Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So, What's New?

What's new?  That's a great question in this house because for once the answer is, "Not much"!  We have been enjoying the last few weeks of summer and getting ready for the school year to start.  I thought I would give a little re-cap as to what has been keeping us busy!

Evan gets tubes!
Our little Ev has been plagued with terrible ear infections for the past seven months.  It isn't that he just gets them frequently (he does) but he doesn't eat (but he does throw food on the floor) or sleep (which means grouchy mama) and antibiotics don't work to clear them up.  It's been really challenging to watch him suffer and pull on his ears all of the time.  I was hesitant about the procedure but heard amazing things about it from mom-friends who have children that had it done.  The Friday before our procedure, Evan came down with another ear infection.  I knew we had made the right decision to proceed with the surgery.

Evan thinking "What the fuzz?  Why do my ears hurt again?"

People were right; it's like a new baby comes home with you!  Evan is back to sleeping a solid 12-13 hours at night and taking better naps.  Even more importantly, bedtime is not a fight.  When I put him down, he will just sit in his crib and babble and eventually falls to sleep.  It's a night and day difference and we have loved spending this time with our busy boy.

Running around the afternoon of his procedure.  Evan loves going to the high school and watching the big boys practice sports!

Brian builds a pond
Many of you know that Brian is always looking for a good project to work on.  Last summer, it was working with the landscaper to put in the flower beds and yard.  Then, he decided to get a head-start on our basement finishing project and frame the closet and get the electrical process started.  His latest idea was to build a koi pond in our front yard.  I'm going to be honest; I didn't like the idea.  It seemed unnecessary (one more thing to clean), messy (for me, since a muddy yard equals a muddy house), dangerous (for little kids) and expensive.  Brian was determined and spent a lot of time researching how big to make it and all of the supplies he would need to buy.

My bad attitude didn't change during the first week of construction.  It looked like a hot mess and it was a ton of work (none of it by me)!  Brian was spending hours and hours digging a giant hole in our newly implanted landscape.  On weekend two of the project, I decided it was better to spend the weekend away, than be irritated with the entire thing.

Much to my surprise, Brian sent me pictures of his finished project, while I was enjoying my weekend at Lake Fenton.  I was AMAZED!  The koi pond looks beautiful.  More importantly, I was so impressed at all of the work Brian did by himself.

Brian is letting the water adjust for a few days so it can clear out before he adds the fish.  I am so proud of my handy husband - who says that bankers can't be creative landscape artists?? :)  You can see on the far end, there is a little waterfall that makes beautiful little sounds.  I can't wait to sit outside tonight and enjoy a glass of wine together.  It's a little escape haven for us!

School Shopping!
My job is going extremely well.  I am being pulled into several different projects but still have the awesome flexibility of working from home.  It's been great to be so fulfilled at my job but still have quality time with my family.  It also allows me to multi-task!  When I am waiting for conference calls to start, I may or may not go online and do some shopping.  And I may or may not have boxes from UPS and Fed Ex arriving at the house all day.  This has been super convenient because I have ordered all of the boys school clothes without taking a single step in a store!  The boys were so excited to try everything on in our bedroom one night and have already picked out their "First Day of School" clothes.

I don't try to dress them like twins, but they like all of the same things!

Just before bedtime.

Evy is busy working on his Blackberry.
I am feeling great!  My surgery was very successful and I'm happy to have it behind me.  I have a side effect called Axillary Web Syndrome, otherwise known as cording.  It is an effect of having the lymphnodes removed and the soft tissues tightens up and creates "cord-like webbing" in my left arm.  It makes it difficult to stretch out my arm all of the way. It is only on the side where I had radiation and lymphnode removal.  I have to start wearing a sleeve and am in physical therapy to help reduce the pain and reduce the cords.  It's a small price to pay for no cancer but annoying at the same time!  My last surgery is in December, so that will allow me to start January 2013, cancer-free and surgery-free!

Looking forward to an fabulous weekend with Nana, Boompa, Auntie Noogs and the boys this weekend on Lake Fenton.  I can't believe summer is almost over but am looking forward to fall - football, leaves, cider, apple orchards.  Yummy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm Cancer Free!

The best three words for a cancer patient to say - "I'm cancer free!!"

I had one of my last chest scans this week.  I was pretty nonchalant going into the scan.  I have been feeling great, getting back my old energy levels and recovering really well from surgery.  My hair is growing back just as thick as ever, albeit it super wavy!  My eyelashes are growing again and my nails are getting stronger too.  All of these little things are adding up to make me feel more complete than ever.

I didn't tell that many people about the scan because I didn't want to cause anxiety for anyone else.  I also wanted it to be a non-event.  Go, get it done, go back to life.  But, as I was putting on my running shoes (scan day = aggressive work out day), I started to panic.  What if my nonchalance was a sign of ignorance?  What if I am naive about my chances of recurrence?  What if I haven't given proper head space to my cancer and now my scan is going to punish me.  Of course all of these are irrational thoughts, but I was paralyzed with fear.

I was able to get Brian on the phone.  I usually can't connect with him during the day so it was great that he had a free moment.  I relayed to him all of my thoughts and anxiety and Brian did what he does best: rationalized with me, calmed me down, comforted me.  Giving proper head space to cancer sounds stupid - Brian reminded me that I have to live my life optimistically instead of living scared.  He asked me what the point of being afraid is - to be slightly more comforted on the day they say, "Your cancer is back?"  That's not really what I want to do and it doesn't make any sense.  We talked about how great it is to be a couple that can focus on normal things: kids, weekends, activities, family, grocery shopping instead of chemo, radiation, side effects.  It feels so great to be a part of that first group and go back to regular life.

Regular life is also including rediscovering my faith and God's guidance in my journey.  Through my blog, an old friend reached out to me and shared with me her faith journey.  She sent me a lot of resources that I have had the chance to read through and start to make sense of God in my life. Meghan and I have started to go to church together, where the sermons really resonate with me.  Not only is the message relevant in my life, but I am learning how to connect the messages back to the Bible.  I do believe that I was sent on this journey for a reason; maybe to teach me about life's preciousness, maybe to recognize what a gift being a mother is, maybe so I can teach others through my experience.  And while God has given me my challenges, He has also provided me with the most amazing support system someone could have.  Going through chemo, radiation and surgeries have been much easier to cope with since my friends and family are always by my side.

Perhaps my insight wouldn't be so clear, nor my messaging so positive, if my results had come back differently.  And my future is still uncertain, since my highest chance of recurrence is in the next four years.  But each test is part of my journey and each period of time is an opportunity to celebrate and count my blessings.  Look at how far we've come; this pictures was taken just over a year ago.  So much of my time was spent worrying about being a mom, worrying that Evan wouldn't recognize me and worrying about the type of childhood he would have.

Look at how far we've come.  Evan is such a joy in my life and everyday I think about how he saved my life.  This little boy was sent to me to kick those breast cancer symptoms out in the open and protect me.
I'm going to celebrate this weekend - TREAT YO SELF 2012 - and continue to count my blessings.  All of the hard work and tough days in the past 17 months have led to his happy moment.  I'M CANCER FREE!!