Monday, March 19, 2012

One Year Later

It's been one year. One year since we got news that changed my life forever. One year since one of the absolute worst days of my life. One year. On one hand, I feel like its been forever, on the other it seems like just yesterday. My mom and I often refer to time as B.C. (Before Cancer) and A.C (After Cancer). Sitting on my couch today, it is hard to remember those BC times. I've grown, learned, and changed a lot in the past year. I don't want to forget the lessons I've learned this year because they were learned with a lot of pain and heartache. I don't want this past year to be in vain. With that said, here's some things I've learned this past year.

1. Life is short. Period. Whether you live to be 100 or you get cancer at 47, it doesn't seem long enough. It's not long enough to love those you love or do things you love. Do those things ever really get old? Good thing we've got eternity.
2. It CAN happen to you. If you are like me you think nothing like this would ever happen to you. If you asked me a year and a week ago if my mom would (or anyone in my family really) have cancer I would not have believed it in a million years. Things like that didn't happen to me. They happened to other people, people I read about, people I watch on Ellen, other people. Not me, not my mom. But then it did happen. We don't have cancer in our family. She didn't have a lot of risk factors. It just came out of the blue, like a brick wall. I don't say this to scare anyone, but I do say that in hopes that people will be smart about it. It could happen, so get screened, get checked, and for goodness sakes be careful with those tanning beds! (and don't even get me started on cigarettes)

3. When you tell someone you will pray for them you should. Common sense, right? Sadly, I was guilty of saying this and then often forgetting. It wasn't until I practically wanted to beg everyone I saw to pray for my mom that I got the true disgrace my actions were. I found myself wanting to ask every person who said they would pray," Really, will you really do it because we really need it." This of course was based on my own actions and a lesson I learned the hard way. I will never be able to thank everyone who has prayed for us this past year adequately or apologize enough to the people over the years I failed in this.

4. You don't have to actually beat cancer to be a survivor. Ok, this is going to be a soapbox one. It really irks me that often in order to participate in the survivor walks or events you have to actually be in remission. My mom may still be fighting, but she is surviving everyday. She is surviving blood draws, chemo, chemo side effects, the list could go on. But she is surviving. Ok, rant over.

5. Life can be a terrible mess, and be beautiful at the same time. I found out I was pregnant a little under a month after we found out about the cancer. We originally wanted to wait to start trying until the summer, but everything changed the day we found out. I felt an urgency and thankfully Ryan understood it. So basically, the entire time we have been dealing with cancer, we have also been dealing with a baby, something ugly and horrible and something beautiful and innocent, something that takes life and something that starts a new one. Talk about a contradiction, right?! On one hand it was a little insane to deal with everything with pregnancy hormones (poor, poor Ryan), but on the other it gave us something happy to talk about, something to dream about, something to have hope in. Owen has been the biggest gift of all this, and he could not have come at a better time.
6. You really do get enough strength. Growing up in church, I've heard a thousand times about how the Lord will give you enough strength for what you are dealing with. Last March, I found out my mom had Stage 4 Cancer and said goodbye to my husband for 6 weeks a week later. I then had to balance working, helping with my mom, and my first trimester. All I wanted to do was sit in a corner and cry each day, but I did have enough strength. Often it was only enough for that day, but it was enough. It definitely was not my own strength. No way.

7. There are still good people in this world. I will never be able to repay people for their kindness this past year. We have been showered in prayers, kind words, and good deeds. People have brought food and books. They have sent cards and facebook messages. They have listened as we have cried. They have allowed us to get our mind off of cancer occasionally. I have learned a lot about how to love people that are hurting by watching how many of you loved us. It's been messy. It's been hard. But people have stuck by us during the worst of times and I will never be able to adequately express how much it has helped.
8. I am in control of nothing. I have a pretty type-A personality. This is a lesson I did NOT want to learn. I still don't want to learn it. I still struggle with it daily, but cancer is a heck of a lot bigger than me and my endless to do lists. I can't plan it. I can't change it. I can't control it. Still learning this one. (and still not enjoying learning it) This may be why I undertook planning a huge suprise party in the midst of my already crazy life. I got to control something, and thankfully she WAS suprised.

9. My husband is a saint. What a year it has been for Ryan and me. We have dealt with cancer, Ryan moving for a total of 12 weeks, pregnancy, graduation, job hunting, house buying, moving, and having our sweet Owen. I have handled most of these like the basket case I generally am, and he has to live with me! Poor, poor Ryan. He has been more than a husband this year. He has been a listener, a source of advice, an encourager, a provider. He has been understanding and flexible. He has been there for not only me, but for my family as well. He has been a human kleenex and too many of his shirts have been ruined by mascara. He has listened to numerous freak outs and quieted my fears. He has been so much to me this year. SO MUCH. I would have never survived the past year without him. Seriously, he deserves an award, or at the very least a beer.

10. My mom is the strongest person I know. Period. She's been through it all this year. She's been through surgery. She's been through a cancer diagnosis. She's been through colonoscopies, pet scans, and MRIs. She's been through scary doctor visits. Shes been through marathon chemo sessions. She's been through two chemoemobliztions. She's been through more blood draws than I can count. She's been through the side effects. She's been through all of this, and she is still going. If that's not strength, then I don't know what it. I am proud to be the daughter of such a strong woman.

This is definitely the short list, I didn't include all the things I learned about cancer. I didn't include cancer markers, reading scan results, how to deal with chemo, what to do with PICC lines or all the other countless things I have learned in dealing with this horrible disease. I didn't include these things because I don't think they are really the lessons worth remembering. I hope those are lessons that I can one day forget, and that you never have to learn. But I never want to forget the others. I never want to be who I was before. I want this year to count for something.

With all of that said, here is where we stand currently. Last Wednesday, we all traveled to Lubbock to meet with mom's dr. to discuss her latest scan result. Basically, we started a 6 month round of chemo last April. It was very first. It did shrink the tumors down dramatically, but it reached the point of maximum response before it got rid of them completely. We then took about a month off and then traveled to Baylor to do a chemoembilzation in which they inserted a catheter into her liver and directly inserted chemo. We took another month off after the first one and then did it again. We rescanned in January and were devastated to find that these time consuming, painful procedures did not show signs of working. In fact, in the time we took of to do them, most of her tumor grew back and she also have a lymph node in her chest that was now affected. We came back to Lubbock and started a new chemo regimen. At first, it did not seem like it was working either. However, her markers began to dramatically drop after about 2 treatments. We received newest scan results this past Wednesday, and her tumor is responding again and was down about 50%. Praise the Lord! We still have a lot of cancer to beat, but it was a good day. We did however receive the bad news that our doctor is leaving Covenant this summer. We are waiting to see if he will still be in Lubbock. If not, we will be exploring options elsewhere. (This makes me a nervous wreck!) We can still use all the prayers we can get. Please pray for healing ultimately, but also for chemo side effects, perseverance, hope, and the doctor situation. We seriously will never be able to thank you all enough.

On one hand today is a sad day for me. I am sad that we are still dealing with this. I am sad that my poor mom is still sick, but on the other hand one year ago today I didn't know if we would make it a year. But we have, and for that fact alone today can also be a happy one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Porch Makeover Part 1

Our porch is in need of a major makeover. I have always wanted a cute porch. At the moment, I have a porch, but it is definitely not cute! Right before we moved, I purchased a church pew from a junk store in my hometown. I love it. My dad did not love moving it. I think I will eventually paint it, but that is not a project that I am up to trying with a 10 week old.
So, I chose to start with a much more simple project....pillows! I picked up some fun Spring fabric and added a Home Sweet Home pillow. It's a start!
Next up, maybe some flowers? I have a black thumb and no clue where to start! Any and all suggestions welcome!
Like the Home Sweet Home pillow?? You can get your own here. Midland/ Snyder friends, use the code Midland12 to get rid of the shipping charge!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Owen: 2 Months

Owen- You are two months! I am sure I will say this every month, but I really can't believe you are already two months! You are getting to be such a big boy and your personality comes out a little more each day!
This month you:
- moved up to size 0-3month clothes (except for those silly, wide Gap clothes!)
- wore jeans for the first time
-started wearing size 1 diapers
-ate every 3 hours
-started only getting up once at night (mommy loves this!)
-got to leave the house!
-did NOT love shopping (typical boy!)
-started smiling a lot more (melt my heart)
-started recognizing people
-practiced tummy time. a lot.
-rolled over for the first time! (It took a while, but mommy caught it on camera! Please disregard her crazy mommy talk!)
-LOVED your friend in the mirror! ha! You are completely content laying on your mat looking at yourself! You love to make noises and kick your legs while playing with your 'friend.'
-celebrated your first Valentine's day
-sat in the bumbo for the first time ( a little wobbly, but getting stronger!)
- visited the Dr. for shots. Boo! You were such a champ!
-At your 2 month check up, you weighed 10lbs 5oz and measured 23 inches long. You were in the 25th percentile for both weight and head and the 10th for height. (sorry bud!)
This is how you feel about Mommy taking 23925998725 pictures of you this month!