung up the phone.  Ben was there with me.  I was physically (from the surgery) exhausted, and now mentally unsettled. 

But, it didn't take long for me to see God's hand in all of this.  It was like a deep breath of fresh air.  I can't explain it any better.  I came to terms with the Herceptin, but was still trying to come to terms with how lucky I was to find this.  So blessed.  On a mission to find an answer on something else, we found a very important piece to the puzzle of keeping me here on this earth, and I am so grateful.  I am so lucky.  I know God has his hand on me, and I know I have angels up there working magic.  If you think that is hooky, I understand, but I am telling you from the bottom of my soul I feel now more than ever I have this beat.  I am empowered by this news.  What originally made my heart race, now has it skipping a beat!  So it is my friends, my cancer roller coaster.  May you never get on- but if you do, may you put your hands up and enjoy the ride!  After all, this is life, and I wake up every single day thankful for it.  It may be next Tuesday May 1st when I get my first IV of Herceptin.  The first of a year- long treatment (every three wks for a year).  To save my life.  To help my odds.   I got this. 
I know you are thinking 'how can this happen, how did they miss this?"  It happens, and pathology is both an art and science, just like medicine.  And we still don't know a lot about tumors, and who knows why my tumor did this?  I don't.   I just know it did, and we can do something to insure it doesn't come back.  And I am thankful for that.  I certainly am not looking forward to more treatment, but knowing we found this, is like a fire burning in me giving me so much strength and hope.  My oncologist Dr. Shapiro (OSU) told me I would "breeze right thru this" knowing how well I did with chemo.  I know he is right.  Ben and I agreed this is much too much information for the kids to understand.   So we are down playing it as much as possible.  I will go to OSU every 3 wks, and that's as much as they know.  The most important thing to them is Mom is cancer-free, she is back, she is a silly dancing fool in the morning and she still can't carry a tune!  Davidson (our 8yr old) changed my Wii character to have short hair just this past wk.  It is the new normal.  I feel 100% and they know it.  

"I will get by..  I will survive... We will get by... We will survive..."  -Grateful Dead  plays on my way up to the clinic that Thur morning... I am seriously singing at the top of my lungs... on top of the world.  Driving into the most amazing sunrise in all shades of Pink.   Most fitting.  I  had lots to think about that morning up to Cleveland, and it was all good.   I can't believe the change of events, but I can embrace them.  I knew HOPE that morning driving to Cleveland like I had never known before. It was different.  And I was right.  The next morning (still up at the clinic) I was accepted into the 5 year trial.  My blood tests and chest xray were great.  PS, getting good results from a blood test is like Christmas.  I was given the drugs to take one a day, and was praying for side effects since it was a double bind placebo.  At home Saturday I started the meds.  My side effects are textbook, and I am sure I have the drug and not the placebo.  Again, improving those odds.  I got this....
I will get by.  I will get by.  I will survive. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

WE did it!

"Dear God, Thank you for helping my mom get through Cancer, and please let her never get it again. Amen"  This was our 8 yr. old's prayer last night at bedtime.  He said it while holding my head in his little hands while our foreheads touched.  But the best part... after I said Amen, he looked me right in the eyes and said.  "I know those are happy tears mom!"  He was right.  I love that he knows this, I also love that I no longer have to hide behind my feelings because he sees right through that anyway.  Kids see much more than we ever realize.  And there love and support is stronger than we could ever imagine.  God's gift I am sure.  They seem to know the right words at the right times.  Simply put.  No extras, nothing flashy, just simple.  Good.  and right on.  That's how they roll.  So much to be learned there.  And my saving grace for the last year. 

I had my last treatment today.  Love that sentence.  I did it.  I made it.  But really it should be WE did it, WE made it.  This was not a journey I took alone.  Sure, I was the only one who got the surgery, the port, the chemo, and the radiation.  It is such an overused joke now, but still makes me laugh when Ben says after one of these procedures... "That didn't hurt me a bit!" :)  I still humor him with a smile.  But the truth is it does, and it did hurt him.  And he stayed strong.   Everyone around me stayed strong.  But even stronger than strong.  I hear everyday how amazing I am.  How brave.  How strong.  It makes me cry, I don't mean a little I mean waterfalls.  I am a weepy mess friends.  Because what you see is only a mere reflection of everyone around me.  I am only as strong as you.   I couldn't have done any of this without you.  Sounds like a cliche doesn't it.  A bit cheesy I am sure.  But the truth.   As I sat thru my last and FINAL radiation today I thought about all my support.  I thought about the simple smiles of the nurses and techs at the James.  I thought about the many laughs we had over the song choices while I was getting my daily dose of radiation.  They sometimes had to screen the country songs.. so many country singers want you to "Live like you are dying" or "Love you through it" ... of course not the easy song to hear while you are holding your breath with your hands above your head and truly only thinking about your cancer, hoping you never have to go thru the past year again, and so on....  
I thought about the day in June when I drove through Granville for my surgery.  I cried remembering the sign at the end of our street that said "It takes a Village to CURE CANCER".   It kept ringing in my brain.  If I didn't have strength that morning... I certainly found strength from those signs., and balloons.  I still do.
I thought about the meal trains, and the amazing amount of people that came together to insure my family was feed, and feed well.  The amount of LOVE that went into every single meal made for us.  I thought about the families that had prayed together for us, and that continue to pray.  How can that not make me strong, brave.  I thought about my girlfriends in the lobby of the James waiting for me to come out one last time and RING the bell that I was done with treatment.  My support team.  I thought about each one of them.  And the ones that were there in spirit.  My neighbors who mowed our lawn, watered our plants, watched our kids... while I recovered from surgery and chemo.  My friend who single handily organized playdates with our kids so every single day in the summer they were cared and loved --- Are you feeling strong yet... b/c even writing this makes me feel it... INSPIRED... BRAVE... these are all words you call me, but don't you see... you made me this way... YOU all made me this way.  I think of my family, and the enormous amount of strength they gave to me this entire journey.  My parents, my brother, my in-laws,... cousins...aunts, ...I have a cousin who sent me a card in the mail once a wk while in treatment.  AMAZING.  I think of my friends from college who visited, lifted me up, and kept reminding me who I was... who I truly was.  I think of my husband who is my true hero in all of his.  He got to see my at my worst, I mean we are talking physically and mentally.  And it wasn't pretty.  And you talk about BRAVE and INSPIRING, and STRONG.  He is this and more.  So, here I sit at 4am... unable to sleep because I am still pinching myself that OUR happy ending has arrived... I am absolutely humbled by this experience.  It has without a doubt been a journey.  One we took together.  One I took with all of you.  Each day was conquered with the help of each one of you.  I love the silver lining of it all.  I love the fact we did it.  I love that each of you were here to make me strong.  I love that God held me in the palm of his hands throughout this.  We are blessed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

OH NO- the turkey is dry.....

I can't sleep... This sort of thing NEVER used to happen to me before cancer... That's called B.C. in my world these days... It is so much easier not to use that word all the time.  I suppose a lot of things were easier.  Like shopping in October.  I suppose all the pink ribbons and shirts, and cups, and well...  you name it - (In support of breast cancer) were easier to look at... As if I don't think about it all the time.  There's a reminder.  And a good one.  Every time I see finding a Cure I think of Bella.  Hoping that some day she has a cure.  So if it means I have to look at pink pins, headbands, and even tennis balls... so be it! I really do still love the color pink, I suppose maybe even a bit more.   October... here we are... I remember when I was in my worst days of May thinking what a long summer it would be, and a hard fall... and I would think how much I wanted to see those trees turn colors and then... then.. I would be almost done.....Granville is absolutely beautiful in the Fall, and those early days of May I remember thinking of all my memories of Granville is the seemed so far away...
Well, here we are... and I must say... it has been a journey, and one that has had its ups and downs.  I haven't blogged since August, and I have heard about it!  Why isn't she blogging?? Is she worse?  Is she better and busy?  What is going on??   And the answer is....... Busy and tired.    But a good tired for the most part.  Chemo has been tricky.  Tricky in the sense that originally I was scheduled to go 4 A/C treatments and then 12 Taxole treatments.  I did my 4 A/C treatments to find out that there was/is a shortage  of Taxole, and therefore my Dr. changed my treatments to Taxotere.  Only 4 Taxotere with 3 wks in between due to the harshness of the drug.  And according to my breast surgeon Dr. Lilly who might have (and I use the term might lightly) put his foot in his mouth--" Taxotere is a killer." 
I have had two treatments of Taxotere.  The first was doable- I was in bed a few days, flu like feeling, slight fever... but seriously, this is chemo... I got thru it.  The second Taxotere... was what I like to call my first scare... I had chemo on Thursday and by Monday I still couldn't get out of bed, and fever rising... I called the James, and they wanted to admit me.. ask me to pack for two nights.  By the grace of God.. when I got there my white blood counts were good (well good for a chemo chic) and they gave me IV antibiotics, and IV fluids, my fever let up and I was able to go home.  A terrible day, but over-joyed  to be spending the night back at home, with my kids and hubby.  You see, my oncologist said to me at our first meeting... Brett the only predicable thing about cancer is that it is unpredictable.   I hear this so many times running thru my head.  His version of my roller coaster ride.  Well, I am near the end of this ride... ready to enjoy so many other things at the Park so to speak!  I have chemo this Thursday again.  That means I get to start my pre-meds tomorrow and "nest" meaning try to get ready to spend the following 4 or so days in bed.  It is no party and I am so glad to be at the end of chemo.  I have one more after this Thursday.  It happens to be Nov. 17th... my last chemo. Ever.  Right before Thanksgiving.  Hard to say that sentence without tears.  I am so Thankful this year.  Brings absolute new meaning to Thanksgiving.  I mean do I care if the Turkey is dry? HELL no!  Or who brings what?  Nope.  Just happy to be here.    And in our new house-  That we moved into 2 wks. BC.... and I had visions of my family eating Thanksgiving in our new dinning room, all together.   Grateful~ absolutely grateful that vision will be reality in a month.   And Thankful.  Thankful I found that lump.  Thankful my kids love me bald.  Thankful I have an amazing family that takes care of me like no other.  Thankful I have a supportive husband, that is my best friend.  Thankful that I have friends that never leave me alone, even when I am weepy, or angry, or just me.  This is life.  And I am so Thankful.