Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And the fight has begun. Chemo is underway, and we are all praying that it zaps the last of those little bugger cancer cells. As I spoke to Marci Monday, I was more thankful than ever that we live in a time when they can make her so very comfortable.

Team Marci bracelets have arrived in Texas! From Houston:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Silver lining day! Took a personal day from work, and spent it with M and Mom. Breakfast at La Grande Orange (greatest english muffins EVER), and then haircuts and wig shopping. M wanted to cut her hair before she starts chemo, so that it isn't quite so dramatic as it starts to fall out. M's admitted ulterior motive...never in a million years would she have taken a chance at cutting off her hair, and this was her chance to try out a short cut to see if maybe she's ready for a change. Mom and I cut our hair in solidarity, and M and I even had enough to donate.

Anyway, lo and behold - M's hair could not be any cuter! So I wouldn't be surprised if, once it grows back in, she doesn't decide to rock a shorter 'do. I know a couple of us will lobby for it - SUPER cute short bob. Wig shopping wasn't too difficult, either; the ladies at Tina's Treasures at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center were fantastic. M ordered a wig with another cute shag cut - getting to try several different new styles on for size. Okay, again, not your first choice of ways to try a new hairdo...but continuing to keep that glass half full.

The day was meant to be fun when we planned it; but it ended up a celebration of sorts, because it sounds like we can be pretty certain that the cancer has not spread. I think I talked in a past post about redefining good vs. bad news...well, no redefining needed here. 100% good news! We (because we joked today how we all have cancer, because we're always saying "we") are officially moving from diagnosis to treatment...and before we know it, she'll be going from patient to survivor. No doubt about it.

When I explained to O why I cut my hair, she was concerned that when we go to Aunt M's for Christmas Eve next year, she still wouldn't have any hair. "Can we touch it?" she asked "Touch what?" I asked. "Her head...without hair," O replied. "Will it hurt her?" Through all my explanations about what to expect, I'd forgotten to tell her that the hair would grow back. New territory - trying to explain these things to kids. You just never know where their brilliant, literal little minds will go. A learning experience, for everyone.

I know that there will be difficult days ahead. Especially for M, JY, and the kids. But today I just felt it. I know in my heart that everything is going to be fine.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This will be short - because it's 9:40 Valentine's Day (or night by now, I suppose), and Larry and I have barely had a chance to say more than 10 words to each other. He had to work late, I handled dinner, kids got their Valentine's treats, he did the dishes while I did some necessary computer work...so romantic, right?

I have to say that when times are kind of tough - whether we're talking about M's cancer, or a stressful job, or the constant pressure of parenthood - that is when you really find out who you love, and who loves you. Who you can count on. And funny, it's when you need it most when you really find out how big that circle is.

So, in honor of Valentine's Day...

I adore my husband, without whom I'd never be the person I am today. Who keeps my world balanced. Who loves me on my grumpiest days. Who is a wonderful father to our children. Who I don't tell, or show, nearly enough how much he means to me.

My children are my obsession. All you parents know what I mean; there is nothing like the love we have for our children, and I'm not really sure I can put it into words. When they curl up next to me and put their heads on my lap, or reach out for my hand - heaven.

And my family. Mother, sister, and brother, a special but completely different bond with each. I can only hope and pray that I can give to them the same kind of support and love they give to me. Aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters in law, cousins - at a time like this, it's amazing how miles melt away, and I almost feel like I can reach out and touch each and every one.

And I can't leave out friends. Both old and new - my friends, M's friends, Mom's friends, and even friends of friends, who have our backs; praying and rallying while M heads over the hump, transitioning from diagnosis to treatment, and helping us all to keep our strength up and spirits high.

Yep, today, it's pretty clear what's most important. And it's not whether or not my team at work can get our inaugural graduation picked up by the national media, or if Larry's company snags the big contract, or if my kids make the honor roll. It's how we hold each other sacred, and never ever take it for granted.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my family and friends, both old and new. You are all loved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I think sometimes you don't realize how stressed out you are until it's settled in for the long haul, embedded to the point where it will be really, really hard to extract.

I came to this realization last night when I pulled out the party-sized bag of pretzel M&Ms I impulsively grabbed at Sams Club, and placed it on the bed next to me to eat as I read "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" on my Kindle. They tasted so good...even though I don't normally eat a lot of sweets. I do sometimes when it's That Time of the Month. But not to this magnitude. I'm also beyond exhausted; and I've been going to bed by 9:00 and sleeping until 6:30 or 6:45 in the morning. 9 to 9.5 hours - plenty.

Said M&Ms are on the bed next to me right now, too. There's just a lot going on. And while I know there are better ways to handle it than ODing on M&Ms, given everything that's going on in my life right now, and my family's lives, I just don't feel all that guilty about it.

Tonight, as I go to sleep, I will do two things. One, I will summon the dream I had the night before M told me about her cancer, and concentrate on that fire, on that one wall, not one flame spreading. Two, I'm going to visualize, just like I did the night before her first surgery, exactly what we're hoping for...no additional tumors, no sticky cancer cells, just a few stray ones circulating around, kind of like the smoke in the house.

I know how antsy I am about the PET scan tomorrow; I cannot imagine in a million years what she is going through right now. Sometimes, I wonder if NOT knowing is better than the agony of waiting for more test results, when you know the treatment is going to be the same either way. Of course you have to do the tests, and know for sure. It's just so excruciating. I'm praying that she can find some peace, get some rest, and just get through this last week and a half. Scan, surgery, and then the last of the pathology - then we can finally, finally start killing those cancer cells.

My life has been insane the last few weeks, although I refuse to complain about it. Work has been so busy, more than normal - we are at an extremely pivotal time, about to implement a groundbreaking plan and completely reorganize our org chart, taking us to a whole new level. Exciting, but demanding, and mentally exhausting. G landed his first speaking role in the winter production with the local children's theater company, meaning rehearsals M-Th and Saturdays. O has gymnastics and dance, C has guitar, and they all have homework and chores. And this week my afternoon sitter is in Hawaii. Thank god Larry cooks dinner every night, and usually does the dishes. Sometimes I don't know how we get through it.

So it's funny, and it may sound crazy, but I end up feeling guilty not thinking about M more. What she's going through is, on every possible level, so much more important than than all these other things that are demanding my time and attention right now. Of course, my family is important, and my life and theirs have to continue. But then she'll drift into my mind and I'll think, how have I not thought of her more today? How could I be so selfish, with everything that she is going through?

I am not sure what I'm thinking I should do; I call a couple of times a week, especially when I know there is some new news to talk about, or a pivotal day of some kind coming up (planning to call her once kiddos are likely in bed). I write, and I do this in her honor, as much as I can. I've always believed in the power of positive thinking; for many, this is the power of prayer. So maybe I'm feeling like I am not doing as much of this as I should, to give as much of my energy as possible to helping her get well.

It's that constant battle of needing so badly to do something to help, but not having anything really tangible to do. Of wanting to be able to make a difference - to help her cope, to help her get well, to kill those cancer cells myself - and I don't think anything I ever do will feel like enough.

I heard a Breast Cancer 3-Day ad on the radio today, and nearly burst into tears. I've heard them a million times before. But now when the woman in the ad says, voice cracking, "I never thought it would happen to me..." oh my god, do those words have so much more meaning now. I listen to those voices, of survivors and of their loved ones, knowing, for the first time, exactly how they feel. I will forever be a supporter/walker/donor/advocate.

It's 7:59 and all I want to do is go to sleep. And eat a few more M&Ms. If only the laundry fairy would visit, so that I could perhaps rest a little this weekend. If only.