Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Thought....

So many of you have sent me comments regarding the week we've gone through.  I want you to know how much I appreciate them.  In my manic state this week to figure out a plan, I did research adoption.  Unfortunately, most agencies will not allow a couple to adopt if Stage III cancer is less than five years old, if they will even allow it at all.  This kind of boggles my mind because there are so many kids out there that need good homes!  So, my ask is that you keep an eye out for any available babies that need a good home :)  Maybe I will post a sign on my door: WANTED: BABY THAT NEEDS GOOD HOME.  PREFERENCE WOULD ALSO INCLUDE POTTY-TRAINING AND SLEEPING 12 HOURS A NIGHT. 

And seriously...the world allows Snooki to have a baby?  What's up with that?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Here

Well, I took the last step in my cancer treatment today.  Or my second to last step.  I have filled my prescription of Tamoxifen.  This is the drug I am supposed to be on every day, for the next five years.  This is the drug that has the potential to lower my rate of recurrence by 30%.  This is also the drug that can put me into early menopause (hello hot flashes) and prevent me from having another baby. 

The conversation with my surgeon this week made me realize how critical this little pill is to my treatment and future health.  My good friend, Rita Rivard, a RN that I met through Komen, supported that same message today.  The logical side of my brain also knows that I need to have this drug if I want to be my healthiest self.

But I've had to do a lot of mourning and a lot of grieving this week.  Brian asked my why having a second child is so important to me, when I am already blessed with the one I have.  I feel that I need to explain this position because not many people understand.  Evan is a blessing - the most wonderful, awe-inspiring child I could ever imagine.  He saved my life and brings smiles to me everyday.  I cherish the moments I have to rock him to sleep (when he will let me) and adore the fact that he crawls over on the bathroom floor and tugs at my pajama pants while I am getting ready in the morning.  This has nothing to do with not loving Evan with every part of my being.

It has to do with loving my siblings.  I want Evan to have a Meghan and Bryan to love and cherish.  I want Evan to have that person to complain to about Mom and Dad.  I want to know that if something happens to me, Evan will always have that brother or sister to lean on.  I know that Evan has Gavin and Cohen; the relationship the three boys has is amazing.  Gavin and Cohen are such wonderful older brothers and adore Evan.  I couldn't ask for a better situation.  But Gavin and Cohen come as a pair - and they leave as a pair.  They are away on weekends together and away on some family vacations without us.  They will be in middle school and high school together.  I know they will always love their little brother, but Evan deserves someone around all of the time.  He deserves my Meghan and Bryan. 

And selfishly, I want two children to love and hold.  I want a big, fat family that loves to spends weekends at our house.  I want kids coming over after every football game and for pictures before Homecoming.  I want Evan to feel like he is the most cherished in the world; along with his little brother or sister.

So, I have grieved about letting this dream go.  Certainly, I may be lucky and be able to get pregnant.  But five years is a long time and I'm not sure how I will feel about a baby when I have a fourteen year old, twelve year old and six year old in our house.  My dream of having two kids within a few years of each other is not my reality anymore. 

The Tamoxifen is in my bathroom.  I stupidly tucked it in the bottom drawer in the back of a bunch of stuff.  "Out of sight, out of mind"?  I know it's there and I know I have to take it.  But I'm not quite ready today.  Maybe I will be tomorrow and maybe it won't be until next week.  But it's in my future; just not the future I imagined.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On a lighter note...

Last night, I felt pretty lousy.  This is when I also try to inject humor into my conversations.  Some may call it tasteless, but it's how I get through.

Example 1:  I was upstairs indulging in my favorite pastime, "Real Housewives of Atlanta: Reunion".  Those ladies are c-rrrrrrrrrr-aaaaaaaa-zzzzzzzzy.  But it's entertaining.  Brian has been watching "Game of Thrones".  I have no interest in watching this because I don't really like kings and queens and dragons and hobbits.  I suffered through all three "Lord of the Rings" movies and that was enough for my lifetime.  So, I started doing what lazy wives usually do - text their husbands to get their attention.

Text to Brian: Come upstairs.  I've had a rough day.

Text to Erin:  I'm watching Game of Thrones.  Come down here.

Text to Brian: You can watch Game of Thrones when I'm dead.  Spend time with me while I'm alive.

Text to Erin: Erin, that's not funny.

I thought it was very funny.  I also know that Brian was serious, because he rarely calls me by my first name.

Second example of humor this morning.  I was taking Evan and Cohen over to Grandma's for the day.  These days are fun because I am not usually in the house by myself and my work productivity level skyrockets - so much that I can take time to write on my blog.  Cohen was sitting next to Evan in the back of the car when the following conversation took place:

Cohen: Evan has hairy eyebrows.

Me: You think?

Cohen:  Ya.  But they aren't furry and gray like Grandpa Ed's.  I hope my hair doesn't turn the color of Grandpa Ed's.

Me:  Are you worried about getting gray hair?

Cohen:  Yes - I have a lot going on.

So, even though I may be overwhelmed and stressed out, I am not worried (YET) about getting gray hair, the way that our 6-year old is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Not Sure What to Say...

It's been awhile since my last blog posting.  It's not that I don't think about it.  I think about it a lot.  I have been trying to decide what kind of writer I am: do I write about my adventures as a mom; share my stories about my hectic schedule; write about my medical history, setbacks and future?  What do I have to share that is relevant enough for people to read about?

I celebrated my one-year "survivorship" and truly felt like I was done with cancer.  I felt like it was a fluke I got it and it was a one-and-done sort of thing.  I started thinking about my life cancer-free.  When could Brian and I have another child?  How would I rearrange the bedrooms in our house?  What names will we use for a boy or a girl (still naming to-be girl after my grandmas)?  I was thinking about child care arrangements and birthday parties and long, beautiful hair. 

I talked to my oncologist about getting pregnant.  She said it was safe and I could delay my hormone-blocking therapy until afterwards.  I talked to my cardiologist and he told me I could stop taking one of my medications for my cardiomyopathy in June, in preparation. I did research and found a study just published in March 2012 which said pregnancy for women with cancer is safe.  I was thrilled and let my mind wander about how wonderful it all would be.  I even reached out to another oncologist for a second opinion, just to confirm I had the green light.

And then, I feel like I was slapped back into reality today. I met with my surgeon for a routine six-month follow-up.  I was told that I need to be realistic about the fact that I am a 30-year old with Stage III breast cancer.  I need to be realistic about possibilities of recurrence.  And as I spoke about getting pregnant, she said that I need to think about what my priorities are; having another baby or being healthy and alive for the baby I have.  She was warm as she said this, and gave me lots of hugs.  She told me these were conversations that were tough to have but I needed to have them.  It's not that getting pregnant is the issue; her concern is delaying the hormone-blocking therapy.

I was very calm and rational while we spoke.  I asked a lot of questions and paid attention to every detail.  I asked about other women like me and what her personal opinion was.  I was proud of my demeanor and kept a smile on my face the entire time.  I booked my next appointment and joked with the schedulers about the crazy weather and my curly hair. 

And then I got in the parking lot and all of my rainbows and sunshine and unicorns completely left.  I felt like my world had collapsed again.  Why have I been living in a fog for the past 13-months?  Why did I think I would be completely unscathed from all of this?  I called Brian, hysterically, three times in a row. (Murphy's Law says he only takes so long to pick up when I REALLY need to talk to him.  Same said-law says I only get mind-boggling news when I am at doctor's appointment by myself).  I called my mom and was angry.  I was so angry and upset.  And then I realized that the root of my feelings came from being afraid.  Never once did I think that this cancer would truly harm my life, much less than end it.  All of a sudden, I was faced with a new round of thoughts: how am I going to raise Evan?  What will my legacy be?  How will I ensure that my sweet baby remembers me?  And most importantly, did I let my optimism get in the way of practicality and reality?

Brian came home to comfort me while I spiraled (I had already looked up costs of embryo freezing, gestational carriers and adoption by the time he arrived).  He reminded me that medically and physically, nothing had changed from last night.  But I feel so somber - a little bit like I am floating outside of myself. 

I have some major decisions to make and unfortunately, I am on a timeline that doesn't belong to me.  I do know that I need to get back into writing; it allows me a brief moment to read about my life from a different perspective.  Somehow, it doesn't seem as bad when you put it on paper.  In the meanwhile, I am going to keep collecting data (even though the Internet can be dangerous) and trying to figure out the next best steps for my family...

Celebrating Megs' 28th Birthday.  Meggie and Moni look beautiful.  And my wig looks amaze-balls in this picture.

The boys wrestling at Great Wolf Lodge.